Money plays a very powerful part in the whole world, whether we like it or not. Earning it. Buying. Selling. You can’t get away from it. Money is a powerful thing. When you have it or when you don’t have it, it can fill all your thoughts. So how can a servant of God, a true Christian, be righteous when it concerns money matters?
The Bible makes it very clear that we should not love money or the things that money can buy. “The love of money causes all kinds of evil. Some people have left the faith, because they wanted to get more money, but they have caused themselves much sorrow.” 1 Timothy 6:10 (NCV). We can see that very clearly in the world around us. A desire for getting rich brings with it a lot of suffering and evil. Yet we all have to deal with money in our lives; we can’t avoid it. For some it’s a very real struggle just to have enough to live on; for others it is using what they have wisely and righteously, or the temptation to want more and more all the time.
The righteous manager
Jesus tells a parable about being a righteous manager. A manager is someone who looks after something that has been made his responsibility. In the conclusion of the parable Jesus says: “Whoever can be trusted with a little can also be trusted with a lot, and whoever is dishonest with a little is dishonest with a lot. If you cannot be trusted with worldly riches, then who will trust you with true riches? And if you cannot be trusted with things that belong to someone else, who will give you things of your own?” Luke 16:10-12 (NCV). Jesus makes it clear that being righteous in earthly things, over that which God has given you, is all-important.
It is clear that it is absolutely necessary to be righteous in money matters to live a wholehearted Christian life. If we can’t manage this, then how can God give true riches to us?
If you have very little money, or if you have a lot of money, God demands you to be righteous with what you have. Almost three thousand years ago Solomon wrote these words: “Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” Ecclesiastes 7:29. In modern society this is still the same. Often the schemes that people come up with are about ways to benefit themselves, and they don’t think about the effect this has on others around them. And when these schemes are about money matters, the root is often ‘covetousness’, which is defined as “a strong desire to possess something”. How many have the humility to see this in themselves? It is in our nature to seek for more and more, because of our pride and belief that we deserve more than what we have.
God’s Word speaks very clearly about covetousness. It is one of the original ten commandments that God gave His people in the old covenant. And that hasn’t changed for the modern world. “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.” Hebrews 13:5. We have a great example in the Apostle Paul, who gives his testimony about these matters: “I am not telling you this because I need anything. I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.” Philippians 4:10-13 (NCV). As God-fearing Christians, our goal should be to have the same testimony in our lives, that we are content with what we have, believing that God will look after all those who trust in Him.
If we learn, as Paul did, to be satisfied with our financial situation in life, it will be a great help to ourselves and to those around us. This means that we are managers of what God has given us, in righteousness and not for our own selfish benefit.
“It is better to be poor and right (righteous) than to be wealthy and dishonest.” Proverbs 16:8 (NCV).
Working hard to earn money is not wrong, and there is no more virtue in being poor than in being rich, but if it is the love of money that drives us to earn more and more and seek more, bringing unrest and sin that separates us from the will of God, then of course we should judge ourselves and remove all unrighteousness.
Seek first the kingdom of God
It is also not righteousness or godliness to “just spend money without thinking” in order to “have more time for spiritual things.” It’s written that “God is not a God of confusion and disorder, but of peace and order.” 1 Corinthians 14:33 (AMP). Being faithful and righteous in money matters means that I take the time and the effort to have things in order.
If we learn to take it as Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, everything becomes clear and simple. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness …” – if we do that and believe that “… all these things shall be added unto you,” - this will free us from worrying about our earthly needs.
“The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” Isaiah 32:17 (NRS).
As with all righteousness, being righteous in money matters has great promises attached to it. “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” Hebrews 1:9. If we are very faithful and righteous with our money, then we also get “oil of gladness”. Think the peace and rest that we get when we are free from all the stress and tiring efforts that unrighteousness and love of money causes! As we practice righteousness, we learn it more and more and it becomes a part of our nature. We learn to love it and the blessed, peaceful effect it has in our lives.