02/08/2017 - Pastor Young
Can we talk about money?
I know that this is a bit direct, and it's a bit of a taboo topic within our culture; but I'm hoping through honesty and love, we can talk about a subject that's pretty important. Jesus talked a lot about money – a large percentage of his parables were directly related to money and possessions. You heard two such parables this past Sunday when Pastor Tim preached from Luke 16. The Bible, on the whole, talks about money a lot. So is it something we can talk about, battling against any discomfort we might have about the subject matter?
I'll tell you my side first, if that's okay.
When I first got married, my mentor at the time talked to me about the top three things that couples fight about most. One of those was money. I thought about that for a moment, but I honestly felt pretty confident. I didn't feel like a greedy person. But there's something about shifting life circumstances that either changes the way you live, or sometimes reveals where your heart truly places its treasure.
Not to get all Moses on you (he wrote "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth"), but I've been a pretty generous person for most of my life. Growing up as an only child, I didn't feel the need to eat food quickly, so I shared my meals with others. After making the decision to follow Jesus, I began to give a portion of my income to the church, and donated to help those less fortunate. But marriage made me want to provide for my immediate family more than giving to others.
I became anxious about giving. I wondered about how we would make it if we were barely scraping by. What would happen to my wife? How would she perceive me as a husband?
The love of money can be insidious like that: you close your fists around it, thinking you've got a handle on it, and then you find that it's already wormed its way into your heart. Perhaps that's why Jesus talks about it so much, and says that it's easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into the kingdom of God.
Here are a few things that the Bible says about money and possessions:
- And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15)
- No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despite the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Luke 16:13)
- Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
You'll notice that all of these passages talk not just about money, but about the love of money, or of serving money, or of coveting possessions. Money is not an evil thing. The love of money is. In and of itself, money is a tool that's no more evil than anything else that God has created. But you've probably seen this tool get abused; perhaps even out of your own hands. Therefore, we need to have a very God-centred view on, and understanding of money.
This means growing out of the mentality that we are simply supposed to pass 10% of our income as a sort of pocket money to God. He owns all of it, and He desires for us to demonstrate wisdom in the way we manage His money. Mismanagement, then, is not just negligence, but robbery.
It also means we have to ask the right questions. Focusing on "how rich is too rich" or "how much is enough" will send us spiralling down the rabbit hole of legalistic self-justification and exhausting comparison with others. These questions are as revealing about our heart conditions as the old "how far is too far" questions when it comes to sex and relationships.
Finally, we have to examine the very real dangers when it comes to money.
The parables of Luke 16 reveal how money can become what we place our security in, which will invariably cause us to serve it as our master. If we serve it as master, then we may even grow to love it. Money becomes not just our security, but our devotion. We pour time and effort into things to gain it, and then desire more of it. And through desire, we grow to love it.
No one believes that they are greedy. At best, we may be uncertain. So let's be honest with one another about this issue, so that we can be accountable.
Here are some questions that, when answered honestly, may give us insight into where our hearts are at:
- What security do you find your future in?
- Where do you place your trust?
- Why do you work hard?
- What are you afraid of?
Jesus Christ came to seek and save the lost. Through His redemption, we are able to break the yoke of the love of money, and we can be extravagantly generous, and content with what we have.
The hope that we have in Jesus means that the dangers of money, and the power that it holds over us is broken. God is where we find our ultimate security. God is the one that we serve as master. And God is the one whom we love, because He first loved us.
The final part of that last sentence is where we draw hope. At our darkest, He loved us. When we were (or are) obsessed with money, He calls out to us, gracious enough to give us all things – even His Son.
God accepts us at our worst, that we might love Him and give freely in generosity.
We are simple managers of His money, not owners. It becomes easier to part with what we don't own, especially as we use the funds where He desires. In Him, we have the answer to our greed. In Him, we are able to give generously to God and others. We are able to be content with what we have, and to handle what we have with open hands.
If this is an area of concern for you, and you'd like for me to pray for you, please don't hesitate to reply back with your request.