SPECIAL TOPIC: WEALTH

I. Perspective of the Old Testament as a whole

A. God is the owner of all things

1. Genesis 1-2

2. 1 Chronicles 29:11

3. Psalm 24:1; 50:12; 89:11

4. Isaiah 66:2

B. Humans are stewards of wealth for God's purposes

1. Deuteronomy 8:11-20

2. Leviticus 19:9-18

3. Job 31:16-33

4. Isaiah 58:6-10

C. Wealth is a part of worship

1. the two tithes

a. Numbers 18:21-29; Deut. 12:6-7; 14:22-27

b. Deut. 14:28-29; 26:12-15

2. Proverbs 3:9

D. Wealth is seen as a gift from God for covenant fidelity

1. Deuteronomy 27-28

2. Proverbs 3:10; 8:20-21; 10:22; 15:6

E. Warning against wealth at the expense of others

1. Proverbs 21:6

2. Jeremiah 5:26-29

3. Hosea 12:6-8

4. Micah 6:9-12 

F. Wealth is not sinful in itself unless it is priority

1. Psalm 52:7; 62:10; 73:3-9

2. Proverbs 11:28; 23:4-5; 27:24; 28:20-22

3. Job 31:24-28

II. Unique perspective of Proverbs

A. Wealth placed in arena of personal effort

1. slothfulness and laziness condemned—Proverbs 6:6-11; 10:4-5,26; 12:24,27; 13:4; 15:19; 18:9; 19:15,24; 20:4, 13; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30-34; 26:13-16

2. hard work advocated—Proverbs 12:11,14; 13:11

B. Poverty versus riches used to illustrate righteousness versus wickedness—Proverbs 10:1ff; 11:27-28; 13:7; 15:16-17; 28:6,19-20

C. Wisdom (knowing God and His Word and living this knowledge) is better than riches—Proverbs 3:13-15; 8:9-11,18-21; 13:18

D. Warnings and admonitions

1. warnings

a. beware of guarantying a neighbor's loan (surety)—Proverbs 6:1-5; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26-27; 27:13

b. beware of getting rich through evil means—Proverbs 1:19; 10:2,15; 11:1; 13:11; 16:11; 20:10,23; 21:6; 22:16,22; 28:8

c. beware of borrowing—Proverbs 22:7

d. beware of fleetingness of wealth—Proverbs 23:4-5

e. wealth will not help on judgment day—Proverbs 11:4

f. wealth has many "friends"—Proverbs 14:20; 19:4

2. admonitions

a. generosity advocated—Proverbs 11:24-26; 14:31; 17:5; 19:17; 22:9,22-23; 23:10-11; 28:27

b. righteousness better than wealth—Proverbs 16:8; 28:6,8,20-22

c. prayer for need, not abundance—Proverbs 30:7-9

d. giving to the poor is giving to God—Proverbs 14:31

III. Perspective of the New Testament

A. Jesus

1. wealth forms a unique temptation to trust in ourselves and our resources instead of God and His resources

a. Matthew 6:24; 13:22; 19:23

b. Mark 10:23-31

c. Luke 12:15-21,33-34

d. Revelation 3:17-19

2. God will provide our physical needs

a. Matthew 6:19-34

b. Luke 12:29-32 

3. sowing is related to reaping (spiritual as well as physical)

a. Mark 4:24

b. Luke 6:36-38

c. Matthew 6:14; 18:35

4. repentance affects wealth

a. Luke 19:2-10

b. Leviticus 5:16

5. economic exploitation condemned

a. Matthew 23:25

b. Mark 12:38-40

6. end-time judgment is related to our use of wealth—Matthew 25:31-46

B. Paul

1. practical view like Proverbs (work)

a. Ephesians 4:28

b. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

c. 2 Thessalonians 3:8,11-12

d.1 Timothy 5:8

2. spiritual view like Jesus (things are fleeting, be content)

a. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (contentment)

b. Philippians 4:11-12 (contentment)

c. Hebrews 13:5 (contentment)

d. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (generosity and trust in God, not riches)

e. 1 Corinthians 7:30-31 (transformation of things)

IV. Conclusions

A. There is no systematic biblical theology concerning wealth.

B. There is no definitive passage on this subject, therefore, insights must be gleaned from different passages.  Take care not to read your views into these isolated texts.

C. Proverbs, which was written by the wise men (sages), has a different perspective than other types of biblical genre.  Proverbs is practical and individually focused.  It balances and must be balanced by other Scripture (cf. Jer. 18:18).

D. Our day needs to analyze its views and practices concerning wealth in light of the Bible.  Our priorities are misplaced if capitalism or communism are our only guide. Why and how one succeeds are more important questions than how much one has accumulated.

E. Accumulation of wealth must be balanced with true worship and responsible stewardship (cf. 2 Corinthians 8-9).

 

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