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Long Quotes on Wealth From Throughout Church History

Articles on Christian Stewardship

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From Today, back to the time of Martin Luther, many people had opinions about wealth and money. Here are some of them.

A Note on Wealth and History:

It was not the quantity of wealth that the Bible condemned but the wrongful attitude toward wealth. Augustine wrote in his commentary on Psalm 72 of how covetousness is a sin that tempted the poor no less than the rich: “It is not a matter of income but of desire. Look at the rich man standing beside you; perhaps he has a lot of money on him but no avarice in him; while you, who have no money, have a lot of avarice.” This idea is echoed in Clement of Alexandria’s sermon, “Who is the Rich Man that Shall Be Saved?” He argued that in Jesus’ parable, the rich man, who does not worry about his livelihood, may be less greedy, and thus closer to salvation, than the poor! We do not have to agree with his exegesis to affirm that the biblical warning against the love of money applies to both the poor and the rich.

Generally, the church fathers concentrated on individual money matters, and did not address larger questions of economic justice. The notable exception to this was their very extensive condemnation of usury. The fathers were universally opposed to any interest-taking in the lending of money. The Old Testament prohibitions were regarded as binding (Deut. 23:19), and the New Testament teaching on love was seen as incompatible with usury (“lend… without expecting to get anything back” [Lk. 6:35]). Athanasius taught that usury was a grave sin, commitment of which lost one his salvation. Ambrose agreed when he wrote: “If anyone commits usury, he commits robbery and no longer has life.”

The Reformers did not deny the biblical warnings about wealth (Luther saw three conversions necessary for the believer: conversion of the heart, the mind, and the purse).

Calvin wrote that poverty is as dangerous to spirituality as wealth: “From the right are, for example, riches, powers, honors, which often dull men’s keenness of sight by the glitter and seeming goodness they display, and allure with their blandishments, so that, captivated by such tricks and drunk with such sweetness, men forget their God. From the left are, for example, poverty, disgrace, contempt, afflictions, and the like. Thwarted by hardship and difficulty of these, they become despondent in mind, cast away assurance and hope, and are at last completely estranged from God.”

Calvin, “We should not grow rich at the loss of others.”

In economic as in other matters, Anabaptists felt the Reformers had not carried the Reformation far enough. Menno Simons criticized the Reformers for inadequately caring for the poor, which made their gospel “easygoing” and their sacrament “barren bread breaking”:

Is it not sad and intolerable hypocrisy that these poor people boast of having the Word of God, of being the true, Christian church, never remembering that they have entirely lost their sign of true Christianity? For although many of them have plenty of everything, go about in silk and velvet, gold and silver, and in all manner of pomp and splendor, ornament their houses with all manner of costly furniture; have their coffers filled, and live in luxury and splendor, yet they stuffer many of their own poor, afflicted members to ask alms; and poor, hungry suffering, old, lame, blind, and sick people to beg their bread at their doors.

The southern Presbyterian theologian Robert Dabney wrote that stewardship requires the Christian to make the most efficient use of wealth: “It is our duty to make the best use of every part of our possession that is possible in our circumstances. If there was any way within our reach in which our money might have produced more good and more honor to God when we spent it in something innocent, but less beneficial to his service, we have come short of our duty. We have sinned.” Dabney offers a simple test to judge our use of God’s money: Does it make us more efficient servants of God?

Long Quotes and Ideas Surrounding Money and Wealth

Desiderius Erasmus
The Despising of Riches (c 1488)

Erasmus (c 1469–1536) was the most celebrated humanist scholar of his time. His renowned Latin New Testament, based upon his critical Greek text, made future biblical scholarship indebted to him; Erasmus, though a dedicated Catholic, attacked the abuses of monasticism with brilliant satire in In Praise of Folly, and agreed with Luther in Luther’s attack on the abuse of indulgences, though the two later bitterly opposed each other. Here, in the third chapter of an early book, De Contemptu Mundi, Erasmus decries the dangers of wealth.

What thing of so great a value does this world promise you, that for the love thereof you will put your Soul’s health in danger…? What, I say, does it promise you? Is it abundance of riches? For that is what mortal folks especially desire. But truly there is nothing more miserable, more vain or deceitful, more noxious or hurtful, than worldly goods. Worldly goods are the very masters or ministers of all misgovernance and mischief. Holy Scripture does not without a cause call covetousness the root of all evil. For from it springs an ungracious affection for goods; and in it injuries and wrongs have their beginning. From it grow sedition and part-taking [dispute],… stealing, pillaging, sacrilege, extortion, and robbing. Riches engender and bring forth incest and adultery. Riches nourish and foster ravishments, mad loves, and superfluity.

What rich man can you show me who is not infected with one of these two vices: either with covetousness… or else with prodigality and waste…. The covetous man is servant and not master of his riches, and the waster will not long be master thereof. The one is possessed and does not possess: and the other within a short while leaves the possession of riches.

Yet, I ask you, what good are these precious weights—which are gathered and gotten by great grief and kept only with tremendous thought and care? In heaping them together is labor intolerable, and in keeping them is excessive care and dread, and the forgoing or loss of them is a miserable vexation and torment. Therefore a rich man has no sporting time: for either without rest or sleep he watches the goods he has gotten, or else he gapes to get more—or else he sorrows for his losses. And when he is not gaining more, he feels that he is losing and suffering damage. And what if he has mountains of gold? Or what if his riches are greater than mountains of gold? Then so much the more he augments his burden and heaps up his cares, and throws fear upon fear and grief upon grief, and takes on himself the job of a caretaker, full of all misery and labor.

Why do you consider riches and money so valuable? What preciousness is in them? For truly they are only pieces of pure brass engraved with images and inscriptions. These can neither expel nor put away the cares or griefs that gnaw thee about the stomach, nor can they rid you of any sickness of the body, and much less of death. But you will say that riches enable you to withstand need and poverty. You are deceived, I assure you, for they will cause you to be ever needy. For just as drink does not quench the thirst of one who has the dropsy, but makes him more thirsty, so with the abundance of goods or riches, your desire to have more just increases. And whoever seeks after more, shows himself to be needy.

Martin Luther
An Attack on Monastic Asceticism

Medieval monasticism narrowed the spiritual asceticism of the early church to renunciation of the world. Poverty was idealized into a kind of spiritual capitalism for poor and rich alike. The poor were on the preferred path of salvation, and the rich earned merit for salvation by almsgiving. The foremost figure in the medieval poverty movement was certainly Francis of Assisi, whose rejection of money served to radicalize discipleship and to alleviate anxiety about the corrupting effect of money and business.

Luther’s response was unequivocal: “Many people, of both low and high estate, yes, all the world, were deceived by this pretense. They were taken in by it, thinking: ‘Ah, this is something extraordinary! The dear fathers lead such an ascetic life;…’ Indeed, if you want to dupe people, you must play the eccentric” (“Sermons on the Gospel of St. John”).

On Francis, Luther commented: “I do not think that Francis was an evil man; but the facts prove that he was naive or, to state it more truthfully, foolish.” His foolishness was in supposing that money was evil in itself, and in displacing the free forgiveness of sins through Christ by a new law of renunciation. “If silver and gold are things evil in themselves, then those who keep away from them deserve to be praised. But if they are good creatures of God, which we can use both for the needs of our neighbor and for the glory of God, is not a person silly, yes, even unthankful to God, if he refrains from them as though they were evil? For they are not evil, even though they have been subjected to vanity and evil. …If God has given you wealth, give thanks to God, and see that you make right use of it…” (“Lectures on Genesis”). The problem is not money but its use. The greedy misuse the world by striving to acquire it; the monastics, by struggling to renounce it. The end result for both is personal insecurity because trust is placed in self-achievement rather than in God. Meanwhile, the neighbor is neglected.

Luther found the calculating entrepreneur extremely distasteful. He was convinced that the capitalist spirit divorced money from use for human needs and necessitated an economy of acquisition. From his brief “Sermon on Usury” (1519) to his “Admonition to the Clergy that they Preach against Usury” (1540), Luther consistently preached and wrote against the expanding money and credit economy as a great sin. “After the devil there is no greater human enemy on earth than a miser and usurer, for he desires to be above everyone. Turks, soldiers, and tyrants are also evil men, yet they must allow the people to live…; indeed, they must now and then be somewhat merciful. But a usurer and miser-belly desires that the entire world be ruined in order that there be hunger, thirst, misery, and need so that he can have everything and so that everyone must depend upon him and be his slave as if he were God.” “Daily the poor are defrauded. New burdens and high prices are imposed. Everyone misuses the market in his own willful, conceited, arrogant way, as if it were his right and privilege to sell his goods as dearly as he pleases without a word of criticism.”

“The world is one big whorehouse, completely submerged in greed,” where the “big thieves hang the little thieves.” Thus he exhorted pastors to condemn usury as stealing and murder, and to refuse absolution and the sacrament to usurers unless they repent.

Luther called this murder and robbery in disguise. “… How skillfully Sir Greed can dress up to look like a pious man if that seems to be what the occasion requires, while he is actually a double scoundrel and a liar” (“Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount”). “God opposes usury and greed, yet no one realizes this because it is not simple murder and robbery. Rather usury is a more diverse, insatiable murder and robbery. …Thus everyone should see to his worldly and spiritual office as commanded to punish the wicked and protect the pious” (An die Pfarrherrn).

Thomas Aquinas (1227–1274)
Selling and Lending

Thomas Aquinas is acclaimed as the father of Roman Catholic theology. A student of Aristotle’s philosophy, he applied logic and moral discernment to the complex realities of medieval life. Here we excerpt from his master work, Summa Theologica, parts of his treatises on “Cheating” and “The Sin of Usury.”

Whether, in Trading, It Is Lawful to Sell a Thing at a Higher Price Than What Was Paid for It?

The greedy tradesman blasphemes over his losses; he lies and perjures himself over the price of his wares. But these are vices of the man, not of the craft, which can be exercised without these vices. Therefore trading is not in itself unlawful.

I answer that. A tradesman is one whose business consists in the exchange of things. According to the Philosopher, exchange of things is twofold; one, natural as it were, and necessary, whereby one commodity is exchanged for another, or money taken in exchange for a commodity, in order to satisfy the needs of life. Suchlike trading, properly speaking, does not belong to the tradesmen, but rather to housekeepers or civil servants who have to provide the household or the state with the necessaries of life. The other kind of exchange is either that of money for money, or of any commodity for money, not on account of the necessities of life, but for profit, and this kind of exchange, properly speaking, regards tradesmen, according to the Philosopher. The former kind of exchange is commendable because it supplies a natural need: but the latter is justly deserving of blame, because, considered in itself, it satisfies the greed for gain, which knows no limit and tends to infinity. Hence trading, considered in itself, has a certain debasement attaching thereto, in so far as, by its very nature, it does not imply a virtuous or necessary end. Nevertheless gain which is the end of trading, though not implying, by its nature, anything virtuous or necessary, does not, in itself, connote anything sinful or contrary to virtue: wherefore nothing prevents gain from being directed to some necessary or even virtuous end, and thus trading becomes lawful. Thus, for instance, a man may intend the moderate gain which he seeks to acquire by trading for the upkeep of his household, or for the assistance of the needy: or again, a man may take to trade for some public advantage, for instance, lest his country lack the necessaries of life, and seek gain, not as an end, but as payment for his labour.

