There are three ways we can possess or acquire things – as a gift, by working or stealing. The first two methods are good, based on love and generosity, or work and service, the legitimate earnings or reward for labour. Stealing violates rightful ownership achieved by working and giving. The Bible says not to lust after what belongs to someone else, effectively stealing it by jealousy (Ex 20:17).
Belongings can entice people away from following Christ, enslave and ultimately cause their life to be unfruitful because, the Bible is clear, we can only have one master; either Him or something else (Mt 6:24, 13:22; 2 Pet 2:19). They also can give false security and a wrong perspective to thinking, “I am rich, I don’t need anything else”, while in reality being spiritually bankrupt (Rev 3:17). It is better to have little of what the world calls prosperity in this life, and be wealthy in the spiritual realm. Belongings cannot provide happiness, lasting security or salvation. Affluence or materialism often leads to stinginess, self-centeredness and protectionism where more emphasis and value is put on things than people and relationships. We should use things and love people, not love things and use people! Either we control our possessions or they control us.
Currently the world is consumer orientated, pressuring us to buy ‘this and that’. We need to be discerning and disciplined not to succumb to advertising as, while some things are helpful and beneficial other things can be detrimental to life – both physical and spiritual. “A person’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of their possessions, as knowing Jesus as Saviour is the all-important factor” (Lk 9:25, 10:20, 12:15). Is our heart firmly fixed on Christ, counting all earthly attainments as nothing compared to knowing Him, for what does that profit a person if they gain the whole world and lose their own soul (Mk 8:36; Phil 3:8)? Belonging to Christ should change the way we view all material possessions. If our physical belongings were taken from us could we say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, praise His name”? (Job 1:21; Hab 3:17,18; Heb 10:34).
Possessions should be ‘a means to an end’ not idols
with the poor” – with such sacrifices God is pleased (Prov 22:9; Act 4:32; Eph 4:28; 1 Tim 6:18; Heb 13:16). We should use our resources for the benefit of others, sharing freely (not hoarding for personal indulgence) and being hospitable for “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Lk 12:16-21; Act 2:44-47, 20:35; Rom 12:13; 1 Pet 4:9). The Apostle John asked, “If a person who has material possessions doesn’t share with those in need, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 Jn 3:17). It is not just sufficient to have benevolent thoughts – they must be outworked (Jas 2:14-16).
The Bible instructs us to faithfully support those who work for God so together we may work for the truth and reap a harvest (1 Cor 3:6-9; 3 Jn 1:5-8). This will be a blessing to those who benefit by our generosity, as well as being a positive influence on unbelievers as we live out our Christianity in a practical way, doing as Jesus Himself would do. Am I focused on building my life around things by amassing physical objects, or am I focused on people by developing relationships and having input into their lives so I can influence them into the Kingdom of God?
Our relationship with God is our most valuable possession
stewards (1 Chr 29:11-14; Ps 24:1). King Solomon stated, when he considered all he had done and owned it was meaningless, especially if God was left out of the equation (Eccl 2:11, 12:13).
Tithing is giving a portion (one tenth) of our income back to God, in response to the OT command, and acknowledging it is He who gives us the ability to earn (Lev 27:30; Deut 8:18; 2 Chr 31:5). Not honouring God in the area of finance is like putting money in a purse that has holes in it, yet He challenges, give your tithe and see if I will not bless you beyond measure (Hag 1:5-11; Mal 3:10). Our giving does not need to be restricted to the tithe.
See also: consumerism, contentment, covet, materialism, prosper/prosperity, prosperity doctrine, stewardship, tithe.