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A Heart Set on Spiritual Abundance
In order to become rich spiritually, one must be determined and make sacrifices just as one would in the pursuit of material riches. This is alluded to by Jesus when he advised his followers to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6:20) Spiritual wealth does not accumulate on its own. Simply professing a faith or belief will not make one rich in spirit any more than merely possessing a bank account will make one wealthy. Rather, becoming spiritually rich involves cultivating a close relationship with God, growing as a spiritual person, and developing spiritual qualities such as wisdom, discernment, and compassion. This requires determination, time, focused effort, and sacrifice, as the book of Proverbs teaches us: “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding…then you will understand the fear of Jehovah and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:1-5)
A Heart that Will Settle for Nothing Less Than a Rich Relationship with God.
Is it possible to pursue both spiritual riches and material wealth simultaneously? While it may be possible, Jesus warned that it is not advisable. He declared: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) The pursuit of spiritual riches and material riches can create a conflict, as one can interfere with the other. Therefore, Jesus advised his disciples to prioritize the pursuit of spiritual wealth, saying: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19)
What happens if someone disregards Jesus’ advice and attempts to pursue both spiritual and material riches? Jesus warned that it is impossible to serve two masters, as one will inevitably prioritize one over the other. He said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24a) Pursuing both spiritual and material wealth can lead to a situation where spiritual matters become a nuisance and an obstacle to achieving material goals. Instead of relying on God, one may prioritize money and the possessions it can buy as the primary means of dealing with life’s challenges. As Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, Today’s English Version)
Every Christian should take Bible advice seriously when deciding where to focus their time, attention, and heart. Just because God does not set specific limits on how much a person can accumulate does not mean that the warnings against greed carry no consequences. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) Those who ignore Bible teachings and cultivate a desire for wealth will suffer spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, as the book of Galatians reminds us: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7) In contrast, Jesus promised that those who prioritize their spiritual needs would find happiness. (Matthew 5:3) Surely our Creator and his Son know what is best for our well-being and happiness! (Isaiah 48:17, 18)
A Choice You Will Not Regret
Will you choose God or wealth? It is evident that we must take care of our material needs. In his first letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul emphasized the importance of providing for one’s own family and encouraged Christians to place their hope in God and to pursue good deeds instead of riches. (1 Timothy 5:8; 6:17, 18) What will be your focus and pursuit? One of the most important good works that Paul referred to is the preaching and disciple-making work that Jesus entrusted to his disciples. (Matthew 28:19, 20) When Christians choose to simplify their lives, not just to slow down and enjoy life, but to have a greater share in this meaningful work, they are “storing up for themselves a treasure for the future” in God’s promised new world. And even now, they discover that spiritual wealth is “better than gold!” (1 Timothy 6:19; Proverbs 16:16; Philippians 1:10)
Consider the story of Justin, whose family converted to Christianity when he was young. At one point, his family lost all their possessions and were forced to leave their home. Justin recalls, “I always worried about what would happen if we reached a point where we had absolutely nothing. Well, that’s exactly what happened, and do you know what? Nothing happened! We still ate, drank, and had clothes to wear. God provided for us, and eventually, we recovered from our losses. This experience taught me to take Jesus’ promise seriously in Matthew 6:33, that if we prioritize God’s Kingdom, we need not worry about our material needs.” Today, Justin has a wife, and he is a pastor of a church, and they have everything they need materially. More importantly, they are spiritually rich.
Unlike earthly treasures, which can be stolen or lost, spiritual riches can be permanent. (Proverbs 23:4, 5; Matthew 6:20) It is true that spiritual growth is harder to measure than financial progress. Determining how much one has progressed in love, joy, or faith is not as simple as tracking financial gains. However, the rewards of spiritual riches are immeasurable. Referring to disciples who would leave their homes and livelihoods to make room for spiritual matters, Jesus promised: “Truly I tell you,” he said, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29, 30)
Generally Speaking, If You Do (A), You Will Get (B)
God provides for us in many ways, primarily through our application of Bible principles in our lives. When we follow the guidance and teachings found in the Bible, we are able to navigate life’s challenges with wisdom and discernment. We can also experience the peace and comfort that comes from having a close relationship with God. However, it is important to note that the promises of provision in the Bible are not absolute guarantees. While God does promise to bless those who obey him, we must also remember that we live in a wicked world that is controlled by Satan. The Bible acknowledges that bad things happen to good people, and we see this all around us in the world today. Children are starving, and Christians are persecuted, assaulted, and murdered. Natural disasters, economic downturns, job losses, and illnesses affect Christians and non-Christians alike.
It is important to understand that the promises of provision in the Bible are generally true. If we follow God’s commands and live according to his principles, we will experience his blessings in our lives. However, this does not mean that we will be immune to the challenges and trials of life. We must trust in God and have faith that he will provide for us, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Ultimately, our hope is not in this world but in the promises of God’s kingdom, where there will be no more pain, suffering, or death. (Revelation 21:4)
The Bible Does Not Say a Good Christian Lives Impoverished
Indeed, the Bible makes it clear that it is the love of money rather than money itself, that is problematic. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” However, the Bible does not teach that a good Christian must live in poverty or that wealth is inherently evil. Rather, it emphasizes the importance of prioritizing our relationship with God and using our resources for his glory.
The Bible acknowledges that money can provide security, as seen in Ecclesiastes 7:12, which says, “Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it.” Moreover, having wealth can provide us with the means to help others, including the church, fellow Christians, and the poor. In fact, the Bible encourages us to be generous with our resources and to use them to serve others. Proverbs 11:24-25 says, “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
Therefore, it is not wrong to be wealthy as long as we prioritize our relationship with God and use our resources to help others. It is important to maintain the right perspective on wealth and not let our desire for it become a stumbling block to our faith.