Why does God give wealth?

This is a guest post from Parker James. I really enjoyed his analysis below. I believe that wealth attained on earth shouldn’t be squandered on earthly pleasures, but should be used to advance God’s Kingdom. In doing so, we not only have a wonderfully fulfilling life, but we also store up treasures in Heaven. Read Parker’s take on it below and let us know what you think.

Why does God give riches?

The two main camps in Christian churches fight over this question. One side believes that God desires us to experience prosperity, and we just need to ask in faith. The other side says life as a Christian is actually one of suffering, so to ask for prosperity is wrong, because we should tend to others in need.

There are plenty of good arguments and controversy on both sides. To resolve this debate and take one side over the other would be lengthy and complex. Plus, I don’t have an answer. What I do have is a perspective which draws on what I see as good on both sides. This perspective comes from 2 Corinthians 9:10-14…

“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.”

First, it does say that God, “he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food,” actually also will “increase your store of seed.” It doesn’t say how. It doesn’t say when. But it does say “You will be made rich in every way.”

I believe that the first camp I described does inject a powerful, positive view of faith. But they don’t always clearly articulate why we should be asking. James 4:1-3 makes clear that sometimes “when you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives.” Because that has been left open-ended, sometimes asking for prosperity appears selfish.

But the scripture above states two outcomes of God making one “rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.” In particular, there are two desired outcomes from this giving: “So two good things will result from this ministry of giving — the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.” (MSG)

Meeting the needs of others and spreading the Gospel, showing others “that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ” seems to be a powerful way to operate in God’s economy. In other words, the riches — this could be financial, skills, relationships (although I believe it’s a strong argument it is financial because of the reference to “store of seed”) — are designed to help others in need and, as a result, “many others thank God.”

So, how much is to be given away?

Again, no specifics. But “he will increase what you have, so that you can give even more to those in need.” (CEV) “Even more” suggests that whatever God has done to “increase your store of seed” and “enlarge the harvest of your righteousness” should be exceeded by what you give. Doing so demonstrates “You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God’s people and with everyone else.”

So let’s play forward this interpretation.

What if the Kingdom of God really were like yeast: that just a little bit helps to raise the dough? That by our acts of generosity from the increases from God causes others to praise God. And they see our generosity as, in fact, an increase from God as well. Which causes them to take that increase and give to others.

Rinse and repeat.

It becomes a virtuous cycle of abundance. It enables those “made rich in every way” to, as the second camp desires, participate in the redemption of a broken world. It unleashes God’s multiplier effect.

What does it mean practically in terms of “personal finance”?

One common strategy is to set goals. Typically, those are to buy a house, save for the kid’s college, save up for retirement. But with this optic of how God desires the riches to be used, can you imagine if the goals were specifically, prayerfully, and intentionally designed to help others?

What if a goal was to increase savings by $5000 to create micro-loans to free those in the sex-trade? What if it was to make an extra $3500 to pay for low-cost electric generators in poor countries improve farming efficiency and literacy? And what if, somehow, in this intricate economy where our generosity meets faith, we continue to experience an increase?

I don’t know if by asking God He will always provide riches by the world’s standards. And I’m not sure everyone who is Christian is destined for a life of suffering. But I do know that I want to participate in God’s economy where He provides increase that “will result in thanksgiving to God” and more people will pray and know God “because of the surpassing grace God has given to you.”

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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3 Comments
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  1. It’s not so much a question of money as it is a question of love. As christians we are called to love everyone, including the poor who suffer from material causes. If we love someone, then we ought to concern ourselves with seeking their good and seeking to end their suffering, just as we would have others do to us.

    Jesus told us to give drink to the thirsy, bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked, etc. and that those who didn’t would be cast into the fires. We need to love our neighbour as ourselves in order to be chosen for eternal life.

    How much money we give away is not so much the question as whether or not we love the person who is suffering from a lack of something which we can give them. And this doesn’t have to be money, but it can also be time, kindness, respect, etc. In fact, one of the best things that we can do for those who suffer in poverty is to pray for them and to ask for God’s guidance as to what we should do in order to serve them.

    (anyone can say this with me if she chooses)

    Lord, look after all those who are suffering from poverty in the world and bring them closer to you. Help us, who live in relative affluence, to know and to do whatever it is we ought to do in order to serve our poor brethren. We ask this, if it is your will, in Jesus’ name, Amen

  2. Janel Middleton

    This is a resubmission with corrected typos and a little variance.

    The word of God says in Ps. 35:27 that He takes pleasure in the prosperity of his children. There is more than one way to prosper. You can prosper in your finances, health, relationships, etc. So God not only wants to meet our needs financially, spiritually, relationship wise, etc., but also wants to prosper us.

