A Biblical Perspective of Sudden Wealth

This guide is intended to provide a biblical perspective of sudden wealth.

Maybe you’re selling your business, or you own shares in a successful business about to go public.

A significant inheritance may be coming your way, or you’re an athlete who is getting that dream contract.

Sudden wealth can be a blessing when handled wisely, but it also has the potential to cause great harm.

What is Biblical Wealth Management?

Three core principles for understanding biblical wealth management:

1. Recognize that God owns everything, including our wealth.

· Psalm 24:1

· Deuteronomy 8:18

2. Understand your role is to be a steward (manager of His blessings). God steward sudden wealth

· 1 Corinthians 4:2

· 1 Peter 4:10

· Luke 12:48

3. Practically apply God’s principles in managing wealth.

There are many verses that address a variety of wealth related topics including contentment, giving, provision, savings, investing, debt, planning, inheritance, and advice.

Giving back to God

It is clear that as financial stewards we are to give back a portion of the blessing that God has given to us.

This is to support the church and His people in many ways. It is important to address this first as Proverbs 3:9 tells us we should give “first fruits.”

The most common form of giving is the “tithe” which literally means “tenth.” This is a good starting point to evaluate giving.

It is interesting that when making $50,000 a year people can manage to tithe $5,000, however, when they receive $5,000,000 they somehow feel they “can’t afford” to give $500,000.

This is a great first area to challenge our role as stewards of new wealth and a way to heed the warning given to us in Mark 10:25.

Giving with a joyful attitude is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy perspective on wealth.

When you give to causes you are passionate about it takes the focus off of you and onto what God is calling you to be a part of. It’s also a great way to share values with your family.

Once you’ve prayerfully determined the amount to give, how to give is important as well. Two important considerations are:

1. How can I be sure this gift is a blessing to the ministry I choose to support? It may not be appropriate to give a large gift to certain organizations in a lump sum.

2. How can I give efficiently? Making sure your gift is done in the most economical and tax-efficient way might require planning. It is worth examining tools such as trusts, foundations and donor-advised funds to assist in this process.

A Proper Perspective

We are warned throughout scripture that wealth is fleeting. Though it is true that wealth can have its privileges, it is not a guarantee of happiness and this has been confirmed by numerous studies.

If you know wealthy people you have probably recognized this yourself. The same sins and temptations that affect all of us are often at a more amplified level.

family important sudden wealthMoney alone will never bring true happiness and contentment. It is said that John D. Rockefeller, one of the richest Americans to live, was asked how much is enough? To which he responded

“One more dollar.” In other words, there is never enough money to make you content.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. — 1 Timothy 6:6–10

Do I Really Deserve This Wealth?

Some people who come into large sums of money feel a sense of guilt.

If you start to feel like this, recall that ultimately it is God’s blessing that you are receiving. Instead of feeling guilty you should praise Him for the gift.

Remember that you are God’s chosen steward for these resources. It all still belongs to Him.

Recall the story of the women who poured perfume on Jesus in Mark 14. Jesus’ disciples accused her of wasting it, however, Jesus gratefully praised her beautiful deed that would be used to preach the Good News.

You too can gratefully receive God’s gift and use it to fulfill His purposes in your life.

Plan for Tomorrow

It is important to understand and define your goals, timeframe and lifestyle choices.

There are many stories about people becoming wealthy only to lose it all.

With proper planning you can take steps to avoid becoming part of that statistic. It is common for people to spend above their means at all levels of wealth, and especially for those who come into sudden wealth.

What Do You Do with the Money?

The answer to this question is unique for everyone when developing a biblical perspective on sudden wealth.

One thing to be sure is that you don’t want to make any major decisions right away, but consider your overall plans first.

For example, would you like to buy a new home? Will you continue to earn income? How much will you owe in taxes?

These questions and more will determine your timeframe on when funds will be spent and therefore provide guidance on which investments may be best.

The bible speaks to the wisdom of diversifying your investments, which is a good starting point for any investment strategy.

Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. — Ecclesiastes 11:2

Lots of Sudden “Friends”

athlete sudden wealth contract

When people find out you have money, it can change the dynamic of relationships.

You may choose to maintain your present lifestyle so that your new money isn’t obvious. On the other hand, if you’re in the spotlight it may be inevitable that people learn exactly how much money you received.

In either case, it is good for you, and, if married, your spouse, to set boundaries in regard to sharing your wealth.

Consider setting a policy that can help minimize awkward conversations of people asking for money, such as: I always run all decisions past my spouse (if married) and financial advisor.

If your advisor is willing to play this role, it is often most convenient because they are a third-party without emotional ties.

Be cautious if using your spouse as a reason to say ‘no,’ as you don’t want to cause damage in close relationships. Unfortunately, money has ruined many relationships.

Uncle Sam

Don’t overlook the impact of taxes on your earnings.

If you come into $2M, and buy a house for $1.5M, you are most likely already upside-down. Giving and taxes need to be among the first areas of consideration. Jesus recognized this truth:

Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. — Mark 12:17

Major Purchases

It is important to make sure you prayerfully consider what this wealth means to you and your family.

Taking a vacation or making a small purchase for you and your family as a reward for your milestone is not likely to be detrimental to your finances.

Making quick decisions or major purchases, however, is often a way to start down the path of fleeting wealth.

Keep in mind that you are stewarding all of what God has provided, not just what you decide to give to Him. Prayerful consideration is always wise to take a biblical perspective of sudden wealth.

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. — Proverbs 21:5

Develop a Winning Team

Wealth affects many areas of life. Having people who share your faith and worldview can help ensure your plans align with your values.

It’s important to have trusted relationships, wise spiritual guidance, and people with the expertise you will need to maintain a biblical perspective of sudden wealth.

Relationships

Money can uncover ugly characteristics and cause division in significant relationships.

Make sure you keep close friends who are willing to be honest and open with you and keep you accountable to the Lord and loved ones.

Don’t use money to control or manipulate. (Often this is subtle and unintentional).

Spiritual leadership

The less we feel we need to depend on God the harder it can be to stay focused on Him. Having a good church and spiritual guidance is important.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. — Matthew 6:24

Professionals

With wealth often comes complications. Your stewardship role has just grown.

Given the complexities of this world, sound advice will help you stay on track and manage your wealth wisely. Seek people who are knowledgeable and willing, to be honest with you, not just people who tell you what you want to hear.

Build a trusted team. Some members on that team should share your faith to help you align your plans with your values.

For instance, your giving should be focused on those areas God has put on your heart, and while giving tax-efficiently is wise, the tax break shouldn’t be the driving force.

Key team members should include a Financial Advisor, Estate Planning Attorney, Tax Professional, and possibly more.

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. — Proverbs 15:22

Kingdom Perspective

Ultimately, keep in mind that you are responsible to the Lord.

You are required to steward all aspects of your life. Though we’ve focused on finances, you have the same responsibilities with your time, talent, and relationships. Your time may be freed up with this wealth, or life may become busier.

Either way, don’t neglect the effort and productivity that helped get you where you are nor the true relationships that provide a foundation in your life.

Your goal should ultimately be to store up treasure in heaven through your stewardship on earth.

Take a biblical perspective of sudden wealth.

Make it your goal to hear what the good steward in Matthew 25 heard: Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. — 1 Timothy 6:17–19

Images provided by: Derek Story, Daniel Öberg, CDC

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