Whether It Is a Sin to Take Usury for Money Lent?

To take usury for money lent is unjust in itself, because this is to sell what does not exist, and this evidently leads to inequality which is contrary to justice.

In order to make this evident, we must observe that there are certain things the use of which consists in their consumption: thus we consume wine when we use it for drink, and we consume wheat when we use it for food. Wherefore in suchlike things the use of the thing must not be reckoned apart from the thing itself, and whoever is granted the use of the thing, is granted the thing itself; and for this reason, to lend things of this kind is to transfer the ownership. Accordingly if a man wanted to sell wine separately from the use of the wine, he would be selling the same thing twice, or he would be selling what does not exist, wherefore he would evidently commit a sin of injustice. In like manner he commits an injustice who lends wine or wheat, and asks for double payment, viz. one, the return of the thing in equal measure, the other, the price of the use, which is called usury.

On the other hand there are things the use of which does not consist in their consumption: thus to use a house is to dwell in it, not to destroy it. Wherefore in such things both may be granted: for instance, one man may hand over to another the ownership of his house while reserving to himself the use of it for a time, or vice versa, he may grant the use of the house, while retaining the ownership. For this reason a man may lawfully make a charge for the use of his house, and, besides this, revendicate the house from the person to whom he has granted its use, as happens in renting and letting a house.

Now money, according to the Philosopher was invented chiefly for the purpose of exchange: and consequently the proper and principal use of money is its consumption or alienation whereby it is sunk in exchange. Hence it is by its very nature unlawful to take payment for the use of money lent, which payment is known as usury: and just as a man is bound to restore other ill-gotten goods, so is he bound to restore the money which he has taken in usury.

Robert L. Dabney
Principles of Christian Economy

Robert Lewis Dabney (1829–1898) was one of the greatest Protestant theologians of the 19th century. A Southern Presbyterian, he was a leader, statesman, writer, and social critic, as well as theologian, and taught at Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. In the American Civil War he once served as Chief of Staff to the Confederate general “Stonewall” Jackson. Dabney’s contributions have been dampened partially by his vigorous defense of the pre-Civil War South’s institution of slavery; however, his work, especially his Systematic Theology, has been highly regarded by scholars from Benjamin Warfield to Karl Barth.

When a Christian man, who has professed to dedicate himself and his all, body, soul and estate, to the highest glory of God and love of his fellow-creatures, passes by the hundreds of starving poor and degraded sinners around him, the thousands of ignorant at home, and the millions of perishing heathen, whom his money might instrumentally rescue from hell-fire, and sells for a song his safe, strong, comfortable family carriage, and expends hundreds in procuring another, because his rich neighbor is about to outstrip him in this article of equipage; or when he sacrifices his plate and china to buy new at great cost, because the style of the old was a little past; or when he pulls down his commodious dwelling to expend thousands in building another, because the first was unfashionable; is not this sinful waste? When hundreds and thousands of God’s money are abstracted from the wants of a perishing world, for which the Son of God died, to purchase the barbaric finery of jewelry, as offensive to good taste as to Christian economy, jewelry which keeps out no cold blast in winter, and no scorching heat in summer, which fastens no needful garment and promotes no bodily comfort, is not this extravagance? When large sums of money are expended on exotics not half so pretty as a clover blossom nor so fragrant as a common apple-tree flower, whose only merit is that no other lady in town has obtained one, what is this but extravagance? We are deeply convinced that if our principle of self-dedication were honestly carried through the usages and indulgences of fashionable society, a multitude of common superfluities would be cut off. Indeed, we doubt not that the depth to which it would cut, and the extent to which it would convict the fashionable Christian world of delinquency, would be the grand argument against it.

In a word, the awakening of the Christian conscience of the church to the truth, and to its duty, would reduce all Christians to a life of comfortable simplicity, embellished, among those who possessed taste, by natural and inexpensive elegance, and all else would be retrenched. The whole of that immense wealth now sacrificed to luxury would be laid on the altar of religious benevolence, or devoted to works of public utility. The real politeness and true refinements of life would be only promoted by the change. Every useful branch of education, all training by which mind and body are endued with a higher efficiency for God’s service, would be secured, cost what it might. Every truly ennobling taste would receive a simple and natural cultivation. But the material luxuries and adornments of life would be sternly retrenched, and Christian society would be marked in dress, in equipage, in buildings, sacred and domestic, in food, and in every other sensuous gratification, by a Spartan simplicity, united with a pure and chaste decency. Wealth would be held as too sacred a trust to expend any part of it in anything which was not truly necessary to the highest glory of God in the rational and spiritual welfare of his creatures, our fellow-men.

… the extent to which the worldly conformity of the church follows on the heels of the advancing luxuries of the world, plainly indicates that something is wrong with us. Every age has added to the wealth of civilized societies, and every generation, nay, every year, the style of expenditures advances. More costly dwellings are built. What were commodious and respectable mansions a few years ago, are now dragged away as so much rubbish; and if Providence permits our much-abused wealth still to increase, the places we now build will be pulled down to make room for the more luxurious palaces of our children. New and unheard-of indulgences are invented. What our fathers regarded as luxuries almost extravagant, we have accustomed ourselves to look upon as ordinary comforts, almost despised for their cheapness. More capricious wants are indulged; more costly articles of adornment are invented. And, as if to repudiate in the most direct and expressive mode every remnant of the obligations of sobriety, costliness has become the very element of fashion. Because the ornament is monstrously expensive, in proportion to its true utility, therefore it is sought.

Now let extravagance of expenditure take as enormous strides as it will, the indulgence of Christians follows close on its heels. No species of adornment, however outrageously wasteful; no imaginary indulgence, however capricious, has become fashionable, but rich Christians have soon proceeded to employ it almost as commonly as the world…. And let it be observed, that those who ride on the floodtide of extravagance are not merely those inconsistent persons whose piety is under grievous suspicion on all hands, but often they are those who stand fair and are much esteemed in the church…. They will admit one extravagance after another, on the plea of usage and the customs of society, and the innocence of the particular indulgence in itself, to the utmost extent to which an apostate world may please to run in its waste of God’s abused bounties. Hence it is evident that there must be an error in those principles. And let anyone attempt to go back and review them, comparing them with the principles of the Bible in order to eliminate that error, and he will find that there is no rational or scriptural stopping place short of the strict rule we have advocated.

Richard Halvorsen

Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, provided a stark reminder of the importance of this issue in his March 4, 1987, newsletter, Perspective. He dispensed with his usual devotional comments and instead left that page blank—except for a quotation from 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” He signed the newsletter, “With profound concern.”

John Calvin

Let this be our principle: that the use of God’s gifts is not wrongly directed when it is referred to that end to which the Author himself created and destined them for us, since he created them for our good, not for our ruin. Accordingly, no one will hold to a straighter path than he who diligently looks to this end. Now if we ponder to what end God created food, we shall find that he meant not only to provide for necessity for also for delight and good cheer. Thus the purpose of clothing, apart from necessity, was comeliness and decency. In grasses, trees, and fruits, apart from their various uses, there is beauty of appearance and pleasantness of odor [cf. Gen. 2:9]. For if this were not true, the prophet would not have reckoned them among the benefits of God, “that wine gladdens the heart of man, that oil makes his face shine” [Ps. 104:15]….

Richard Baxter (1615–1691)
The Saint’s Everlasting Rest

If there be so certain and glorious a rest for the saints, why is there no more industrious seeking after it? One would think if a man did but once hear of such unspeakable glory to be obtained, and believed what he heard to be true, he should be transported with the vehemency of his desire after it, and should almost forget to eat or drink, and should care for nothing else, and speak of and inquire after nothing else, but how to get this treasure. And yet people who hear of it daily, and profess to believe it as a fundamental article of their faith, do as little mind it, or labour for it, as if they had never heard of any such thing, or did not believe one word they hear…

The worldly-minded are so taken up in seeking the things below, that they have neither heart nor time to seek this rest. O foolish sinners, who hath bewitched you? The world bewitches men into brute beasts, and draws them some degrees beyond madness. See what riding and running, what scrambling and catching for a thing of nought, while eternal rest lies neglected! What contriving and caring to get a step higher in the world than their brethren, while they neglect the kingly dignity of the saints! What insatiable pursuit of fleshly pleasures, while they look on the praises of God, the joy of angels, as a tiresome burden! What unwearied diligence in raising their posterity, enlarging their possessions; perhaps for a poor living from hand to mouth; while judgment is drawing near; but how it shall go with them then, never puts them to one hour’s consideration! What rising early, and sitting up late, and labouring from year to year, to maintain themselves and children in credit till they die: but what shall follow after, they never think on! Yet these men cry. “May we not be saved without so much ado?” How early do they rouse up their servants to their labour! But how seldom do they call them to prayer, or reading the scriptures! What hath this world done for its lovers and friends, that it is so eagerly followed, and painfully sought after, while Christ and heaven stand by, and few regard them? or what will the world do for them for the time to come? The common entrance into it is through anguish and sorrow. The passage through it. is with continual care and labour. The passage out of it, is the sharpest of all. O unreasonable, bewitched men! will mirth and pleasure stick close to you? Will gold and worldly glory prove fast friends to you in the time of your greatest need? Will they hear your cries in the day of your calamity? At the hour of your death, will they either answer or relieve you? Will they go along with you to the other world, and bribe the Judge, and bring you off clear, or purchase you a place among the blessed? Why then did the rich man want a drop of water to cool his tongue? Or are the sweet morsels of present delight and honour of more worth than eternal rest? and will they recompense the loss of that enduring treasure? Can there be the least hope of any of these? Ah, vile, deceitful world! How oft have we heard thy most faithful servants at last complaining: “Oh, the world hath deceived me, and undone me? It pattered me in my prosperity, but now it turns me off in my necessity. If I had as faithfully served Christ, as I have served it, he would not have left me thus comfortless and hopeless.” Thus they complain: and yet succeeding sinners will take no warning.

