I have to admit I get a little wore out at all the “Christian” sites/books/programs that offer the “Biblical secrets to financial prosperity”. Some are nothing more than the butchering of Scripture passed off as “promises” from God for abundance… others are more sensible but still present Biblical principles as if they are secrets or sure-fire formulas for financial success.
What the Bible says about money, income, finances, prosperity, etc is not a secret. A friend of mine recently asked for my discernment about a currently popular site touting yet another exciting presentation of “Godly principles that guarantee financial success”. So I wrote up a summary list of what I believe is a Christian perspective on the topic. The Book of Proverbs gives us many principles about finances and there are many general truths on this topic (money, finances, prosperity, etc) found in the New Testament. Here’s my nutshell version (just some example verses from the Bible; there are tons more):
- Work hard
- Proverb 12:11 Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
- Be generous and giving
- Proverbs 11:24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
- 2 Corinthians 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
- Acknowledge it all came from God and all BELONGS to God
- 1 Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn’t receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn’t received it?
- Psalm 50:10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
- The only truly lasting investment and sure thing is investing our money in God’s Kingdom, or in truly unselfish righteous deeds
- Matthew 6:19-20 Do not store up for yourselves treasures upon earth…But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.
- 1 Corinthians 3:12-14 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
- Everything is temporal, fleeting and can be taken from you a hundred different ways; ex-wives, government, thieves, catastrophe… sorry for the redundancy 🙂
- Matthew 6:19 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
- Psalms 144:4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
- Ecclesiastes 2:22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.
- Christians are never promised personal prosperity in Scripture. What we are promised is that God will give us what we need to be the MOST Christlike… for some that means less money, for others who can use money to God’s glory, he makes some Christians wealthy. Ironically – despite the preaching of today – what the Scripture does promise is persecution not affluence.
- 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
- Philippians 4: 11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
- James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
- The secret is being CONTENT with what you have while understanding it is perfectly “holy” to work , save, achieve and build wealth when you do so for the glory of God and TRULY are ready to be a good steward of it, hold on loosely to it, invest it in what matters, and always remember you would have NOTHING if God did not give it to you.
- Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
- 1 Timothy 6:6-8 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
- Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
- 1 Timothy 6:10-11 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
Those are the open “secrets” the Bible gives us about being 100% fulfilled and content financially; as Paul says, whether in “want” or “plenty” be content. That’s a far cry from the prosperity message of much of western Christianity today who – even the “poor” among us – are WILDLY rich compared to the rest of the world, and the rest of history. Remember the Biblical definition of “rich”: having more than enough for TODAY; not having to worry if we will have food, clothing or necessities tomorrow. Even our welfare dependent, fixed incomes and lazy are crazy rich by the Biblical standard (which is by the way, the standard for the vast majority of humanity throughout all history).
I pray this:
“Lord, thank you for everything you’ve given me and our family… it’s more than we ever deserve. Help me to work hard, make smart business decisions, increase my income, increase my generosity and always acknowledge you as the source of my blessings or success. Help me to be CONTENT RIGHT NOW with exactly what I have knowing that you have given me THIS MOMENT exactly what I need to do your will, and exactly what I can handle spiritually without money distracting my attention from you. Lord, if it is your will, increase my income and business success THEN show me how you want me to use it to your glory.”
That’s what I have prayed for many years… no matter how much money we make, if we cannot truly be content in this moment, right now, with what God has given us, we will never find rest or fulfillment with regards to finances. I always pray for more income following by praying that income will 1) never distract me from God and 2) will always be used the way God wants me to use it. I think it is only with that mindset that IF prosperity comes, it won’t come with regret and failure. Let me close with a couple of things I often teach and repeat when it comes to money:
- “God, give me exactly the amount of money You want me to have to do Your will but never distract me from it… grant me the desires of my heart (one of which is abundance) as long as they don’t keep me from being near Your heart.”
And this statement of faith I fully believe:
- “I’m never anxious about money because God owns it all and I believe without doubt that if I needed a million dollars TODAY according to God’s will, a million dollars would show up today.”