The Christian and Poverty vs. Wealth (Part V): The Christian and Wealth

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This concluding article of the series on the Christian understanding and attitude towards both poverty and wealth is on the Christian and his/her attitude to wealth. The premise was laid in the fourth article that wealth by itself is neutral. It can be a blessing or a curse depending on how one obtains and disposes of it. Should Christians then be making wealth? How and to what purpose? Let explore below. The fourth article on the Christian understanding and attitude to wealth made the following points:

Wealth is neither good nor bad. It all depends on how one acquires and disposes of it. If one gets it in the wrong way and uses it for the wrong purposes then it is evil. But if one gains it in the right way and uses it for God’s glory and the good of others then it can be a source of blessing.

There is a notable number of persons who were rich in bible times and their riches are deemed as gifts from God: Abraham (father of the faith), David, Solomon, and Joseph of Arimathea. From Church history there are some examples of Christians who used their riches to extend God’s Kingdom and improved the welfare of mankind. The rich young ruler did not enter the Kingdom of heaven not because he had wealth but because he loved his mammon more than God, the Giver of all wealth (Luke 18:18-30)!

However, there are many grave dangers associated with riches. That is why Jesus says it is hard though not impossible for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. Material wealth can so easily steal people’s hearts from the real riches of trust in God, valuing friendships, and sharing in the pains and struggles of others. Wealth can easily make one rely on self rather than God, look down upon others, and may lead to greed. Paul has this warning to the rich and would-be rich: “As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future’ (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Not every kind of wealth is a blessing from God nor is suffering incompatible with true Christianity. It all has a lot to do with attitude and practice.

Christians should create wealth for the purpose of honoring and serving God and serving humanity for His sake. The general principle is that Christians ought to make the most of the time, opportunities, challenges, resources and talents they are given by God Almighty. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 and Luke 19 is the scriptural basis for this principle. The master gave talents (money) to three of his servants to see what they could make of them. Two of them worked hard and doubled whatever amount they received. One buried what was given him. The master commended the two who made profits and condemned the one who buried his talent.

The overarching lesson of this parable is that God in his infinite wisdom has given each and every normal human a gift or gifts of some kind (abilities and or resources) to be discovered, tapped (harnessed) and used for the glory of the Giver, the recipient, and the wider society and environment. Therefore Christians ought to be the most committed in any fields of human endeavor that honor God and uplift humanity in one form or the other.

Wealth can be a powerful tool in enhancing services of varied kinds. But it must be gained honestly and extra care must be taken that it does not turn away the recipient’s heart from the ultimate Giver of all gifts and the common good of others. Christians should not shy away from making money or creating riches in the right way. The Church and Christians are to encourage and foster creative ways of making wealth. Entrepreneurship should be taught in Church institutions and Christians urged to take advantage of such opportunities wherever they find them. It is a religious duty of every Christian to discover his/her gift (s), add value to it and make the most of it, and use it in order to be of greater service to God, self, family, community and the wider world around.

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