Merle D’Aubigne
History of the Reformation in the Time of Calvin, (Page 198)

For centuries the English people had been waiting for such a permission, even from before the time of Wycliff; and accordingly the Bible circulated rapidly. The impetuosity with which the living waters rushed forth, carrying with them everything they met in their course, was like the sudden opening of a huge floodgate. This great event, more important than divorces, treaties, and wars, was the conquest of England by the Reformation. ‘It was a wonderful thing to see,’ says an old historian. Whoever possessed the means bought the book and read it or had it read to him by others. Aged persons learnt their letters in order to study the Holy Scriptures of God. In many places there were meetings for reading; poor people dubbed their savings together and purchased a Bible, and then in some remote corner of the church, they modestly formed a circle, and read the Holy Book between them.

Martin Luther
The Letters of Martin Luther (Page 144)

TO EBERHARDT BRISGER.

February 1, 1527.

Grace and peace! You ask me, my worthy Eberhard, to send you eight gulden; but where am I to get them? You know the state of my finances, and this year alone I have contracted 100 gulden of debt through my wretched management. I have pledged in one quarter three goblets for 50 gulden. The Lord who thus punishes my folly will again draw me out of the net. In addition, Lukas (Cranach) and Christian will take no more such pledges from me, for they know they will either receive nothing or I be ruined. At length I pressed a fourth goblet upon them for 12 gulden, which they lent me, upon my word of mouth, to give to the fat Hermann. How could I let myself be so drained, and plunge my small belongings in such debt? Now, it would not be giving my own, but other people’s money as alms. So no one can say I am mean or greedy seeing I have been so lavish to others. Now I shall arrange thus. I shall talk it over with them, and perhaps satisfy them, and if I can lay hands on more money I would not hesitate to advance it. And, lastly, I would like to visit you myself, and talk over matters with you, and see your glebe. Why not let your empty house? It would have brought in a bit of money. Farewell.

Yours, ML

Matthew Henry
Commentary on Matthew (24:31ff)

The Duty of Watchfulness

Secondly, His right discharge of this office. The good servant, if thus preferred, will be a good steward; for, 1. He is faithful; stewards must be so, 1 Corinthians 4:2. He that is trusted, must be trusty; and the greater the trust is, the more is expected from them. It is a great good thing that is committed to ministers (2 Timothy 1:14); and they must be faithful, as Moses was, Hebrews 3:2. Christ counts those ministers, and those only, that are faithful, 1 Timothy 1:12. A faithful minister of Jesus Christ is one that sincerely designs his master’s honour, not his own; delivers the whole counsel of God, not his own fancies and conceits; follows Christ’s institutions and adheres to them; regards the meanest, reproves the greatest, and doth not respect persons. 2. He is wise to understand his duty and the proper season of it; and in guiding of the flock there is need, not only of the integrity of the heart, but the skilfulness of the hands. Honesty may suffice for a good servant, but wisdom is necessary to a good steward; for it is profitable to direct. 3. He is doing; so doing as his office requires. The ministry is a good work, and they whose office it is, have always something to do; they must not indulge themselves in ease, nor leave the work undone, or carelessly turn it off to others, but be doing, and doing to the purpose — so doing, giving meat to the household, minding their own business, and not meddling with that which is foreign; so doing as the Master has appointed, as the office imports, and as the case of the family requires; not talking, but doing. It was the motto Mr. Perkins used, Minister verbi es — You are a minister of the word. Not only Age — Be doing; but Hoc age — Be so doing. 4. He is found doing when his Master comes; which intimates, (1.) Constancy at his work. At what hour soever his Master comes, he is found busy at the work of the day. Ministers should not leave empty spaces in their time, lest their Lord should come in one of those empty spaces. As with a good God the end of one mercy is the beginning of another, so with a good man, a good minister, the end of one duty is the beginning of another. When Calvin was persuaded to remit his ministerial labours, he answered, with some resentment, “What, would you have my Master find me idle?” (2.) Perseverance in his work till the Lord come. Hold fast till then, Revelation 2:25. Continue in these things, 1 Timothy 4:16; 6:14. Endure to the end.

John Wesley
Letter 179

MY DEAR SISTER, EDINBURGH, May 28, 1764.

CERTAINLY it would be right to spend some time in setting down both the outward providences of God, and the inward leadings and workings of his Spirit, as far as you can remember them. But observe withal, you are called to be a good steward of the mammon of unrighteousness. You must therefore think of this too in its place; only without anxiety. Otherwise, that neglect of your calling will hinder the work of God in your heart. You are not serving mammon by this, but serving Christ: It is part of the test which he has assigned you. Yet it is true your heart is to be free all the time; and see that you stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free. I thought your name had been altered before now. In a new station you will have need of new watchfulness. Still redeem the time; be steadily serious; and follow your own conscience in all things. I am, my dear sister,

Your affectionate brother.

In my return from the Highlands, I expect to spend a day at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the 18th or 19th of June.

Thomas Aquinas

Summa Theologia

Now money, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 5; Polit. i, 3) was invented chiefly for the purpose of exchange: and consequently the proper and principal use of money is its consumption or alienation whereby it is sunk in exchange. Hence it is by its very nature unlawful to take payment for the use of money lent, which payment is known as usury: and just as a man is bound to restore other ill-gotten goods, so is he bound to restore the money which he has taken in usury.

P(2b)-Q(78)-A(1)-RO(1) — In this passage usury must be taken figuratively for the increase of spiritual goods which God exacts from us, for He wishes us ever to advance in the goods which we receive from Him: and this is for our own profit not for His. P(2b)-Q(78)-A(1)-RO(2) — The Jews were forbidden to take usury from their brethren, i.e. from other Jews. By this we are given to understand that to take usury from any man is evil simply, because we ought to treat every man as our neighbor and brother, especially in the state of the Gospel, whereto all are called. Hence it is said without any distinction in Psalm 14:5: “He that hath not put out his money to usury,” and (Ezekiel 18:8): “Who hath not taken usury [*Vulg.: ‘If a man… hath not lent upon money, nor taken any increase… he is just.’].” They were permitted, however, to take usury from foreigners, not as though it were lawful, but in order to avoid a greater evil, lest, to wit, through avarice to which they were prone according to Isaiah 56:11, they should take usury from the Jews who were worshippers of God. Where we find it promised to them as a reward, “Thou shalt fenerate to many nations,” etc., fenerating is to be taken in a broad sense for lending, as in Ecclus. 29:10, where we read: “Many have refused to fenerate, not out of wickedness,” i.e. they would not lend. Accordingly the Jews are promised in reward an abundance of wealth, so that they would be able to lend to others.

P(2b)-Q(117)-A(4) — I answer that, It is proper to a liberal man to use money. Now the use of money consists in parting with it. For the acquisition of money is like generation rather than use: while the keeping of money, in so far as it is directed to facilitate the use of money, is like a habit. Now in parting with a thing — for instance, when we throw something — the farther we put it away the greater the force [virtus] employed. Hence parting with money by giving it to others proceeds from a greater virtue than when we spend it on ourselves. But it is proper to a virtue as such to tend to what is more perfect, since “virtue is a kind of perfection” (Phys. vii, text. 17,18). Therefore a liberal man is praised chiefly for giving.

P(2b)-Q(117)-A(4)-RO(1) — It belongs to prudence to keep money, lest it be stolen or spent uselessly. But to spend it usefully is not less but more prudent than to keep it usefully: since more things have to be considered in money’s use, which is likened to movement, than in its keeping, which is likened to rest. As to those who, having received money that others have earned, spend it more liberally, through not having experienced the want of it, if their inexperience is the sole cause of their liberal expenditure they have not the virtue of liberality. Sometimes, however, this inexperience merely removes the impediment to liberality, so that it makes them all the more ready to act liberally, because, not unfrequently, the fear of want that results from the experience of want hinders those who have acquired money from using it up by acting with liberality; as does likewise the love they have for it as being their own effect, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 1).

Samuel Meier
Baker Encyclopedia of Theology, (Page 539)

Money is one of the least trustworthy and most deceptive elements of human existence. It is an unpredictable and wildly vacillating guide to value…people tend to cling to money, addicted to its false security.

I found Meier’s comment to be a very important statement for two reasons: 1) monetary value is relative to the viewer (either God’s view of stewardship or our own value placed on money) and 2) monetary value changes rapidly (cf. 2 Kings 7:1) (MM)

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Bible, Psalm 15:5

The fact that it was allowed to the Hebrews to take interest of the people of other nations, shows that there was nothing morally wrong in the thing itself; and, in fact, there can be no reason why a man, to whom it is an accommodation, should not pay for the use of money as well as for the use of any other property. The thing forbidden here, therefore, is not the taking of interest in any case, but the taking of interest in such a way as would be oppressive and hard — as of a Hebrew demanding it from his poor and needy brother; and, by consequence, it would forbid the exacting of unusual and unlawful rates of interest, or taking advantage of the necessities of others — by evading the provisions of law, and making their circumstances an occasion of extortion.

A.T. Robertson

Word Pictures in the NT (Luke 16:9)

That they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles (hina dexoontai humas eis tas aioonious skeenas). This is the purpose of Christ in giving the advice about their making friends by the use of money. The purpose is that those who have been blessed and helped by the money may give a welcome to their benefactors when they reach heaven. There is no thought here of purchasing an entrance into heaven by the use of money. That idea is wholly foreign to the context. These friends will give a hearty welcome when one gives him mammon here. The wise way to lay up treasure in heaven is to use one’s money for God here on earth. That will give a cash account there of joyful welcome, not of purchased entrance.

John Calvin
Institutes of the Christian Religion

We must, therefore, administer them as if we constantly heard the words sounding in our ears, “Give an account of your stewardship.” At the same time, let us remember by whom the account is to be taken, viz., by him who, while he so highly commends abstinence, sobriety, frugality, and moderation, abominates luxury, pride, ostentation, and vanity; who approves of no administration but that which is combined with charity, who with his own lips has already condemned all those pleasures which withdraw the heart from chastity and purity, or darken the intellect.

Rev. B. Carradine
Inspiration Holiness

Secondly, a perfect consecration lays its hand upon the purse. We do not believe it is possible to obtain and retain the blessing of holiness without having an understanding with God in regard to our (???) income and property. Very many regenerated people, and even church members, give one-tenth of their income to God. But a perfect consecration goes deeper and farther than that and lays all material substance on the altar just as all time was given to God. This does not mean that a man literally sells out everything he has, or gives away all he owns, or turns his property over to a Dowie or one of Dowie’s little imitators. This last proceeding would destroy the individual stewardship which the Lord declares exists between each individual soul and himself. Every one must give an account for himself; not this man or that man for another; but each one must render an account of himself and his stewardship to God. Perfect Consecration lays every dollar on the altar with the full recognition that all belongs to God. That it is impossible to give the Lord one-tenth and then use the other nine-tenths in a way that Heaven cannot approve. In a high, holy sense all belongs to Christ and so must be used in a manner that He can smile upon and bless. Further still, that as everything belongs to God, if he should call for it, then all would be given up to him.

