“And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” Deuteronomy 8:18

One of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil….” Most often we hear people say, “Money is the root of all evil.” What a poor representation of the mind of the Lord! Greed and grasping is what is in focus, not a biblical view of the utility of money. Profit, private property, and money are the product of work. Ecclesiastes 5:9 states, “Moreover the profit of the land is for all; even the king is served from the field.” Ecclesiastes 5:18f says, “Here is what I have seen: it is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God.” Ultimately, God owns all wealth (Leviticus 25:23).

I find it interesting that our Lord uses money as a teaching tool in at least one third of His parables. In fact, He actually praises the increase of money in His parable of the talents found in Matthew 25. There is no disputing the fact that if our Lord believed that making a profit is sinful then He would never have used such an illustration. The key to determine the suitability of gaining a profit is the motivation (self-control), the means (capital), the method (ethics), and the mission (ultimate purpose) in the pursuit of profit.

The Bible has much to say concerning self-control of motivation to make a profit. As our passage in 1 Timothy 6 warned, “…the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” therefore you must take precautions to guard against greed. In verse 9 Paul warned, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” People have been murdered for less than five bucks. Whether a little or a lot, any amount of money can be misused. Proverbs 22:4 states the cure for misplaced money priorities: “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life.” In other words, the profit a man desires to make with his life must be secondary to the call to godliness for him. Profit must always be in submission to God’s priorities. Keep your eyes on the Lord only, as our Lord illustrates in Matthew 6:24: “No man can serve two masters.” Jeremiah 9:23f reads, “‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me. That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the LORD.”

Greed is in our sin-nature’s DNA. Riches can get in the way of coming to Christ, as our Lord says in Mark 10:23f, “Hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” He also introduces His parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13ff) with these words: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” A worthy prayer for the serious saint is found in Proverbs 30:8–9.

Concerning the capital that you can put to work to make a profit, the Bible has some specific things to say. Proverbs 22:7 encourages believers to avoid debt: “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” We should value freedom from debt so much that we are willing to give up a whole lot for it. Of course, you should pay off your debts (Psalm 37:2; Proverbs 22:26f). Studiously avoid any “opportunity” that appears too good to be true. Proverbs 13:11 reads, “Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase.” Also Proverbs 14:5 states, “A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies.” For capital, the bottom line is to save more, as Proverbs 10:4 says: “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”

Concerning the ethics of your method for wealth, it is imperative that you handle money God’s way (Isaiah 33:15). Pay your taxes (Romans 13:7f), make a budget (Luke 14:28ff) with good counsel (Proverbs 15:22), set your financial priorities (Proverbs 24:27), and develop a financial plan (Proverbs 21:5). Because riches fly away (Proverbs 23:4f) you should build an emergency fund (Genesis 41:34ff) and be sure to diligently give to the Lord’s work (Malachi 3:10, Matthew 6:33, 2 Corinthians 8:8–9:15). Work hard at good, honest work (Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:11f). Never use money to attempt to buy spiritual position with God or man (Matthew 6:3, 23:23f; Acts 8:20f). Do not treat others unjustly in your pursuit of a profit (Proverbs 20:10) and be a good boss (James 5:4, Proverbs 22:16). Money is a tool to be controlled, not to control you, for God will supply your needs (Philippians 4:19). As you take care of His business, He will take care of yours.

The Bible also gives general investment advice. Solomon gives some great pointers: Ecclesiastes 5:10–20 stresses the fact that you must invest your life wisely. Ecclesiastes 11 is rich with advice: diversify (verse 6), don’t attempt to time the market (verse 4), reward is related to risk (verses 1–6), keep your eye on the long term rather than the immediate (verses 1f), and seek to reduce risk as you age (verses 13f). Be extremely careful in loaning money (Proverbs 20:16, 27:13) for no one else will as carefully handle your money as you will (Proverbs 22:26f).

Concerning the ultimate purpose of your life’s money mission, there are some critical touchpoints. Your real wealth is found in heaven (Matthew 19:21), invest so you can give away (Luke 6:38) for it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35). Seek to leave an inheritance (Proverbs 13:22). Seek to minister wisely to the needs of others (Proverbs 28:27). Use every dollar as if it is a gift from God, for it is! Trust and obey.