4 Things The Apostle Paul Teaches Us About Money

by Jason on February 16, 2011

The Apostle Paul is the most well-known Christian missionary.

He was beaten, persecuted, shipwrecked, and thrown into prison numerous times for his faith, yet wrote half of the New Testament!

Most of the church doctrine you see today is either a direct or indirect result of Paul’s writings.  Paul was an amazing and gifted man of God; and one that we would all do well to esteem.

Paul also talked about money on more than one occasion.  Can you imagine if Paul was a financial advisor?  What would he say to his clients?  Let’s take a look at what the Apostle Paul teaches us about money:

Don’t Love Your Money

Paul mentored, discipled, and wrote two letters to a young pastor named Timothy.  Here’s what Paul says to him in 1 Timothy 6:10:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (ESV)

Notice that Paul never says money itself is a root of evil – rather he says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

If money were evil, we’d be in trouble.  Loving it is where the problem lies.

How can we tell if we love money?  We can begin by asking ourselves if we have a desire to be rich, to make a quick buck, or if we constantly look for things that benefit us financially.  

Loving money is a destructive force.  Notice the vivid language he uses – through this craving some have pierced themselves with many pangs and have wandered from the faith!

What Paul emphatically warns against is that the yearning for money can - and will - lead to ruin, both financial and spiritual. 

Cultivate a Generous Life

The second money lesson from Paul is to cultivate a generous life.  Notice what he says in the very famous passage of 2 Corinthians 8:7

But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you - see that you excel in this act of grace also.

What is this act of grace that Paul is talking about here?  If you look at the context of chapter 8, you’ll notice that Paul is talking about the generosity of the Macedonian Christians who were giving out of extreme poverty.

Paul is challenging the Corinthian church (and us today) to excel in the gracious act of giving generously to others!

I love what Paul says two verses later about why we should give so lavishly without complaint:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Our motivation is Jesus’ generosity shown to us through the Gospel.

View Your Work as a Means to a Greater End

Why do you work?  Some of us would answer, “Because I have to”, or “Because I enjoy it”, or “What else would I do?”

But the Apostle Paul gives us a different view of work that I think many Americans don’t have.  Here’s what he says:

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

Let the thief work hard so that he may have something to share with those in need!  We work hard to earn money so we can be a blessing to others.  If American Christianity understood that, we’d see a dramatic rise in giving in the U.S. 

We aren’t called to hoard, or to build up a huge retirement nest egg, or buy bigger houses, or drive more expensive cars, we are called to share with those in need! 

How often do we proactively look for opportunities to be a blessing to others by sharing what we have?  Many times we pass right by them.

Riches Are Good, Just Use Them Wisely

Wait a second – didn’t you just say Christians aren’t called to be about nest eggs and fancy cars? 

You’re right, but I’m not contradicting myself here.  I don’t think Christians need to take a vow of poverty because you can be rich and not be consumed with your wealth.   It all comes down to the heart. 

But if you are rich, you must take extra precaution.  You must be careful to avoid loving money more than God.  There are certain things that rich Christians must do with their money as well.  Look at what Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17-18:

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.

Notice Paul says they are to do good, be generous and ready to share.  It’s OK to be rich, but how eager are you to share with those in need?

What Are Your Thoughts?

Which one of Paul’s teachings resonates most with you?

Would you add any other teachings on money from Paul?

This was a post I originally wrote for ChristianPF.com, you can view the original here.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Cork February 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Jason – great article and food for thought. Over the years I have had some interesting discussions concerning Christian’s preoccupation with retirement savings. They have bought into the worlds view of retirement hook, line and sinker: i.e. work 40 years in a job(s) you hate, try to amass enough money to “live the good life” of not working for the remainder of their lives! In fact, if a Christian is fulfilling his/her calling through properly aligned Passion, Personality, and Potential, they more than likely would not think of it as a job to be hated and finally be free of. Most folks I know who truly enjoy what they are doing never “retire”! Their role may change somewhat over the years (from active to more oversight/mentor role) as they grow older. Their primary goal is not to mae money, but to be a good steward with the resources they have been given. I believe that Christians in more affluent countries have an obligation to do as well as they can in order to do as much good as they can! Hymn “America The Beautiful” has this line in the 3rd stanza: “America, America may God thy gold refine, til all success be nobleness and all thy gain Divine”. Oh that all the pew sitters would have this as their goal. As a family, we have adopted Galatians 6:10 “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” as our family mission statement. It is hard to do that if we are in jobs we hate, barely making ends meet, deep in debt to buy the latest toys, and following the worldly practice of just getting a job, irregardless of talents and desires. No wonder missionaries are struggling and quiting in record numbers.
I think one of the main problems with the average Chrisitian in the pew is that we do not beilieve that what we do is a calling and/or ministry! Thanks again for the blog post.

Anonymous February 17, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Cork, thanks for checking in. I appreciate your comments and agree that unfortunately we all too often live for earthly treasure rather than storing up the heavenly treasure. Love the family mission statement!

Mike Wittig March 3, 2011 at 3:46 am

Great stuff Jason.

Anonymous March 3, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Thanks Mike!

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