John Calvin

Commentary on 1 Peter (4:10)

As every one hath received. He reminds us what we ought to bear in mind when we do good to our neighbors; for nothing is more fitted to correct our murmurings than to remember that we do not give our own, but only dispense what God has committed to us. When therefore he says, “Minister the gift which every one has received,” he intimates that to each had been distributed what they had, on this condition, that in helping their brethren they might be the ministers of God. And thus the second clause is an explanation of the first, for instead of ministry he mentions stewardship; and for what he had said, “as every one hath received the gift,” he mentions the manifold graces which God variously distributes to us, so that each might confer in common his own portion. If then we excel others in any gift, let us remember that we are as to this the stewards of God, in order that we may kindly impart it to our neighbors as their necessity or benefit may require. Thus we ought to be disposed and ready to communicate.

Charles Finney (Yes, the heretic has some good things to say…a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.)
Lectures to Professing Christians; Lecture 8 (Page 104)

Conforming to the world in fashion, you show that you do not hold yourself accountable to God for the manner in which you lay out money. You practically disown your stewardship of the money that is in your possession. By laying out money to gratify your own vanity and lust, you take off the keen edge of that truth, which ought to cut that sinner in two, who is living to himself. It is practically denying that the earth is the Lord’s, with the cattle on a thousand hills, and all to be employed for his glory.

Gordon J. Wenham

Word Biblical Commentary, Genesis 39:3-4

3–4 Indeed, so obvious was Joseph’s magic touch that his master realized God was with him and promoted him from indoor worker to his personal assistant. Trv “served” is close in meaning to db[ “to work (for),” but whereas the latter term can be used for menial jobs often done by slaves (29:15, 18, 20), the former term always implies personal service. Thus Joshua was Moses’ servant (Exod 24:13; Josh 1:1), Elisha was Elijah’s (1 Kgs 19:21), and prince Amnon had servants (2 Sam 13:17) (THWAT 2:1019–22). “Put him in charge of his household,” i.e., he was appointed chief manager or steward of his household (cf. Luke 16:1). Such officials (mer-per) are often mentioned in Egyptian texts. They were in charge not “just of the house but the whole estate and all the property” (Vergote, Joseph en Égypte, 25).

Donald Hagnar

Word Biblical Commentary, Matthew 14-28, (25:14-30)

14–15 The underlying theme of the parable is introduced at the outset: the absence of the master (the Son of Man) and the interim responsibility of the servants (disciples). The anqrwpo, “man,” is about to “take a journey” (apodhmw`n); cf. kai; apedhvmhsen, “and he departed on a journey,” at the end of v. 15. He calls his servants together to put them in charge of his money (ta; upavrconta autou`, lit. “what belonged to him”). This is parallel to the commission in 24:45. Here, however, the responsibility is expressed in terms of money. It is difficult to know the value of the tavlanton, “talent” (originally a measure of weight), but it was a very large amount of money, here probably silver coinage (cf. vv 18, 27): one talent equaled 6,000 denarii (one denarius was the equivalent of a day’s wages for a common laborer). The talent was thus analogous to the modern “million” (so EDNT 3:332; cf. Naegele). Of course, the issue really at stake is not money but the stewardship of what has been given to individual disciples. Since this stewardship involves different “amounts” entrusted to the disciples (five, two, one talent[s]), the “talents” probably symbolize personal gifts and abilities rather than the gospel itself. This is supported by the phrase ekavstw kata thn idivan duvnamin, “to each according to his own ability” (perhaps picked up by Paul in Rom 12:3, 6–7). As at the present time for Matthew’s readers, the master has “gone on a journey,” and the stewardship of his servants is on trial.

“The Christian will not only be asked whether he was a Christian, but he must also answer how he was a Christian” (Mattern, 162, WBC)

Herman C. Weber
The Horizons of Stewardship, (P 115)

Stewardship has been defined as “the administration of the material and spiritual possessions entrusted to men by God for the advancement of His kingdom.”

Meredith G. Kline
[Vol. 22, Page 146] Westminster Theological Journal, The Two Tables of the Covenant

That the love of God with heart, soul, mind, and strength is as relevant to the tenth commandment as it is to the first is evident from the fact that to violate the tenth is to worship Mammon, and ye cannot love and serve God and Mammon. Or consider the tenth word from the viewpoint of the principle of stewardship, the corollary of the principle of God’s covenant lordship. Property in the Israelite theocracy was held only in fief under the Lord who declared: “For the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev 25:23b). Therefore to covet the inheritance of one’s neighbor was to covet what was God’s and so betray want of love for him. The application of this is universal because not just Canaan but “the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein” (Ps 24:1).

Charles C. Ryrie (Yes, even he had a couple of good things to say too…another blind squirrel.) Perspectives on Social Ethics — Part I: Theological Perspectives on Social Ethics: Responsibility to the Poor

As in the teachings of Christ, so also in the teachings and example of the Apostles, concern for the poor receives a prominent place. At least three principles emerge from the writings of the Apostles.

First, both the state of having possessions and the state of lacking them are from God. Wealth is regarded as evil only if it is improperly used. It is the love of money, not the lack of it, that is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10). The rich are never told to give all their wealth away, but to be generous and not to trust in possessions (1 Tim 6:17–19). Ananias and Sapphira were judged not because they refused to give all their possessions to the church, but because they pretended to give all away, when in reality they did not. They were not reproached for deciding to keep back part of the sale price of their land, but rather for pretending to give the full price to the Apostles (Acts 5:1–11). Peter makes it very clear that the property and proceeds were theirs.

Paul experienced both the state of having possessions and lacking them (Phil 4:12). He was not more in the Lord’s will in one state than the other. In the will of God a man may be poor, while another equally in the will of God may be rich (James 1:9–10). The important test for every Christian is whether or not he has learned to be content in either condition. For the one who has much, it is easy to be content, but he must search his own heart to see whether he would willingly give up all he has, if God so willed. Money can easily become an idol. The one who has little must also learn contentment, though this does not mean he should abandon legitimate means of self-advancement.

Just as a man may be either rich or poor in the will of God, he may also be rich or poor out of the will of God. Ill-gotten wealth will have to be accounted for in the day of judgment (James 5:3, 9). If poverty resulted from laziness, then others are under no obligation to support the slothful one. Paul commanded that if a man did not wish to work he should not be allowed to eat (2 Thess 3:10). Neither the individual Christian nor the church has any responsibility to support such people.

Second, planning for the future is prudent. There are three facets to such planning. One facet relates to widowed parents and/or grandparents. This is a clear point (among many unclear ones!) in the passage concerning the care of widows (1 Tim 5:3–16). Believers bear the primary responsibility for the care of their widowed parents or grandparents. Verse 8 speaks of providing for one’s own, especially those of his own house, so that he will not be worse than an unbeliever. The word provide means “to think ahead and prepare for one’s foreseeable needs.” (This is somewhat true. The definition of “provide” can mean “to foresee or think ahead” but in this context it does mean “to provide.” However, the idea of careful planning is in view. (MM)) In this context it refers to the needs of the members of one’s own household, including the widows related to that family. This verse does not deal with saving for the education of one’s children, or buying insurance unless that would be involved in providing for a widowed mother or grandmother. Of course, everyone faces the problem of knowing how much will be enough, but the principle is clear. The family takes the responsibility; the church assumes the responsibility only when no family is available to do so. When the church does have to assume responsibility, two further principles emerge: give temporary relief to younger widows who are encouraged to remarry, and promise sustained support for older enrolled widows. Thus the family responds first; the church steps in only if there is no family; and the government is mentioned not at all.

Elsewhere Paul enunciates the principle of parents providing for their children (2 Cor 12:14). In his relationship to the Corinthians Paul desired to exercise the privilege of a parent, namely, to lay up provision for his spiritual children. He bases his plea on an accepted principle: “the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.” Again the difficult question is, How much is necessary and proper to conform to this principle? Whatever is the correct answer to that question (and it will undoubtedly differ in each case), it is clear that planning for the future of one’s children and the care of one’s parents is prudent and commendable in the sight of God.

James adds a third facet: caring for orphans (James 1:27). Pure religion is to “visit,” or better, “to look after and care for” (from the same root as “bishop”) orphans. Specifically how this gets done is not stated, but like the care of widows, it is primarily an individual responsibility. Actually, the matter of planning falls in the area of personal ethics, but it is mentioned here because it bears on social responsibilities.

Responsibility for widows, children, and orphans is a family matter—either the individual family or the church family. Saving and thrift are not vices, nor are they incompatible with the proper use of money.

Third, giving is the proof of love. The act of giving intrinsically involves others. There can be no giver without a corresponding recipient. While it is true that giving may be done on a one-to-one basis, the New Testament emphasis is clearly on group giving. First John 3:17 (you have exegetical work for 3:18 (MM)) mentions one-to-one giving, and summarizes the entire apostolic teaching on the subject. Giving is the proof of love, which in turn is a test of fellowship; and fellowship in turn is the basis for confidence that God hears our prayers. This giving has some very important practical ramifications.

Giving flows from a heart of love. The Apostles, building on this truth, set forth guidelines for genuine, Spirit-controlled giving.

First, the individual should make regular provision (“lay by himself”) for giving. Stewardship of one’s personal assets should be systematic so that funds are regularly available for giving (1 Cor 16:2). In this passage Paul has in mind the collection he was taking for the poor in Jerusalem, carrying out the admonition which Peter, James, and John had given him earlier (Gal 2:10). This laying aside should not be an emotional whim, but a thoughtful, systematic consideration based on a proper assessment of what a man has. In other words, provision for giving should be a part of one’s regular budget (2 Cor 8:12). It is not a matter of trusting God for what one does not have, but of God trusting the believer to plan carefully with what he does have.

Second, the primary responsibility of believers in their use of money is in caring for the material needs of other believers. While Christians are called on to do good to all men, their special responsibility in good works and in giving is to fellow believers (Gal 6:10). From the beginning the church undertook a ministry to her own. Sharing things in common was done by the church immediately after the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:34–35; 4:34–35 ). Clearly the right of holding property was not abolished (4:34 ), and community control was only assumed when goods or money was voluntarily given. Apparently, this communal sharing was done temporarily (and only in Jerusalem) to meet the need created by the thousands of pilgrims whose visit to Jerusalem had been unexpectedly prolonged by a life-changing encounter with Christianity. No doubt many stayed on in order to be taught, and soon they ran out of money and provisions. Into this situation stepped the church.

