Yes, the Wealthy Can Be Godly. Here's What It Takes.

 Lessons from one of the richest men of the Bible.

The book of Job is underrated.

While other passages and tomes get all the love, Job offers poignant and practical lessons regarding some of the most existential questions humans face. These lessons are myriad: faithfulness, suffering, evil, God's silence, integrity, holiness, justice, and more.

An important lesson we see right in the beginning is one that was not even a question for the book's original audience: the congruence of wealth and godliness.

As we read the first few verses of the book of Job, the narrative describes Job as both "blameless and upright" (1:1) and wealthy. In fact the passage describes Job as the wealthiest man of the east. (Such a designation probably means east of the Jordan river.)

In the ancient near east way of thinking, these two statuses should co-exist. Riches and honor result from integrity and faithfulness to God. Although the passage details no causal relationship between Job's godliness and his wealth, ancient minds would have read as much into the story. Whether or not such an inference is justifiable is up to interpretation.

Nevertheless, today we (and I mean culture in general) often villainize or look down upon the wealthy. We assume that they are greedy or unethical and love to take advantage of others.

Where do we get such notions?

Hollywood is one source. How many movies can you recall in which the antagonist is a wealthy and vicious dirtbag?

Washington is another source. Politicians love to demonize those with wealth in order to score points with their plebian constituents. The goal is simple: to coalesce their base around a cause so they are more likely to receive votes. The vast majority of politicians who engage in this class warfare don't really believe what they say. How do I know? Because these very senators and congressmen who spew hate towards the upper crust are wealthy themselves. As of 2020 the median net worth of the US Congressmen and women was just over one million dollars.[1]

But one other source might be the New Testament itself. Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:25). And again, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal" (Matt. 6:19). Paul wrote to Timothy about contentment, stating, "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils" (1 Tim. 6:10).

So does money make people villains or saints?

The unsatisfactory answer, of course, is that it depends on the person. Money is amoral; it's your use of and attitude toward cash that matters.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of scumbag rich people--those who do take advantage of others or those who believe they are better than others because of their money. I won't belabor the point because I wrote about this very topic in The Last Lessons of Christ, but the wealthy are more likely to trick themselves into thinking they don't need God.

Despite all of this, the book of Job never condemns its subject for his wealth. Instead it's presented as a sort of badge of honor. Job is one to be looked up to.

Politics and culture aside, this passage is proof that one with wealth can, indeed, be godly. So how did Job do it? How is it that he didn't let his riches spoil him?

Although brief, the first few verses of Job provide a good answer to this question.

1a. Job feared God.

This is a prerequisite for any relationship with our heavenly Father. Yes, he's loving and caring, but he's also all-powerful, holy, and awesome. Job gave God the respect and fear he deserved. I think it's easy for us all, but maybe especially for the wealthy, to elevate ourselves higher than we ought to. In doing so we fail to fear God--a foolish posture for beings created from dust.

1b. Job turned away from evil.

This item is 1b because it flows naturally from the fear of God. Because he respected, admired, and yes, feared, God, Job turned away from evil. He conducted himself with integrity and embraced a lifestyle that honored God.

2. Job "continually" worshiped God.

Job 1:5 tells us Job regularly offered sacrifices to God on behalf of his children in case they had sinned. This further demonstrates Job's fear of the Lord and also gratitude for his blessings. Job did not take for granted his children, but instead lifted them up to God. In addition the regular sacrifice of animals would be expensive no matter how much money Job had. Such behavior demonstrates that Job valued God and his grace and mercy over possessions.

Takeaways for Us

I don't know about you, but I consider myself wealthy. I maintain that if you live in the first world you are probably rich too. The poorest in America would be doing pretty well in most third world countries. As a result, I'm very interested in how to live a godly life in the face of the temptations of wealth to chase security, identity, and esteem outside of God.

Job is a great guide in this regard.

It's clear, even from these few short verses, that Job elevated God above himself. I think the temptation for everyone, but especially for the wealthy, is to start believing we don't need God in our lives. But with a healthy fear of and a constant orientation toward him we can remain grounded in our faith despite the temptations of riches.

If you'd like to dive deeper into the Old Testament, you should check out my OT reading plan. Stop getting stuck at Leviticus like I always did and finally read (and understand) the older portion of the Scriptures.

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Thank you for reading.


1. Karl Evers-Hillstrom, “Majority of Lawmakers in 116th Congress Are Millionaires,”, April 23, 2020,
2. This article contains an affiliate link which means I receive a portion of purchases made at no extra cost to the buyer.