Proverbs 13:22 – Do Christians have the right to the wealth of sinners?

wealth-addictProsperity preachers often cite half of Proverbs 13:22, which states “the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the just.” This passage is used to support an idea called “wealth transfer,” or the “transfer of divine wealth.”

I’m talkin’ about your money. You know one of the greatest things that is going to happen in the year 2,000 were about to see the church rise up with a revelation that only this generation has ever been given of Gods word concerning high finances in the kingdom of God. And we are just about to see the greatest transfer of wealth out of the hand of the wicked into the hand of the just.” – Rod Parsley, Breakthrough, Jan.7,2000
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“Say after me, all of you, everybody say it, ‘The wealth of the wicked is mine.’ [The audience repeats.] One more time, [The audience repeats] One more time. [The audience repeats it again]” – Benny Hinn, Praise-A-Thon, April 1990
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One of the major problems with this teaching is it causes sin. To desire the transfer of someone else’s wealth to your pocket is called covetousness. (Exodus 20:17, Romans 7:7)

It gets worse. I knew one church leader who taught that if a bank made an error in your favor, you should not say anything because it is a blessing from God. The same pastor was known to take back broken items to the store long after he bought them. Say he bought a DVD player that stopped working. He would buy a new one, and then put the old one in the box to give the impression it was broke when he bought it. He would get his money back and have a brand new DVD player. He taught this to his congregation. On one occasion he was expecting to receive a television in the mail,  but he received two by accident. He kept both, even though he had only paid for one. He called it the transfer of the wealth of the wicked. In these cases Proverbs 13:22 was used to justify stealing.

If Proverbs 13:22 has been misused by prosperity preachers, then what is the true application? First of all, it is a proverb. A proverb is a short saying that includes general truth or advice. It is a practical principle. Not a spiritual one. It is simply a wise saying. We use many proverbs in our modern language.

For example:
– Practice makes perfect
– Birds of a feather flock together
– You break it, you buy it
– Wake up and smell the coffee

Let’s look at the proverb in question, again. This time we will look at the complete proverb, and not just the part commonly cited by prosperity preachers.

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.”   – Proverbs 13:22  

The idea being conveyed here is that those who are good stewards and are virtuous with their money will leave an inheritance to their children, while those who are wicked with their money will lose it, and it will end up in the hands of the virtuous. If there were a supernatural law that caused the money of non-christian billionaires to be transferred to the bank accounts of Christians, the world would look much different than it does today.

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