An Open Discussion About Wealthy Christians | Part I

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Several months ago I asked my friend and fellow blogger, Paul Williams (from Provident Planning), if we could have an email discussion about Christians and wealth.  I think a lot about that topic.  Occasionally I write about it too.  Below are some of my articles on the topic:

Is Christian Wealth an Oxymoron?

Should Christians Build Wealth Like Crazy?

How Can Wealth Strengthen Your Relationship With God?

5 Important Things Every Rich Christian Should Do

I asked Paul to join me in the discussions because I like that fact Paul is always willing to challenge commonly held assumptions.  I felt like if I entered this discussion with him I could make sure I wasn’t cheating in my theology and avoiding any tough questions.

wealthy Christians I opened the discussion with the following email:

I’m sometimes frustrated with people who deal with the topic of Christians and wealth in such a way that it seems like they made up their mind before they even read their Bibles.  Their comments and points all too quickly dismiss the complexity of the issue of Christians and wealth.

However, it is entirely possible to make a case that God may put a person in a position of extreme wealth for his purpose and his glory.

Consider an Old Testament story like Joseph.  God put Joseph into that place of authority and wealth in order to deliver his people during a time of severe famine.  Or, consider a New Testament story like Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43) who used his position to give Jesus a dignified burial.

In both of these stories, the individuals function as a positive example for Christians.

The question ultimately becomes where is the line?  When does one move from being a poor Christian to a middle class Christian to a wealthy Christian?  At what point does the amount one accumulates become sinful?

I tend to think we judge wealth in comparison.  In comparison to what we have.  In comparison to what we are used to.  In comparison to our preferences.  My greatest fear is that I will judge wealthy Christians without having ever had their experiences.  I might be talking out of a place of ignorance on the topic.  So I’ve decided that God calls some to be wealthy Christians and he calls others of us to live the simple life.  I know the call on my life is clear – simple living.  But does my call become normative for all Christians?

I remember feeling like a fish out of water when I explored massive mansions in the Champions area of Houston.  Seriously, I stood inside one of those houses with my eyes bulging out of my head.  I was seeing that same expression in the face of a five year old boy who was in our house last week.  He fiddled with the door handle, he turn light switches on and off.  I was to him what the wealthy in Houston were to me.

So I ask myself a difficult question – am I a wealthy Christian?  If so, is it wrong for me to be wealthy?

I look forward to your response.

Paul’s Response:

I hope I have not made up my mind about wealth and Christians apart from what Scripture says.  My goal in studying personal finance in the Bible was to eliminate as much eisegesis as I could [Editorial Note: eisegesis is the process of inserting meaning into a biblical text instead of taking meaning out of the text], though I think that’s very difficult to do.  It’s hard to set aside our cultural mindsets and the things we’ve been taught to read the Bible without any outside influence.

I agree with you that God can and does put Christians in a position of extreme wealth to use for His purposes and glory.  But that’s a different point than what we’re discussing.  The problem we’re discussing is more of “What should a Christian who has such wealth do with that money?”.

I’m not sure we can draw hard lines to create a list of boundaries for Christians.  As you said, we tend to judge wealth in comparison.  The line I would draw for a wealthy person is different from what a person in a very poor country would draw.  And the line I’d draw for myself would be different from the line the person in extreme poverty would draw for me.

I think the main issue is a matter of what’s going on in your heart.  Are you consumed with a desire for wealth and luxury?  Would you neglect serving God in order to get more money?  Are you more concerned with keeping your riches than pursuing God’s kingdom and doing what He commands?

That’s why we can’t draw hard lines for each other.  I have no idea what’s going on in your heart.  BUT I can look at your deeds and admonish you to consider how you’re spending your wealth.  I can rightfully encourage a rich Christian to examine themselves and how they’re spending their money because of the witness it’s presenting to me.  And an extremely poor Christian can rightfully do the same to me.  I need them to because they can see what I can’t.  I can be blind to my own greed and preoccupation with wealth.  So I think it’s important for us to encourage each other on toward good deeds.

The reason I’m so cautious about condoning a luxurious lifestyle is because it’s so easy to fall into Satan’s snares when it comes to money.  Carefully read Jesus’ words in Luke 12:13-34 as a whole and also what He said to the rich ruler and His disciples in Luke 18:18-30.  I think too often we underestimate the hold that money can have on our hearts and our lives.  Jesus’ warnings are clear in my opinion – we ought not hold worldly ideals of wealth and money too high because they can keep us from serving God.

