Making Sense of Money - Part A
Plaguing the mediocrity and pursuing relentlessly the character of western civilization are all things 'money.'
Greed is the fresh aphrodisiac of the masses, promising but not delivering while both inviting and biting.
In the pursuit of capitalism's Holy Grail so much more has been actually lost than gained.
Jesus and money
In that damning parable 'The Parable of the Rich Fool' (Lk 12:13-21) Jesus confronts the naive indeed foolish, independence of a farmer who had amassed significant wealth to secure his own rest.
"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you." (Lk 12:20a)
With a 'no-holds barred' verbal confrontation Jesus has disarmed and challenged the wisdom of those pursuing wealth to control a future that they had no control over.
Jesus literally owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps 50:10), yet lived without worldly wealth and was supported by those He had ministered to (Lk 8:1-3, more on this soon in Part - C).
Jesus sought no personal financial benefit, saw joy in giving (Acts 20:35) and even taught against withholding money (Prov 3:27-28). Jesus claimed no earthly dwelling and had 'no where to lay His head' (Mt 8:20).
Clearly money is morally neutral, it is the love of money that is the root of all evil, and wealth is to be feared (1Tim 6:10). In fact it is the love of money that robs us of contentment and defies our faith (Hebs 13:5).
"... give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, 'Who is the LORD?'
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God." (Prov 30:8-9)
Jesus' radical instruction for those who would heed His call is to leave the things of this world behind (Lk 9:3). His call is for His followers to take steps of faith (2 Cor 5:7) and not simply steps for funds.
If there is one abundantly clear axiom for life that Jesus was most strong on, it is that a Christian lives by faith rather than simply by funds (see also Mt 6:19-34).
The wise and the devoted will recall Jesus' sharply pointed teaching from an unnamed mountainside:
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (Mt 6:24)
The love of money is truly in eternal conflict with the love of the Messiah.
Money and eternity
There is significant wisdom in considering the pursuit of money and its accumulation to be a real threat to the eternal well-being of a Christian's spirit and soul.
The possession of money/wealth can dangerously promote an independence and self-sufficiency that assaults faithful living and challenges Christ-likeness.
In Lk 12 Jesus had explained the real poverty of wealth as the rich farmer had excluded God from his grandiose life plans, not realising that he had no power over his death. Wealth may have power in life bit it is impotent in death.
Wealth is deceptive and it cannot delivers on its promises. In fact, the pursuit of abundance can actually rob the joy of abundance, as the foolish farmer in Lk 12 learned one deathly evening.
God seeks people who seek Christ first and not cash. He who gives up the pursuit of wealth for the pursuit of the Kingdom will never become a bankrupt.
God is no man's debtor. No position of service nor sacrifice on earth ever goes unobserved by God (see Mt 19:28-29 and Lk 16:19-30, 18:29-30).
"For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." (2 Chron 16:9)
In Luke 16 the poor man Lazarus ('Dives' in older versions of the Bible) sits unattended and tormented at an unnamed rich man's gate. The rich man indulged himself in excess while Lazarus rotted just outside his gate in an unassailed and unattended poverty. In wealth the rich man was blind to the poor man. The rich man's blindness had secured a place in hell for him for his indulgence.
Is it any wonder that Jesus counsels the enquiring Rich Ruler to release his possessions (Lk 18:18-30) and advises of the strong inherent difficulty of the rich receiving heaven (also Mt 19:24).
The pursuit of this world will always deny the pursuit of His world.
The cost of pursuing money now is always paid in the future.
"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mt 16:26)
The spiritual man will appreciate that wealth and its pursuit is a massive threat to his spiritual well-being.
No man can serve the Messiah when they are pursuing money.
No man can sit with Jesus while they run after wealth.
No man can enjoy what Jesus has for them, when they are engaged in what they have for them.
Whatever gains a man's attention gains him.
NEXT MONTH - Making Sense of Money Part B - Prosperity