Monday, January 12, 2015

Money: The Root of All Evil?

I want to talk a little bit about money; greenbacks; moolah, cabbage; cash. Some people will tell you that money is the root of all evil, mangling the scripture at 1 Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money is the root of all evil." Money is, in and of itself, neither good nor bad. In fact, money actually has no actual value; only the value our faith and trust in what it can purchase put into it. Someone like Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey have bank accounts with billions of dollars in them, but those accounts are totally useless and worthless in and of themselves. It's the value of what those billions can purchase that is amazing.

For me, personally, money is only good for what it can do for others. When I was in my late teens or early 20's, my foster mom told me, "You'll never be rich because you give it away too easily." I take that as a compliment, though I'm not sure she meant it as such, at the time. But, she was right. To me, having a large number of zeroes in my bank account is meaningless and fruitless. If I were to win the lottery today, I would not be a wealthy man, but there are a lot of folks with whom I'm acquainted who would have a lot more than they do right now. My philosophy is pretty much in line with the way I read and interpret The Bible. I'm not laying up treasures on this earth (big bank account, large investment portfolio or even safe deposit boxes filled with currency,) though I do believe that money can purchase many nice things that others could use or are in desperate need of in this present age and circumstance. As Christians, we are exhorted to use the blessings we've received to bless others. Our treasure and reward are laid up in heaven, not in large bank accounts here on earth. If someone has $100,000 in the bank, and they see someone who is hungry, homeless, etc., and they do not help that person out by using some of that money God has blessed them with, what do you think God will say to them on Judgment Day?

Personally, I don't think I will hear, "well done!" on that day if I amass a large fortune in cash, bonds and stocks while ignoring those in my community who cannot afford food, clothing and adequate shelter. When God blesses us with financial blessings, we should not bury those blessings in bank accounts and stock portfolios but rather use them to bless others. While it happens quite frequently that God blesses us with miraculous appearances, the vast majority of our blessings come by way of others giving to us directly or through the fruits of our labor giving us increase. I'm always reminded of the parable of the talents in the 25th chapter of Matthew when I think of God's blessings to me and how I should behave with those blessings. In the natural one would suppose that giving to others would cause our accounts to shrink, but in truth those who are the most generous in their giving tend to have the most receiving while those who are stingy in their giving tend to receive less.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying anyone should give away all that they have to the poor, though Jesus did command the rich young ruler to do exactly that; but, we must give more than we retain, I believe, in order to accomplish the reason for our receiving the blessings in the first place. It is no less miraculous to receive at the hand of one who has been blessed by God than it is to have the blessing miraculously appear in our pocket or in our bank account. In fact, considering the nature of man, it may be more miraculous when someone disperses God's blessings to others.