Is It Wrong for Someone to Raise Their Standard of Living, Especially If They’re Poor?

Question from a reader:

I have a question about one of the principles in The Treasure Principle:“God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.” In that same chapter, Randy Alcorn speaks about how he later took a larger salary and was able to enjoy some things he was not able to enjoy before. So he was able to raise his standard of living a bit, right? And there are poor people who God might prosper who can now live above the poverty level and raise their standard of living, right?

Answer from Stephanie Anderson, EPM staff:

When Randy is talking about raising a “standard of living,” he’s talking about those who are already very rich by global standards. When we as Americans get a significant raise, we might easily imagine it’s only so we can take more extravagant vacations, purchase a fancy car, buy a bigger house, etc. It’s not that those things are necessarily wrong, but Randy is encouraging readers to see their God-given opportunities to invest in eternity, as stewards of what God has given them.

Through Randy’s book royalties, our ministry supports organizations around the world seeking to help the poor and needy, which certainly involves raising their standard of living. That’s an important aspect of loving our neighbors. We should want others to have enough food, shelter, clothing, etc. and the ability to provide for their families.

However, it’s also true that it’s not wrong for us to enjoy the life God has given us. Years ago, Randy was accused of having a “poverty theology” and he responded to that question here. (Much has happened with that pastor who accused him since then, but that’s another subject.)

Also see this article.

There’s an important balance here, which Randy points out in both those articles. Scripture does say that God provides us with material things “for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17, NLT). But we also need wisdom to not make an idol out of the money and possessions we are to steward. We shouldn’t miss out on our responsibility to love others through our money and possessions.

Randy writes in his conclusion: “So how do we find the right balance between how much we give, and how much we keep to use for our family’s needs, as well as for God-honoring recreation and enjoyment? I believe the tension reflected in that question is healthy. As we continue to grow in Christ, we prayerfully evaluate and seek God’s guidance. But may we always be determined to follow His lead as best we can discern it.  And meanwhile, we should be careful not to judge others, and imagine ourselves better than they are because of our different lifestyle choices.”

Photo: Unsplash

Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.