Paul Williams

If you want to read more of Paul’s writing please check out his blog Provident Planning.

Tomorrow I’ll post the second part of our discussion, but if you have any comments to share the comment section is open 24 hours a day …


  1. says

    Thank you for opening up this discussion.

    While I wouldn’t consider myself wealthy, I can say that I’m very blessed. I have a healthy family, a decent job, and purpose for my life. In serving God’s purpose for my life, doors have been opened for me and obstacles have fallen by the wayside. The path I am taking could very well lead to wealth if God see’s fit the entrust me with it.

    If wealth does come into my life, I know that it is not MY wealth to do with as I please. It’s His, and I should enjoy it as well as use in under His direction. Right now, I’m being directed to bless other people with my talents, experiences, skills, and money. Wealth will not change that as long as my eyes are fixed upward and I walk in obedience.


    • Norma Jean says

      I really like and agree with David’s post. If we are following Yahweh with a pure heart and He brings finances and blessings our way, we are generous and caring towards others, we should enjoy and be thankful for all that He brings to us. If we do not it is an insult toward God. He blesses those who bless others. It is the people who “hold on to every penny,” that never seem to have enough and end up losing it all. And wealth is realative. Wealth comes in many gises; health first of all, and then all that David mentioned.

      It is always a heart issue and we cannot judge other peoples hearts by looking at what they possess. A poverty mentality also has many faces. People with lots of money can still have a poverty mentality and refuse to use their money to be a blessing, especially toward their family members.

      God alone knows our hearts and if we are walking in fellowship with Him and hear His voice and obey His Word and His leading we cannot go wrong in any area of our lives.

  2. says

    I agree with what you said about it being a heart matter. I believe some are truly called to wealth for God’s purposes and Kingdom advancement. If you look at all the rich saints of old like Joseph, Abraham, Adam, David, & Solomon they were right with God and non of these men were in sin because of their wealth. God increased them “little by little” but at the same time he increase their “spiritual strength” or character to maintain that wealth.

    It’s God who gave these men the power to get wealth. Peter and Paul said GOD’S power is given to His people for good and for the edification of others. He knew from the beginning they would be right with Him in their hearts. It would make no sense to give a man “five talents” according to his several ability knowing he would hid it in the dirt like the man with one talent. That’s why he got one talent because of his “several ability” as the Scriptures puts it. God knew he would squander it.

    Yea, we all know that there are many out there totally abusing their financial commitments to God. But perhaps they are the ones Satan approached to offer all the kingdoms and they took that deal.

    I believe it also boils down to wheat and tares. Trees with good fruit and trees with bad fruit (or none at all). Jesus said we would still know them by their fruits. So we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion because a Christian is super rich.

    With the names I mentioned early: Joseph, Abraham, Adam, David, Solomon, Lot, and Job they were Old Testament examples of what how we are to handle finances in the New.

    Paul said,

    “Now ALL these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for OUR ADMONITION [Gk: 'calling attention to, i.e. (implication) mild rebuke or warning:--to reprove, caution, remind of obligation or duty, etc'], upon whom the ends of the world [‘eons—ages’] are come” (1st Corinthians 10:11).

    “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for OUR LEARNING, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4).

    It is essential that we study the Old Testament Scriptures, for they are often the only key to the New Testament Scriptures. Paul constantly referred to the Old Testament Scriptures in his epistles, and he taught the whole plan of salvation from the Old Testament Scriptures, as they were the only Scriptures available during his ministry.

    “And that from a child you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).

    These same Scriptures were now able to make Timothy wise unto salvation, but not until he first learned about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures.

    This principle applies with wealth, finances, business practices, etc. But again, it all depends on if one has the spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear it that they may do all of the Lord’s will.

    Great topic!

    Love you guys,
    Ricardo Butler

  3. Douglas says

    Wealth? for what purpose? If a true hearted Christian (only GOD knows who the true Christians are, for man can be fooled sometimes and all the time but GOD can never be fooled for he sees your heart) has wealth, then he or she has it for a purpose and that purpose is to support the mission and purposes of GOD. Not to drive in RR and fly in Lear Jets, live in Mansions and if a minister have those type of possessions and some in your flock is barely able to eat a meal on a daily basis or have proper shelter. When you add that up…that doesn’t equal a True Christian!

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