Riches in Christ

If you read the Bible right, you can’t escape this conclusion: Jesus is loaded.

Yes, you read that correctly. According to scripture, the only begotten Son of God is wealthy beyond belief. And He wants to share some of His riches with you.

Now, please don’t jump to conclusions — I’m not getting ready to launch into a “prosperity gospel” sermon here. In fact, we spent the last article in this series discussing the shortcomings of prosperity teachings as a spiritual and financial philosophy. But one of the things that makes the prosperity gospel so enticing is that the Bible has a lot to say about money, and the New Testament in particular talks an awful lot about having riches in Christ. If we’re going to truly enjoy riches in Christ, though, we should probably stop and consider what that really means.

First, let’s review some foundational concepts. Perhaps the most basic principle in a biblical study of money is the fact that God owns everything. He is the sovereign creator of the world, and possesses everything therein. This means that all of the world’s wealth and material things really belong to Him; although we like to think that we own our possessions, we are really just managing resources for Him.

When we manage God’s money, we’re not just doing it to support our families, or even to build the church, support good causes or finance the work of the Kingdom (though we should be doing all of those things). We’re also laying a foundation for things that will happen in eternity. The things that we do with our money on earth have important ramifications in Heaven.

The Bible also tells us that if we handle our worldly wealth well, God will entrust us with “true riches” (see Luke 16:11). So what are these true riches? It’s not large quantities of silver or gold. It’s the glorious riches of Christ.

The New Testament talks a lot about Jesus’ riches. One of the better-known verses on the subject is Philippians 4:19:

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

We like to quote this verse a lot, especially when we’re facing a physical or financial need. Yes, God owns the wealth of the entire world, and it’s conceivable that He is able to direct some of it your way to help you out of a bind. But I don’t think that this verse is really talking about money. After all, the text says that God meets our needs “according to the riches of his glory.” And the glory of God is much bigger than money.

If we’re going to understand what true riches are, we need to learn more about the riches of the glory of Christ. Fortunately, the Bible gives us a lot of material to study. Here are some of the characteristics of Christ’s riches that we find throughout the New Testament:

  • He is rich in kindness, forbearance and patience (Rom. 2:4)
  • He has deep riches of wisdom and knowledge (Rom. 11:33)
  • He has the riches of understanding the knowledge of God (Col. 2:2-3)
  • He is rich in grace (Eph. 1:7)
  • He is rich in the inheritance of His people (Eph. 1:18)
  • He is rich in power and love (Eph. 3:8-16)

I could go on and on with more scripture, but hopefully you get the point. Although God is the owner of all of the physical world, He doesn’t value any of the world’s wealth. God says that true riches are in Christ. And when we live in Christ, we have access to the limitless riches of His kindness, wisdom, grace, knowledge, power and love.

In this earthly existence, we can so easily become distracted by money. There seems to be no end to the ways that money can enslave us. And though money is important and can be useful to us, it pales in comparison to the true riches of Christ. The prosperity gospel falls short because it emphasizes worldly wealth instead of the true riches that we have in Jesus. And every time that we let money take a place in our hearts that rightfully belongs to God, we fall prey to the same deception.

You might think that I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth, saying both that money matters and yet that doesn’t matter at all. But here’s where it all comes together: If we don’t properly handle our relationship with money, it will rob us of a proper relationship with God. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 — “You cannot serve both God and Money.”

The only way to ensure that we don’t become slaves to money is to become masters of money. We work hard and discipline ourselves, we spend time planning where our money will go, and we make it work for us according to God’s plan. That takes a lot of time, and it’s very important. But it’s only important because it give us access to true riches — the ones that we have in Christ.

In the end, Christ is the greatest treasure of all, and He is the source of all of the true riches in this life. Managing your money matters because it keeps you in right standing with Him. And a deep relationship with Christ is far more valuable than any thing you can ever own.


Photo by Mykl Roventine. Used under Creative Commons License.