The following is an addendum to An Enemy Lies Within, where, in the section on liberating others, we expose several ways Christians in America are being deceived by their carnal mind. Here, we address the way God views wealth and His prescription for investing it.

Warning: this will be one of the most threatening articles we have written. The reader will be tempted to dismiss it as impractical nonsense. Be encouraged: God is the wisest wealth manager and investment counselor. More importantly, He loves His children and knows what they need before they ask. Hear Him out on this; His objective is your highest return on the investment He has made in you.

As we begin, let’s first address the notion of wealth. Because we are community people – members of the Body of Christ and one another – it is important that we consider wealth relationally. Wealth is a relative consideration. Some of God’s people are wealthier than others, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. We learn in the Parable of the Talents that God entrusts more to some than to others (Matthew 25:14-30). Furthermore, Jesus instructs us that “to whom much is given, from Him much will be required (Luke 12:48)”. In His sovereign omniscience, God determines the amount of wealth each one should have.

So, who is wealthy among you? Let’s take a look at some surprising statistics. According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the average net worth of all U.S. families is $692,100. Using the calculator provided by the Global Rich List, we discover that the average American family is worth more than 98.74% of everyone else in the world. Using the more conservative median figure ($97,300) puts the average American in the top 8.31% wealthiest people in the world (i.e., wealthier than over 91%).

The statistics relative to income are even more startling. A U.S. worker making the federally mandated minimum wage ($7.25/hour) earns more salary than 92.2% of workers in the rest of the world. The statistics don’t lie: American Christians are rich.

Given these statistics, it is easy to understand why Christians should be giving more careful attention to the way we manage our wealth. Jesus put it this way:

Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 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.” And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:23-27

Two things to note here: how we handle our wealth impacts our ability to enter the kingdom of God (i.e., to be saved); and, without God, it is impossible for the rich to enter. In His explanation of the Parable of Sower, Jesus explains why this is so.

Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. Matthew 13:22

Riches are deceitful. Think about that for a minute. Our wealth works to deceive us; and, the trouble with deception is the person being deceived does not know it… until someone exposes the deception to them. Furthermore, the deception of riches leads to unfruitfulness, a condition that results in the branch being cut off and thrown into the fire (John 15:1-8). Lastly, we learn from these two passages that fruitfulness – the positive use of our wealth – is directly related to our abiding in Christ.

And that is where we will turn next: to the great news regarding our wealth. But first, it would be good to answer this question: Given the risks we face as wealthy children of God, shouldn’t we more urgently seek His will for all He has entrusted to us? Take a moment; bring this question to the Father; He loves talking with His children.

Lately, I have been wondering what sense it makes that we so diligently invest for good return in this life (particularly those of us nearing retirement), but not for the ages to come. Perhaps we do not recognize that God rewards those who invest in His kingdom. Perhaps we have not been taught. Let’s look at a couple of passages.

So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, “Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.” His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:20-21

Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1Corinthians 3:12-15

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. Revelation 22:12

These are just a few of the many passages that speak to the reward system God provides in His eternal economy. While our motivation for kingdom investment should be more than what we get out of it, it is clear that God rewards the faithful and the fruitful. This is great news!! Furthermore, consider this: The One who promises the greatest possible return on our investment is the only One that can truly make good on His promises. More great news!!

Much like investing for retirement, long-term gain in the kingdom of God requires short-term sacrifice. One might ask, “Can’t I enjoy this life while investing in the one to come?” The answer is, it depends. If our enjoyment is found in the Lord and the good work we have been created to walk in, then there is no better joy to be had: abundance here and in the ages to come.

If the enjoyment we have in mind is worldly (i.e., carnal), then the answer is an emphatic, “NO!” The world and the kingdom of God stand opposed to one another. Every investment of time and money in worldly pleasure, comfort, and security is lost to the ages to come. Lastly, if we are trying to find a compromise point between worldly enjoyment and kingdom investment, then the question itself is proof of deception. Our mind is keeping our heart out of the conversation (and it is with the heart that man believes).

Anticipating another question many will want to ask: Does this mean we are required to live a simple or austere life? That’s a question best discussed with God (He really does love talking with His children). I suspect He will direct you to the following passages (but don’t miss the joy of talking with Him about them).

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 1John 3:16-18

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? James 2:5

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

These are sobering words indeed. As a wealthy Christian, I am often haunted by them, and continually encouraged to pursue God’s will for the wealth He has entrusted to my stewardship. I am comforted in knowing that, regardless of the amount and how we have come to have it, it is not too late to invest in the kingdom of God for a good return in the ages to come (to serve Him even more).

In closing, let me encourage you with a few ways of thinking which will help in your consideration of God’s eternal economy:

  1. Think eternally and supernaturally. God is at work in us and through us to prepare us for ages to come. His power and resources are beyond our imagination.
  2. Work this out in community. We all need encouragement and accountability. The faith community is God’s primary and preferred investment target.
  3. Be honest about your fears and insecurities. The first step to healing is recognizing our need for it. Satan, the world, and our flesh use fear to entrap and deceive us from experiencing the grace of God.
  4. Acknowledge your wealth. Ignoring the obvious does not make it go away, or make us less responsible for faithfully stewarding it.
  5. Confess, as necessary. God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Confession is our entry into the cleansing process.
  6. Take a step. Don’t be afraid to ask God to stir up the desire He has placed in your heart for investment into His kingdom. He can be trusted to guide your investment strategy.
  7. Give with a glad heart. To do otherwise inhibits God’s grace, and jeopardizes His glory and your reward. It is critical to get your heart right before investing in anything.

Lastly, remember this: we are all in process and we are all in this together. Please let me know how I can further help you find freedom from the deceptions of our #1 enemy: our carnal mind.

Humbly yours and forever His,