Common Misconceptions About Money and Wealth

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At a church meeting, a very wealthy man rose to tell the rest of those present about his Christian faith. “I’m a millionaire,” he said, “and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life. I remember the turning point in my faith. I had just earned my first dollar and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and had to either give it all to God’s work or nothing at all. So at that moment I decided to give my whole dollar to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today.” He finished and there was an awed silence at his testimony as he moved toward his seat. As he sat down a little old lady sitting in the same pew leaned over and said to him: “I dare you to do it again.”[1]

 Money is an issue that so many struggle with.  To help walk through this, I will lead you through a four-week series on dealing with money issues. The text for the next two posts will be centered on Jesus’ interaction with a young rich man in Luke 12:13-21.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 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.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Background of the text:

You have a rich man who asks Jesus to mediate a dispute over an inheritance.  Here are the issues: Luke did not state what the specific problem was, but this is ultimately irrelevant. What is clear is that the motive behind the question was greed not the fulfillment of Ps 133:1,

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.”

Greed is an insatiable desire and lusts for more and more. It is all-consuming so that all of life becomes focused on the accumulation of wealth. There is no room for anything else, not even God. That’s why it is so hard for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.

There is no question that we live in a material world to steal a line from a Madonna song.  Madonna was the big pop star in the 80’s (not the one headlining in the Roman Catholic church for my younger readers). Money is the power and driving force behind much of what happens in our daily lives. Far too many people believe that money plays a significant role in the happiness quotient of their everyday lives.  No matter how firmly grounded are our spiritual values we often find themselves struggling with the issue of money. We struggle with profound questions such as how much is enough? What should I do with my money? Does God want me to have money and if so how much? Can I be comfortably well-off and still be spiritual? Should I give all my money to the poor? Should I give any of my money to the poor?

Over the course of this series, we will tackle one of the toughest issues we should deal with regarding money.   What would Jesus do about money?

The Mention of Money in the Bible.

When you read the Gospels, you may be surprised to find Jesus spoke about this topic often. Sixteen of the 38 parables deal with how to handle money and possessions, and 10% of the verses (288 in all) deal with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions.

The Bible has much to say on the subject of money and wealth.  With that said, it is surprising we have so many misconceptions about money. Some of our wrong ideas are based on a misinterpretation of what the Word of God says.  Others have developed over time in our culture and have just never been challenged.  Let’s quickly examine a few of them.

 Misconceptions

Money is the root of all evil.

 This is the quote I hear said wrong most often. The actual verse says “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10) There’s a huge difference in the reading of this verse. Money, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. What swings the pendulum is our attitude toward money.  If our attitudes are sinful then, we turn money into a hindrance in our faith walk.  If we have a sound understanding, then, money can be a tremendous asset.  It is all about the attitude.

God needs your money, or the congregation will close.

As a pastor serving small, struggling urban congregations early on I could easily fall into the trap of teaching this to my members.  After all, I have a family to feed.  If the members don’t give, we don’t eat.  The church needs your money.  The danger with this teaching is that God is not poor. He owns it all. When you give to God, you are not “helping him out of a jam.” In the book of Psalms, David quotes God as saying:

“I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine and the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:10)

Having more money will make us happy.

The problem is that the target for “enough” keeps moving. Financial guru Ken Roberts said that when he began building his fortune, he thought that one million dollars was the magic number that would make him happy and eliminate all his worries. When he became a millionaire, he realized that he needed $5 million to be happy and at peace. When Roberts accumulated a net worth of $5 million, the target changed to $10 million. He finally realized that no amount would ever be enough—his peace of mind would have to come from something other than his bank account. The sum of money is not the key to happiness.  The key to life is learning to be content.  Contentment is not dependent on your circumstances.  It is based on your relationship with the Almighty.  As Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-19,

“…pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.”

Stayed tuned for more to come in this series.

[1] Brad Munroe, One Voice, Two Hearts, sermon preached First Presbyterian Church, Pueblo, Colo., April 13, 2003.

 

 

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69 thoughts on “Common Misconceptions About Money and Wealth

  1. We can never take money with us when we leave this Earth. Which is why I make it a point to not fight about it with family. Money is something that we can earn regardless of what happens. It’s not something that should be valued more than your loved ones and others.

