Are blessings from God a rainfall that He splashes indiscriminately on both the just and the unjust in equal proportions? Are blessings a reward offered to the hardest working and the most educated? Does God bless people in direct response to their obedience to the Bible? How we answer these questions reveals an immense amount about our religious view, our worldview, and our self view.
There are many Bible verses that teach that the increase we enjoy is nothing more than the abundant blessings of God. We are blessed because of who God is, not what we have done. Three of many such passages include:
1. “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien, the land God gave to Abraham.” Genesis 28:3-4
Notice specifically that the giver of wealth is recognized as God. God is the action of all good results. He blesses, makes fruitful, increases in number, and gives descendants the blessing. God acts before Jacob does. Jacob was blessed (financially) despite his many character flaws. In fact, he was blessed simply because of his biological relationship with Abraham.
2. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:45
In an agricultural society the rain and the sun are necessary elements in any plan where one could prosper financially. The recognition here is that God controls the elements that are necessary for survival and for accumulating wealth.
3. “When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Deuteronomy 6:10-12
Apparently God is afraid that his people will identify the source of their strength as themselves, rather than God. They should instead recognize that all of the blessings they enjoy are the direct result of God’s working (delivering them out of Egypt), not their own.
Ultimately, God is the source of all our increase. There are, however, Bible verses that seem to attribute an increase of wealth to an individual’s character, values, wisdom and personal work ethic.
Here are three of many such biblical examples:
1. “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” Proverbs 10:4
2. “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; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.” Psalm 112:1-3
3. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” Proverbs 6:10-11
Most people like these verses because they are quantifiable. Our rational minds embrace cause and effect patterns. These fit so well into our common sense mentality. How are we to deal with the reality that the Bible affirms that all blessings are a gift from God and that an increase in wealth can come from ones character, values, wisdom, and work ethic?
1. Remember that God is Sovereign. This means he is over everything and in control of everything in our world. There are no guaranteed financial results. Proverbs are statements that are generally true, not promises to those who abide by them. Consider Job who was great man, yet his wealth was removed. The events of this world are not locked into a simple cause and effect equation. This means on one occasion a fool may be promoted and on another occasion a man of wisdom may lose his job. This is because God can and does intervene in the events of this world.
2. Remember our limitations and responsibilities in the world. In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey speaks of two circles: the circle of concern and the circle of control. The circle of concern relates to things we have the ability to change, impact, and control. The circle of control includes things that are outside of our ability to control. In terms of Christian finances, we need to be aware that with the help of the Spirit we can control our character, values, wisdom, and work ethic. But, only God can choose to bless us with the increase. Therefore, we do not make ourselves wealthy, but rather we develop wealth building characteristics and God makes the ultimate decision if He will or will not bless us.
3. Make your financial decisions based on what is generally true. In other words, follow the teachings of the Proverbs. Even though we cannot control the outcome of our actions, we should continuously follow biblical teachings about wealth and generosity. Faith requires that we leave the results in God’s hand.
4. Work as if you earned everything as a direct result of your character, values, and work ethic. Praise and thank God as if you received everything as a free gift independent of your character, values, and work ethic.
5. Always remember the ultimate source of all blessings is God.