Is It Wrong (or Immoral) To Be Successful?

(Is It Wrong To Be Successful?) Question and Answer.

Question:

“Why do some people seem to believe that it is wrong to be successful (rich)? Some constantly teach that it is wrong to have money, to be financially stable and buy nice things.”

Answer:

For my readers and followers outside of the United States, this is one of the hot topics of debate here. But I will only address the specific concern of this question.

One of the most difficult things for a dedicated Christian is to achieve a proper attitude toward this world and the material things of the world. We need to be reminded constantly that life is not defined by what we have, even when we have a lot (Luke 12:15). We must center our aim on the really important things: eternal things . . .

“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; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19, 20 (New American Standard Bible)

“. . . look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18 (New American Standard Bible)

But does this mean that it is wrong to try to “get ahead” in this life? Some refuse to save money or buy insurance, basing that on Matthew 6:34 (“do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”). I believe such a conclusion is a misapplication of the passage. 

Jesus pointed out, “People who belong to this world are more clever in dealing with their peers than are people who belong to the light” (Luke 16:8b, Common English Bible) because they adapted to living in this world. So must we.

This doesn’t mean we conform to the world of sin. We must conform to the laws of the physical world in which we live. That includes the natural laws (such as gravity, the weather, etc.) and the economic laws (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Whether we are in a worship assembly or working in a factory, God expects us to do our best.

So is it wrong to be rich? One of the wealthiest men the earth has ever seen was Abraham. It was his faith that made him right with God (not his riches) but don’t forget that Abraham was rich because God made him rich! David and Solomon were both exceedingly wealthy because God blessed them with riches. It was a rich man who claimed the body of Jesus and buried our Lord in his own tomb (John 19:38 – 41).

The apostle Paul exhorted Timothy. . . 

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,” – 1 Timothy 6:17, 18 (New American Standard Bible)

Notice that God did not tell them to give up all their riches. He just told them to properly use what He gave them. 

There has always been the tendency for the rich to disparage the poor and for the poor to despise the rich. There is nothing wrong with being rich. God is the source of all our blessings (James 1:17). If He gives it to us, it is not wrong to have it.

In the early church there were both rich and poor. They were told how to get along with each other. The same instructions are given to us today. There is room for both rich and poor in the church. But there is no room for either to despise (envy, look down upon, or show favoritism towards) the other.

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