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  2. Interesting point of view!
    I think always about values…about setting your values. It’s nothing wrong to be poor or broke (when it makes you happy) and it’s nothing wrong to be wealthy (when it makes you happy).
    Wealth means not only – money. Wealth can mean health, happiness, love and prosperity. I think…happiness is a choice – you will find rich people, who are happy/ unhappy and you will always find people, who have less money and are happy/ unhappy… I always believe that in order to help others we need to help ourselves. It’s something like: “If you want to change the world, start with you…”

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  3. When I first began as a student of Jesus in following Him, I found great joy in giving to others and remembering in my heart and soul that the things on earth fade, and the treasures God gives I will and am storing in Heaven as I live. Things seem to not matter so much. Buying things aren’t so important anymore. The love of God, Jesus, and my family are the most important. I make gifts, give away my things constantly, bake food for others, and give back in helpful ways to my church and those in need without judgment but in love, compassion, and understanding. I feel so blessed to walk so close to Jesus and I had no idea it will bring me be loved so much by others and love them in return. I also finally understood the verse God gave me when He spoke to me one night. Now, I am training to be a youth minister. I’m so excited and eager to share the gospel of Jesus & watch it change lives. I was given divine purpose and that in itself is the most precious gift God has ever given me besides His only son Jesus so that I will live in peace, love, joy, and be forgiven as I shall live in Heaven for eternity. As all of us will who come to Jesus. Now I know what its like to have a relationship with Jesus and God. Love this blog post. It helped me to understand where I should continue to give and still even in a small amount or way I can give is enough. It’s from the heart and that is what God see’s as good.

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  4. This post just keep getting better and better. The more I read, the more I learned, and the more i learned, the greater my understanding of how to explain greed’s affects to others and on myself. The line that was most powerful to me, “The problem is that the target for “enough” keeps moving. ” is so dead on with why we feel the insatiable need to always have more. Thank you for sharing this educated and inspiring perspective on money and wealth.

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  5. Thank you for sharing. Money is surely not inherently evil. Humans are inherently evil, and that’s where we get things like greed/avarice and envy. Money may stoke those inherent problems within people, but in and of itself, isn’t evil.

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  6. I have heard and seen that many churches will push for members to give. They teach that the church needs your money. They also make members believe the more money they give the more blessings and material things they will get back. They teach that having all those things is acceptable. They teach that God wants them to be rich.

    The Prosperity Gospel is a dangerous teaching. I would like to address the prosperity Gospel teaching in a simple way….

    God will supply your needs, but he will not make you rich, give you material things, and give you whatever you want. He doesn’t do that, because you will be prideful about it. God will give you shelter, food, and clothing. You may struggle financially at times. It is possible for Christians to struggle financially. Do not let pastors or anyone else make you to believe God will make you rich, especially if you give money to their ministry.

    It is better to be poor or struggle financially and be right with God than to be rich, a liar, and prideful!

    via my blog- https://afatheroffaith.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/prosperity-gospel-wrongful-teaching/

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  7. ( Matthew 16:26 KJV ) “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own Soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his Soul?”!!

    ( I Timothy 6:10 KJV ) “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the Faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”!!

    ( Proverbs 11:28 KJV ) “He that trusteth in his riches, shall fall: but the Righteous shall Flourish as a Branch.”!!

    God Bless All my Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus-Yeshua and Your Families and Friends!!

    Our ONE TRUE GOD’S LOVE ❤ is ETERNAL through HIS SON Christ Jesus-Yeshua Forevermore!!

    I Love You All Everyone through Christ Jesus-Yeshua, Because HE LOVED ❤ EVERYONE FIRST!!

    Love ❤ Always and Shalom ( Peace ), YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

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  8. Matthew 6:19:33 is always encouraging and helps me to stay balanced in my view of money. “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures on the earth… Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” God doesn’t care about riches, jewelry, nice cars and big houses. Those things will not get us into His Kingdom. Satan wants material things to be our focus because he wants us to go down with him. Jehovah God created us and knows exactly what we need to be happy. “Stop being anxious about your lives at to what you will eat, or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. Does not life mean more than food and the body than clothing?” When we’re focused on seeking first the Kingdom then we will find happiness and contentment and will see Jehovah take care of our every need.

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