Making A Godly Use of Our Wealth
And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth
Question 142 of the Larger Catechism asks, “What are the sins forbidden in the eighth commandment?” The final part of the answer states, “The sins forbidden in the eighth commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are… as likewise idleness, prodigality, wasteful gaming; and all other ways whereby we do unduly prejudice our own outward estate, and defrauding ourselves of the due use and comfort of that estate which God hath given us.” Last time we saw how stealing, like all sin, begins in the heart. Today we consider our responsibility to protect our wealth and our ability to earn wealth.
It may run contrary to the common way of thinking today, but the Bible is not against wealth. Some of the godliest people in Scripture have been among the wealthiest of their age. Thus, Job was both the most upright and the richest man of his day (Job 1:1-3). We could add people like Abraham, David, Esther, and Daniel to that list, who all possessed enormous wealth and were known for their virtue. It may be stretching the analogy a bit, but God Himself is both the most righteous and the wealthiest being there is! Now these examples, especially the last one, prove the point that having wealth is in no wise incompatible with godliness. It is not money itself, but “the love of money” that Scripture calls “the root of all evil,” (1 Tim. 6:10). Thus, Jesus warned His disciples to not love the things of this world but to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you,” (Matt. 6:33).
Now couple this point with the fact that it is God’s blessing that “makes one rich,” (Prov. 10:22); and that wealth and riches in this life are said to be God’s gift (and not curse) to some (Eccles. 5:22). Moreover, in the next life riches will be the inheritance of all the godly (Ps. 112:3). Take a moment to read Rev. 21:10-27 and consider the opulent wealth of the magnificent home that God promises to all His children. Surely our God is an extravagant God and our cup will run over in the luxury of His kingdom for all eternity! So what should we say about wealth in this life, should we seek it or not?
I believe Scripture answers this question very clearly. We are not to seek wealth in and of itself (see Matt. 6:33 above). But we are to make the most of the good gifts that our most generous God gives to us. Making the most of God’s good gifts; obviously in a godly fashion, keeping things in the proper balance; is how we show our love for Him. Thus, Christians should do their best at school and at their jobs (diligently using God’s gifts of intellect and opportunity) without making these things an idol. And if you do and God blesses you with the further gifts of success and wealth, which often go with hard work, you have even more reason to be thankful to God and to be a good steward of all that God is giving you for His glory and your godly enjoyment.
Here we see how the Catechism directly speaks to our duty to, in effect be good stewards of our God-given wealth, no matter how great or how small. We are to be grateful for and appreciate what God has given to us, avoiding anything that would “defraud” us of its use and comfort. The things of this world can be used for much good. We know this. Thus, we should do all we can to take care of those good things that God has given to us, in order to make the best use of them. Conversely we “unduly prejudice” our wealth when we take unnecessary chances with it, such as gambling, playing the market, or even neglecting to make a wise use of the means of protection and preservation, such as door locks and insurance! Prodigality is to waste wealth on foolish or sinful things. Idleness squanders opportunity for new wealth even as it allows what we have to be lost. So the idle shepherd puts off fixing the fence until the wolf comes in and causes him much greater loss. May our good God cause us to see that all we have are His good gifts to us, so that we will be careful to take care of our possessions for His glory and our good.