With roughly 2,350 references to money, the Bible has plenty to say about a subject many people struggle to understand.
Does God plan to bar rich people from heaven? Is money the root of all evil? Does God want people to be poor?
According to recent Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame Inductee Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, an interpretation of what God says about money requires careful study, because a missed word or two dramatically changes the message.
“God wants you to be a good steward of what He has given you,” he said. “People say that money is the root of all evil, but the Bible says it is the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. There is a big difference. You can see that in the NFL. Players who set out to pursue money end up losing their soul. The money itself is not the problem, it’s how you look at it.”
Gbaja-Biamila cites a commonly misquoted verse in Bible as a source for this belief. The King James Version says:
Children, how hard is it for them that TRUST in riches to enter into 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 into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saying, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. (Mark 10 24-27)
“God is not saying in this verse that rich people will not be accepted into heaven,” Kabeer said. “He’s warning those that trust in riches. Unfortunately, there are some translations that don’t have the word “trust” in it. That makes all the difference in the world. So it’s not a wealth issue, it’s a trust issue. Looking to riches and trusting in them is not a rich man’s problem, this is a human problem. Look at poor people in line for a lottery ticket thinking, ‘Man, if I just had a little more money, then I would be happy.’ Who doesn’t think if I just have a little bit more, a little more stuff? So, no matter how much you have, you always have to keep yourself in check as to where you put your trust. The Bible also says, ‘Lord, don’t give me too much, lest I forget you and do not give me too little lest I curse you.’ The writer knew that in each case he needs to keep his eyes on God. When it comes down to it, money is a matter of priorities, discipline, and contentment. When you have these in line with God and His Word, your going in the right direction.”
Citing Biblical principles like the commandment not to covet and the encouragement to tithe, Kabeer also advises families on how to get their finances in order.
“I’m working with a man right now who had serious debt issues,” he said. “I told him he needed to start tithing and he thought I was crazy, but he listened to me. I told him to sell some of the things he didn’t need and to take more hours at work. I told him to get off food stamps, which he was reluctant to do, but I told him to trust in God. I told him God has given you a healthy body so you can work. He was also behind on his mortgage and the bank was getting ready to foreclose on his house, so we went in there and set up a payment plan. Little by little they’re paying down his debt and developing a budget and a savings plan. Now he has more in savings and he’s giving away more to his church than he ever dreamed he could. He’s even sending his kids to a private school in the fall.They’ve come a long way because they’re doing it God’s way.”
“My goal is to be faithful with what God has given me and to encourage others to do the same. Financially, all that I have is God’s and I need to take care of it. I’m going to take all the possessions that God has entrusted in me and I’m going to give, invest, buy stocks, loan money with interest and find ways to make it grow. My prayer is that I’m faithful in being a good steward with all that God has entrusted to me and and teaching others to do the same.”