God wants you to enjoy your wealth.
No, I’m not joking around. Although many people in our culture like to think that enjoying money is a sign of spiritual decay, that simply isn’t true. God is a good father who delights in giving good gifts to His children. And one of the things that He wants to see us do with those gifts is to enjoy them.
Let me back up for a minute, lest you think me a heretic: I’m not saying that God intends for His people to live a lifestyle of unfettered luxury and materialistic greed. (There are people that teach such things, but they’re wrong on many counts). I believe that God has a master plan for our money, and that plan includes a lot of important things like tithing, giving and providing for your family. But part of that plan also includes enjoying your abundance and thanking the One who provides it for you.
“Everything for our enjoyment”
This isn’t just my idea — it comes from a passage in I Timothy 6:17, where Paul is advising Timothy about the role of wealth in life and the church. Let’s take a look at what it says:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
There’s a lot to draw out of this passage, and we’ll deal with more of it below. But what I want to point out at first is the final phrase — Paul says that God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
What catches my eye about this phrase is that it deviates from the standard language that we often use when we talk about money and God’s provision. Usually, we hear discussion of God giving us everything that we need to meet our needs. But Paul isn’t just talking about having enough to cover life’s basic necessities; he introduces the idea of enjoyment. God does provide us with the things to take care of our basic needs. But because He is an extravagant lover, with infinite resources, He doesn’t stop there. Instead, He gives to us richly, so that we may have not only the things that we need, but also things that we enjoy. God gives us resources to enjoy to model love and generosity to us.
The last priority
There are two important things to point out when we deal with the idea of enjoying our wealth. The first is that, while God wants you to enjoy your money, this verse does not get you out of all of the other things that He requires of you. God makes it very clear throughout scripture that he wants to to tithe to your church, provide for your family, give to the poor and store up an inheritance for future generations. Those priorities all come first in God’s master plan.
Once you’ve done all those things diligently, you can begin to enjoy what’s leftover. Don’t get this confused: Too many people fail to accomplish God’s plan for their finances because they start with enjoyment and then don’t have enough money for giving. Enjoyment doesn’t come first; it comes last. Enjoying your wealth is the fruit that comes from the diligence of hard work, righteous living and faithfulness to God’s plan for your finances.
Where to place your trust
So what about the second important thing to point out? Here it is: Don’t let your enjoyment of money begin to warp your perspective or change your source of trust. This is the point that Paul was making in the first half of the passage: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God….”
If we’re not careful, wealth and abundance can lead us to put our hope in money — or in our own ability to provide for ourselves — instead of in God, who is always the ultimate provider. While we should enjoy our wealth, we should also remember that our abundance is a reflection of the abundant love that He has for us. Our trust should always be in Him.
Photo by Jason Meredith. Used under Creative Commons License.