Worldly possessions. We all have them to some degree. The clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the homes we live in, the “toys” we play with. But what does God’s word say about the material things of this world? Should Christians pursue possessions, wealth and prosperity? Or does the Bible instruct us to live simply, shunning extravagance and materialism?
In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine key scriptures in the Bible that address worldly possessions and material wealth. We will look at God’s instructions, commands, warnings, and principles related to money, possessions and stewardship. Our goal is to understand God’s perspective, so that as Christians, we can align our lives and values with His word.
- God owns everything, we are simply stewards of His possessions
- Scripture warns against loving money and possessions
- We cannot serve both God and money
- Wealth is not a sign of God’s blessing or favor
- We should be content with basic provisions and avoid greed
- Giving generously should be a priority over accumulating possessions
- Heavenly treasures are more valuable than earthly possessions
- Jesus instructs us to live simply, trust God, and reject materialism
God Owns Everything, We Are Only Stewards
A foundational principle is that God owns everything and we are simply stewards of His possessions. The earth and all it contains belongs to the Lord (Psalm 24:1). He supplies our needs, provides for us, and determines what we have.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1)
Since God owns everything, the money and possessions we acquire are not strictly ours. We are caretakers entrusted with resources to manage on God’s behalf. Whatever we have is given by God’s grace.
“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:18)
Our role is to be faithful stewards of what God entrusts to us. We should hold material possessions loosely and not grow attached to them. Our identity and contentment should come from Christ, not possessions.
“No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
Warning Against Loving Money and Possessions
Scripture warns against loving money and possessions. The temptation is real for all of us. But obsession with riches and materials things leads only to dissatisfaction and emptiness.
Jesus said we cannot serve two masters – we will love one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24). The allure of possessions competes with our devotion to God. We cannot let it take root in our hearts.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
We are told those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, traps, foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction (1 Timothy 6:9). So the Bible cautions us strongly against fixation on worldly wealth and possessions.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
Our heart will follow our treasure. If focused on earthly things, our heart drifts from God. Instead we are to set our minds on the eternal.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)
The lure of possessions competes with devotion to God. We cannot let it take root in our hearts.
We Cannot Serve Both God and Money
Trying to pursue both God and riches results only in divided loyalty. Jesus said we “cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). If we try, we will end up loving one and hating the other.
Serving money means focusing on accumulating wealth, possessions, status and material success. Serving God entails caring for others, stewarding resources wisely, and furthering His kingdom. These purposes often conflict.
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
If the pursuit of possessions causes us to forfeit our soul, we’ve made a foolish bargain. You can’t take it with you. Worldly wealth has no eternal significance.
Only by keeping God first in our lives can we have proper perspective toward money and resist greed. We demonstrate who or what we serve by our attitudes and actions.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
Wealth Is Not a Sign of God’s Blessing or Favor
Some Christians today associate wealth and prosperity with God’s favor and blessing. But Scripture does not support this.
Many righteous men in the Bible, like Jeremiah, Elijah and John the Baptist, were poor. The apostles and early church faced hardship and persecution. And Jesus Himself lived modestly and lacked material possessions.
Conversely, some evil men in Scripture were very prosperous. Their wealth was not a sign of God’s favor.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
While God sometimes blesses His children financially, money and possessions are not a measure of one’s faithfulness or standing before God. Seeking God wholeheartedly is more important than material wealth.
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5)
Our security is in the Lord, not riches. We can be content when God’s presence is central to our lives.
Be Content With Basic Provisions, Avoid Greed
Rather than seeking riches, the Bible instructs us to be content with basic provisions. Our needs can be simple if we maintain the right perspective.
“And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8)
The writer of Hebrews cautions:
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.” (Hebrews 13:5)
And Jesus commands:
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on…For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Matthew 6:25,32)
God promises to supply our needs if we seek Him first. Desires for anything beyond needs often lead to frustration and greed.
We must guard our hearts against discontentment and craving more of this world. The lure of riches is deceptive (Mark 4:19). Instead we should aspire to godliness, not gold.
Giving Should Be a Priority Over Accumulating
Rather than accumulating possessions for ourselves, the Bible elevates generosity. We are to give freely of what God has given us.
The early believers shared with one another regularly:
“All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” (Acts 2:44-45)
Consistently the Bible instructs us to care for the poor and needy through financial giving:
“Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” (Deuteronomy 15:10)
When we learn to give freely of our finances, it breaks greed’s hold over our lives. We recognize everything belongs to God, not us. Our resources exist to meet needs, not satisfy endless wants.
Heavenly Treasures Are More Valuable Than Earthly
One of Jesus’ most direct teachings about possessions contrasts earthly and heavenly treasures. He instructs us to store up eternal wealth in heaven rather than temporary wealth here on earth:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
What are these heavenly treasures? They are spiritual rather than material. Souls won to Christ, disciples made, spreading the gospel. Investments in God’s eternal kingdom.
Building up treasure in heaven should be our aim in life rather than amassing belongings. One has eternal value, the other does not.
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
The riches of this world fade away. But holy living, obedience to Christ, and fulfilling God’s purposes stores up true wealth in eternity.
Jesus Instructs Us to Live Simply, Trust God, Reject Materialism
In His life and teachings, Jesus regularly warned against materialism and called His followers to a simple, trusting lifestyle.
He had compassion on the crowds following Him, seeing they were distressed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). Crowds seeking only physical blessings missed Jesus’ true message.
Christ taught profound spiritual truths for those who would listen: blessed are the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3), do not worry about your needs (Matthew 6:25-34), seek first God’s kingdom (Matthew 6:33).
But many struggled to embrace His countercultural message.
“When Jesus heard this, He said to him, ‘One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'” (Luke 18:22)
Jesus saw wealth and possessions as a hindrance to wholehearted devotion to God. He modeled reliance on the Father and avoidance of materialism.
As followers of Christ, we are called to walk as Jesus walked. To trust God to supply our needs as we reject materialism and live generously.
Our contentment is then centered in our relationship with Christ rather than the abundance of our possessions.
Conclusion: Shun Greed, Practice Generosity, Seek God First
The clear message of Scripture is this: Reject greed, practice generosity, seek God first.
Possessions should not consume us. Be wary of riches competing for our allegiance with God.
Let us walk as Jesus walked. Trust God for provision. Give freely to others. Store up eternal treasures rather than temporary ones.
With Christ at the center, we can hold material wealth loosely. Our security is found in Him alone. We can live simply yet joyfully, using resources entrusted to us to bless others and further God’s work.
May our lives point others to “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8) rather than the fading wealth of this world.