What does the Bible say about the love of money? There is nothing inherently wrong with money itself; but there are pitfalls associated with the love of money, or the improper motives for accumulating wealth or material possesions. Therefore, Christians need to be knowledgeable about the hazards, temptations, and sinful lusts that can coincide with acquiring wealth.
With this in mind, first read James 1:9-11.
Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation – since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. (James 1:9-11)
In the context of these verses, James is speaking to a person’s financial affluence. But, why does he say people who are in living in humble, or moderate, circumstances are in an elevated position, while the rich are in a position of humility? What difference does it make since God doesn’t show favoritism?
Since a person’s economic status doesn’t influence how he stands in the eyes of the Lord, what does James mean?
To better understand what James is speaking about, we have to begin with the truth that God is foremost interested in our hearts and relationship with Him. God wants us to enjoy what He knows are true riches and prosperity. In that, He wants what is best us.
While the world defines wealth, success, and fame as prosperous, God defines our prosperity by our relationship and depth of fellowship we experience with Him.
Take a moment to prioritize what is most important in your life from an eternal perspective. From this list, how would you place these in your priority?
- your salvation
- your personal spiritual growth in Jesus
- the salvation of your family members and their spiritual maturity
- your financial affluence, or acquired wealth
Is your and your family’s spiritual well-being more important to you than material possessions and wealth? They should be.
When James speaks about a high position or humble position, he is talking about the most likely conditions and circumstances for a person to foster a close, rich fellowship with Christ.
All people face temptations regardless of where they are socially or financially. However, there are general correlations between a person’s economic status and the likelihood that they will; first, accept Christ as their Savior, and then grow in Christ. This has nothing to do with economics, but a man’s carnal habits, inclinations, and tendencies.
The Bible is clear that there are many temptations associated around wealth, which can be more pronounced in intensity.
- Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (1 Tim. 6:9)
- For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Tim. 6:10)
- You cannot serve both God and money. (Matt. 6:24)
- Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. (Eccles. 5:10)
- But as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep. (Eccles. 5:12)
- The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Matt. 13:22)
- Jesus said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23).
Affluence can bring with it intense pressures and responsibilities. Accordingly, there are great costs and great losses that are often consequential to great wealth.
To begin, almost universally, wealth and power require extraneous time to manage and oversee. Regrettably, whatever time is devoted to maintaining worldly affairs are frequently sacrificed away from home life and spiritual life.
Wealth, too, can easily become an idol. While not worshipped directly, the lusts for, and accumulation of wealth tends to increase a man’s pride – and decrease his dependence upon God. Toiling for material wealth, a man can find himself walking away from God.
It doesn’t stop there. The sins of the fathers can be carried on to their children. Children coming from wealthy families are heavily influenced by the glamour of a rich lifestyle in which they were raised. And they can become conditioned to seek after the illusion of glamour, over the true worth of the things of the Lord.
Because temptations and requirements that come with wealth can become consuming and detrimental, James describes this as a position of humility.
At the other end of the spectrum, people living in poverty also face intense temptations and pressures that can lead to negative consequences.
The Psalmist understood this when we wrote: “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Prov. 30:8-9).
Based on a man’s sinful nature and wayward tendencies, for spiritual health, it’s generally best to live within moderate means. It’s not that a person living within a “middle class” status has a higher position in their relationship with Christ, but that a person living within moderate means is in a position in which they are more likely to foster an atmosphere of greater spiritual growth and dependency on Christ.
It needs to be stressed that these aren’t rules – but they are common tendencies in men. So, the Bible brings these things to our attention for warning us against traps and pitfalls that are associated with pursuing wealth.
Again, it isn’t money that is the root of all sorts of evil, but the love of money. “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5).
The key is to live in contentment and humility in whatever your situation. It’s a matter of the heart. It’s not a person’s social or financial status that the Lord is looking at, but their heart. “In your hearts revere Christ as Lord” (1 Peter 3:15).
Regardless of where you are economically, the answer to true wealth and prosperity come back to your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (Prov. 22:23).
Contentment – have you ever considered the worth of that treasure alone? How much more joyful life could be if we lived each day in a restful spirit because of contentment and gratitude?
The greatest riches, the truest wealth, are found in Jesus alone. And the deeper we dwell in Him, the more treasures He opens for us.
The below links to a study post on James 1:5-8