555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

406. Is the Increase of Church Wealth and Worldly Resources to Be Regarded As a Healthy Spiritual Sign?

History indicates that it is not a healthy sign. The periods of the church's worldly prosperity have usually been periods of moral decadence. There has been a tendency in such times to say, as did the church of Laodicea (Rev. 3:17), "I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." At the same time, the possession of riches is not incompatible with spirituality. There are, as we in this country have good reason to acknowledge, wealthy men who consecrate their wealth to God. A sincere Christian in business may prosper through the principles of Christianity, which conduce to industry, integrity and clean living. We can imagine a church composed of wealthy men being a church of great power, contributing liberally to the advance of Christ's Kingdom, and doing an immense amount of good in alleviating the burdens of the poor. There is nothing in wealth itself to render a man unfit for the Kingdom of God. It is hard for him to enter, as Christ said, because human nature is apt to love its wealth and to trust in it; but when a wealthy man really gives himself to the Lord, he has opportunities for service which do not lie within reach of the poor man; and if he uses them faithfully, he is more useful, and accomplishes more good. There have been such men, and there still are such men. The church, like the individual, may trust in its riches; and if it does, it is in an unhealthy condition; but it may consecrate its riches, and then it is capable of better service. We must look to other signs to learn if the possession of wealth has eaten into its soul, is making it proud, arrogant and sordid, or helpful, beneficent and compassionate, before we can say whether it is the better or the worse for its wealth.