“One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Mark 10:21)
It seems that modern Americans bypass this instruction based on it’s contextual differences. The person who was instructed to do this was quite wealthy. He was in a high position of authority. It is implied that he loves his riches, and we are none of the above. Or at least it seems…..
But whether or not we personally feel like we need to sell our wealth, does this or other NT principles apply to the church? After all, if the church is supposed to embody the kingdom message. That kingdom message, without a doubt, includes giving of itself. (Isaiah 1:17, Matt 6:19 etc.)
The riches of the Vatican are often cited as one example. The gold encrusted monstrances, tabernacle backdrops, cups, bowls, staffs, and other items all display the wealth of the Catholic church. But what about the protestants? Do we need to build giant mega churches? Pay pastors $200,000/year salaries to manage the herd? Is it proper use to money to build Christian empires in the name of Jesus? Or should that money go to help those in need?
4 thoughts on “Wealth and the Church”
“I have heard a number of people point out that Solomon’s temple was extravagant. That may be true but lets take a look at the story. God was not the one who commanded the temple to be built or that it had to be so expensive”.
Was not Solomon’s temple modeled after the tabernacle of Moses? In Exodus 25, God gives Moses a list of materials and the pattern of design He wants the tabernacle to consist of. I believe it is because God is worthy of such extravangance. Could it be that God knew the gold and the silver and jewels would have the potential to entrap ones heart to worship the gold instead of the giver of the gold?
Thankyou, Justin, for your reply. Tell me more of Proverbs 11:25. What does it mean in this context to be generous and rich?
I agree with you that we are to be content with the Lord. How will I know if what He gives me is for me to keep or give away?
Yes, some do think a lot more about wealth than God does, but also some only think wealth is about money. How would you define wealth, Justin?
well Tamarah, I don’t think that anywhere in the Bible suggests we will receive wealth because we are generous. The only thing I can think of that comes close is a verse from Malachi 3:10 – Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
But this is not a direct statement to all humanity. It was God telling the remnant of Israel what they need to do because they had slid so far from God’s path. It is not a universal law.
I think the words of Jesus more often than not were that we are called to give away everything we have and be happy with just the Lord. Furthermore, if we use scripture to create a moral law that says if we give we will be blessed financially then we have now created a system to exploit…and we all know its not quite that simple.
I have heard a number of people point out that Solomon’s temple was extravagant. That may be true but lets take a look at the story. God was not the one who commanded the temple to be built or that it had to be so expensive. In fact, most of the time in the OT he was speaking through the prophets to Israel to tell them to stop using their money in such ways and to take care of the poor and the widows.
I do not think God is against wealth….but I certainly think we care a lot more about it than God does.
It is proper to use money to build Christian empires in the name of Jesus AND help those in need. Solomon’s temple was extravagant and built by the design of God, so too, are we. Also, we are called to help those in need. It is in our giving that we receive. Receiving is not bad, but a natural byproduct of giving. The generous soul becomes rich and he who waters will be watered himself. Whether we give or not depends not so much on the amount we give, but the motivation behind our giving. What is our reason for giving? Is it to make a good impression on our neighbor? Or is it to glorify and thank God for all He is and has done?