FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
HAVING THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE ON MONEY
September 16, 2011
1 Timothy 6:2-12
Our work is evangelization and mission. We journey with Jesus “from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.” (Lk 8:1a). We are continuing the work of “the Twelve” (Lk 8:1b). We ourselves have been brought from darkness to light, we have “been cured of evil spirits and infirmities” (Lk 8:2a), and we are growing in the Lord. Having turned to Jesus, we serve the Kingdom by our work of evangelization and mission. But this divine work has to be supported by human means. We do this through our finances, and God’s people need to be among the “many others who provided for them out of their resources.” (Lk 8:3b).
But money is usually the last to be surrendered to God. So many have turned to Jesus and may even be evangelizing, but have a hard time giving generously of their financial resources for the mission. How can we be helped in this regard? Well, let us look at our objections and see what the Bible says.
“I do not have enough for all my needs.” The Bible says, “If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.” (1 Tim 6:8). In other words, live simply so that our resources can be released for the work of the Kingdom. Examine your so-called needs. You can do without many of them and still live a good life. Differentiate your needs from your wants. Consider that what you give up and give to the Lord will go a long way in promoting His mission.
“I worked hard for my money and I deserve to spend it on what I want.” The Bible says, “For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.” (1 Tim 6:7). Whatever we have comes from God. Even as we did use our mind and talent to make money, our gifts still came from God.
“I need to provide for my family and for my retirement.” The Bible says, “Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction.” (1 Tim 6:9). But you say, “I am not rich, and am just barely meeting my needs” (which inevitably includes wants). The great majority of the world’s population exist on less than $1 a day (extremely poor) or less than $2 a day (poor). If you earn more than that, these poor people will consider you rich. But anyway, we do want more and more, don’t we? We walk, then we purchase a motorcycle, then we buy a car, then we want a bigger car or two cars. We rent a house, then we buy a simple house, then we want a bigger one and even accumulate a number of houses. We do want to be rich! While to have more of blessings that come from God is not wrong, be careful. You may be being lured into a trap, that of materialism, consumerism, selfishness. These lead to ruin and destruction.
People desire wealth. People look to wealthy people as those who have made it, who are achievers, who are successful, who are to be admired, and even who are blessed. But how does the Bible see wealth?
* It certainly is not the way to salvation, which ought to be the goal of every Christian. “One cannot redeem oneself, pay to God a ransom.” (Ps 49:8).
* It is foolish for one to spend his life getting richer, as he cannot bring his wealth with him when he dies. “Anyone can see that the wisest die, the fool and the senseless pass away too, and must leave their wealth to others.” “When they die they will take nothing with them, their wealth will not follow them down.” (Ps 49:18). Notice where the rich will go–down and not up to heaven.
* It gives us false security in life. We think that if only we were rich, we will no longer have problems, life would be grand, and hey, we can even serve God better. Not so. “This is the destiny of those who trust in folly, the end of those so pleased with their wealth.” (Ps 49:14). We cannot serve God and mammon. “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.” (1 Tim 6:10).
* It gives us a false sense of importance or achievement. “When living, they congratulate themselves and say: ‘All praise you, you do so well.’” (Ps 49:19). Indeed their might be many who praise the rich, like the suck-ups, the hangers-on, the leeches, the schemers. If we were not rich, we would not be surrounded by such people, and that would be a great blessing. Those who are humble and lowly are those who are used mightily by God.
* It is not something that is to be coveted. “Do not fear when others become rich, when the wealth of their houses grows great.” (Ps 49:17). We should only desire God and the life that He offers. When we grow in holiness and Christian perfection, then we are those who are truly rich.
* It makes us trust in ourselves and our wealth, and not in God, with grave consequences. “For all their riches mortals do not abide; they perish like the beasts.” (Ps 49:13). The last verse of the psalm puts it this way: “For all their riches, if mortals do not have wisdom, they perish like the beasts.” The ways of the world are so far and different from the ways of God. Often, to be wise in the world, to the extent of getting richer and richer, is to fail in the wisdom of God. If so, when we die, we die not as children of God, but as beasts who do not have the Spirit.
We need the wisdom of God when it comes to wealth and financial giving. We see that the love of money is the root of all evil, but that money is needed in order to further the gospel. How do we then handle money?
* “Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain.” (1 Tim 6:6). The Greek word for contentment is autarkeia, which is the virtue of independence from material goods. We can have money, God can even make us rich, but we are not to love money, nor are we to be selfish with whatever we have, looking to the needs of the Kingdom. We are to live simply.
* We are not to rely on wealth but are to trust in God. “Tell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment.” (1 Tim 6:17). God will provide, and we will be able to enjoy life as God intends.
* We are to use our money for good works, to share with those in need, to support the mission of God in the world. “Tell them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, ready to share” (1 Tim 6:18). We share our resources, with those in need and with the Church for her evangelistic work.
When we have the above posture, we will not fall into temptation and a trap, and we will not be plunged into ruin and destruction. Perhaps the Lord will even bless us with more, since He knows we will not be corrupted by what we have. More importantly, by giving to mission, we help bring the very life of Christ to others. As such, when we finally leave this earth, we look not to dying as beasts, but as good and faithful servants who will be welcomed by Jesus himself.
We then go through life, “accumulating as treasure a good foundation for the future, so as to win the life that is true life.” (1 Tim 6:19).
* * *