Towards the end of his thorough survey of biblical teaching on money and possessions, Craig Blomberg draws the following conclusions:-
1. Material possessions are a good gift from God meant for his people to enjoy
God created a good world, desires that all have at least some property, and blessed Israel with material possessions in response to their obedience. Job, Abraham, David and Solomon demonstrate that riches and godliness can co-exist, if sometimes precariously. Wisdom literature teaches that wholesome work is rewarded materially. The New Testament records that well-to-do believers hosted churches in their homes, and supported itinerant ministers (including Jesus and his disciples). The early Christians shared their possessions with one another, so that none was needy, Acts 4:34. The pleasures of the redeemed are described in material terms, Rev 21-22.
2. Material possessions are at the same time a primary means of turning hearts away from God
Adam and Eve coveted the forbidden fruit, and misery soon followed. Love of material goods leads to rejection of God, hostility with others, and exploitation or neglect of the poor. Thus the Torah set limits on amounts to be accumulated. The prophets warned against the wicked rich. Jesus taught that mammon was a rival to God. Paul declared that ‘the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’, 1 Tim 6:10. James railed against the wicked rich. In Revelation corrupt global economics reflect demonic activity.
3. Transformation in the area of stewardship is a necessary sign of redemption
Of course, our whole lives should be dedicated to God, how this applies to our finances is particularly telling. Without exception, those in the OT who were wealthy and godly shared generously with the poor and needy. OT laws mandated tithes and taxes to support the work of God and other good causes. God is constantly said to have concern for the ‘widow, fatherless, and poor’. The NT enjoins almsgiving. James (2:14-17) and John (1 Jn 3:17f) agree that to be in a position to help a brother or sister, but to fail to do so, is incompatible with salvation. Peter and Paul challenge the Greco-Roman expectations of reciprocity by insisting, with Jesus that Christians lend (or give) ‘without expecting to get anything back’ (Lk 6:35).
4. Certain extremes of wealth and poverty are intolerable
The exact limits of these extremes will vary according to the prevailing economic system and other factors. It is one thing to generate income honestly which is then channelled into kingdom purposes, Lk 16:9; 19:11-27, and another to accumulate money possessions which are simply hoarded or wasted. The principle of moderation is exemplified in God’s provision of manna, Ex 16:18; cf 2 Cor 8:15, and in redistribution of property in sabbatical and Jubilee years. Prov 30:8 epitomizes the principle of moderation: ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches’.
5. Material possessions are intimately connected with more obviously ‘spiritual’ matters
The ungodly poor are never held up as models to imitate. The godly rich are never condemned. On the other hand, poverty can impel us to depend on God, whereas wealth tempts us to self-reliance. But this is not to idealise poverty. Christians should seek to care for all the needy, but especially their needy brothers and sisters in Christ. We should not elevate our theology of money and possessions to the level of our theology of salvation, but nevertheless salvation is itself holistic, involving first reconiliation to God, then to one another, and then to the whole created order. We are called to model God’s yet-to-be-completed transformation here and now.
Based on Blomberg, Neither Poverty Nor Riches, 243-247