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Should Christians try to become rich in order to give it away?

Western Christians are among the wealthiest people who have lived on the planet. We are around 90 times richer than the people Jesus was preaching to in 1st Palestine. So when we pursue additional money, it is simply the very rich trying to become still richer. 

The motivation for the pursuit may well be altruistic – it was for me. But such a pursuit regardless of motivation is never encouraged in the Bible. To the contrary there are numerous passages that exhort something else – contentment. This not the opposite of seeking wealth. That would be seeking poverty. It is rather about being content with our material possessions, giving generously from what we do have, and trusting God to do what needs to be done.

Christians empowered by the Holy Spirit can wield power over our money. But until we are made perfect, any desire for wealth—even the desire to do good with it—might wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.
The Gospel Coalition

Reasons why seeking to be richer is ill advised

We are expressly warned against acquiring wealth

Pro 23:4 ESV  Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.

We are encouraged to seek only what we need, never more

Mat 6:11 ESV  Give us this day our daily bread,

Luk 11:3 ESV  Give us each day our daily bread,

Christians are encouraged to be content and never to seek more material wealth

1Ti 6:8 ESV  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

Heb 13:5 ESV  Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

We are discouraged from storing up wealth

Mat 6:19-21 ESV  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  20  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  21  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We are warned against worrying for more than our needs

Mat 6:25 ESV  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Riches are inherently deceitful

Mat 13:22 ESV  As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Mar 4:19 ESV  but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

It is difficult for rich people to get to heaven

Mar 10:23,25 ESV  And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” … 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Luk 18:24-25 ESV  Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!  25  For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Those who give out of lack are commended

Mar 12:43-44 ESV  And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.  44  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Luk 21:3-4 ESV  And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them.  4  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Material wealth is not needed for making other people rich

2Co 6:10 ESV  as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

Desiring to be rich is dangerous

1Ti 6:9 ESV  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

People who are poor are often commended and never encouraged to seek wealth

Rev 2:9 ESV  “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

People who are rich are often condemned

Rev 3:17-18 ESV  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  18  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

Our focus affects our life.

Mat 6:22-24 ESV  “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,  23  but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!  24  “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

By example

Pro 30:7-9 ESV  Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die:  8  Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,  9  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.

Objections

It is the ‘love of riches’ not ‘riches’ that the Bible warns against

Ecc 5:10 ESV  He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.

We are exhorted to labour in order to give

Eph 4:28 ESV  Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

 

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