When it comes to the subject of money, we never seem to get it right.
Some (probably most) esteem money too highly. They miss the many biblical warnings about how fleeting wealth can be. They also fail to think seriously about the Apostle Paul’s reminders and warnings in the last chapter of his first letter to minister Timothy:
“…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 (not “money”, but the love of it) 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."
Jesus himself spoke of the “rich fool” who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. One day our souls will be required of all of us.
Are you neglecting the true riches that are eternal?
On the other hand, there are those who regard any thought about money, wealth, and investments as being unspiritual. Didn’t Jesus say, “You cannot serve God and money”?
Yet Jesus also spoke of things like sowing and reaping, being wise stewards, investing talents and minas (both were first century words for amounts of money). He spoke of making friends of those in the world by “unrighteous money” (and by “unrighteous” here, he doesn’t mean that MONEY is unrighteous, but he’s speaking of money that’s not our own). And the Good Samaritan couldn’t have paid for the medical provisions and the care by an innkeeper if he didn’t have money for these things. We’re not to be enslaved to money and the love of it; but we are to love serving others with our money.
I’m also struck with the fact that the New Testament frequently uses language related to the marketplace to describe the way we are to live the Christian life. We are, for example, to “redeem the time” (to make it profitable) “because the days are evil.”
Now certainly our greatest wealth is Christ and everlasting life. This is the Pearl of Great Price and the Treasure Hidden in Field which we should acquire at all cost.
And it’s true that we are to lay up treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (and where economic downturns and stock market dives make no effect). But one of the ways we “lay up treasures in heaven” is by making truly wise investments with our wealth. So the Apostle Paul (again in his first letter to minister Timothy) speaks to “the rich in this present age”, charging them to “do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
God isn’t against investments. He’s against bad investments that only have regard to this life.
Earthly wealth is a gift of God. God told his people in the Old Testament days that He was the one who gave them power to get wealth. The Old Testament book of Proverbs is full of warnings about the deceptive power of wealth, but it also tells us that the hand of the diligent will be made rich, and that a good person leaves an inheritance for his children’s children. In a similar vein – this time in the New Testament - the Apostle Paul says that parents are to “lay up” – the word means to build a treasure – for their children.
To “get it right” about money, we need to realize that we’re to be good stewards of not only our time and our talents, but also of our treasures.
That leads us into the water we’ll be swimming in beginning on this week’s "A Visit to the Pastor’s Study” and continuing in the next couple of programs. I’ll simply call the series “Money Matters”. This week we’ll be thinking together about long term financial planning.
For both this week and next week my guest is our own family financial planner, but also a close friend, a wise advisor, and a superb teacher: Fran Caraco. You’ll benefit in more ways than one from his practical advice and three decades of experience
Here’s a link to the full program:
Yours in the Lord who gives everlasting wealth,