The God Who Gives Wealth
THERE are two extremes today about the connection between God and wealth. One is that wealth and money are inherently evil and therefore God is opposed to them. The other is that God is just waiting to shower wealth on those who satisfy certain conditions or expectations that He has.
Moses’ word to the Israelites that “God . . . gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18) helps to clear up both misunderstandings. On the one hand, it shows that ultimately wealth is a gift of God; therefore, it cannot be evil as such, or else God would not provide it (compare James 1:17). Numerous other passages reinforce the fact that whatever one possesses, one has God to thank for it (1 Samuel 3:7; Hosea 2:8).
On the other hand, Moses’ statement shows that God is not a celestial Santa Claus. In the first place, no one today can claim this passage as a direct promise from God. These words were spoken to Israel because, as the text plainly states, the nation was involved in a covenant relationship with God. The terms of that covenant called for blessing on the nation (but not necessarily on individuals within the nation) if it kept the Law (Leviticus 26:3–5). Moses was concerned that in the face of abundance, the people would forget the source of their wealth. For people today, who live outside that special covenant that God had with ancient Israel, Moses’ words imply only the general truth that all that we have ultimately comes from God.