There are more than 2000 references to money and possessions in the Bible. There are more verses about money than about heaven, hell, salvation or Jesus. And today, there's nothing in your life, church, home, school or work that isn't somehow tied to money.
Of the 38 parables Jesus related, 16 deal with how we handle money. One out of 10 verses in the gospels deals with money and possessions! We also find that in the four Gospels, Jesus talked 10 per cent more about money then He did about heaven and hell combined!
Most people think "money" when they hear the word "prosperity." There is incompleteness in this thought because prosperity covers your entire life. It covers your marriage, your health, your children, your relationships, your recreation and yes-your finances. That's what the apostle John meant when he penned 3 John 2, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth" (KJV). God wants us to prosper in every area of our lives, including our finances.
Prosperity isn't a certain dollar amount-it is simply having all your needs and desires met. It is about having abundance you can share with others. It's about freedom, fewer worries and less stress so you can spend more time serving others.
For example, I had the privilege in 2008 of speaking to a group of several thousand millionaires. Most weren't Christian and following the meeting, a smaller group of approximately 340 went into a separate ballroom to eat and talk. During this time, I was invited to talk with a business associate about a philanthropic venture All Power had going in Africa.
I talked for about five minutes when the leader stood up and said, "I love what these guys are doing! Let's support them!" Everyone clapped and cheered. "Let's donate to them!" Again, everyone cheered and clapped. Then they wrote cheques. In five minutes, they gave an astonishing $742,000! They were smiling, laughing and happy. That is called "freedom."
From that meeting, I flew directly to a church to do the same seminar. There were about 400 attending and across the weekend, the church took up four collections for a grand total of $1169.83! The people gave with long faces, as they didn't have money to spare. This is called "bondage."
You see, when you read the Bible, God intended His people to be leaders in all things. He says, "The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord... will bless you in the land he is giving you... . [and] will establish you as his holy people... If you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways... the Lord will grant you abundant prosperity- in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground... the Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands... . The Lord will make you the head, not the tail . If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord... and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top" (Deuteronomy 28:8-13, emphasis added).
All around the world, I find wealthier people are far happier, loving and giving than poor people. Abundance of wealth and financial resources brings freedom. A lack of wealth and financial resources bring bondage.
There are several observations that are crystal clear in the study of what the Bible actually teaches about money. The first is that all comments in the Bible that sound anti-wealth are actually directed at greed and coveting. If your passion, desires and attitudes are misdirected and the desire for money and things is primary in your life, then you are "greedy."
The Bible is also clear that God wants His people to prosper so they can be generous, not greedy. A passion, desire and attitude to gain wealth in order to bless others is a godly thing. Money is like manure. If you stack it up it stinks. If you spread it around, it does a whole lot of good.
The second is that the most prominent people in the Bible, the important leaders, were mostly wealthy people. Who did God choose to be father of His people and the Old Testament church? The richest man in the land, Abraham. "Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold" (Genesis 13:2, KJV). Jacob was incredibly wealthy, as was Joseph. Boaz was wealthy, Job wassuper wealthy, David had huge wealth and his son, Solomon, is to this day the richest man ever. The "prudent" woman, the ideal wife of Proverbs, is a wealthy businesswoman. Nicodemus, according to history, financed the early Christian church for over 30 years.
The third thing is many Bible books have important lessons for us regarding money. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, authored two books, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. In them, he gave hundreds of powerful and useful principles regarding wealth, work, diligence, saving, enjoying the fruit of your labour and giving to others.
Finally, when you take the few New Testament passages used to condemn wealth in context, you discover that Jesus wasn't condemning people for their wealth but holding them accountable. Close study reveals not one verse of condemnation for being rich. It is always in the context of desire and motive.
The Bible contains nine powerful principles of wealth:
1. Use wisdom and you will become rich. "Wisdom gives: a long, good life, riches, honour, pleasure, peace" (Proverbs 3:16, TLB).
2. God gives riches and wealth. "God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work-this is a gift of God" (Ecclesiastes 5:19).
3. It is God who gives you power to acquire wealth. "But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth" (Deuteronomy 8:18, KJV).
4. If you fear God, wealth and riches will be in your home. "Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord... . Wealth and riches shall be in his house" (Psalm 112:1, 3, KJV).
5. Put God first and He will bless you. "In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success. Honour the Lord by giving Him the first part of all your income, and He will fill your barns with wheat and barley and overflow your wine vats with the finest wines" (Proverbs 3:6, 9, 10, TLB).
6. Save for the future. "The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets" (Proverbs 21:20, TLB).
7. Proper preparation for the future. "A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences" (Proverbs 22:3, TLB).
8. Hard work produces wealth. "Lazy men are soon poor; hard workers get rich" (Proverbs 10:4, TLB. See also Proverbs 13:4; 24: 3, 4; 14:23; 28:19; 12:24).
9. Employ proper estate planning. "When a good man dies he leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren" (Proverbs 13:22, TLB).
The one principle that rings true, from Genesis to Revelation, is that there are biblical qualifications for prosperity. God blesses those who follow, obey and commit their lives to Him. It says, "Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands. His children will be mighty in the land; each generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever" (Psalm 112:1-3).
It doesn't say wealth and riches might be in his house-it says wealth and riches are. But God says this is predicated on how you follow His Word. "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy ways prosperous, and then shalt thou have good success" (Joshua 1:8, KJV).
Both wealth and poverty are part of our belief systems, not a condition of being with or being without money. They have to do with a person's overall quality of life. They are based on a person's attainment or lack of tangible and intangible assets-things such as money, material possessions and resources, as well as love, time, relationships, living a purpose-filled life and physical health.
To be "rich" is to be abundantly supplied to carry out God's will for your life and have surplus to help someone else, whereas "poor" is the exact opposite. When you are poor, you are incapable of carrying out God's will for your life as it pertains to helping anyone else, due to a lack of resources of all kinds.
Both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought! What a person thinks about himself becomes self-fulfilling. People become their dominant thoughts!
Says the apostle Paul, "Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" (Ephesians 3:20, KJV). So the principles the world uses to gain wealth were in the Word of God all the time! As we walk in harmony with the Bible in the area of our finances and claim the promises God has made to us regarding living the abundant life, we will then lead the world as the head, not the tail. Wealth creation and prosperity is as much a faith-trust walk with God as anything else is. That's why today the Christian faith as a whole is well overdue in becoming financially literate and wisely handling the wealth that God has entrusted to her.
It is important to look at money and prosperity with a balanced approach to the Bible. We want to stay away from one extreme or the other. So ask yourself, "Is God magnified by my scraping along, living hand to mouth with no money to support His work? Or is He magnified if I'm living extravagantly, focusing all my attention and time on money and worldly possessions?"
The answer to both is "No!"
There must be balance and common sense in our material lives, and in our attainment of wealth and prosperity. It's important to stay out of the ditches on both sides of road because both lead to a misunderstanding and misapplication of the funds He has allowed us.
To be truly balanced in respect to wealth and prosperity, and study the subject of money in the Bible, requires looking at all the evidence. The thing about God's Word is that it levels the playing field. Racial or social background doesn't matter. Adhering to the teaching of God's Word will benefit whosoever will act upon it.
Learning God's Word and doing God's Word are the only requirements for success. God wants to prosper all His children in every area of their lives, including their finances, summed up in Proverbs: "Wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding" (4:7, KJV).