In one of my earlier blog posts, I mentioned that improper perspectives on money/wealth can rob us of the peace, contentment and joy God designed for us to experience in this lifetime. Many of us fall prey to the ‘poverty’ or ‘prosperity’ mindset; neither of which are a healthy and biblical perspective on wealth.
Why is our perspective on money so important?
Perspective shapes our view on life and ultimately determines our decisions and lifestyle.
In Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus declared-
The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!Swap eye for ‘perspective’ and whole body for ‘entire being’. Read again!
I want you to take a good look at this passage. It’s loaded with Jesus’ pronouncements on good stewardship. This declaration is made right after Jesus encourages His listeners to carefully consider whether they treasure earthly or heavenly riches (Matthew 6: 19-21) and immediately precedes His declaration that we cannot serve both GOD and wealth (Matthew 6: 24). Ultimately the passage ends with the blog’s foundational scripture-
But seek ye first the Kingdom of GOD and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)
I think it’s safe to say that GOD wants us to have His perspective on wealth. Why? Because He wants our mindset to be conformed to His (Romans 12:2) and desires that we obey His instructions in all aspects of this life. (James 1:22-25). We’ll never be good stewards without a biblical perspective on wealth.
Today we’ll focus our attention on the poverty mindset.
Many of us fall prey to this mindset which manifests itself in different ways. At its core is the belief that money, wealth or material possession and by extension an increase in these things are inherently evil or ungodly. It suggests that GOD has called all Christians to a life of poverty.
Its roots can be found in a misinterpretation of scriptures, such as:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.1 Timothy 6:10 (NKJV)
Matthew 5: 3 | Luke 6: 20 (NKJV)
Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For yours is the kingdom of God.
Matthew 19:21 | Luke 18: 22 (NKJV)
Jesus said to him [the rich young ruler], “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”Matthew 19:24
No doubt these scriptures warn against the vain pursuit or love for money but do not indicate that poverty is inherently a measure of spiritual maturity. The poverty mindset causes us to think that poverty is intrinsically virtuous and that we somehow score points with GOD by our denial of wealth and any increase in material possession.
Matthew 5:3 indicates the nature of poverty that GOD requires of us; that we be poor in spirit. ‘Poverty in spirit’ allows us to see where we stand vis a vis GOD; broken, sinful and in need of grace and forgiveness. It banishes self-sufficiency and pride and demands dependence on GOD for all things. Both the poor and wealthy can be poor or rich in spirit.
How does the poverty mindset manifest itself in our lives?
- We elevate poverty & frugality to a virtue and a measure of spiritual maturity.
- We scoff at/judge wealthy persons purely by their material possession.
- We shy away from opportunities to make money or increase income. This can be starting or growing in business, shying away from certain professions because we think they are inherently evil, declining promotions or applying for better paying jobs.
- We try to justify every purchase or reduce compliments about our material possession. Person A: “I love your new car. It’s so nice!” You: You know it’s not even that expensive. I only bought it because I really needed it. Now I’ll be able to serve GOD even better! Person B: Your business is doing so well! You: Praise the Lord! I just want it to cover my basic expenses.
- We take a ‘lax’ approach to money management and career development. You know that saying “I don’t need to worry about a thing! GOD is my source not man!”
- We attribute ALL ‘success’ and ‘prosperity’ to external forces/ ‘systems of this world’. We take no responsibility for our financial situation and instead blame others for our lack. ‘The system set a way to keep the poor man down!’
- It makes us undermine the principle of working diligently. ‘No need to chase money; the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous!’
- We are uncomfortable asking GOD for material blessings.
I’m not suggesting that the poverty mindset will manifest itself in all these ways, but it’s likely that we can relate to a few of these things. It’s such a sly little fella because it can transform our attempt to seem humble into pride; empowering us to judge the hearts and determine the eternal destination of others.
Personally, I still struggle with the discomfort of asking GOD for material blessings. I’m slowly overcoming this belief that my prayers should be limited to requests for ‘spiritual things’. GOD has been encouraging me to accept the truth that while He is not obliged to bless me, as a loving Father, He is willing to provide earthly blessings according to His will (Matthew 7: 7-11). I’m also trying to slowly work on the habit of justifying every purchase and equating my frugality to spirituality. I now know that stewardship with wrong motives won’t guarantee GOD’s blessings; He determines that.
Even writing this blog post and sharing on biblical money management sometimes makes me feel queezy but I’m continuously submitting my thoughts to the knowledge of GOD and His truth (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Many of us have adopted this mindset because we’ve observed how the world glorifies materialism and how the pursuit of wealth leads to greed and destruction.
Undoubtedly some persons may feel convicted to live a more simple lifestyle than others but a personal conviction should not be elevated to a general command (Romans 14:14).
Has the poverty mindset discouraged you from starting a business or being intentional about the growth of your business? Has it possibly made you feel guilty for charging for your talents & services? Have you declined promotions or higher education out of fear of money’s corruption? Prayerfully consider these things.
GOD wants us to embrace and live by His truth.
- GOD owns everything (Psalm 50: 7-12)
- He gives us the ability to produce wealth (Deuteronomy 8: 18)
- He apportions wealth according to our abilities (Matthew 25: 15)
- He entrusts us with wealth so that we can be good stewards of it. Take a look at this blog post for greater clarity.
- God expects us to work diligently, which leads to earning an income. (Colossians 3:23, 2nd Thessalonians 3: 12)
- Laziness leads to poverty ( Proverbs 12:24, Proverbs 14: 23)
- We are permitted to enjoy the fruit of our labour (Ecclesiastes 5: 18-20)
In my next blog post, I’ll share on the dangers of the other side of the coin; the prosperity mindset.
As always, I thank you so much for joining me in my journey to joyful stewardship.