by Fillmer Hevener
Today in 2011, there are those, both Christians and non-Christians, who attack the concept of wealth generation as being of Satan, not of God. One such group would appear to be the “Occupy Wall Street” hellions. This negative, twisted view of wealth generation is not taught by the Holy Bible.
First, are there examples in Scripture of God assisting individuals in becoming wealthy? The answer is, “Yes.”
Abraham, whom most informed people accept as being the “Father” of the Jews, was exceedingly wealthy and was richly blessed by God, the Creator and Owner of everything. David writes that the cattle on a thousand hills belong to God. (Ps. 50:10.) Clarke’s Commentary notes that Abraham was “very rich.” God promised to bless Abraham for his faithfulness, both spiritually and temporally. Not only did Abraham have many flocks, but silver and gold as well. The highly respected Jewish historian, Josephus, says that a part of this prosperity was acquired by Abraham teaching the Egyptians both arts and sciences. Abraham was both wise and well informed! In addition, God also blessed Abraham spiritually because of his faithfulness and obedience. Therefore, not only did God approve of Abraham’s wealth, but He also participated in seeing that His servant was richly blessed in flocks, gold, silver, and spirit.
Another wealthy Biblical character is Job. He owned 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 pairs of oxen, and 500 female donkeys; in addition, he had a large number of servants (Job 1: 1-4.) Although Job was sorely tested, he remained true to God. When Job’s troubles continued to mount, Job’s wife advised him to curse God, but Job called her “foolish” (Job 2:9-10.) Job asked her, “Shall we take only good things from God and not trouble?” “In all things, Job did not sin.” (v.10.) Because of Job’s faithfulness, at the end of the epic, God restores Job’s wealth doubly as well as gives him long life, allowing him to enjoy his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. (Job chapter 42.) Finally, God calls Job “perfect.” (Job1: 1.) Yes, God proclaims that a wealthy man can be “perfect.”
Jesus Christ also taught the importance of wealth generation. In His parable about the three servants, Christ had a master give each servant a certain number of bags of money. To the first servant, the master gave five bags of money, to the second servant he gave two bags of money, and to the third servant, he gave one bag of money. Each servant was to manage his allotment of money for his master, who then left for an extended journey. Upon the master’s return, he called the three servants before him to account for their stewardship. The first servant doubled his five bags of money, the second servant doubled his two bags of money, but the third servant buried his money, hoping that the master would be satisfied with preserving the original capital. As the parable closes, the master returns home and praises the first two servants for their business ability; because they had demonstrated their good judgment and business acumen, he put under their management additional wealth. However, the master calls the third servant slothful, condemning him to outer darkness and giving his money to the first two servants, who demonstrated their enterprise, integrity, wisdom, and good business judgment (Matthew 25.)
Of course, the master in the parable symbolizes God, and the servants symbolize each individual. Although each person is given different abilities, talents, God expects him to increase those talents, and, in the judgment, each person will have to give account for the talents that God has given him. These talents include such assets as time, life, money, and health.
Today, there are some who would condemn wealth fairly gotten and have the government take the wealth from the thrifty and energetic, while giving it to those who refuse to practice the work ethic and refuse to take responsibility for developing their own God-given talents.
Remember the Ten Commandments? The eighth says that man is not to steal; the tenth says that man is not to covet. James writes that we shall be judged by the Ten Commandments (James 2: 8-12). Therefore, wanting to confiscate what someone else has breaks both of these commandments and puts us in jeopardy on the day of God’s judgment. Money is not the root of evil; it is the LOVE OF MONEY that is the root of all evil. Anytime we put money, or any other object, above our love for God and serving Him, that object become our god; therefore, we break the first of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20: 3 &1 Timothy 6:10).
In summary, does God approve of wealth generation? As we have seen, not only does He approve of it; He demands it!
Dr. Fillmer Hevener earned a doctorate of education from the University of Virginia. An accomplished portrait artist, he is also pastor of Guthrie Memorial Chapel. Visit its website, www.GuthrieMemorial.org.