First, it is important to realize that it is not a sin to be wealthy. The ancient patriarchs Job, Abraham, and King Solomon were all very wealthy. In fact, God made them wealthy (Job 42:12-16; Genesis 12:1-3; 13:2; 1 Kings 3:10-14). God’s action simply proves that being wealthy is not wrong or God would not have done that. In addition to the examples in the Old Testament, God tells wealthy Christians in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 to share their wealth.
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. 1 Tim 6:17-19 (NAS95S)
God never rebukes wealthy Christians for being wealthy. He simply warns them to be generous. However, God does rebuke them as well as others for not loving Him and for sinning.
When God walked this earth, He told several people to give their money away. One of them was a rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-26). Jesus said that because money was their god. They loved their money more than they loved God. So we should not be surprised that Jesus challenged them to give their money. By saying that, Jesus helped them discover what was truly important to them. It was not God.
Wealthy Pastors? Now let’s ask the question, “Should pastors be wealthy?” In the Old Testament the Levites or the priests were not given an inheritance of the land. Consequently, the Levites were not able to grow their food. They lived among the people, and the Jewish people supported them with tithes of about 23.33 percent. Were the Levites wealthy? Most likely some had more money than others. Were any wealthy? We do not know.
The following passage applies to everyone – whether they are a Levite or a member of the clergy.
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Matt 6:24 (NAS95S)
The key to understanding this verse is the word “serve.” There are some poor people who are controlled by money just as much as some rich people. Also, there are people who give their money to others without regard to how much they own. Having money is not the issue. The issue is your heart attitude towards the money that God has given you.
In the following verse, notice that the ownership of money is not the root of evil. The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Tim 6:10 (NAS95S)
Do you love money?