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Money & Material Possessions

Both the Old and New Testament Scriptures are full of information detailing the believers' proper relationship to money and material possessions. God certainly does not want us to be ignorant concerning these matters.

In a day when so many men, women, and children are caught up in the desire for wealth and entrenched in a culture of materialism, the child of God must firmly grasp some basic Biblical principles concerning his possessions and apply these principles to his life if he is to honor and glorify God.

Understand that everything that exists belongs to God

Psalm 24:1 reminds us that "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." We must remember that God created the heavens and the earth and everything therein (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16), and as the Creator of all things, He is the possessor of all things.

Understand that everything you possess is a gift from God

Not only has our Saviour created all things, and not only has He given us the gift of eternal life through His death, burial, and resurrection, but He has also met all our physical, material needs as well.

As the Creator of heaven and earth, it is He who has bestowed all blessings and mercies upon us. James writes, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). John the Baptist told his disciples, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27). Paul reminded Timothy that it is God “who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (I Timothy 6:17).

Since God is the Creator and true Owner of all things, we must realize that everything we “own” is actually God’s to do with as He pleases. We are simply stewards, that is, managers of that which He has entrusted to us. This reality should motivate us to utilize that which we possess in an efficient, responsible manner.

Be content with what God has given you

Some individuals have been blessed with more money or material possessions than others. But regardless of the depth of our pocketbooks, we must realize that God has given us that which He desires for us to possess, and His will is always best. Therefore, we must be content with what God has entrusted to us (Hebrews 13:5).

Specifically referring to money, Paul told the Philippian believers that he had learned to be content with that which God had provided for him, for he realized that it was not money or material possessions that endued him with strength and motivation for ministry (Philippians 4:11). On the contrary, he says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). He understood that Christ alone was his strength and motivation for ministry.

Paul told Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6). Why? “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (I Timothy 6:7-8). Because this earth and all our material possessions are only temporary, we should be content, or satisfied, with fulfilling God’s will and gaining reward that is eternal (I Corinthians 9:25).

Realize that you cannot serve God and wealth simultaneously

The Word of God teaches us that it is impossible to serve both God and money. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (wealth or money).”

To serve in this context means “to give priority to.” Earlier in the text, Jesus commanded His disciples to lay up treasure in heaven rather than on earth (Matthew 6:19-20). We must give priority to the acquisition of spiritual treasure rather than money and material possessions, which are corruptible and often turn us away from fidelity toward God.

To make the acquisition of money and material possessions our priority in life reveals that our heart is not devoted to our Saviour. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). Those who are living to serve God are not serving their own fleshly desires. Devotion to the world and devotion to God are mutually exclusive (James 4:4; I John 2:15).

Be aware that money can ensnare you

God’s Word repeatedly warns about the dangers of money ( I Tim 6:6-11). The following references from Proverbs are especially noteworthy with regard to the accumulation of wealth: Prov 11:4, 28; 13:7; 18:10-12; 23:4 and 28:20, 22. While money is not inherently evil, the believer is often tempted to serve money and change his priorities in life as a result of money, thus foregoing a proper relationship with God. Remember, we cannot serve God and mammon at the same time.

Paul tells us that “they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition,” adding that “the love of money is the root of all evil” and noting that those who are serving money have “erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Timothy 6:9-10).

Although many feel as though money is a means of safety and security, they are deceived, for money actually provides a false sense of security and serves to enslave those who place their faith and trust in it. What should be the Christian’s response to the enticing lure of money and material possessions at the expense of Godliness and truth? “But thou, O man of God, flee these things” (I Timothy 6:11).

True spiritual riches can be obtained by those who are financially poor, while those who possess great physical riches can potentially dwell in spiritual poverty (Proverbs 13:7). Clearly, the believer should seek to lay up treasure and riches in heaven rather than upon the earth.

Those believers who have been blessed with wealth and material possessions must be sure to focus their attention and priority upon God while responsibly managing that which God has entrusted to them (I Timothy 6:17-19). Those who have not been blessed with great wealth should be content with that which God has given to them and refrain from covetousness, as it will only lead to spiritual ruin.

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