Today, as a budding 23 year professional with a 401k, New York City rent, my own start-up business, and a wedding coming up in August, I give a lot more thought to money than I once did. My attitude towards money has changed drastically in the last six months, and there's something I need to get off my chest, a confession if you will.
I want to be rich.
I know what you're thinking: "HEATHEN!!!" First of all, no one uses that word anymore. Welcome to this century. Second, I think I might agree with you.
Is it wrong for a Christian to want to be rich? Am I sinning if I don't renounce my possessions and move to Uganda? Can I have a big bank account and still retain my salvation? These are the questions that have been haunting me for the past few months.
Now I know all the sayings…"Money can't buy happiness.” “A man cannot serve two masters.” “It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” “Money can't buy me love.” But is money evil? Is money bad? And am I a bad person if I have it?
When I look in our world today, I see evidence that would support either side of the argument. There are men and women who earn millions of dollars a year and spend it all on drugs, irresponsible gambling, and personal gain. But there are also men and women who earn millions of dollars a year who tithe faithfully to their church, give generously to many charities, and provide for the physical and emotional needs of his family. So again, I'm stuck with the same question, is money good or bad?
Other than a few obvious exceptions (lying, violence, discrimination, ect) I think there are very few things in this world that are inherently bad or "evil." The Bible itself tells us that money is not the root of all evil but, "the love of money is the root of all evil." (1 Timothy 6:10)
What this verse tells us is that when it comes to money, it is not the thing itself that is sinful, but rather, our attitude toward the thing. It's not necessarily about how much you have or don't have, give or don't give. It's about the state of your heart. What is wrong with pursuing wealth if your heart is set on storing those treasures in heaven?
Despite what some Pharisees-- I'm sorry, I mean experts-- may say, the founding principles of the Christian life do not center around a list of things we aren't allow to do or aren’t allowed to be. Too many of us have fallen victim to this lie and now whenever we see someone with money or success, we automatically assume such a person is "earthly" and "materialistic."
Admittedly, sometimes this is the case, but not always. Your spiritual maturity is not evidenced by the size of your bank account, it is evidenced by whether or not you steward every dollar for God's glory. This does not mean giving every last dollar away to the church or to charity. It means living in constant awareness that the money is a gift, and it means intentionally leveraging every dollar to help you glorify God more in your life.
Just because there are a few who abuse something, doesn't mean the thing inherently bad. And conversely, just because something (like a church) is universally accepted as "good", does not mean that it can't be abused to the point where it becomes bad.
This is the thin line between ministry and idolatry, and our finances are just one of many areas in our lives where this line pops up.
Wealth can destroy, but wealth can also build. Wealth can corrupt, but it can also be used to give life. Which side of the line we fall on is dependent on the intention residing in your heart.