July 18, 2013

MinistryCPA Special Topic: God Gives the Ability to Gain Wealth

Question:

A young man posits a question to his Christian grandfather: “Grandpa, I hope that I can someday have the smarts that you have. You have so much cool stuff—and you are always paying the bill at the restaurant and giving money to people. What is your secret to success?” How should a godly grandfather respond biblically to his grandson’s question?

Answer:

A Christian family might have an attitude that its position of wealth came from shrewd business strategies and hard work. At least at a time when he felt he needed an explanation to offer to his wives for his accumulation of wealth, Jacob credited God for his extensive possessions.

Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me (Genesis 31.9). 

Moses warned the people of Israel not to think of their possessions in this way: And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

The grandfather might first respond to his grandson by acknowledging the contributions of others whom God has used to enable his success. Consider the Apostle Paul: he recognized others for their support that God blessed, closing his letters often with final words that would resonate long with his readers (e.g. the church at Philippi (Philippians 4.10ff); Aquila and Priscilla (Romans 16.3ff)). 
  
The grandfather could also emphasize that having “cool stuff” can often be a distractor to what is actually most important. Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12.15). Being generous with others is just one way that God helps him to keep in perspective that his wealth is really not his own. It has been given to the young man’s grandfather by God in trust that he would use it as a faithful ambassador of God’s good will and as a steward of God’s possessions.  

Finally, he has no “secret of success.” Others have taught him, experience has prepared him, and God-granted discipline has sustained him to serve others. Those whom he has served have paid for the goods and services that he has sold to meet real and legitimate needs in their lives, families, and enterprises. His work has been blessed by God. Even Satan recognized that God had “blessed the work of [Job’s] hands, and his substance is increased in the land” (Job 1.10). Job said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave” (1.21). If God blesses one of His children with material possessions, he or she should only view it as a stewardship opportunity and responsibility, not as a validation of his or her own shrewdness.

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