Later, a large group of widows made demands on the charity of the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:1). Levirate marriage, that is, the marriage of a widow by her brother-in-law after the death of her husband, was designed to help protect the rights of a widow. But the law made provision for releasing the brother-in-law in cases of hardship. As a result Levirate marriage was neglected and widows, left to make their own way, became the objects of charity. At the time of Christ they had become so neglected that the Jews established a fund in the Temple out of which relief was given to widows and orphans (2 Macc 3:10). Many of these widows were apparently converted to Christianity, thereby cutting off their Temple fund support. Again the church stepped in to undertake for her own.

A third example of special provision for the material needs of other believers can be seen in the famine relief money sent by the Christians in Antioch to those in Judea (Acts 11:27–30). Their gift represents probably the first instance of charity being given to those who were not personally known to the donors.

A fourth example of the church caring for her own is the collection Paul took up in the churches of Macedonia and Achaia for the poor saints in Jerusalem (Rom 15:25, 27; 2 Cor 8–9 ). The relief effort extended over a period of time (2 Cor 9:2), and involved organized effort (2 Cor 8:18–22). Indeed, in all of these instances there had to be some degree of organization in order to carry out the relief program, since money and goods were never passed directly from donor to recipient. Instead, donors contributed to leaders who in turn controlled the distribution of the monies.

A third principle concerning giving can be found in those strange verses of 1 Corinthians 7:27–31. Since the time is short (and it is obviously shorter than when Paul wrote), then Christians today must put all the things of life (including money) in proper perspective, for they are all transitory. Or as another has expressed it: “All of us must live as loose to money and possessions as if we were actually giving them away…. All of us must keep on trying to find fresh ways of giving away more if possible year by year.” (A. N. Trinton, Whose World? (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1970), p. 175.)

David J. MacLeod
The Primacy of Scripture And the Church, Emmaus Journal Volume 6 (Page 30)

The Church Is Self-Supported: Only Christians Contribute to Its Work

In the early church there was a conviction that the Christian life was a stewardship in which the Lord has “richly supplied us with all things” (1 Tim. 6:17). Financial giving to the work of the Lord was an expression of the grace of God (2 Cor. 8:1–2) and the believers’ dedication to Christ (2 Cor. 8:5). In Acts 11:29 it is the “disciples,” i.e., believers, who contribute to help the poor in Judea.

In 3 John 7 the Apostle commends servants of the Lord who accepted no financial support from the Gentiles, i.e., from unbelievers. That only Christians should support the Lord’s work is evident because: (1) only Christians are stewards of God’s grace, (2) this is apostolic practice [Acts 11:29], and (3) it protects the free offer of grace from confusion [Matt. 10:8; 2 Cor. 11:7; Acts 20:35]. Not only did the apostolic church believe that only Christians should give, but that every Christian, rich (1 Tim. 6:17–19) and poor (2 Cor. 8:1–2), should give.

Money was given to repay God’s servants (1 Cor. 9:13–14; Gal. 6:6), care for the needy among God’s people (Rom. 15:26–27; 2 Cor. 8:13–15), and extend Christ’s message (Phil. 4:10–19). Giving was to be voluntary, not forced (2 Cor. 8:3; 9:5, 7), generous, not parsimonious (2 Cor. 8:2; 9:6, 13; 1 Tim. 6:18), enthusiastic, not grudging (2 Cor. 8:4, 11–12; 9:7), deliberate, not haphazard (2 Cor. 9:7; Acts 11:29), regular, not spasmodic (1 Cor. 16:2), proportionate, not arbitrary (1 Cor. 16:2), sensible, not reckless (2 Cor. 8:11-12; 1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 4:34–35), and unobtrusive, not ostentatious (Matt. 6:1–4).

The Apostle Paul’s approach to money is instructive. He preached without charge so as not to harm his message (Acts 18:3; 20:34–35), yet he could candidly rebuke an assembly for financially taking advantage of him (2 Cor. 11:7–8). He did not solicit funds for himself, yet he mentioned the needs of other workers and elders (Tit. 3:13; 1 Tim. 5:17–18). He solicited funds only from believers and did not use pressure tactics.

Robert C. Newman
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 40:1, March 1997, Breadmaking with Jesus

Jesus was poor. After his birth, Mary and Joseph gave the poor offering of two birds (Luke 2:22–24). During his public ministry Jesus was homeless (Matt 8:20). He shared a common purse with the twelve (John 12:6; 13:29). He was buried in a borrowed tomb (Matt 27:57–60). Perhaps most revealing, after feeding the multitudes he had the disciples collect the scraps (Mark 6:43; 8:8, 19–20). The Sadducees, by contrast, were rich and planned to stay that way. The Pharisees seem to have been middle-class, but their attitude toward wealth was revealed when they scoffed at Jesus’ teaching that they could not serve both God and money (Luke 16:13–14). Jesus intentionally chose to be poor.

(More specifically, the Eternal Godhead saw it good to send the eternal Son in the likeness of human flesh as a poor man.

Richard Baxter
Christian Directory, (Page 836)

May I borrow of one to pay another to keep my day with the first?

Yes, if you deal not fraudulently with the second, but are able to pay him, or acquaint him truly with your case.

Usury, or interest bargains, are not forbidden by the Law of Moses, only with the poor and to the brethren if done unmercifully. Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:36-37

Is lending a duty? If so, must I lend to all that ask me, or to whom?

Lending is a duty, when we have it, and our brother’s necessity requires it, and true prudence tells us, that we have no better way to lay it out which is inconsistent with that.

John Owen
Works, Volume 7, (Page 406-407)

2. When the soul is upright and sincere, there is no need in this case of any more solicitousness or anxiety of mind than there is unto or about other duties; but when it is biassed and acted by self-love, and its more strong inclinations unto things present, it is impossible men should enjoy solid peace, or be free from severe reflections on them by their own consciences, in such seasons wherein they are awakened unto their duty and the consideration of their state, nor have I any thing to tender for their relief. With others it is not so, and therefore I shall so far digress in this place as to give some directions unto those who, in sincerity, would be satisfied in this lawful use and enjoyment of earthly things, so as not to adhere unto them with inordinate affection:

— 1. Remember always that you are not proprietors or absolute possessors of those things, but only stewards of them. With respect unto men, you are or may be just proprietors of what you enjoy; but with respect unto Him who is the great possessor of heaven and earth, you are but stewards. This stewardship we are to give an account of, as we are taught in the parable, Luke 16:1, 2. This rule always attended unto will be a blessed guide in all instances and occasions of duty. But if a man be left in trust with houses and large possessions, as a steward for the right lord, owner, and proprietor of them, if he fall into a pleasing dream that they are all his own, and use them accordingly, it will be a woeful surprisal unto him when he shall be called to account for all that he hath received and laid out, whether he will or no, and when indeed he hath nothing to pay. It will scarce be otherwise with them at the great day who forget the trust which is committed to them, and suppose they may do what they will with what they call their own, 2. There is nothing, in the ways of getting, enjoying, or using of these things, but giveth its own evidence unto spiritual wisdom whether it be within the bounds of duty or no. Men are not lightly deceived herein, but when they are evidently under the power of corrupt affections, or will not at all attend unto themselves and the language of their own consciences. It is a man’s own fault alone if he know not wherein he doth exceed. A due examination of ourselves in the sight of God with respect unto these things, the frame and actings of our minds in them, will greatly give check unto our corrupt inclinations and discover the folly of those reasonings whereby we deceive ourselves into the love of earthly things, or justify ourselves therein, and bring to light the secret principle of self-love, which is the root of all this evil. 3. If you would be able to make a right judgment in this case, be sure that you have another object for your affections, which hath a predominant interest in your minds, and which will evidence itself so to have on all occasions. Let a man be never so observant of himself as unto all outward duties required of him with respect unto these earthly things; let him be liberal in the disposal of them on all occasions; let him be watchful against all intemperance and excesses in the use of them, — yet if he hath not another object for his affections, which hath a prevailing influence upon them, if they are not set upon the things that are above, one way or other it is the world that hath the possession of his heart: for the affections of our minds will and must be placed in chief on things below or things above. There will be a predominant love in us; and therefore, although all our actions should testify another frame, yet if God and the things of God be not the principal object of our affections, by one way or other unto the 498 world we do belong. This is that which is taught us so expressly by our Savior, Luke 16:9-13, “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Thomas Watson
The Lord’s Prayer, (Page 195)

See our own poverty and indigence. We all live upon alms and upon free gifts – “Give us this day…” All we have is from the hand of God’s royal bounty; we have nothing but what he give us out of his own storehouse; we cannot have one bit of bread but from God. The devil persuaded our first parents, that by disobeying God, they should “be as gods”; but we may now see what goodly gods we are, that we have not a bit of bread to put in our mouths unless God give it to us. Genesis 3:5. That is a humbling consideration.

When we pray for things pertaining to this life, we must desire temporal things for spiritual ends; we must desire these things to be helps as helps in our journey to heaven…temporal things must be prayed for for spiritual ends.

(Interesting to note that the Lord’s Prayer is concerning with “us” and not “we”. “Give us our…” When we are praying for temporal goods we are looking at our neighbors and ourselves as well. Such a lesson is for the rich as well as the poor. CMM))

Thomas Watson

The Lord’s Prayer (Page 216)

If you have less daily bread, you will have less account to give. The riches and honors of this world, like alchemy, make a great show, and with their glistening, dazzle men’s eyes; but they do not consider the great account they must give to God. ‘Give an account of thy stewardship.’ Luke 16:2. What good hast thou done with thy estate? Hast thou, as a good steward, traded thy golden talents for God’s glory? Hast thou honored the Lord with thy substance? The greater revenues the greater reckonings. Let it quiet and content us, that if we have but little daily bread, our account will be less.

