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How to Get Rich God's Way
By Richard Gunther
There are many ‘get rich’ schemes around. Most of them concentrate on “positive thinking” and focus on building one’s personal esteem, while others involve investment plans and lessons on how to make a small amount of money grow into a large amount.
Many of these schemes work, many don’t. The problem with most of the get rich plans is their emphasis on personal development, to the exclusion of almost everything else, and their total neglect of “values”. By this we mean the client often works towards the goal of increasing personal wealth and material possessions, but does not consider whether wealth is really a good goal by itself, or what effect this drive to get wealth has on his life, his wife, or his family.
To illustrate this, look at what Jesus said about a certain rich man:
“The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully. And he thought . . . what shall I do?
And he said, “This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build bigger ones, and there will I store all my increase”.
But God said to him, “You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be, which you have stored?”
Jesus told this story to highlight one thing: greed. In verse 15 and 21 the meaning of the story is given. It is wrong to be greedy. Aiming at personal riches is a sin, and (perhaps) God will take the life of a greedy person if they persist long enough in their rampant drive to hoard wealth for themselves.
“And seek not what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, neither be of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after, but your Father knows that you need them. But rather seek first the kingdom of God (and His righteousness), and all these things shall be added (or given) to you.” Luke 12:29 and Matthew 6:19-34. Please read both passages carefully because they are crucial to this essay. They come from the lips of the Son of God. They are a contract between God and Man, and the only condition is total submission to God – not in the mechanical sense, but one motivated by love and gratitude.
Here is one of the greatest promises in the Bible. If we understand it correctly, it tells us that IF we put God and His requirements first, we shall receive all the things we need – food, clothes, money, material needs and so on. All the things which most people consider to be priorities, God promises to provide if we make these things NOT priorities.
This is the exact opposite order of priority taught by most ‘get rich’ schemes.
But does God want people to be wealthy?
Some people think God is so ‘spiritual’, He doesn’t actually like wealth, and would prefer it if everyone was poor and needy, because, in some strange way this is seen to be a part of being ’spiritual’, or ‘holy’. But this is not what the Bible says. Here are some references from the Bible about wealth:
“But you shall remember the LORD your God: for it is He that gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which he promised to your fathers (ancestors), as it is this day”. Deuteronomy 8:18
“And God said to Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of your enemies, neither yet have asked long life; but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge my people, over whom I have made you king:
Wisdom and knowledge is granted to you, and I will give you riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before you, neither shall there any after you have the like”. 2 Chronicles 1:11,12
This promise, and the one before it to Israel, are very similar. God promised wealth to the nation of Israel if they obeyed Him. And Solomon was rewarded with wealth and other things BECAUSE he put God first rather than wealth. In both cases it is clear that God requires us to put Him first, and then, if He so chooses, wealth will follow. Solomon’s priority was not what most people consider priorities: riches, wealth, honour (prestige, stardom, fame), security, power, authority or longer life. Many of the ‘get rich’ schemes aim at these very things, but Solomon was commended for not aiming at these things.
“Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endures for ever”. Psalms 112:3
The whole Psalm is about “the man that fears the Lord” and the result is a long list of blessings.
“Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God”. Ecclesiastes 5:19
“Length of days is in her (Wisdom’s) right hand; and in her left hand are riches and honour”. Proverbs 3:16
“Riches and honour are with me (Wisdom); yea, durable riches and righteousness”. Proverbs 8:18
“By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life”. Proverbs 22:4
“And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches”. Proverbs 24:4
All these verses and many more teach that wealth is a blessing from God, and something which He enjoys giving to people who live in a way that pleases Him.
So what is the order of priority?
First of all God wants us to put Him first, then He may bless us with material wealth. There is no absolute guarantee that He will, because there are times when poverty or adversity may be part of God’s character-building process, but we can say that in most cases, and for most people, wealth is a part of the blessing of being a Christian.