    He’s rich and he’s our father. Why wouldn’t God want us to be rich? He does not make us rich for selfish gain but to fulfill the mission of the kingdom of God which is to take the gospel into the highways an biways. Without money, you can’t do it. We couldn’t get the word to foreign countries, never the less, two miles away without it. It takes transportation, resources such as paper, computers, pens, bibles, vans and busses to carry supplies and food and anything that is used in order to push the message of the gospel.

    The word of God says in Matt. 6 to seek first the kingdom of God and all things will be added unto you. When we put God’s agenda first before our own, we are able to stand firmly on His promises and know that he will do his word, of course when we’ve fulfilled other principles like asking in faith, moving in faith, decreeing the word of God over a situation and in our lives. Things don’t happen by osmosis.

    I think it is apparent that we have a God that loves us sooo much, how could we ever see that God wants us to be poor and in lack. If one is poor, than one is in lack. Lack is not God’s will for his children. He does not want us to struggle. Everyone in the kingdom of God is meant to abound in blessings. Of course, not everyone will. People perish for a lack of knowledge and if one does know what to do to see God move on their behalf, of course they won’t experience the fullness of God’s blessing or empowerment. Our love walk affects our lives, and even curses we’ve caused to come upon our ownselves.

    The word of God says that he has given us everything pertaining to life and Godliness. Its in the word. Need an answer, go to the word. Can’t find it? Ask God to lead you to the answer in the word. Seek a sister or brother, Pastor, etc. They will find their answer in the word, meaning if it isn’t clear like, “thou shalt not lie”, their wisdom will be backed up by the word of God. Don’t know whether or not to be with a particular man or woman? The word of God says don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers. And heads up, you can find saved folks who don’t believe the word of God, who don’t want to do the word of God. We are to be with like minded people. The word of God is the wisdom we all need and its readily available.

    Without money, we can’t help those in need!! How can we help others with gas if we don’t have finances for gas for ourselves? How can we feed and house people if we struggle to eat and pay the rent and mortgage ourselves? How can we clothe people when our own clothes have holes and is warn? Better yet, how can we put money in the offering basket if we don’t have any? This bucket plucking has got to stop! Luke 18:22, Rom. 12:13, I Tim. 6:18 sums up the fact that we are supposed to be distribution centers. If we don’t have anything to distribute or have money to buy stuff to distribute, how can we be any good to the kingdom? It takes more than just spreading the word. The world needs to see some manifestation before they can believe. They walk using their physical senses, not by faith, the God kind of faith. The faith that says, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

    God is too big of a God to think little. Earthly people think little, and we have to conform our thoughts to His. We must take on the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). We have no other choice. When we take on the mind of Christ, it affects our attitudes toward people and things.

    Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. When we think big, God can think far greater. Now, he doesn’t have the ability to do it, but doesn’t do it, or doesn’t want to do it, or doesn’t think that He should do it, or that He doesn’t need to do it for us. There are benefits to salvation. Psalms 68:19 says God loads us up with benefits daily. How many benefits does it seem we lack in our lives? If we don’t see and experience them, its’ not his fault!!!!!! We have to assume responsibility for them not coming to pass. He does not give us the benefits for us to not use them! His system is in play to work on behalf of the believer. When we get saved, we function in God’s system, his government, his laws, etc. and its to benefit us.

    Its not greed to want a fine seven bedroom house, a mansion or so many acres of land. It’s not greed to want name brand clothes and accessories. It is not greed to own a $300 pair of shoes if one so wants it. One just ought not seed a need of others and place priority on the shoe. Remember, there will always be people in need, so it does not mead run out and save the world on your own means. You have to use balance. Its not greed to want a Mazeratti. It is not greed to buy expensive decorations. We have to think big. If you think small, its not greed to want to drive a Ford focus or rent an apartment over a house. Everything from little to great has been put here for us. Technology? to boost the kingdom. Great minds come up with great ideas. God ideas. Who is the master mind behind great inventions? Hello. God, your father. So the mazeratti wasn’t invented for the world to drive. The world should not be having the greater things in life while we stuggle to make ends meet, when they were never made to meet.

    In the body of Christ, we are all on different levels, operating in different levels of faith, which we must note is operated by love. One thing may be great or fantastic to one while to another, its small. But we rejoice in all things. But we can’t knock people for thinking big.

    We need planes in the kingdom of God, so we can’t knock a woman or man of God for having one. Even if they own one for their pleasure. When you have a man or woman of God that is called, don’t be concerned with what they do with their money. If we sowed money that the Pastor is alloted for compensation, its not our money any more. When we sow money period, its not our money more.

    God can be soooo deep, but he’s not dumb deep. So much of the wonderous things of God are put so simple in the bible and we complicate things.