Thomas Brooks
Works, Volume 2 (Page 70)

Earthly riches, for the most part, make men unwilling to die. Oh how terrible is the king of terrors to the rich and the great ones of the world, 1 Sam. xxviii. 20, Dan. v. 1—7. And so Henry Beaufort, that rich and wretched cardinal, in the reign of Henry the Sixth, perceiving death at hand, spoke thus: Wherefore should I die, being so rich ?If the whole realm would save my life, I am able either by policy to get it, or by riches to buy it; fie, quoth he, will not death be hired ? will money do nothing ?1 It is reported that Queen Elizabeth could not endure so much as to hear death named; and Sigismund the emperor, and Louis the Eleventh, king of France, straitly charged all their servants, that when they saw them sick, they should never dare to name that bitter word death in their ears. Vitellius, an emperor of Kome—a notorious glutton, as you may easily judge, by his having at one supper two thousand fishes, and seven thousand birds—when he could not fly death, he made himself drunk that he might not be sensible of the pangs of death.1 It was a very prudent and Christian speech of Charles the Fifth to the duke of Venice, who when he had shewed him the glory of his princely palace and earthly paradise, instead of admiring it, or him for it, he only returned him this grave and serious memento, these are the things which make us unwilling to die, &c. And by daily experience we find that of all men wealthy men are most un­willing to die. Oh, but now God is such a portion as fits and disposes the soul to die, yea, as makes the soul look and long for death, and that makes death more desirable than life itself. A man that hath God for his portion, that hath God in his arms, may well sing it out with old Simeon, ‘Lord, let thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes hath seen thy salvation,’ Luke ii. 25, 29, 30; and with Paul, ‘I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ,’ Philip, i. 23; and with the church, ‘Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountain of spices,’ Cant. viii, 14; and, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly,’ Rev. xxii. 20. Did Christ die for me that I might live with him? I will not therefore desire to live long from him. All men go willingly to see him whom they love, and shall I be unwilling to die that I may see him whom my soul loves? Surely no. Augustine longed to die that he might see that head that was once crowned with thorns. The dying words of my young Lord Harrington were these: ‘O my God, when shall I be with thee?’ Cyprian could receive the cruellest sentence of death with a Deo gratias; and holy Andrew saluted the cross on which he was to be crucified, saying, ‘Take me from men, and restore me to my master.’ And so Laurence Saunders, when he was come to the stake at which he was to be burnt, he kissed it, saying, ‘ Welcome the cross of Christ, welcome everlasting life

Richard Sibbes
Works, Volume 7 (Page 301)

Again, not only thus, but we are all also stewards, and we have all of us ‘talents,’ of which we are to give an account. Now an estate of account ought to be a watchful estate. We are all subject to give an exact account of that we have done in the flesh. Being therefore to give a strict account, we ought to be watchful.

Herman Witsius
The Lord’s Prayer, (Page 288)

And, first, we are taught that it tends to promote the glory of God when a Christian asks from him, as Ms Heavenly Father, what is connected with the sup­port of this life. The most eminent men, who were favoured with the greatest familiarity and intimacy, and with the largest promises of the Supreme Being, have in all ages offered such prayers. The examples of the wise Agur (Proverbs 30:8), and of Israel, our Father (Genesis 28:20), are well known. There are likewise commandments of God to this purpose, enjoining the exercise of prayer and fasting for removing the distresses and obtain­ing the benefits of this life (Joel 2:12-17). And Solomon (1 Kings 8:33-37), at the dedication of the temple, instructs us that prayers of that sort ought to be frequently presented. Nor let it be objected that all this belongs to the Old Testament, where the largest promises of earthly blessings were made to the people, but is at va­riance with the economy of the New Testament, all the promises of which are spiritual and heavenly. Paul viewed the matter very differently. He did not hesitate to pray in behalf of the Corinthians for earth­ly blessings, which would heighten the enjoyment of their own lives, and furnish the means of fresh libe­rality to the poor. “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower, both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:10)

The second lesson taught us in this petition is to be moderate and to be content with little. Every view which we can take of the petition,—of its number, its order, or the words in which it is expressed—con­ducts us to the same conclusion. In this small abridg­ment of prayer, there is but one petition for earthly blessings, and expressed in the fewest words; while the desires of divine and heavenly blessings are divid­ed into many heads, and contained in five petitions. The inference is, that the former are scarcely entitled to the sixth part of the solicitude that is due to the latter. Besides, in the order of benefits to be desired, this petition occupies the last and the lowest place,— which teaches us that we ought to ” seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,”4 and that all other things deserve only a passing and inferior consideration. The very words of the prayer are so framed as to breathe nothing but moderation. We ask bread, not dainties; bread enough, not more than enough; bread for each day.

William Bates
Complete Works, Volume 3, (Page 360)

Let us improve with a wise and singular diligence the talents committed to our trust: for in that day we shall be responsible for all that we have received. All the blessings we possess, whether natural, our life, our faculties, our endowments, our health and strength; or civil, honour and dignity, riches and reputation; or spiritual, the gospel in its light and power, the graces and assistance of the Holy Ghost, as they are gifts from God’s love, so they are talents to be employed for his glory. We are stewards, not proprietaries: for the supreme Lord does not relinquish his right in our blessings, that we may dispose of them at our own pleasure, but hath prescribed rules for our using them in order to his glory, our own good, and the benefit of others. And it is sad to consider that usually those who enjoy the great­est gifts, render the least acknowledgments, and the most abun­dant in favors are most barren in thankfulness. Time, that invaluable treasure, that is due to God and the soul, the price of which arises from the work of salvation to be done in it, how is it squandered away?

Andrew Fuller
Complete Works, Volume 1, (Page 646)

Worldly riches are called ” the mammon of unrighteousness,” not because it is unrighteous to be rich, nor, as I am inclined to think, on account of their having been obtained by unrighteous methods ; but rather because of their being unrighteously detained from the poor and needy. Our riches may have been righteously obtained with respect to men, and yet unrighte­ously detained with respect to God, and with respect to the poor, who are his tenants, his representatives in this world. Such an unrighteous deten­tion of our worldly wealth is tantamount to the conduct of the unjust steward, who ” wasted his lord’s goods.” That which is not applied to the purposes for which it was entrusted in our hands is embezzled and misap­plied in God’s account. In this view the most covetous persons are the greatest wasters; and every one who possesses more than he ought, by having detained it from the poor and needy, is in possession of unrighteous mammon, is an unjust steward, and must shortly have to give account of his stewardship! But if the mere detention of our property beyond what is fit and right constitute it the mammon of unrighteousness, who then is innocent? Who that is in possession of wealth can wash his hands, and say, ” I am clear in this matter; I owe nothing to religion, nothing to the poor?” Alas, every one must feel self-condemned! The prevalence of this sin may account for our Lord’s speaking of riches in general, in ver. 11, as the unrighteous mammon. There is perhaps a part at least of every man’s property that, if all had their dues, would not be his.

Henry Scudder
The Christian’s Daily Walk, (Page 187)

God would have you use all good means for this life, but without taking thought for tomorrow about what you shall eat, what you shall drink, what you shall put on, or what shall become of you and yours another day, Matt. vi. 25—34. He would not have you be so distrustful of him, as to take the care of futurity, the care of success from him, upon yourself, perplexing your heart with doubt and fear till you find it, Luke xii. 22—29. But his will is, that when you have done what you can, with a cheerful and ready mind, you should leave the whole matter of good, or ill success to his care, Psa. Iv. 22; 1 Peter v. 7.

William Bridge
Works, Volume 3 (Pages 368ff)

First therefore, we must grant that a good man may make use of the world; he may make use of the world in refer­ence to the persons of the world, in reference to the things of the world.

In regard of the persons of the world: so Abraham and Isaac did make use of Abimelech; so Jacob did make use of Laban; so the Israelites did make use of the Egyptians; so the Jews did make use of the heathen Cyrus, Darius, Artaxerxes, for the building of the house of God. Plainly then, a good man may make use of the world, the persons of the world.

And as he may make use of the persons of the world, so he may make use of the things of the world, for they are his own, “All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, things present, and things to come; life and death, all things are yours.” And who may not make use of his own? If a friend should send a man a gift, it would be accounted an incivility and unthankfulness not to make use thereof. Why truly, as for the things of this world, they are God’s gift; “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh.” They are God’s gift; and will it not be accounted an incivility towards God, and an unthankfulness towards God, not to make use of this his gift that he hath given us. May not a traveler make use of those things in his journey, that are meet and neces­sary for him in his journey? He may. We are all travelers to another country, we are upon our journey, so far therefore as things are necessary for our journey, we may make use thereof. The Lord would have Adam himself to be employed in the state of innocency, in the things of the world, ” Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thou hast to do.” And the apostle, 2 Thess. iii. II, shews that those are busybodies whose bodies are not busy: ” We hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busy bodies;” working not at all, but working in others’ ground;” busy bodies, because their bodies are not busy.” See how they go here together, working not at all, but are at work where they should not work; those whose bodies are not busy, will be busy bodies. And is it not an evil thing to be a busy body? It is so, therefore we must work. How can we work if we do not make use of the world and the things thereof? So that plainly then we see the first thing cleared. A good man may make use of the world, both in reference to the persons of the world, and in refer­ence to the things of the world. A good man may make use of the world.

Secondly, But though we may make use of the world we must use the world as though we used it not, not regard­ing it too much, not setting our affections upon it too much, not spending too much time upon the world, and the things thereof.

For look as wicked men do use the things of God, and of the other world, so a good man should use the things of this world. Why now a wicked man doth use the things of God as if he used them not, pray, as if he prayed not, and hear, as if he heard not; why, because his mind is upon other things: why truly so the minds of the saints are or should be, upon other things. “Set your affections on things that are above.” It is a good speech that an ancient hath, saith he, As good men are, where they yet are not, namely in heaven; so they are not where they now are, namely on earth, for your conversation is in heaven: though your communication be here on earth, yet your conversation is in heaven; and if hea­ven be our object, earth will be our abject…we are so to use the world, and the things thereof, as they are; why now truly there is nothing in this world that is either good or evil morally, but as it is used; prosperity in itself is not good, not morally good; adversity in itself is not evil, it is not morally evil; all the things of this world are but indifferent, neither good nor evil in themselves, but as they are used : thus then, if all the things of this world are but in their own nature indifferent, neither good nor evil, why should not our hearts be carried out indifferently towards them, and so to use them, as if we used them not.

All the things of this world, they are but to serve a turn, they are not to be enjoyed for themselves, only for to serve a turn; there is nothing that you have to deal withal, but is merely for to serve a turn; clothes are but to serve a turn, to cover nakedness; good meat and drink is but to serve a turn, to serve our hunger, and our thirst; money, and houses, and lands, are all but to serve a turn, only God is to be enjoyed; God is not for to serve a turn, but all the things of this world they are only for to serve a particular turn. The schoolmen therefore have a handsome speech of a worldly man, they describe him.

But is not a man to provide for his wife and children and family? Yes, he is worse than an infidel that provideth not for his wife and for his family, for his relations. But when a man hath relations, he is very apt to be lost therein; a man may be drunk with his own beer or wine. ” I have married a wife, and I cannot come,” therefore he is to use his relations as if he had none, in regard of his care to please God; as diligent in frequenting the means of grace, as if he had no relations. For, saith he, verse 32. ” But I would have you without carefulness, he that is unmarried, careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord. He that is married, careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.” In reference therefore unto the pleasing of God, frequenting of the means of grace, let him that hath relations be as if he had none, hindered no more by them, than if he had none.

