When it comes to money, at least two things are true. On one hand, money can be used greatly for the good. We use it to provide for our needs, be generous towards others, and acquire some of the products and services we want and enjoy. On the other hand, money presents us with great temptations.
Yet it wasn’t always this way. In the beginning, God’s creation was one in which Adam and Eve could flourish in the midst of created abundance. God told them to “have dominion” over (manage) this world of abundance, and to “till the soil” (bring out the hidden potentials) of this abundant world. At the time of creation, there were no wealth-related sins such as theft or greed.
After the fall, however, things changed dramatically. In the chapters and books immediately following the story of the first couple’s sin, we notice humans sinning with wealth in three specific ways.
Each of us is tempted to acquire, use and view wealth in sinful, misdirected ways.
First, humans sinned in their acquisition of wealth. Instead of working to acquire life’s necessities and luxuries, they stole from others. For this reason, the eighth commandment says, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15), and the writer of Proverbs praises hard work while criticizing laziness (Proverbs 6:6-11).
Second, people also sinned in their use of wealth. For this reason, the Bible commends those who share with others rather than hoarding for themselves (Acts 2:44-45) and who pay a fair wage to those who work (Acts 5:3-4).
Third, people also sinned in their view of wealth and possessions. They considered those things as ultimate, rather than seeing God as ultimate. For this reason, we are warned not to make an idol out of silver (Ecclesiastes 5:10) or earthly treasures (Matthew 6:19-24), to not be greedy (Proverbs 28:25) and to not be anxious about the material things that we need (Matthew 6:25-34).
These sins related to wealth still persist today. Each of us is tempted to acquire, use and view wealth in sinful, misdirected ways. Yet Christ’s redemption changed everything. We now have been set free to redirect our lives wholly toward Christ. This redirection includes the economic aspect of our lives.
In terms of the acquisition of our wealth, we want to work hard to earn the things we need and want, and to make sure that our labor is always done morally and legally.
In terms of the use of our wealth, we should view our possessions as being (ultimately) God’s possessions and have an attitude of thankfulness toward God, who is the provider of those things. We should be generous to those who have need, especially those (such as widows and orphans) who are least able to provide for themselves. We should not allow wealth to cause divisions within the church, and we should not display favoritism toward the wealth.
In terms of our view of wealth and possessions, we should never treat those things as ultimate or as saviors, because only God is ultimate and only he can save.
Even though we are tempted to misuse our wealth, Christ has redeemed us. Now, we can glorify him with all of our lives — including our wallets.