The Bible’s Viewpoint
Does God Bless Us With Riches?
“The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.”—PROVERBS 10:22.
DOES the above-quoted Bible scripture mean that God blesses his servants with material riches? Some people believe so. Consider the claim of one Australian Pentecostal preacher and author: “In [my] book I am going to tell you why you need more money and secondly how you can get more money . . . If you can change your thinking and develop a healthy attitude to money, I believe you will walk in the blessing and prosperity of God and never have a problem with money again.”
Such a claim, however, implies that poor people are not favored by God. Is material prosperity really a sign of God’s blessing?
Blessed for a Purpose
The Bible record includes cases where God blessed faithful servants with riches. Jacob, for instance, left his home with just his staff but returned 20 years later with enough sheep, cattle, and asses to form two camps. According to the Bible, Jacob’s prosperity was a gift from God. (Genesis 32:10) Another example: Job lost all his possessions, yet Jehovah later blessed him with “fourteen thousand sheep and six thousand camels and a thousand spans of cattle and a thousand she-asses.” (Job 42:12) Jehovah gave King Solomon wealth so great that its fame endures to modern times.—1 Kings 3:13.
On the other hand, the Bible contains numerous accounts of faithful, obedient worshipers of God who were poor. Surely, God was not punishing some with poverty while blessing others with prosperity. What, then, was God’s purpose in bestowing riches in some cases?
The answer is different in each case. Jacob’s material blessings formed a foundation for building a nation, in preparation for the coming of the promised Seed. (Genesis 22:17, 18) Job’s prosperity dispelled any doubt about who had brought calamity on Job, thus sanctifying Jehovah’s name. (James 5:11) And Solomon used much of his divinely provided wealth to build a magnificent temple. (1 Kings 7:47-51) Interestingly, Jehovah also used Solomon to write from personal experience about the limited value of riches.—Ecclesiastes 2:3-11; 5:10; 7:12.
How God Blesses Us
Jesus taught his followers to have a healthy attitude toward money when he told them to “stop being anxious” about possessions. He reasoned with them that not even Solomon in all his glory was dressed as well as the lilies of the field. Yet, Jesus said: “If, now, God thus clothes the vegetation of the field, . . . will he not much rather clothe you, you with little faith?” Jesus assured Christians that if his followers would seek first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness, then food, clothing, and shelter would be added to them. (Matthew 6:25, 28-33) How is that promise fulfilled?
When followed, the Bible’s counsel results especially in spiritual blessings. (Proverbs 10:22) However, it brings other benefits. For example, God’s Word instructs Christians: “Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work.” (Ephesians 4:28) It also states that “the one working with a slack hand will be of little means, but the hand of the diligent one is what will make one rich.” (Proverbs 10:4) Honest, hardworking Christians who follow this advice are often preferred as employees. This can be a blessing.
The Bible also teaches Christians to avoid the greedy pastime of gambling, the defiling practice of smoking, and the debilitating habit of drunkenness. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 5:5) Those who follow this advice find their expenditures reduced and their health improved.
More Valuable Than Silver or Gold
Still, material prosperity cannot be relied upon as a sole indicator of God’s approval and blessing. For example, Jesus exposed the spiritually poor condition of some Christians in Laodicea when he told them: “You say: ‘I am rich and have acquired riches and do not need anything at all,’ but you do not know you are miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17) Conversely, to the materially poor but spiritually healthy Christians in Smyrna, Jesus said: “I know your tribulation and poverty—but you are rich.” (Revelation 2:9) These Christians likely suffered financially at the hands of persecutors because of their faithfulness, yet they possessed riches far more valuable than silver or gold.—Proverbs 22:1; Hebrews 10:34.
Jehovah God blesses the efforts of those who strive to do his will. (Psalm 1:2, 3) He provides them with the strength and the resources to cope with trials, to provide for their families, and to seek first his Kingdom. (Psalm 37:25; Matthew 6:31-33; Philippians 4:12, 13) Hence, rather than viewing material things as God’s main blessing, true Christians strive to be “rich in fine works.” By developing a close relationship with the Creator, Christians are “safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future.”—1 Timothy 6:17-19; Mark 12:42-44.