By Edward Shelton
Before we look at what wealth is biblicaly we have to define two distinct terms. The first is money. The second is wealth. Money is what is traded for labor to use to purchase goods and services. Wealth is the generation and accumulation of money, property, and other valuable materials and markets. Wealth is bigger the money. One might say money is what you work for and wealth is what works for you.
Many Christians think that a high paying job is the definition of wealth. In all honesty that is just money. Lose the job you lose the wealth. We see in the bible that the main figures that had wealth ended up having systems that supported them. Abraham was supported by his livestock and servants. David was supported by the Israeli government. Lydia maker of purple in Acts was supported by an elite fashion market. We don’t see God hyper elevating a person in economic status in a short period of time. With any biblical profile person we see any one with wealth had some level of preparation either in home life or in labor prepared them for wealth. There is also an indication that rich people in the bible on average didn’t splurge their money. The only exception we see is Solomon and his decedents. We see what happened with that. We see a pattern of saving and passing down wealth.
So where do we get the disconnect of biblical acquisition wealth and our modern view? I would say the first breakdown issue is why we obtain wealth. Many of us obtain money and wealth simply to spend. Investment and moderate living are not considered. The idea of money and restraint doesn’t seem to go hand in hand with many of us. The second issue is that every image of these with money focuses on luxury. Ask a kid why hey want to be a basketball player, rapper, or entertainer. It is because of the lifestyle of ease and things that surround the stars. When one is struggling money seems like a solution to everything. When there is no one to tell you better, the life of fame gives the illusion of fixing everything.
The last fault I think were we have a biblical disconnect with wealth is the attachment of money to person-hood. In our culture having money automatically gives people a higher level of respect. Tell someone that a person is rich and watch the reaction. Then tell that same person that another person is poor. Then watch the reaction. In our society virtue and association is tied to wealth, then vice and disassociation is tied to poverty. People want the path of least resistance when it comes to life. Money appears to be the shortcut. If we are going to talk about the bible and wealth it has to focus on saving. It has to focus on investing. It has to focus on not spending above our means. It must crack the superficial flash of the culture. If not the gospel turns into “God gives me a lot of money to spend because he loves me.” In the end that’s hedonism.