When was the last time you heard a Christian talk about how godly and pious it is to earn money? I can’t remember ever hearing that in church. Christians don’t like to talk about accumulating wealth, but they do like to talk about giving money to the poor and the needy.
What is it about getting rich, earning money, and making a profit that irks Christians?
Scripture gives us many stories of righteous people doing business and making profits, as well as those who wrongly pursue wealth by making it their idol. From both, we can learn that God does want us to seek to make a profit and do business, but only when we put him first in our enterprises. We do not want to look at the wealth we have and say, “This is mine,” but rather, “This is God’s.” That assertion should actually motivate us to invest and use our money more wisely than if it were our own possession.
In Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-27, Jesus tells the parable of the talents, where the master, representing God, commends his servants for making a profit with his money and condemns the servant who did nothing with his talent. If God gives us a gift, he calls us to steward it wisely, to use, and increase it. This is true not only of money, but of all our resources. Our wealth is really God’s wealth, and we are required by him to use it well. In Proverbs 31, we are told that a wise woman produces goods, sells them, invests her money, and accumulates wealth. She buys a field, makes a profit, and plants a vineyard. She makes garments and sells them. Her household is better off because of the work she does and the profit she makes.
We also see what happens to the people who make gold their idol. In Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, and Luke 18:18-23, the rich young ruler leaves Jesus disappointed because Jesus said that he would have to give his wealth to the poor in order to inherit eternal life. There was nothing wrong with having riches, but the ruler put his wealth before his walk with Jesus. Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 6:19-21 that they should not lay up treasures on earth. This may seem to contradict the examples of godly business in Proverbs 31 and the parable of the talents. But on closer examination, we see that Jesus does not mean that we should not be rich. His meaning is made clear in what he says in verse 21: “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” The rich young ruler’s money held the foremost place in his heart.
The Bible is full of passages encouraging Christians to do business, offering clear insight into the risks and rewards of pursuing profit. We ought to be hard at work so that when Jesus returns he will not find us sleeping. We ought to pursue the growth of our resources so at the end of time we, too, will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”