The Bible has a lot to say about money, riches, and wealth, especially in the Proverbs. It is a shame more Christians don’t avail themselves to what the Bible says about it; they could save themselves much grief and gain much wisdom concerning it.
My purpose here is not to do an exhaustive study on money in the Scriptures as that would take a full-sized book. Rather my purpose is to give some balance to what the Bible teaches about money. I have simply chosen 10 Scriptures that speak positively about money and wealth and 10 Scriptures that speak negatively about money and wealth as a sampling out of the many Scriptures the Bible contains on the subject. What I find striking about these two groups of Scriptures is that the positive ones are very positive and negatives are very negative. It is one of those areas that detractors from the Bible could seemingly, justifiably cry that it contradicts itself.
I went to a “prosperity church” for a few years, and I only heard Scriptures from this first list:
Positive Scriptures About Money
Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold
(Gen. 13:2 NKJV).
And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day
(Deut. 8:18 NKJV).
Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers
(Deut. 30:5-6 NKJV).
Wealth and riches will be in his house,
And his righteousness endures forever
(Psalms 112:3 NKJV).
He who has a slack hand becomes poor,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich
(Prov. 10:4 NKJV).
The blessing of the Lord makes one rich,
And He adds no sorrow with it
(Prov. 10:22 NKJV).
The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself
(Prov. 11:25 NKJV).
Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you
(Isaiah 60:5 NKJV).
The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went
(2 Kings 18:7 NKJV).
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers
(3 John 1:2 NKJV).
I never heard any negative Scriptures from the Bible being quoted although I knew many of them existed, such as from this list:
Negative Scriptures About Money
There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches
(Prov. 13:7 NKJV).
Do not overwork to be rich;
Because of your own understanding, cease!
(Prov. 23:4 NKJV).
A faithful man will abound with blessings,
But he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished
(Prov. 28:20 NKJV).
And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God
(Matt. 19:24 NKJV).
But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation
(Luke 6:24 NKJV).
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition
(1 Tim. 6:9 NKJV).
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows
(1 Tim. 6:10 NKJV).
For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money
(Titus 1:7 NKJV).
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days
(James 5:1-3 NKJV).
Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing”–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked
(Rev. 3:17 NKJV).
Clearly the Bible has both good and bad things to say about money, wealth and being rich. So where is the balance? If a church just teaches on the positive Scriptures about money and not the negative ones, clearly that church is not teaching the “whole counsel of God,” (Acts 20:27), and they are severely out of balance, if not in outright deception.
I have noticed something in the Bible over the years that helps me to reconcile the two above lists of Scriptures. Clearly, riches and wealth were definitely a reward for the righteous in the Old Testament, but that is not so clear in the New Testament. In fact, the nature of riches in the New Testament seems to be spiritual rather than natural, which helps explain why the New Testament has little to commend about natural riches and money.
Jesus said, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:11 NKJV). Here Jesus seems to be comparing natural riches with spiritual riches.
He also said, Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12:33-34 NKJV). This is the same thing He said to the rich young ruler that I have always heard preached that he had a problem with money and that is why Jesus said this to him. Here however, he is speaking generally to His disciples. I have never heard a sermon or teaching on this verse!
Paul said, “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:15-18 NKJV). Here Paul is praying their eyes may be open to the true riches of “the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” Obviously this is spiritual riches.
He also said, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33 NKJV). Here Paul is calling riches the “wisdom and knowledge of God.”
While it is not wrong to be rich in the New Testament, we are given several warnings about the deceitfulness of wealth including from Jesus Himself. It is a matter of our attitude about it and what we do with it.
I am a painter by trade. I mainly work for wealthy people, and I am in many homes of very rich people every year. Usually we spend an average of about a week in these houses, both Christian and non-Christian. When you spend that much time in someone’s home you get a feel for what they value and where their hearts are. I can say that most are very deceived by their riches. As for most wealthy Christians, I see they lavish their wealth on themselves as much as the non- Christians rather than on the kingdom of God, which is a major reason for seeking wealth according to the prosperity teachers. I also find that many of the most wealthy customers are also the most selfish and self-centered.
A wise man prayed one time in the Proverbs,
Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches--
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, "Who is the Lord?"
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God
(Prov. 30:8-9 NKJV).