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What are four purposes for money?

Identify how money relates to God’s work in your life

7 min

Do you look to money to provide you with security, establish your independence, or equip you to exercise power and wield influence? Today, many people would identify these goals as appropriate purposes for money. However, a focus on temporal riches is dangerous, because it leads you to expect things from money that only God can provide.

According to God’s Word, there are four fundamental purposes for money: to provide for basic needs, to confirm direction, to give to those in need, and to illustrate God’s power and care in provision. Understanding these purposes allows you to see how money relates to God’s work in your life and community.

1. Money Provides for Basic Needs

Food, clothing, and shelter are necessary to maintain life. God demonstrates His loving care by providing the resources for these items.

Jesus said, “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? . . . And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. . . . Shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:26–30).

Focusing on your basic needs allows you to live simply and contentedly as you mature in the following areas:

  • Establish daily dependence on God
    We all have a desire to be self-sufficient—to be independent. However, your daily needs are meant to remind you of the need for daily dependence on God’s provision. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), not “Give us this month our monthly paycheck” or “Give us riches for our future needs.”
  • Deepen your love for the Lord
    All people need God and are dependent on Him for life and breath. (See Acts 17:24–25.) When you recognize your need for God and see His mercy sustaining you, your love for Him increases. (See Colossians 2:10 and John 15:5.)
  • Develop a spirit of contentment and gratitude
    When you are content to live with the basics, you’ll develop a grateful outlook on life. If you focus on things you think God should have given you rather than focusing on what He has given you, discontentment can destroy your ability to enjoy the things God has given you. Therefore, God warns us not to be covetous but rather to “. . . be content with such things as ye have . . .” (Hebrews 13:5).
  • Learn to live within your means
    A contented person feels wealthy because he knows that he already possesses more than he needs for daily living. When you are content with the basics, you are equipped to resist advertising that is meant to make you feel discontent. “. . . Godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6).

2. Money Confirms Direction

God will use the supply of money or the lack of it to confirm His direction for many of the decisions you must make. If you don’t have the funds to do something, pray and seek God’s direction. If He is leading you, He will provide the needed funds. Wait for His provision, work hard, and trust that He will provide for whatever He is calling you to do.

  • Build your faith and vision
    One aspect of faith is discerning what God wants to accomplish in and through your life. As you live according to the truth of Scripture, He will provide whatever is necessary to fulfill His purposes for your life. Presumption, which basically is deciding what you want to accomplish and trying to get God to do it for you, is the opposite of faith.
  • Determine who is Lord of your life
    Is Jesus Christ the Lord of your life? His Lordship is affirmed when you are responsive and obedient to the promptings and limitations He places on your daily decisions. A person who has unlimited funds will find it more difficult to detect God’s leading through finances. Because of this, God gives special warnings to the rich: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (I Timothy 6:17).
  • Receive protection from harmful items
    When you can’t afford an item that is beyond the “basic need” category, sometimes it’s for your own good. Accept the fact that you can’t afford it. Consider why the purchase of it might not be beneficial in the long run. If, in fact, possession of it would be pleasing to God, ask Him to provide it as He deems best, for His glory and for your benefit. “With God, nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
  • Beware of the temptation of wanting more, more, more
    It seems that no matter how much God gives to us, we still want more. God gave Adam and Eve everything they needed to enjoy life, yet Satan tempted them to want even more, and they yielded to Satan’s temptation. How clear and true God’s warnings are on this point: “. . . They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (I Timothy 6:9).
  • Learn patience
    Patience is an essential quality for maturity in life. In fact, patience is so important that God assures us that it is worth going through tribulations in order to obtain it. (See Romans 5:3.) Having to wait for God to provide funds is one valuable way to develop patience. “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3–4).
  • Concentrate on true riches
    The Apostle Paul understood that temporal things tend to compete with eternal riches and obscure the knowledge of our priceless inheritance in Christ: “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:7–8).

3. Money Meets the Needs of Others

God often provides for His children through the generous gifts of others, especially fellow Christians. As you work diligently and make a living, consider the needs of others and generously give to help meet their needs as God directs you.

  • Unite Christians
    In the early days of the Church, a severe famine caused much suffering for many Jewish Christians. The Apostle Paul urged Gentile churches to collect offerings, monetary gifts, for these Jewish Christians. These offerings helped tear down barriers between Christians and build bonds of genuine love: “. . . At this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want . . .” (II Corinthians 8:14).
  • Become zealous for good works
    One mark of a true Christian is zeal for good works. This is one of the purposes for which Christ redeemed us: “[He] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). A generous Christian is able to abound in good works: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (II Corinthians 9:8).
  • Initiate spontaneous thanksgiving
    God-directed gifts not only meet practical needs, but they also result in an overflowing tide of thanksgiving to God and to the giver. “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God” (II Corinthians 9:11).
  • Multiply the potential for giving
    God likens giving to planting a harvest. “. . . He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (II Corinthians 9:6).

4. Financial Provision Demonstrates God’s Power

God is a supernatural God. He wants to demonstrate His reality and power to both Christians and non-Christians. One means by which He has chosen to do this is through the miraculous provision of resources, including money.

A miracle is a supernatural or natural event whose precise timing brings glory to God. The supernatural power of God is gloriously manifested when a particular financial need arises and then an unexpected and unsolicited gift is provided by one who was completely unaware of that need.

“. . . Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing . . .” (Malachi 3:10).

  • Expose the false gods of our generation
    In the day of Elijah, the nation of Israel tried to worship God and serve Baal at the same time. Elijah proposed a test to determine whom they should worship. The test involved building two altars, one for God and one for Baal. Whichever god “answered” by supernatural power was the one whom they would worship. The prophets of Baal cried out to their god all day long and nothing happened. Then Elijah prayed. God immediately sent fire from heaven, and it consumed the offering, the altar, and the water around it. When the people saw God’s power, they worshiped Him. (See I Kings 18:21–40.) One of the false gods of our day is money, which has become an idol because people expect from it what only God can give. Although the world seeks after money, Christians are to seek after God and His kingdom, which involves building our lives, motives, affections, and actions around Him and His will for us. (See Mark 12:30.) God delights in proving that those who seek after Him will not lack any good thing. (See Psalm 84:11–12.)
  • Purify your life and motives
    The need for God’s miraculous intervention in your financial affairs is a powerful motivation to examine your life and confess and forsake sin. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18).
  • Share the Gospel
    When Christians experience God’s miraculous provision, they will have opportunities to testify of God’s goodness and share the truths of the Gospel. God will be glorified in their testimonies, and people will be drawn to Christ. (See Acts 5:12–14.)
  • Glorify God
    God is glorified when His people praise Him for His mighty acts. He does great things so that we can report them to each other and to our children and our grandchildren. “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).

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