*Can* is the keyword in the title.
I’ll be clear and say that in many, many cases pursuing wealth is really just about greed. We all know 1 Timothy 6:10, which says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Lots of people want money so that they can have more toys, be more comfortable or get what they want. This is greed because it is for selfish gain. These are the scenarios in which people will eventually wander from the faith or pierce themselves with grief.
But the Parable of the Talents along with other passages, demonstrates that wealth, and even the pursuit of it, is not always a bad thing. In the parable, Jesus praised the man who invested his money wisely and received a return for his master.
The difference between greed and a truly spiritual experience is your heart in the matter. And as it always is for matters of faith, if it’s about making things better for you, the motivation is enough to make the action evil. If you want to serve yourself with your money, it’s greed. If you want to serve others with your money, it might be godly.
The following are indications that you could be pursuing wealth for the right reasons:
When You Have the Spiritual Gift of Giving
Giving is a legitimate spiritual gift, given to some by the Holy Spirit.
If you consider any spiritual gift, whether leadership, evangelism, serving, teaching, or anything else, the goal is always to edify the church. Paul says that the goal of the use of all spiritual gifts is so that the church may be built up.
And by “building up the church”, I don’t mean just in building up a literal church building. Giving toward a new bigger, better stadium is almost never the best use of that money.
Use your money to help build up the brothers and sisters in the church, meeting urgent needs, helping provide the leaders with a wage so they can do their job better, giving toward those who practice hospitality and use more of their own resources to help other people.Giving is a legitimate #spiritual gift, given to some by the #HolySpirit. Click To Tweet
When You Are Seeking to Be a Benefactor
A benefactor today is usually someone who gives large amounts of money to a philanthropic foundation.
But back in the New Testament, a benefactor was much more robust. It was someone who
- had major influence in the city
- housed and cared for the poor on their own estates
- had a positive public life or politeia (written about in more detail here)
- let the church meet in their home
- provided specifically for certain ministers as they traveled, such as Paul
When You Give With a Cheerful Heart
Paul commands us to be cheerful givers.
If you give regularly, and you start getting bitter, asking questions like, “What are they going to do with my money?”, “Are they going to waste it?” or “Can the leaders actually manage this well?”, that is a sign that you are not giving with a cheerful heart.
And if you are not giving with a cheerful heart, then chances are you pursuing wealth only to serve yourself, which makes it greed.
But if you are excited to give, to help out the church and the community, then you’re communing with God as you serve in this way.
When You Are Not Destroying Relationships for Money
If you notice that your relationships in your family, in your church, with your friends, business colleagues, are starting to deteriorate, it could be because you’re pursuing wealth and sacrificing others for it. And it could be greed.
Yes, obviously, everything good takes sacrifice, and making money is included. It takes hard work, perseverance, less leisure, less time with those you love. But everyone’s gotta make a living, and everyone has to do those things to provide for themselves and their family.
But an indicator that you’re doing things right is when you can make all those sacrifices, but your relationships are still flourishing. It means you are also pursuing love and all the fruits of the spirit.Bless the #church. Bless the #community. Meet urgent needs. Be hospitable. Click To Tweet
When You Maintain Honesty and Integrity
Nothing tells more about your motivation than your willingness to make moral compromises for money.
Are you lying? Stealing? Not paying taxes? Deceiving? If so, it’s almost 100% certain that you’re being greedy.
But if you can create wealth and still maintain a clean conscience due to your upstanding business practices even when no one is watching, then you’re honoring God.
Don’t Feel Bad About Wealth
It’s okay to have nice things. If God has blessed you financially more than someone else, that is his business, not yours (See Matthew 20:1-16).
Yes, be generous, and yes, take care of those who have less. But don’t feel bad for what good things God has given you.
And stand secure in the fact that God blessed you, and that your pursuit of wealth is literally a spiritual act of worship, honoring God.
As you do this, bless the church with your riches. Bless the community. Meet urgent needs. Be hospitable.
And above all, do it out of love for God and love for your neighbor.
Your city needs it all from you.