Here is the right perspective concerning the two aspects of wealth = spiritual wealth and material wealth. Usually the ‘get rich’ schemes make no mention of duty or obedience to God. Instead, they usually stress self-reliance and self-improvement. They encourage their clients to do everything themselves, through ‘positive thinking’ or ‘re-programming’, or ‘self-development’, instilling into one’s thoughts certain slogans and proverbs which alter one’s daily habits.
But it is possible to be rich and godless.
Well yes, it is not only possible, it is also quite common.
“Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness”. Psalms 52:7 (This Psalm is about the self-made, wicked but wealthy man)
“Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches”. Psalms 73:12 Asaph, the writer of the Psalm goes into some detail, listing many of the characteristics of the wealthy but godless man, and then adds: “I went into the sanctuary of God, and then I understood their end. Surely God sets these people in slippery places, and casts them down to destruction.”
“There is the person who makes himself rich, yet has nothing: there is the person who makes himself poor, yet hath great riches”. Proverbs 13:7
And there are some who become wealthy apparently by luck.
“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all”. Ecclesiastes 9:11
Life is not a simple thing. It is full of subtleties, unexpected twists and turns, seemingly crazy events and surprising reverses. There are people like Joseph, who was betrayed into the hands of traders and ended up in Egypt as a slave, but who soon became second in command of the whole Egyptian nation; and there are times when even being a king is not enough to prevent eviction from one’s on castle by one’s own son – as in the case of David and Absalom. One cannot dogmatically say that if someone obeys God they will become rich. Neither can one say that rich, non-Christian people will be brought to poverty. But Christians can say that they have a wealth in another dimension, whereas non-Christians have nothing but poverty in the spiritual realm.
Wealth is not always a good thing.
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful”. Matthew 13:22
In this parable, Jesus condemned wealth, because it was the one factor which prevented someone from becoming a Christian. It is all too easy for people to get their priorities round the wrong way. They think they ought to aim at that better job, or new car, or promotion, or whatever the world offers, and they set the call of Jesus aside. Thus they lose the very thing they need most.
“And Jesus looked round about, and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those that have riches to enter into the kingdom of God!”
And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answered again, and said to them, “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:23,24
By qualifying himself, Jesus made it clear that there has to be a line drawn between our love for God and our love for the good things of this world. He did not condemn riches as evil, but as an unacceptable priority.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”. Philippians 4:19
Needs are not wants. God promises to provide the things we need if we are ‘tuned in’ to Jesus. This means that a Christian should expect to have all the necessary things, the basic needs of life, the daily provisions . . . not luxuries, and not indulgent extras. God places things into Christian’s lives and expects them to be wise and faithful stewards with what they have. This logically rules out stupidity, waste, gambling and so on. (And having food and raiment (clothes) let us be therewith content.” 1 Timothy 6:8) Contentment with the basics is a Christian ideal. ‘Get rich’ schemes NEVER suggest that people be content with the basics.
“Charge (or warn) them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded (proud), nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives to us richly all things to enjoy.” 1 Timothy 6:17
“Esteeming (or considering) the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect to the recompence of the reward.” Hebrews 11:26
What this verse means is that Moses, who had every right to enjoy the high life of wealth, prestige and power as an adopted son of the king of Egypt, preferred rather to identify with the Hebrew slave people. Moses decided it was better to be a son of God the King, than a son of Pharaoh the king. Moses aimed at pleasing God rather than pleasing himself. He valued God’s reward above Man’s reward. In other words he sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness . . . and as a consequence all the things he needed were added to his life.
So what about the “think positive” line?
