Money will either bless you or curse you.
It can be a rescuing blessing in the hands of your Savior. Your desires for and use of money can reveal what is ruling your heart (see James 4:1–3, Deuteronomy 15:10).
Money can also be an invitation to experience blessing by being a blessing. Generosity allows us to respond to others’ physical needs, and as we do, participate in activities that are literally of eternal consequence (see Acts 20:35, Malachi 3:10).
But money can also be spiritually dangerous and should be handled with extreme caution. Here are four reasons why:
1. Money can cause you to forget God. Physical neediness prompts us to cry out to God for help, and in so doing, we remember that we’re spiritually needy. A pastor of a church in an extremely affluent community told me that since his people can spend their way into or out of just about anything, it’s hard for them to think of themselves as spiritually destitute.
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.” (Hebrews 13:5)
2. Money can change the way you think about you and cause you to look down on others. What’s the difference between a billionaire and a person in poverty? God made both in his image, both are sinners in need of redemption (which cash can’t purchase), and both are reliant upon God for daily breath and sustenance.
So why do those with money often look down on those without? There are too many answers for us to consider here, but generally speaking, money can redefine your identity outside of Christ and stimulate a prideful prejudice that lurks somewhere in the heart of every sinner.
Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. (Proverbs 16:8)
3. Money can weaken your resolve to fight temptation. For years, a friend told me that he prided himself on being committed to a simple, God-honoring lifestyle. Then he stumbled into a small fortune, and it quickly revealed that he wasn’t satisfied in God’s glory alone; he was living “content” because he couldn’t afford anything more!
Money can be dangerous because it removes a restraint—affordability. Most of us can’t afford to pursue every desire that pops into our hearts. It’s typically not because we have such a strong commitment to fight temptation and choose instead to live for the Kingdom of God.
Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (1 Timothy 6:9)
4. Money can finance your allegiance to the kingdom of self. There is no neutrality when it comes to your finances; what you are doing is worship. I have rarely misused money because I was ignorant or without a budget. No, I dishonored the Lord with my wallet because, at that particular moment, I didn’t care what God or anyone else said. I wanted what I wanted, and if I had the resources to chase it, I did.
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
Now, it must be stated that there is no teaching in Scripture that would lead us to believe that poor people are better off spiritually than others. The Bible also emphasizes the tremendous good that can be done with accumulated wealth.
But in our daily experience with money, the Word of God alerts us to the many dangers that it poses. Our only defense is the powerful grace of the Redeemer. He comes and lives inside of us so that when desire within meets temptation without, we will have just what we need to fight the battle.
1. When was the last time you asked God for provision or healing for a physical need or ailment? How can this prompt you to cry out to God regarding your spiritual poverty and sickness?
2. Is there someone (or a group of people) you look down on now, regardless of financial reason. What does this prejudice reveal about your spiritual pride?
3. What about this person (or group of people) makes you look down on them? How are you more like them than unlike them?
4. Regardless of your financial position, what rabbit trail of selfish desires have you gone down recently? How did Christ face similar temptation and defeat it on your behalf?
5. How can you steward the money God has entrusted to you—no matter how much—to serve him this week? Get specific in the ways that you can connect financially with the move of the Kingdom of God.