Studies show that aside from those in true poverty, money cannot buy happiness. But mismanaging money can definitely lead to unhappiness.
See Money and Possessions in Proverbs – Kevin DeYoung for a thorough and well-balanced take on what God says about money. I often see people go to either extreme:
On the one hand, it’s easy to see where Prosperity Theology comes from. Take a few promises of the Mosaic covenant out of their national context, take the promise in Malachi 3 about throwing open the storehouses of heaven, mix in some of Jesus’ statements about receiving whatever you ask for in faith, and you can bake up a little health and wealth gospel.
On the other hand, it’s possible to come up with an imbalanced Austerity Theology. Point out that Jesus had nowhere to lay his head, turn to the story of the rich young ruler, stir in the parable of the rich fool, and you’ll have a theology that says money is bad and so are those who have it.
As always, you want to read the passages in the immediate context and the larger context of the entire Bible.
If you take these tips seriously I think your odds of esteeming money properly will be very high:
Ten Principles on Money and Possessions from Proverbs
1. There are extremes of wealth and poverty that provide unique temptations to those who live in them (Prov. 30:7-9).
10. Money isn’t everything. It does not satisfy (Prov. 23:4-5). It is inferior to wisdom (Prov. 8:10-11, 18-19; 24:3-4). It is inferior to righteousness (10:2; 11:4; 13:25; 16:8; 19:22; 20:17; 28:6). It is inferior to the fear of the Lord (Prov. 15:16). It is inferior to humility (Prov. 16:19). It is inferior to good relationships (Prov. 15:17; 17:1).
You can’t understand the biblical view of money unless you are prepared to accept a number of truths held in tension.
- You’ll probably acquire more money if you work hard and are full of wisdom. But if all you care about is getting more money, you are the biggest fool.
- Money is a blessing from God, but you’ll be more blessed if you give it away.
- God gives you money because he is generous, but he is generous with you so that you can be generous with others. And if you are generous with your money, God will likely be more generous with you.
- It is wise to save money, but don’t ever think money gives you real security.
- Wealth is more desirable than poverty, but wealth is not as good as righteousness, humility, wisdom, good relationships, and the fear of the Lord.