Money is an amoral element in our lives. In itself, it does not contain a moral value. You can do good with it, or you can do bad.
So why does it cause so much conflict? We need a certain amount, but we all want something different.
Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 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.Proverbs 30:7-9
The Book of Proverbs has much to say about finances. That’s a good thing, because as people, we are often consumed with our financial status, and we desperately need God’s wisdom from His Word. In this passage, the author requests something entirely unique but completely necessary. He asks that he be spared from being either wealthy or poor. I can imagine many people would pray against poverty, but who would actually pray against prosperity as well?
The Danger of Prosperity
The reasoning is solid. If we become so wealthy that our living conditions are marked by unnecessary excessiveness, we run the risk of neglecting God. We look at all we have and pridefully assume that it is our hands that provided it. Ignorantly, we live our lives ignoring the presence and provision of God. The more we have, the more prideful we often become. Rich people are prone to deny God’s provision because they are busy boasting about their performance. The more we accumulate, the less like we are to acknowledge God.
The Danger of Poverty
On the other hand, if we live in poverty, we might be tempted to take from others what does not belong to us. Robbing man and profaning God in one stroke, we attempt to justify sinful thievery based upon our meager amenities. If you believe you deserve more than you have, you might be tempted to justify taking it by any means necessary. Instead of working hard and remaining content, we take matters into our envious hands. Honest, hard work honors God, but deceptive, lazy thievery dishonors Him.
The Nature of Balance
You can experience financial ruin in either extreme by disregarding God. It’s not about what you have, but what you do with it. Scripture teaches that money in of itself isn’t evil but the love of money is (1 Tim. 6:10). The heart condition is much more important to investigate than any banking amount.
The biblical balance is learning how to work hard and steward wisely to provide for your needs and to offer what you have to others without transforming into an arrogant consumer.
Our prayer should be: “God, give me what I need but not everything that I want.”
So, if you don’t have all that you want right now, that might be a good thing. Look around at what you do have and thank God for it. For even if your job gave you the money to buy that item, who gave you the abilities and opportunities to work in the first place?
Beware the two dangerous financial extremes.
Work hard to avoid a poverty lifestyle, and worship hard to avoid a prosperity mindset.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.