The Apostle Paul is the most well-known Christian missionary. He was beaten, persecuted, shipwrecked and thrown into prison numerous times for His faith, and yet wrote half of the New Testament!
Most of the church doctrine you see today is a result of Paul’s writings. Paul was an amazing and gifted man of God; and one that we would all do well in esteeming. Paul also talked about money on more than one occasion. So let’s take a look at what the Apostle Paul teaches us about our money.
1. The Love of Money Is Powerful & Destructive
Paul mentored, discipled and wrote two letters to a young pastor named Timothy. Here’s what Paul says to him in 1 Timothy 6:10:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (ESV)
The first is that Paul never says that money itself is a root of evil – rather he says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.
If money were evil, we’d all be in trouble. But loving it is where the problem lies.
How can we tell if we love money? Maybe these things will help – do you have a desire to be rich, to make a quick buck, do you always look for something that will benefit you financially or what your “cost” will be to volunteer or help others?
Secondly, Paul tells us that loving money is destructive.
Notice the vivid language he uses – through this craving some have pierced themselves with many pangs and have wandered from the faith!
This is a bold statement that essentially says, the craving or desire for more and more money can and will lead to not just financial ruin, but ultimate destruction.
2. Be Generous
The second money lesson from Paul is to be generous. Notice what he says in the very famous passage of 2 Corinthians 8:7:
But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you – see that you excel in this act of grace also.
Ok, so what is this act of grace that Paul is talking about here?
Well, if you look at the context of chapter 8, you’ll notice that Paul is talking about the generosity of the Macedonian Christians who were giving out of extreme poverty. Paul is challenging the Corinthian church (and us today) to excel in the gracious act of giving generously to others!
I love what Paul says two verses later about why we should give so lavishly, so generously and without complaint:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
Jesus’ generosity to us through the Gospel so that we may live should motivate us to be generous to others.
3. View Your Work as a Means to a Greater End
Why do you work!? Have you ever asked yourself that before? Some of us would answer, “Because I have to” or “Because I enjoy it” or “What else would I do?”
But the Apostle Paul gives us a different view of work that I think many Americans don’t have. Here’s what he says:
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
Whoa! Did you notice the “so that”? Let him work hard so that he may have something to share with those in need!
We work hard to earn money so we can be a blessing to others. If American Christianity understood that, we’d see the giving go up dramatically in the U.S.
We aren’t called to hoard or to build up a huge retirement nest egg or buy bigger houses or drive more expensive cars, we are called to share with those in need!
How often do we pass by opportunities to be a blessing to others by sharing what we have? Or worse, how often do we even look for them!?
Paul challenges us to view our work through a Kingdom lens and stop idolizing our wealth!
4. It’s OK to Be Rich
Wait a second – didn’t you just say Christians aren’t called to be about nest eggs and fancy cars?
Am I contradicting myself here?
Not at all. I don’t think Christians need to take a vow of poverty because you can be rich and not be about your wealth. It all comes down to the heart.
But, if you are rich, you have to be careful – and you have to be generous. Look at what Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17-18:
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.
Notice Paul says they are to do good, be generous and ready to share. It’s OK to be rich, but are we ready to share!?
What Are Your Thoughts?
Which one of Paul’s teachings resonates most with you? Would you add any other teachings on money from Paul?
Photo by jamelah
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