Can you be rich and be a Christian? - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Faith
July 8, 2016

Can you be rich and be a Christian?

Everyone, it seems, wants to be rich. Can a Christian be rich and still be a real Christian? After all, Jesus was poor. The Apostles were poor. Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and give to the poor. Not unreasonably, many people in Cyprus believe that a person cannot be both Christian and rich. So, while nearly all Greeks think of themselves as Christian, they are also afraid of being real Christians, because no one wants to be poor.

The Bible deals a lot with riches. The ideal in Proverbs is a middle amount of wealth. “Give me neither poverty nor riches – Feed me with the food you prescribe for me; lest I be full and deny You, And say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God (Proverbs 30:8-9).” The Apostle Paul wrote that he had learned how to be content with both poverty and abundance. “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity. I have learned the secret both of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:12-13).” Jesus had rich friends who helped support Him (see Luke 8:3). He did not tell them to give all their money away and be poor.

Wealth, according to the Bible, is like fire, good but dangerous. Everyone sees the good, so the Bible warns us about the danger. Danger one: the desire to get rich (I Timothy 6:10). Danger two: worry about money (Matthew 6:25-34). Danger three: trusting in wealth rather than God (Luke 12:16-21). Danger four: loving money as your god, when no man can actually serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Danger five: using your money to oppress other people (James 2:6, Isaiah 3:15, Amos 2:6-7). Wise men fear the temptations that wealth brings.

The ideal rich man in the Bible is Job. He never loved his wealth more than God. He used it freely to help others (Job 31). But when he lost it all in one day, he still revered God. And after Job had proven his love for God, God made him rich again. So a man can be rich and love God. One can be a real Christian and be rich. But it is not easy, the Bible says, and experience confirms it. Jesus knew that the rich young ruler would not obey the most important thing he told him – “and come, follow me” – if he kept his wealth.

The goal of getting rich is a foolish goal. You can’t take it with you (I Timothy 6:7). No one needs to have millions of euros. A wise man prays for his daily bread. “And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content (I Timothy 6:8).” A man can be rich and be one of God’s people. Abraham was a rich man. But a man cannot have a life goal of getting rich and be a Christian. The greatest goal the Creator gives to man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. It is not to get rich. One can indeed be rich and be a Christian, but one cannot worship God and Mammon (money). Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and do not worry what else gets added to you in this life, whether much or little. The reward that Christians seek is eternal life, the infinite and certain reward for all who believe in Jesus and obey Him as King.

Geneva College teaches in the tradition of the Reformed Christian faith. For more information about the Mission of Geneva College, the principles it is founded on and the beliefs it espouses, go to Mission of Geneva College.

By Dr. Bill Edgar