Is it wrong to want more money as a Christian?
I’d be willing to bet that the majority of Christians feel conflicted about money. On one hand, you want to focus on the eternal. Plus, Jesus said “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt 19:24). That’s strong language! Sounds like wealth is a spiritual disadvantage.
However, Ecclesiastes 5:19 states “It is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life - this is indeed a gift from God.” This concept is similarly states in Eccl. 3:13 “And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.”
It is common for Christians to fear that focusing on finances will ruin their contentment. It is tempting to believe that acknowledging a desire, especially if it is money, means you are giving into envy, lust, greed and discontentment. This blog post is going to dig into various scriptures that address how to respond to our desires.
Lets begin with Philippians 4:6. This scripture instructs “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything present your requests to God.” God is omniscient. He already knows if you wish you had more spending money for fun stuff, more savings for financial security or if there always is more month than money for you. It is not helpful to pretend that you don’t feel this way or to shame yourself for being aware that yes, extra money very well might make your life easier and/or more fun. Be honest with God and take both your concerns and desires before him.
Something else that helps me is to strive to be aligned with what the bible says we are to do with our desires and to move away from the ways human expectations has gone astray. It’s not just finances where this is applicable. Whether it is with our health, relationships, parenting or spiritual walk,
We can learn to uphold gratitude, contentment and peace while striving for growth and excellence. #christianlife #christiangoals http://bit.ly/shouldchristianswantmoney
Unbiblical Responses to Money Include:
1) Greed and Envy
These two are directly outlined as sin but I believe defining what greed and envy actually are will help us discern whether we have a desire vs. greed and whether we admire vs. harbor envy. (Definitions come from Wikipedia because I believe their definitions help distinguish between these things.)
Greed, or avarice - an inordinate or insatiable longing for material gain, be it food, money, status, or power. (Inordinate meaning Excessive; unreasonable or inappropriate.)
Aristotle defined envy as pain at the sight of another’s good fortune, stirred by “those who have what we ought to have.”
Desire - a sense of longing or hoping for a person, object, or outcome.
Admiration - a social emotion elicited by people of competence, talent, or skill exceeding standards. Admiration facilitates social learning in groups. Admiration motivates self-improvement through learning from role-models.
It’s a warning flag if we hurt at the sight of others’ success and which for them to not have it if we don’t. It’s a warning flag if a desire becomes excessive, unreasonable or inappropriate. The Holy Spirit will help you discern what level of desire fits in those categories. But just hoping for more money or being inspired by the career or business success of others, is not the greed and envy that God condemns.
2) Worry and Anxiety
The full passage of Philippians 4:4-7 addresses that rejoicing and gentleness is our proper response, not anxiety and informs us that peace beyond understanding IS both possible and promised.
3) Financial Neglect
The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30 addresses the importance of being faithful in whatever God gives you. There are plenty of reasons that hold people back from this. Sometimes it’s laziness at work, but also it can be laziness in taking the time to learn about it. Beneath procrastinating facing your finances is often overwhelm and uncertainty. Sometimes it’s fear of investing and losing or fear of having to accept a crappy financial reality. But also sometimes we twist this around and neglect financial planning and prudence in the name of spirituality and caring about things other than money.
4) Cursing God or God’s plan
Back in the Old Testament when the Israelites were complaining about their lack of food variety in the desert when they were eating manna, God didn’t actually have a problem with their desire to get some other food groups. They did not humbly and with gratitude present their desire to Moses who had been chosen by God to lead them. They just complained and questioned God’s plan, saying they would have been better being slaves in Egypt. It’s easy to throw a stone at them in retrospect, but ask yourself if you allow yourself to dwell in regretful thoughts, yearning for a situation that God led you out of. For instance, maybe you became a sahm mom but gave up a well paying job, or even just a job that helped make ends meet. Or you or your husband took a new career path more in line with your purpose and values. Perhaps one of you quit your job to be an entrepreneur. Or maybe you feel resentful about living a frugal lifestyle and a part of you wants to say forget stewardship and embrace living in the now, even if it’s foolish. I’ve certainly experienced those things! The problem isn’t that I had moments of doubt or wanted something else. The issue was that in moments I stopped embracing godly thoughts, like God is good and I trust Him and instead allowed my mind to be set on what the flesh desires.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. - Romans 8:5-6
5) Overlooking Praise & Gratitude to God
This is one that the enemy distorts. This distortion was actually the main motivation for me writing this blog post. My encouragement is that you pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal if you approach God with gratitude or not. Pray that if it is lacking that the Spirit would help you to be both grateful and honest with yourself and God about your needs and desires.
