If you think that your wealth comes from your hard work, you’re only half right. Because God says that He owns everything in the world. Doesn’t that mean that everything that we enjoy in life ultimately has to come from Him?
It’s easy to think that we are responsible for our own financial success. After all, we work hard, make strategic choices, invest well and see financial gain from those actions. But this cause-and-effect relationship can be misleading. After all, God gave us our brains, our wisdom and our work ethic in the first place. God gives us everything we have.
If we let ourselves believe that we have earned or attained everything that we have in life, we can easily become proud, greedy, arrogant and stingy. It’s a great recipe for eventually becoming a slave to money. Even worse than that, though, we begin to forget about God. We neglect to thank Him and praise Him for all of the blessings He has poured into our lives. Go too far down that road, and we will eventually forget about God altogether.
Not only does God own it all, but He gives it all. Everything we have comes from Him. He makes the point Himself in this remarkable passage from Deut. 8:10-18 (it’s long, but worthwhile):
10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
In this passage, God is reminding the people of Israel of all that He has done for them. Everything they had came from Him, and he warns them of the dangers that would come if they forgot to praise and thank Him for His blessings.
There are a lot of parallels between this scriptural picture and the society that we live in today. Here are some that I find especially significant:
- v. 10 — When we “eat and are satisfied,” it’s important for us to thank the Lord. For me, that means every time I collect a paycheck.
- v. 11-14 — If we’re not intentionally thankful, our financial success can blind us to the truth of God’s provision. The passage warns that if we don’t give thanks when we enjoy success, “your heart will become proud, and you will forget the Lord your God.” In our western society, where we enjoy so much wealth and blessing, this is a huge risk. And when things go well — we get great jobs, promotions, raises, etc. — it’s easy to sit back and think that we have earned and deserve all of these blessings. But the more credit we give to ourselves for earning things, the less praise we give to God.
- v. 15-16 — We are only able to succeed because God, in His love and mercy, has brought us into a place where success is possible. Just has He rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He has rescued us from sin and poverty. We could have been born into a country with extreme poverty or a corrupt government. But we weren’t. Our very freedom and opportunity are gifts from Him; we’re only able to prosper because He has rescued us from so much.
- v. 17-18 — When we begin to think that we have earned our success, it’s important to remember God, for “it is he who gives you your ability to produce wealth.” He gives us our abilities, talents, skills, resources and time. He gave you a job and an education. He is the creative spark that puts new ideas into your mind. Everything that we count on for success in life is something we have received from Him. We can’t take credit for anything, no matter how much success we attain.
When we let the word of God change our heart attitudes about money, we realize that God owns it all, and that He gives us everything we have. If we remember to praise Him and thank Him for that, it saves us from the dangers of pride and folly. And it also informs the way we handle our money.
After all, if God gave you everything you have, isn’t it only right that you should handle it in the ways that He says are best?
Photo by Bark. Used under Creative Commons License.