Thursday, May 6, 2010

Money, money, money, money

We all want it so badly and yet once we possess it it often proves to be our demise. Money, wealth, things of dreams for millions of people around the world. Thoughts of contentment, lack of worry, the good life, being able to take it easy, having everything you need or that your family needs, are all what we associate with having money. Yet, money changes people, often bringing out the worst of their character. The more you have the more you need. There is never a cut off place where we think we have enough. Our current worries and fears are replaced by new worries and fears. But the worst is what money can do to our character; warping it and twisting it, causing us to be self-reliant instead of God-reliant. This does not happen to everyone but it happens to many of us because we fail to be generous:

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. (James 5:1-3)

Scriptures are clear on what wealthy Christians are to do; they are to be generous. We could list a long list of Scriptures here that encourage and even command generosity. Jesus gave several examples of the expectations of God that we would be generous in everything he is generous in, such as love, forgiveness and mercy, and he told us not to be possessed by anything in this world, such as money. He warned that we cannot serve two masters because we will learn to hate one of them, and money usually wins out.

The Word is actually very hard on the wealthy, giving very strong correction. It is not that money is evil but if you do not have a solid character and a great relationship with God you are vulnerable to being controlled by it instead of you controlling money. The one thing the Bible clearly condemns is oppression by the wealthy; when they make money off of the weakness of the poor:

Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you. (James 5:4-6)

Our desire for money is probably one of the greatest influences in our lives concerning the decisions we make. Some people choose which education to pursue, not according to their like s and dislikes but instead according to the greatest payout they will receive at the end. Some people choose where to live not according to the needs of their family but instead according to career advancement. Often  our choices are financially based and not according to God's will as they are suppose to be. In fact, many of us check our budget to see if we can afford to give a donation or partake in a ministry instead of first consulting with God. We fail to remember that our employer is not our provider, God is.

The Apostle Paul on the other hand had a much different attitude. He wrote the Philippians and told them that he knew what it was to have plenty and to have nothing, to be well feed and to be hungry but he learned whatever his situation or circumstances to be content. How did he do this? By realizing that Jesus was all he needed. Because Jesus was all he needed then things could enter and leave his life without him being devastated by it. He states:

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Money is not an evil thing any more than the chair you are sitting in is evil. We are not gnostic in our beliefs, thinking that all material things are evil. Money is a neutral thing and it is our character and attitude that makes it a tool for good or a tool for evil. If it becomes something we pursue more than our desire for God then we have allowed it to become an influence for evil in our lives. If we are generous when we possess and are content when we don't have it then we are maintaining a good relationship with it. Our first goal must always remain to become like Jesus.

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