For the Christian, all of life falls under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This includes money matters. The Christian life has implications for the believer’s attitude toward wealth and poverty. It is not surprising, then, that economic matters are prominent in the teachings of the Bible and the social ethics of the Christian church.

Turning to the Bible, we find a fundamental ambivalence regarding money. In some contexts, especially in the Old Testament, money is portrayed very positively. Abraham is described as “very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold” (Gen. 13:2). Job was a man of great wealth, and Solomon was granted riches and honor unparalleled among the kings of his day (1 Ki. 3:13). Proverbs tells us that “the blessing of the Lord brings wealth” (10:22), and describes a simple work ethic: “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (10:4).

Of course, the Old Testament is not without its warnings about wealth. We must not forget the source of our wealth: “Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deut. 8:18). We must not put ultimate trust in them. The Psalmist says that God will bring to ultimate destruction “the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth” (Ps. 52:7). Further, the possession of wealth comes with the obligation to care for the needy: “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord” (Prov. 19:17). The O.T. institutions of the tithe, the Sabbath, and the Jubilee served in part to remind the Israelites that their wealth was ultimately the Lord’s and that they were to use it to his glory.

The picture of money changes slightly in the New Testament, which emphasizes the breakthrough of the kingdom of ...

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