    God wants to do great things on our behalf, not just do enough to get by. Just getting by is not getting us by!!! We shouldn’t be depending on the state. We should be depending on God. We shouldn’t be making car and house payments. We should be paying for this stuff up front. While we can not argue that the fact that God wants us to have safe, warm homes to sleep in and cars to drive to get where we want to go, there only is left the mindset that we have as people of God on how we will acquire them. If we can believe God to make he payments monthly, why not believe him to provide all the money upfront? The interest incrued on the payments could be going toward the kingdom of God! Add all that up and see the shelters, homes, cars, clothes, food, etc. that we could be giving to people who need it. Yes God wants us to give away cars. Yes God wants us to give aways houses. People need them, don’t they? God sees homes for children of God living in shelters. Why don’t we see it? We don’t see it because we don’t see a means to give it. God is our means. Is he not Jehovah Jireh, our provider? He is our source. We shouldn’t have to fast and pray for miracles all the time when we should already be experiencing the good life on a day to day basis. We, yes, all children of God, should be able to write a check to help someone pay their rent for a couple of months. We should be able to get out of our cars and give it to the single mother with her child sitting at the bus stop or to whom God tells us to give it to. We’ve got to think and see bigggg!!! God does.

    Of course, not every child of God drive the family car they desire, or the suv they prefer. The Escalade over the explorer. The Camry over the Ford Focus. The Benz over the Camry. The Ferrari over the Benz. We are all at different levels but God has equipped us all with a level of faith to stand in and the same word to stand on. Everyone has their own vision.

    So on that note, it is a must to say that when we are poor, we misrepresent God. When people look at us, we should reflect God, not just in character. God ain’t broke. So why do we think we should be? We should own all the businesses, new papers, magazine, etc. Then we can control what gets into the hands of our youths. Why do we have small businesses rather than having big corporations? We shouldn’t want anything small. Small is our vision, not God’s.

    I Tim. 6:10 says the love of money is he root of all evil, not money. The love. This becomes an issue of who our god is. Money, homes, cars, anything can become our God. What are we putting on a pedistool? Do we love that little red corvette more than we love people? Do we spend more time tending to the care of others rather than our own families? Do we spend more on a girlfriend or boyfriend than we do on our own children, or even ourselves? Do we pay more attention to titles than we do souls? Do we run to the gym to get fit rather than go help our sister in the Lord who requested our help in cleaning the church? Yes, we can be our own gods as well.

    These things were intended for us to enjoy, but not to serve. All these things are nice to do and have, but do we give them priority over the things of God and the issues of the kingdom? Are we willing to be flexible for the kingdom? We often compromise time for tv shows and movies, or quality time with individuals or going to the mall, but won’t take the time out to go to morning prayer, help a brother or sister move, or go witnessing. Why aren’t we giving rides to sister and brothers in the Lord who are in need of one? Because we’ve got other priorities over leaving a them stranded or walking or catching a bus. Do we just do things because they are convenient for us? That’s not the love of God!!! How can we continue to be content with this attitude and behavior? If we or another family member were the one in need or assistance, it would be a crying shame that this would happen. And I must note, titles do not make us exempt from helping others. Having more than two jobs or huge responsibilities does not make us exempt from helping others. We must find ways to be a blessing. We shouldn’t just wait for the Lord to tell us to do something. If you see a need, be a blessing! And we need to stop giving our junk away to others. We need to give with the best required quality, not out of our convenience. We’ve got to see not just bigger, but clearly.

    Lets be aware that God does not drop money from the sky. He must use a channel. If he doesn’t use us, who will he use? Someone with the means? We should have the means!!! Someone who is willing? We should be willing!!! Let’s get outside the box. Let’s get some wisdom. The bible said n Matt. 13:1 that Jesus went out of his house and sat by the sea. Homes by water today are usually occupied by the wealthy in any country. Why would then have been any different? He was his Father’s son and lacked nothing. When he needed it, God provided. He fed over five thousand people with five loaves and two small fish and had twelve baskets of food left over. The God that does exceedingly and abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think. We better start thinking big if we want to do things in the kingdom of God and put faith action behind the faith and know that it is what God requires us to do. It is the will of God to be abundantly blessed. Blessed means empowered. It is not just a word to say with no definition. So don’t get mad when you sneeze and no one, particularly unbelievers don’t say God bless you. They don’t have the power to speak the blessing of God!

  3. Context is so extremely important.

    The passage begins in the chapter before the one posted. Here is the “beginning” of the passage being discussed. Notice it’s the extremely poor that are the example we are to follow……

    1And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. 6So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us[a]—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
    8I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.

    9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

    (notice too that Jesus became poor (in poverty) for our sake)

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