What Does The Bible Say About Rich People

What does the Bible Say about Rich People?

In the Bible, the term ‘rich’ often takes on a specific meaning, far from its popular usage in today’s world. It’s not so much about ‘glamorous wealth’ or grand displays of opulence, but rather a note on ownership, power, or influence. Here, we’ll explore some of the Bible’s teachings on how to both obtain and live ‘rightly’ with riches.

Before we delve into specifics, it’s important to note that the Bible is not opposed to wealth nor does it condemn it. In fact, in the book of Proverbs, one finds a number of allusions to the joys of worldly prosperity as well as the consequences of using it carelessly. It is clear, however, that with such a gift comes a unique set of responsibilities. As Kathy White, author of “The Book of Proverbs: A Study of Proverbs 15”, puts it, “The Bible recognizes that those who are rich should be generous and helpful to those in need. The wealthy have a moral responsibility to help the poor, both spiritually and in temporal matters.”

This notion of charity is further echoed in the New Testament, where Jesus repeatedly reminds us to tend to the needs of the least fortunate among us. Matthew 19:21 states: “Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” To those who feel blessed to have much, a great responsibility is bestowed upon them to use their resources wisely and to help others in need.

Others have different perspectives on what it means to live comfotably and humbly. Sociologist, John King from the University of Leicester, has drawn from the book of Matthew to point out that money is a source of temptation. He urges that “Christians should not be unduly blessed by riches to the extent that they turn away from godliness and justice”. At the end of the day, no amount of wealth should take precedence over one’s spiritual wealth.

Finally, the Bible also touches on the importance of being content with one’s riches. There is a balance to be respected, as St. Paul warns in Timothy 6:17: “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” In other words, money is not the answer to all our problems, rather it is up to us to enjoy its benefits responsibly and with humility.

Advice for Those with Riches

So, what are the takeaways for those who are already wealthy? There is an evident tension between having wealth and being faithful to God. Even so, a life of luxury is possible and sustainable in the view of the Bible. Here are a few pieces of advice that we can glean from its teachings:

Be generous – According to Proverbs 19:17, “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.” It’s noteworthy that the Bible does not speak of legalistic tithing, rather it speaks of grace and the joy that comes with blessing others.

Exercise Christian stewardship – There is a need to understand that the world’s resources are finite, and so one must make smart and sustainable decisions when deciding to keep or give away what is owned. Jesus spoke a lot about financial responsibility (Luke 16:9) and how we should not be seduced by the riches of this world, but rather be liberal with what are given to us.

Practice humility – With power comes a sense of ownership and control. However, the wise will learn to resist the temptation to puff themselves up in the view of others. For example, in Luke 18:30, we see how Jesus confronts a rich ruler, telling him to “sell all you have and distribute it” when the man proclaimed that he kept all of God’s commandments. We, too, should exercise humility when called upon, and instead of building a tall tower for all to see, we ought to build an invisible wall of faith.

Remember that your true wealth lays in Christ – All else are temporal, and our ultimate support and success should be drawn from faith and seeking the Lord’s presence. After all, Jesus did teach us that “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Advice for the Poor

The Bible does not preach of wealth as being a universal answer to all of life’s problems. That being said, let us now look briefly at what the Bible has to say to those who are or feel poor.

Seek the Lord’s provision – When faced with difficulties or lack, one should first and foremost seek strength and peace in the Lord. Jesus pointedly shared with us, and in Matthew 6:25-26, he said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Remain content with what you have – Regardless of one’s financial situation, God calls us to be satisfied and grateful for what has been given. We learn in Philippians 4:11-12: “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.”

Give to the Lord – In Malachi 3:10-12, we are reminded that God is ever-blessing to those who trust in him and that true blessing is stored away in the Lord. We must return those blessings with generosity and faith.

Focus on the beauty of ‘life’, not luxury – Last but not least, we must keep our focus on lives that bring joy, not lives of accumulation and opulence. We can look to Ecclesiastes 5:10 where we read: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”

The Example of Job

Finally, let us look at the example of Job to gain some insight into how the Lord measures our faithfulness against our wealth. Job was tasked with a particular challenge: to remain faithful and trusting in the face of tragedies and loss. Here, we learn that money is relative, and what truly matters is how we turn to God when our earthly wealth fails.

During his hardships, Job maintained his faith and never cursed the Lord, not even when he lost his entire family, possessions, and good fortune. And as a reward, Job was given favor in the Lord’s eyes (Job 42:12): “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.”

In essence, the Bible’s message is clear; money should not be the center of our existence nor should it determine our worth. The Lord created us to be stewards of his wealth, and so we should strive to be faithful in both our wealth and service to the Christian cause.

The Greed Mentality

Financial success should never come at the cost of our spiritual wellbeing, and yet sometimes society is consumed by the pursuit of luxury and comfort. Enter the ‘greed mentality’ which induces people to hold onto their wealth at all costs and be excessive with their acquisitions. Here, the Bible has a cautionary note.

In Proverbs 28:25 we read “A greedy man stirs up strife, but he that puts his trust in the LORD shall be enriched.” In other words, if one clings to earthly possessions for his own benefit, judgement is only a matter of time. Then there is the book of Luke 12:20, where Jesus was quick to point out: “Foolish man! Tonight your soul is required of you, then whose will those things be which you have provided?” Here, there is a strong reminder that our time and our property does not belong to us, and that what we seek in life should come from the Lord.

In dealing with wealth, it is thus paramount to remain mindful of the Lord’s teachings. St. Peter encapsulates it best in the book of 1 Peter 5:2-3: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”

Final Thoughts

As with everything in life, there is a balance of giving and taking and a need to remain humble in both wealth and faith. The scriptures provide clear views not just on ‘being’ wealthy but also on ‘using’ wealth. We must seek to use our riches to the benefit of others, leaning on the Lord for strength and drawing peace and joy from our mutual service. The Lord does not oppose wealth, as a matter of fact, he blesses us with it. The key is to know when and how to use it wisely.

A final reminder from the book of Matthew 6:24 should serve to summarize this piece: “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.”

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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