First of there is nothing wrong with thinking positive, or being optimistic, or looking for the good in life. God also sees the great potential which all people have, and He wants to help us reach the highest ability and purpose we can with what He has given us. This means that our physical and mental abilities, our circumstances and our material means are all potentially powerful tools in His Hands. But He does not tell us to concentrate on ourselves, or to look inwards for this power. He tells us to look outward, to Him. This is where the two paths of self-improvement diverge in totally opposite directions.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove (or understand, or know) what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2
In this verse we see that God does not want us to be conformed to some ‘get rich’ scheme, but to conform our lives and our way of thinking to something approximating Jesus. God does want us to change our mode of thinking, and to be changed. He wants our daily habits to alter, and our ‘programmed’ reactions to daily problems to be changed too. But this is by a process of spiritual transformation – the Greek is the same as metamorphosis – changing from one thing into another. ‘Get rich’ schemes seldom if ever suggest that the client’s mind should be made to change towards God.
Practical wealth-building techniques.
The Bible teaches several clear, universal principles, which all lead to prosperity if put into practice. By universal we mean that there is no person, or culture or nation which cannot reap the rewards of practicing these principles. They apply to all people, of all nationalities and religions. They are principles which many people have discovered, often independently of reading the Bible, and some have built them into their lives, or businesses, with great success. Some even peddle these Biblical principles in ‘get rich’ schemes, or build them into normal business practice as part of the training.
In a similar way, Christian ethics are also universal – all people and cultures can benefit from such things as kindness, justice, generosity, care, help and hospitality. We do not need to be Christians to enjoy the blessings of these things, and nobody ‘owns’ these things either. In a curious sort of way many of the ‘get rich’ schemes actually sell such things as ‘diligence’ and ‘hard work’ as if they are some sort of Manmade invention. I was told, by an insurance trainee, that most of the agent-to-client work was based directly on the Bible book of Proverbs. I have also seen repeated examples of businesses flourishing, due almost entirely to the fact that they are based on the Biblical principles of hard work, diligence, courtesy, honesty and so on.
It would take a small book to cover these Biblical principles thoroughly, so we will look briefly at only one of them: Diligence.
“The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful (lazy, indolent) shall be under tribute”. Proverbs 12:24
“The slothful man roasts not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious”. Proverbs 12:27 (This means that some people are too lazy to cook what they catch, whereas the diligent person processes and does plenty with his opportunities.
“The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat”. (prosperous) Proverbs 13:4 This means that some people just sit around and dream about what they would like to do, but diligent people get busy and work towards their goals.
“The thoughts of the (steadily) diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty (impatient, impetuous) only to want”. Proverbs 21:5
“See that man who is man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean (lowly or poor) men”. Proverbs 22:29
“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds”. Proverbs 27:23 This means that whatever you have responsibility over, do your best to tend it and supervise it thoroughly.
He also that is slothful (lazy or indolent) in his work is brother to him that is a great waster”. Proverbs 18:9
“Prepare your work without, and make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterwards build your house”. Proverbs 24:27 This means to start a project at the right end, and do the most important things first, then work towards the least important things. In some businesses this might be called ‘preparing the infrastructure’.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men”. Colossians 3:23 Heartily means enthusiastically, or with zest. God wants Christians to tackle anything and everything they do with enthusiasm. It is often this principle of enthusiasm which makes all the difference between success and failure.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap”. Galatians 6:7
Much more could be written on this subject. The Bible is full of material on the subject of wealth, either by direct teaching, or by examples. If one reads the Bible, it becomes apparent that it is not in God’s plan that the Earth should be impoverished, or that any human should be deprived of all needful things – but Mankind continually rebels against God and as a consequence brings in wars, famines, sickness, poverty and other hardships. Greed, pride and envy are powerful forces within the heart, and not many people are willing to abandon their worldly goals and, by faith, follow Jesus.
But the promise still stands. Jesus promises to provide all the necessary things to those who put God’s Kingdom, and God’s righteousness first. With this kind of promise, who needs a ‘get rich’ scheme?
(All Bible verses quoted are from the King James, with some alterations to improve the sense and meaning. Readers are encouraged to read the Bible and check all references for themselves. I recommend that all references be looked up and the context found.)
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