Home » God vs Wealth » God vs Wealth, part 1: It’s Wrong to Be Rich

God vs Wealth, part 1: It’s Wrong to Be Rich

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To read other parts of the series, go here.

There are a lot of misconceptions and false teachings concerning wealth and poverty in the church today, so in response to that I am producing a series of approximately ten parts called “God vs Wealth”. This is the first part.

File:Dollar symbol.jpgI’ve heard countless pastors, preachers and priests who say that there is no problem with being rich, as long as you don’t worship your money you can be as wealthy as you want. I’m having some serious trouble with this teaching. Why on earth did Jesus say “woe to you who are rich” if there are no problems with being rich? “Woe” is not a positive word, it’s a warning.

James, the brother of Jesus, is also warning rich people:

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. (Jam 5:1-6)

If there’s something James is not saying, it’s “There’s no problem with being rich”. He is not talking to the rich in a certain city but to all rich Christians, since his letter lack a certain adress. And his message is that need to get rid of their wealth to escape coming misery.

The sin that the rich have commited is according to James not that their wealth has hindered their relation with God in some way or has become an idol. This of course are bad things, but even if their faith in God remains strong, the simple fact that they own wealth is what James critisize: “You have hoarded wealth in the last days… You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence… You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter…” Why is this? Well, I believe verse 6 is a key to that: “You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.”

According to the UN Millenium Campaign, 50 000 people die every day because of poverty. That’s 18 million in a year. It’s a triple holocaust. Rich people who got money to help the poor but instead buy unnecessary stuff are accomplices of their suffering and death. i John 3:17 says “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” If we are rich, we have to give our resources away so that we stop being rich. If we keep our money for ourselves, people suffer and die.

Some misinterpret me when I preach this. I’ve met people who say “But if we quit our jobs and stop earning money, we have nothing to give!” I haven’t argued that we should quit our jobs. Ephesians 4:28 says that we “must work, doing something useful with [our] own hands, that [we] may have something to share with those in need.” Earning money is not wrong, keeping more money than you need is. Earning a lot of money is a temptation, but not necessarily sinful, as long as they are earned through a righteous and sustainable business.

Another common misconception is that I preach that we all should be poor. But not being rich doesn’t automatically mean being poor. There’s a prayer in Proverbs 30:8 which says:

give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.

This mid-level between wealth and poverty is what we should should strive for, for all people. God doesn’t want some people to live in luxury while others are going hungry, He wants equality. And equality is what part 2 in this series will be about.


  1. Don Murphy says:

    Aren’t you leaving something out? Jesus said to sell your possessions (Luke 12:33) and no one who does not do so can be His disciple (Luke 14:33). The early church, as shown in Acts 2:44-47 and Acts 4:32-511 did so.

  2. mnw0610 says:

    Frankly I have no problems with people being rich – whether numbers in a computer system, cash on hand, land, buildings, etc.
    What I have observed of them is that they get deceived/blinded into thinking that that is truly the Kingdom of God.
    Jesus did say that they cannot enter in.

  3. unklee says:

    Micael, I feel you are right as a general principle, but ….

    (1) We don’t all live by general principles, we should live by the leading of the Holy Spirit. And it may not be true that he wants absolutely everyone to avoid being rich.

    (2) Riches is a relative term. By world standards, every one of us in the west, certainly everyone who can access your blog, is rich. I agree we should be giving a lot away, but I think we have to be careful specifying how much that is.

    But I still agree with your general thoughts.

    • Hi brother!

      I agree with that we shall live by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and the why would the Spirit argue that there shall be inequalities or that the rich should keep their money while the poor are dying? Some point to the woman with the jar in Matthew 26 to argue for this, and I will discuss that text in part 7 of this series.

      Using computer has been a dilemma for me. Once I refused to use it for half a year, and it felt quite good, but I felt the calling of God to preach about wealth reduction so that more people work for economic equality. I started to write a book on paper, but I soon realized that if I wanted it published, someone was going to type it into a computer anyway. So I started to write on a computer.

      I then realized that the aid organizations that I give money to use computers. It’s much more effective to use them in poverty reduction than not to. Perhaps more money could be generated to the poor if I used a computer for that purpose than if I just sat for myself doing nothing. So then I started my Swedish blog Hela Pingsten.

      People mostly lack computers because they lack electricity or because they are too poor. When they get one though it usually improves their lives a lot, just like cell phones. It’s a tool for either good or bad, and since Scripture doesn’t say that we should quit work, we don’t need to boycott things that is promoting development. What I am saying is that there’s a difference between stuff we use for our own benefits and enjoyment, and stuff we use for others. A computer can be used for both, and thus we need to be careful using it.

      God bless you!

  4. mnw0610 says:

    One of the pastors of an ‘end-time’ church just coaxed his congregation to fork out millions of dollars to buy a building in Wales, claiming that it is their ‘inheritance’. Same pastor invites Bill Johnson and Heidi Baker to come here in 2013, charging S$200 per person for the conference. Does he even care about the poor in this city? Yet many will not chide nor rebuke him, but follow him blindly because he is networked with the so-called ‘signs and wonders’ gang.
    So you see, this is the strategy, you can always be rich if you give a ‘God’ reason for it.
    In all my years of watching this man, I have never seen him once bat his eyelid nor do anything for the poor other than preach a whole bunch of sermons that amount to nothing.

  5. […] and after this suffering. However, we must look at what he did with his money. As I argued in the first part of this blog series, what’s important is not so much how much you earn but rather what you do with your money. […]

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The author

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Check out my YouTube channel!

A Living Alternative

God vs Inequality


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