The enemy twists this message encouraging someone to come from a place of gratitude, but still present requests to God to a mountain of negativity. Satan heaps shame and guilt onto the believer for having a request which side tracks the believer from developing gratitude and praising God.
If you are struggling to be genuine in your gratitude, I recommend reading the book “Factfulness: 10 Reasons We’re Wrong About the World - and Why Things Are Better Than You Think” by Hans Rosling. This book opened my eyes to the harsh reality of historical poverty across the world and how drastically improved humankind’s material wealth has become. I think about this and reference some of the ideas in this book at least multiple times a week.
6) Creating financial demands and expectations of God
You’ve probably heard Christians say “God is not a vending machine” as a criticism of the “prosperity gospel.” This is what I am talking about. As was affirmed by Jesus when He was tested in the desert, it is a sin to test God. It is wrong to make demands of God. Yes, Jesus said to ask God and trust in His provision, but that does not mean that God has to play by our expectations. Often there is something He has to teach us first. At times He does provide, but just not in the way we planned.
There are some people in the world that claim any material desire is possible if you focus your thoughts on it. They call this manifesting. (Although some teach manifesting differently.) Prayer is not the Christian way to get whatever we want. Prayer is there to align our heart with God’s. “For God uses all things for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, my emphasis added.)
Ultimately, God does things that bring Him glory and serve His purpose. He deserves that because He is God. He is the Creator; we are the creation. If our motivations are totally focused on ourselves and I want it because I want it…that is not godly inspiration, that is the flesh and the world talking.
No earthly results are guaranteed, but as we seek God, seek His will, pray that He would make His desires our desires, our motivations will shift to include kingdom causes and blessing others and we will likely experience a better material outcome as well. We very well might have the same wants we started with, but our vision would expand and the focus will shift onto the biblical reasons the resource of money is helpful. This change in perspective will also help us be more open and grateful for when God meets a need in a less expensive way than we were imagining. (For example, if you and your husband desperately need some romance, maybe you want God to provide money for a sitter and a concert ticket but instead your in-laws come in town the same weekend as the Medieval fair and you can make a date out of that.)
Some false teachers claim that if God doesn’t meet your requests, it is because you lack faith. So they aren’t saying God failed, because we know that God is capable, but rather you failed. However, this is a perversion of scripture. Paul went through 3 seasons of intentional prayer, asking God to remove a substantial pain from his side. God said no. Despite John the Baptist’s faithfulness and faith, he was beheaded. I believe all the apostles ended up as martyrs except John. God does not promise happy endings on earth. Yes, God gives good gifts to His children, but also we are promised troubles. It is the devil’s lie to accuse yourself or others of a lack of faith should God not meet our desires. Perhaps the Holy Spirit might truly convict you of a lack of faith, but the fruit of that conviction would be increased faith and action for God, not shame and condemnation.
Conclusion To If It Is Wrong For Christians To Want More Money
My conclusion is no, it is not wrong for Christians to want more money. Christians do not have to pretend that money is not a resource that gives them more options for whatever cause they have in mind. We don’t have to pretend that money does not offer convenience, comfort, enjoyment and have the potential to propel forward limitless causes that glorify God. However, the bible gives us guidance on how we are to respond to our desires and what to avoid.
We are to present all requests to God with gratitude and without demands. Even in the midst of financial challenges, we are promised peace and joy. If worry and anxiety is our reality, it is time to amp up prayer and fill our minds with scripture. We are promised that we can live in the Spirit that leads to life and peace. We are no longer a slave to sin and our weak worried human thoughts through Christ Jesus our Lord. We can experience contentment, peace and joy while we strive for growth and excellence in our financial lives. This same concept can be applied to any area of our lives in which we notice room for improvement.
Ignoring finances is not God honoring or more spiritual. Money matters and we are called to be good stewards and maximize our current means. If it’s hard to face your finances, and particularly if the financial crunch is related to a choice God called you to, trust in God and His plan. Seek biblical wisdom and action. For a more practical discussion of what this looks like, check out 7 Biblical Principles of Prosperity and Wealth. We are called to work hard, serve others well and be motivated by rewards, including monetary results, here on earth. Priorities, perspective, boundaries, motivations and strategies are central to this discussion and I get into that in my biblical principles post.
What do you think? Is it wrong to want more money as a Christian? Are there some biblical points that I left out? Comment with your thoughts, any further questions or let me know your greatest takeaway from this post!