Stephen Charnock
The Existence and Attributes of God: God’s Dominion (Page 411ff)

His sovereignty is manifest in the bestowing much wealth and honor upon some, and not vouchsafing it to the more industrious labors and attempts of others. Some are abased, and others are elevated; some are enriched, and others impoverished; some scarce feel any cross, and others scarce feel any comfort in their whole lives; some sweat and toil, and what they labor for runs out of their reach; others sit still, and what they wish for falls into their lap. One of the same clay hath a diadem to beautify his head, and another wants a covering to protect him from the weather. One hath a stately palace to lodge in, and another is scarce master of a cottage, where to lay his head. A sceptre is put into one man’s hand, and a spade into another’s; a rich purple garnisheth one man’s body, while another wraps himself in dunghill rags. The poverty of some, and the wealth of others, is an effect of the Divine sovereignty, whence God is said to be the Maker of the ” poor as well as the rich” (Prov. xxii. 2), not only of their persons, but of their conditions. The earth, and the fulness thereof, is his propriety; and he hath as much a right as Joseph had to bestow changes of raiment upon what Benjamins he please. There is an election to a greater degree of worldly felicity, as there is an election of some to a greater degree of supernatural grace and glory: as he makes it “rain upon one city, and not upon another” (Amos iv. 7), so he causeth prosperity to distil upon the head of one and not upon another; crowning some with earthly blessings, while he crosseth others with continual afflictions: for he speaks of himself as a great proprietor of the corn that nourisheth us, and the wine that cheers us, and the wood that warm us (Hos. ii. 8, 9): “I will take away,” not your corn and wine, but “my corn, my wine, my wool.” His right to dispose of the goods of every particular person is unques­tionable. He can take away from one, and pass over the propriety to another. Thus he devolved the right of the Egyptian jewels to the Israelites, and bestowed upon the captives what before he had vouchsafed to the oppressors; as every sovereign state demands the goods of their subjects for the public advantage in a case of exi­gency, though none of that wealth was gained by any public office, but by their private industry, and gained in a country not subject to the dominion of those that require a portion of them. By this right he changes strangely the scene of the world; sometimes those that are high are reduced to a mean and ignominious condition, those that are mean are advanced to a state of plenty and glory. The counter, which in accounting signifies now but a penny, is presently raised up to signify a pound. The proud ladies of Israel, instead of a girdle of curious needlework, are brought to make use of a cord; as the vulgar translates rent, a, rag, or list of cloth (Isa. iii. 24), and sackcloth for a stomacher instead of silk. This is the sovereign act of God, as he is Lord of the world (Pa. Ixxv. 6, 7): “Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south, but God is the Judge: be putteth down one, and setteth up another.” He doth no wrong to any man, if he lets him languish out his days in poverty and disgrace: if he gives or takes away, he meddles with nothing but what is his own more than ours: if he did dispense his benefits equally to all, men would soon think it their due. The inequality and changes preserve the notion of God’s sovereignty, and correct our natural unmindfulness of it. If there were no changes, God would not be feared as the “King of all the earth” (Ps. Iv. 19): to this might also be referred his investing some countries with greater riches in their bowels, and on the surface; the disposing some of the fruitful and pleasant regions of Canaan or Italy, while he settles others in the icy and barren parts of the northern climates.

8. His sovereignty is manifest in the times and seasons of dispens­ing his goods. He is Lord of the times when, as well as of the goods which, he doth dispose of to any person; these “the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts i. 7).

George Swinnock
Works, Volume 2 (Page 47)

Prosperity is a condition which consisteth in the fruition of out­ward good things, as health, strength, friends, riches, honours, and the like. As a constellation is a collection of many stars, so a prosperous condition is a confluence of many temporal comforts. God in his wise providence is pleased to give some persons large draughts of these sugared pleasures, their cup runneth over. They are in themselves mercies for which we may pray with humble submission, and for which we must praise God with holy affections; but through the corruption of our hearts, they often prove prejudicial to holiness. Those fires which were made to warm us, do often black and burn us. Small vessels carrying a great sail are apt to be overturned with every tempest.

Thomas Adams

Works, Volume 1 (Page 139)

“In her left hand, riches and honour.” (Proverbs 3:16) The gift of the right hand is large, eternal life; of the left, short and temporal. Yet you see I am short in the long part; give me leave to be long in the short part. Herein we have many things considerable : 1) That riches and honour are God’s gifts. 2) That all are not so, but some; and therefore it is necessary for us to (whether God gave unto us that riches and honour which we have. 3) That wealth and worship are for the most part companions; for both gifts lie in one and the same hand. That albeit they are his gifts, yet but the gifts of his left hand. Riches and honour are God’s gifts, therefore in themselves not evil, saith Augustine, “That they it be thought evil, they are given to good men; that they may not be ft the best good, they are given also to evil men.” A rich man may be a good man, and a poor man may be wicked. Christ sanctified riches as in his poverty; and that in his birth, his life, and his death.

Francis Turretin

Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Volume 2 (Page 126)

XII. Second, if usury was absolutely unlawful, Christ would not under that figure have a spiritual duty from the lawful use of talents (Mt. 25:14-30) without any intimation of disapprobation, such as he was accustomed to employ in other parables drawn from a disapproved practice (as in Lk. 16:8). Nor would John the Baptist have directed the publicans who hired the tributes from the Romans at a certain price (Lk. 3:13) only to exact nothing beyond what was just without making a change in their manner of life.

XIII. Third, all practice of usury is neither prohibited in the law, nor is it opposed to equity and honesty. Yea, it is founded (1) upon necessity and utility because without usury commerce, the principal support of human society, can neither subsist nor be carried on. Now can a thing be charged with injustice without which human society cannot exist and which, taken away, all negotiations and dealings of men would cease? (2) Upon natural equity because it is fair that he who receives benefit from another’s money should make him also a sharer in that by the help of which he gains this benefit, as a due compensation. (3) Upon just gratitude, for what another rightly owes, that the other rightly receives. He who gains by a loan the right of gratitude owes some recompense {antidoron}; for the right of nature demands that we should be grateful to those who oblige us, not only by words, but also in fact. (4) Upon Christian charity, which requires each head of a family to provide for his own (1 Tim. 5:8), and parents are bound to lay up for their children (2 Cor. 12:14). However if anyone should assist others with his own money and neglect his own, he would never increase his own means. (5) From a comparison with other contracts, which have a place in society and are approved by all; for example, of implanting reciprocal use (emphyteuseos), hiring (antichreseos), accommodations, etc. If from the letting of a house and a farm and the lending of utensils, anyone gains advantage, why not equally from the bor­rowing of money? (6) Besides there are constitutions of emperors and of kings by which limitations are established for lawful usury.

John Howe
Works, Vol. 3 (page 395)

The good steward “laments lost time and labors to redeem it.”

As Christ says of the faithful steward, “I like well they way and they work, it pleases and is grateful to me, and so art thou.”

Ezekiel Hopkins
Works, Vol. 3 (460), Vol. 1 (45), Vol. 3 (298)

Their duty [the rich] is to be humble towards their inferiors, knowing that they are only external goods, and those the least considerable of all the stores of God’s blessings, that make them to differ from others: and to communicate to the relief of others’ necessities, that they may be rich in good works, and make themselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness that when they fail they may be received into everlasting habitations; for he, that is rich only in hoarding and keeping up his store, is no better to be accounted of, than the base earth, which locks up more treasures in its bowels, than they can in their chests.

And their inferiors’ duty, is, to pay them all due respects, accor­ding to what God hath bestowed upon them; to acknowledge the riches of God, in making them rich; and to endeavour to promote, so far as in them lies, the spiritual good of their souls, that they may not be rich here and undone eternally. For a rich man may be more universally instrumental, either of good or evil, than others can: and, therefore, to win such an one to the faith, or to preserve him stable in it, is a most charitable work; not only to their souls in particular, but to the Church of Christ, the affairs of which may be much advanced by such a man’s wealth and interest.

Is it Riches you desire? These, too, are uncertain: 1 Tim. vi. 17. Charge them, that they trust not in uncertain riches.” Uncertain they are in getting; and uncertain in keeping, when got. All our trea­sures are like quicksilver, which strangely slips between our fingers, when we think we hold it fastest. Riches, saith the Wise Man, make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven:Prov. xxiii. 5: and it were a most strange folly, to fall passionately in love with a bird upon his wing, who is free and unconfined as the air in which he flies, and will not stoop to thy call or lure. How much better were it, since they will fly, for thyself to direct their flight towards heaven, by relieving the necessitous servants and members of Jesus Christ! Then will their flight be happy and glorious, when they carry on their wings the prayers and blessings of the poor, whose bowels thou hast refreshed. This is to lay up treasure in heaven; to remit thy monies to the other world, where they shall be truly paid thee, with abundant interest. This is to lay up a stock for hereafter, that thou mayest have whereon to live splendidly and gloriously to all eternity. And, thus to lay out, is to lay up, to lay up uncertain riches in a safe depository: God’s promises shall be thy security, and every star in heaven a seal set upon the treasury-door, which none can break or violate.

Is it wealth and riches, with which God hath entrusted you? Know, that thou art but God’s steward, and the keeper of his purse for the poor and needy. Thou art mistaken, if thou lookest upon what thou hast to be thine own, and at thine own disposal: no; it is only given thee to employ for thy Master’s advantage; and he will reckon with thee for every farthing of thy estate, whether spent upon thy vain pleasures, or in refreshing the bowels of his poor saints and members. If either, by thy covetousness, thou hast dammed up and stopped the current of God’s bounty that hath flown in upon thee, and kept it from overflowing upon others also; or hast turned it aside into wrong channels, and hast profusely lavished out that plenty with which God hath blessed thee, in riot, excess, and debauchery, maintaining thy lusts at God’s charge; be assured, that every penny of this ill-kept or ill-spent estate, shall, in this great day of judgment, prove a talent, but a talent of lead, to sink thy soul deep forever, in the lake of fire and brimstone.

As temporal good things are needful for us, so God hath promised to give them to us. Ps. 1. 15 ; Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee. And, my God, says the Apostle, shall supply all your need: Phil. iv. 19. The Lord will give grace and glory ; no good thing will he withhold from them, that walk uprightly:Ps. Ixxxiv. 11.

Thus we see temporal good things may be prayed for, both be­cause they are needful for us, and because God hath promised them to us. Yet,

[2] They must be prayed for only conditionally; for they are only conditionally promised.

And these conditions are twofold: if they become consistent with God’s pleasure, and if they be conducible to our good: for, without the observing the one, we should not so much seem to petition as to invade; and, without observing the other, we should but beg a curse instead of a blessing.

[3] We may learn, likewise, that God is the giver of every temporal mercy and good thing.

“Whatever thou enjoyest, it is from his mere free bounty. He spreads thy table, fills thy cup, makes thy bed, puts on thy gar­ments, is the God of thy health and strength, and loadeth thee daily with his benefits. If thou hast riches, it is the blessing of the Lord madceth rich: Prov. x. 22. It is God, that giveth thee power to get wealth: Deut. viii. 18.

