Are you about to get some extra income or an unexpected increase? One of my daughters asked for our prayers while applying for a new job, expecting to double her current income. All our family members were praying as she advanced in the selection process, even though she and her husband would not need that additional income to survive. One morning, while praying for them, I was so concerned about the spiritual dangers related to the situation that I decided to write a simple message, suggesting to them that they read it during their family worship. I was hoping it would help them to recognize how additional income can be either a blessing or a curse.  

Two weeks later, after reading the same message during a sermon in Salvador, Brazil, I received so many requests to make it available that I decided to edit it and submit it for publication, which is now here.

While it is true that more income may be a blessing of God (Deut. 8:18), it’s also true that it may represent a curse—especially if the family life is not protected by God’s eternal principles. In the hands of those who have not committed themselves to the Lord, an unexpected increase will certainly be used by Satan to lure them, leading to materialism, consumerism, and independence from God, and thus nullifying His influence (Matt. 13:22)! Then what was intended by God to be a blessing may be used by His enemy to become a curse (1 Jn. 2:15-17)!

More income may be a blessing if:

  • The increase in income was obtained by honest means, without compromising any principle of God’s law through lies, illicit advantage over those who are weaker, or dishonesty.
  • Time for personal communion with God is planned to occupy the first slot of my day’s schedule, just after waking up (Matt. 6:33).
  • Time for family worship (morning and evening) will be kept as a top priority, above any other earthly concern.
  •  I still have time for regular prayer meetings or small group reunions.
  • Regular time for personal mission (Bible studies, evangelism, small groups, etc.) is still a more important activity than my job assignments.
  •  I still keep the Sabbath, from sunset to sunset, and am present with my family in both Sabbath School and divine service.
  • I prioritize enough time for relationship with my family (spouse and children) on a daily basis, avoiding the “quality time” trap.
  • At least one of the parents will be at home when the children are there.
  • I consider the time spent on keeping the body in good health as something almost as important as prayer
    - Getting enough sleep
    - Doing daily exercise
    - Eating two or three meals a day without any snacks in between
    - Having decided that additional income will not subsidize unhealthy food or habit
  • Tithing is still the number-one priority in the family budget.
  • Promise* is the second priority in the family budget.
  • There is a desire to enlarge the percentage of the income given as Promise when there is more income.
  • There is a retirement plan.
  • There is an emergency fund equivalent to at least three months’ salary, but, ideally, equivalent to six month’s income.
  • There is a strict plan for savings, as the third financial priority after tithes and Promise.
  • There is a firm plan to adopt a simple lifestyle, avoiding all kinds of ostentation or unnecessary stuff.
  • I want to earn more in order to invest more in God’s kingdom. (I will not take anything to heaven beyond the people I have won to Christ.)
  • I understand the responsibility of disposing of my goods in such a way that after I depart from this life, they will keep serving God and His kingdom, remaining in His ranks.
  • I have a serious commitment to God and my family to abandon this extra income whenever any of the above items is compromised.

On the other hand, additional income may become a curse if:

  • It was obtained in a fraudulent way or by taking advantage of the less favored.
  •  It forces me to sacrifice my daily personal communion time with God.
  • I am no longer allowed to join my family during family worship.
  • I no longer have time for giving Bible studies or participating in small groups.
  • It does not allow me to welcome the Sabbath day with my family, a few minutes before sunset on Friday.
  • I accept fatigue as an excuse for not attending Sabbath School and divine service on Sabbaths.
  • I no longer have time to spend with my spouse and children (for example, meals, family worships, or outings).
  • My children are alone or without any supervision most of the time when they are at home.
  •  It was obtained at my health’s expense by:
    - Not getting enough sleep.
    - Not exercising daily,
    - Not having the two or three planned meals (and maybe replacing them with snacks).
    - Purchasing more expensive and perhaps unhealthful food.
    I want to earn more in order to invest more in God’s kingdom.
  • God is forgotten as the source of income, and, consequently, the tithe is not returned to Him.
  • The heart is no longer grateful, and so regular and systematic offerings (Promise) are not given.
  •  There is not a financial plan for retirement.
  • There is not an emergency fund.
  •  There is not a plan for savings, and the additional income is spent to please present desires and impulse-driven purchases instead of providing for future needs.
  • There is not a plan to adopt a simple lifestyle and to avoid any kind of ostentation.
  • I want to earn more in order to invest more in this life and in this world with no concern for eternal life.
  • I do not have a plan to populate heaven with souls saved by my personal and financial endeavors.
  • I do not have a will or a plan to dispose of my goods to serve God and His kingdom after I depart from this life.
  • I do not have a commitment to quit my job if any of the above items are compromised.

I have nothing to fear if I place all I have in the hands that were nailed on the cross for me It is His Word that suggests and promises: “Oh, fear the Lord, you, His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing (Ps. 34:9, 10).” And I want to trust Him!

Marcos F. Bomfim

Pastor Marcos F. Bomfim is the director of Stewardship Ministries at the General Conference.