The world for the most part makes finances a sort of high score to life. Those who are truly successful are able to accumulate great wealth in their lives. The entire structure of our society is built around the idea of amassing great wealth. If you consider college and the majors that people focus upon, they are often centered around the idea of success. That success is nearly always defined in some terms as accumulating wealth. We sign up for majors and complete degrees that will get us good jobs so that we can have money. I am convinced that many end up pursuing careers that they are not made for simply because the career affords the opportunity of financial stability and wealth.
While the world has developed such an idea of financial gain, what about God's people? Unfortunately many people in the church visible have a very similar mindset or attitude. There are those who look no different from these that we have described in their pursuit for money and wealth. Still others have taken the pursuit a step further and preach a "prosperity" gospel that affirms God's desire for all of us to be prosperous and wealthy. Where can we find clarity and help on this issue in such a confusing world? God's Word is truly a light for our path.
The biblical emphasis for Christians in regards to their finances is contentment. This is something that people can wrestle with regardless of how many funds they actually possess. Rich people can be consumed with accumulating more wealth, and poor people can be obsessed with the idea of what they would do if they had more wealth. 1 Timothy 6 has great insight into this idea:
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. -1 Tim 6:3-8
Note also that Paul emphasizes one main point for us to combat this perspective: contentment. First, in verse 6 he describes what is truly a great gain for the believer. It is not those who have accumulated wealth who have gained much, but rather those who have attained godliness mixed with contentment. What does this look like? Jesus mentioned this in other places as well, but ultimately it looks like seeking God's kingdom first in your life. Jesus speaks to this idea in Matt 6 when he emphasizes that we should not be worried about finances or our futures. Rather Jesus emphasizes that our first task and responsibility is to seek God's kingdom first, and then God will see to it that our needs are provided for.
You see, money is not an end, it is simply a means to an end. When it is used in this fashion, as a tool, then it has taken its proper place in our lives. Money is not something that should be pursued, instead we should pursue God's kingdom. If you are caught up in the pursuit of personal holiness and the calling of people into God's kingdom, then we will have enough money for what we need, because God will provide it for us.
One ultimate truth can protect you from the love of money: All money is God's money. Every single dollar, quarter and penny on the face of the earth belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. He distributes the wealth as he sees fit, some money is given to the godly, and it is used for his glory and good. Still other money is given to the ungodly for their lives and needs. He shows no partiality in that respect. However, sometimes great wealth is given to the ungodly. This can actually be a form of God's judgment on wicked and sinful mankind. How? Because there is a sense in which this wealth can be a "handing over" (see Rom 1:24-28 ) of God to the lusts and passions of unbelievers' lives and they can be consumed with their finances. For these people their wealth is a stumbling block to them that keeps them from God, and it will be to their great condemnation.
Beloved, do not buy into the lie of the world. Money and wealth is not an end, it is simply the means to an end. Seek God and his kingdom and all of your needs will be provided for you. These needs often will be provided through the work of your hands and the sweat of your brow. God's provision does not absolve you of the responsibility to be faithful. However, you don't have to spend all of your efforts and mind worrying about how you are going to make ends meet. Pursue God and work hard, and he will provide for you. Remember the snare of the love of money, and diligently keep watch over your heart. Be content, and it will go well for you.
"He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity." -Ecc 5:10