John Knox
Writings of John Knox, (Page 540)

(I found this to be exceedingly interesting, and a very important point that may need to be mentioned. Equality between the rich and poor in God’s eyes is everywhere seen in the Bible. Both have monetary responsibility, just at different levels. (CMM))

And this is the cause, dear brethren, that so oft I repeat, and so constantly I affirm, that to you it does no less appertain, than to your king or princes, to provide that Christ Jesus be truly preached amongst you, seeing that without his true knowledge neither of you both can attain to salvation. And this is the point wherein I say all men are equal: that as all be de­scended from Adam, “by whose sin and disobedience death entered into the world,” so it behooves all that shall obtain life to be engrafted in one: that is, in the Lord Jesus, who, “being the just servant, doth by his knowledge justify many:” to wit, all that unfeignedly believe in him.

Of this equality, and that God requires no less of the subject (be he never so poor) than of the prince and rich man, in matters of religion, he has given an evident declaration in the law of Moses. For when the tabernacle was built, erected, and set in order, God did provide how it, and the things appertaining to the same, should be sustained, so that they should not fall into decay. And this provision (albeit heaven and earth obey his empire) he would not take from the secret and hid treasures which lie dispersed in the veins of the earth, neither yet would he take it from the rich and potent of his people; but he did command that every man of the sons of Israel (were he rich, or were he poor), that came in account from twenty years and upward, should pay yearly half a shekel for an oblation to the Lord, in remembrance of their redemption, and for an expiation or cleansing to their souls: which money God commanded should be be­stowed upon the ornaments and necessaries of the tabernacle of testimony. Furthermore, he added a precept, that the rich should give no more for that use, and in that behalf, than should the poor; neither yet that the poor should give any less than the rich should in that consideration.

This law, to man’s reason and judgment, may appear very unreasonable. For some rich man might have given a thousand shekels with less hurt of his substance than some poor man might have paid the half shekel. And yet God makes all equal, and wills that the one shall pay no more than the other, neither yet the poor any less than the rich. This law, I say, may appear very unequal. But if the cause which God added be observed, we shall find in the same the great mercy and inestimable wisdom of God to appear; which cause is expressed in these words: “This money received from the children of Israel, thou shalt give in the service of the tabernacle, that it may be to the children of Israel for a remembrance before the Lord, that he may be merciful to your souls.”

This cause, I say, evidently declares, that as the whole multitude was delivered from the bondage of Egypt, by the mighty power of God alone; so was every member of the same, without respect of per­sons, sanctified by his grace: the rich, in that behalf, nothing preferred to the poor. For by no merit nor worthiness of man was he moved to choose and to establish his habitation and dwelling amongst them. But their felicity, prerogative, and honour, which they had above all other nations, proceeded only from the fountain of his eternal goodness, who loved them freely, as that he freely had chosen them to be his priestly kingdom, and holy people, from all nations of the earth. Thus to honour them, that he would dwell in the midst of them, he neither was moved, I say, by the wisdom of the wise, by the riches of the potent, neither yet by the virtue and holiness of any estate amongst them; but of mere goodness did he love them, and with his presence did he honour that whole people; and therefore, to point out the same, his common love to the whole multitude, and to cut off occasions of contention, and doubts of conscience, he would receive no more from the rich than from the poor, for the maintenance of his tabernacle, by the which was represented his presence and habitation amongst them.

If the rich had been preferred to the poor, then as the one should have been puffed up with pride, as that he had been more acceptable to God, by reason of his greater gift; so should the conscience of the other have been troubled and wounded, thinking that his poverty was an impediment, that he could not stand in so perfect favour with God as did the other, be­cause he was not able to give so much as did the rich to the maintenance of his tabernacle. But he who of mercy (as is said) did choose his habitation amongst them, and also who best knows what lies within man, did provide the remedy for the one and for the other, making them equal in that behalf, who in other things were most unequal. If the poor should have found himself grieved by reason of that tax, and that as much was imposed upon him as upon the rich, yet he had no small cause of joy, that God himself would please to compare him, and to make him equal, in the mainte­nance of his tabernacle, to the most rich and potent in Israel.

Henry Scougal
Works, (Pages 278-279)

Essay 2 on Moral Issues: Generosity

I have sometimes wondered that so excellent a qual­ity should have gotten no other name than what con­founds it with, or at least seems to make it depend upon, nobility of blood. I look upon that as upon an empty name, adding nothing of intrinsic worth, al­though in the constitution of some states it calls for a piece of respect, being a kind of hereditary magistracy. But upon second thoughts, finding that although gen­erosity is not entailed to noble families, yet it ordinarily attends them, I began to apprehend some hidden affin­ity.

Nobility, without doubt, is nothing else but a long succession of outward fortune. But it would be gross to imagine that such dull materials as silver and gold could influence the soul with noble principles. Yet it is certain that a plentiful estate affords occasion of a more liberal and ingenious education, by which their minds are elevated to undervaluing riches and such like trash, the enjoyment whereof has bred a satiety in them, as also to the prosecution of more sublime de­signs. Whereas, on the other hand, pinching necessity and toilsome labor clogs and depresses the spirits of these poor men, confining their thoughts to the low and degenerous project of making up a fortune which, once attained, they become insolent and often intolerable to their inferiors.

And this diversity becomes more palpable where, by a continued succession, these qualities are propagated, children usually inherit the dispositions as well as the estates of their parents.

The properties of generous persons are chiefly:

They are surest friends and most placable enemies, disdaining to deceive their confidents, or to oppress the submissive. They are much more led by the princi­ples of honor than either of pleasure or advantage, choosing to gratify the higher faculty of the soul, al­though they should thereby disoblige the lower. And they will not acquire honor itself by any indirect means. They never detract from the merits of their competitors, nor advance their own reputation by arrogating the praise of that which is not their own, seeming to set a greater value on the testimony of their own consciences than the applause of others.

But I do not well see how generosity will make a man quite abandon all self-interest to secure that of another, since in that case he seems, by espousing it, to have made it his own; and so the most distressed ac­tions seem immediately to proceed from the neighbor principle of self-love.

Joseph Hall
Hall’s Contemplations on the Historical Passages of the Old and New Testaments, Volume 3 (Pages 189-90)

(On Zaccheus), I give,” and what is more free than gift? In alms we may neither sell, nor return, nor cast away. We sell, if we part with them for impor­tunity, for vain-glory, for retribution; we return them, if we give with respect to former offices; this is to pay, not to bestow: we cast away, if in our beneficence we neither regard order nor discretion. Zaccheus did neither cast away, nor return, nor sell, but give. “I do give ;” not I will. The proro­gation of good makes it thankless; the alms that smells of the hand lose the praise; it is twice given that is given quickly. Those that defer their gifts till their death-bed, do as good as say, Lord, I will give thee something, when I can keep it no longer. Happy is the man that is his own executor: “I give my goods,” not another’s. It is a thankless vanity to be liberal of another man’s purse: whoso gives of that which he hath taken away from the owner, doth more wrong in giving than in stealing:

God expects our gifts, not our spoils. I fear there is too many a school and hospital, every stone whereof may be challenged. Had Zaccheus meant to give of his extortions, he had not been so careful of his restitution: now he restores to others, that he may give of his own: “I give half my goods :” the publican’s heart was as large as his estate; he was not more rich in goods than in bounty. Were this ex­ample binding, who should be rich to give? who should be poor to receive? In the strait beginnings of the church, those beneficences were requisite, which afterwards, in the larger elbow-room thereof would have caused much confusion. If the first Christians laid down all at the Apostles’ feet, yet, ere long, it was enough for the believing Corinthians, every first day of the week, to lay aside some pittance for charitable purposes. We are no disciples, if we do not imitate Zaccheus so far as to give liberally, ac­cording to the proportion of our estate.

Giving is sowing; the larger seeding, the greater crop. Giving to the poor is feneration to God: the greater bank, the more interest. Who can fear to be too wealthy? Time was when men faulted in ex­cess. Proclamations were fain to restrain the Jews, statutes were fain to restrain our ancestors; now there needs none of this, men know how to shut their hands alone; charity is in no more danger of freezing than of burning. How happy were it for the church, if men were only close-handed to hold, and not lime-fingered to take. “To the poor,” not to rich heirs: God gives to him that hath, we to him that wants. Some want because they would, whether out of prodigality or idleness; some want because they must; these are the fit subjects of our beneficence, not those other. A poverty of our own making deserves no pity: he that sustains the lewd, feeds not his belly, but his vice. So then this living legacy of Zaccheus is free, “ I give;” present, “ I do give;” just, “my goods;” large, “half my goods;” fit, “ to the poor.”

JC Ryle
Practical Religion, (Pages 326-328)

I believe, further, that the passage is meant to teach us that riches bring special danger with them. Yes! riches, which the vast majority of men are always seeking after, —riches for which they spend their lives, and of which they make an idol,—riches entail on their possessors immense spiritual peril! The possession of them has a very hardening effect on the soul. They chill. They freeze. They petrify the inward man. They close the eye to the things of faith. They insensibly produce a tendency to forget God.

And does not this stand in perfect harmony with all the language of Scripture on the same subject? What says our Lord? “How hardly shall they that have riches 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 the kingdom of God!” (Mark x. 23, 25.) What says St. Paul? “The love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Tim vi. 10.) What can be more striking than the fact that the Bible has frequently spoken of money as a most fruitful cause of sin and evil? For money Achan brought defeat on the armies of Israel, and death on himself. For money Balaam sinned against light, and tried to curse God’s people. For money Delilah betrayed Sampson to the Philistines. For money Gehazi lied to Naaman and Elisha, and became a leper. For money Ananias and Sapphira became the first hypocrites in the early Church, and lost their lives. For money Judas Iscariot sold Christ, and was ruined eternally. Surely these facts speak loudly.

Money, in truth, is one of the most unsatisfying of possessions. It takes away some cares, no doubt; but it brings with it quite as many cares as it takes away. There is trouble in the getting of it. There is anxiety in the keeping of it. There are temptations in the use of it. There is guilt in the abuse of it. There is sorrow in the losing of it. There is perplexity in the disposing of it. Two-thirds of all the strifes, quarrels, and lawsuits in the world, arise from one simple cause,—money!

Money most certainly is one of the most ensnaring and heart-changing of possessions. It seems desirable at a distance. It often proves a poison when in our hand. No man can possibly tell the effect of money on his soul, if it suddenly falls to his lot to possess it.

I draw the conclusion that those who have money, like the rich man in the parable (rich man and Lazarus (MM)) ought to take double pains about their souls. They live in a most unhealthy atmos­phere. They have double need to be on their guard.

Bible Verse:

“I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless,” (Gen. 17:1).

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