Thinking about money

Last night we were visiting with a group of friends. One of them asked, “How important is money? Wouldn’t we simply be better without it?”

Almost everyone chuckled at such a naive comment. Then the conversation started to pick up steam. “I know someone who rejected money and lives on just what they need for the day”, opined one man. “Yes,” his wife said, “but his kids are hurting and don’t even have the school books they need”. “I think that is selfish,” chimed in another spouse. And by this time we were deep into the topic and everyone had their input.

“Is money the root of all evil?” started off another train of thought. “Money is just a commodity and is neither good nor evil, just something to be used," was the input of a financial planner in the group. “We all know that it is the ‘love’ of money, not money itself” shared a Bible teacher. You could almost hear most of the group thinking, “Maybe there is more on this we need to think about!”

In his book and video series, God’s at War, Kyle Edelman has a full section of the “God of Money”. He says:

The god of money has been around for a long time. Back in the day, you knew him as gold or silver, and before that, heads of cattle of animal skins or anything that could be traded. These days he goes as cash, dough, bacon, benjamins, moolah, hundies, and the list goes on. He might take the form of a plastic card or be a file named “portfolios”.

As much as we may try to ignore the issue, money is everywhere and connects us with virtually everything to do, go, buy, or support. We can’t ignore it. God certainly did not as there are over 2300 references to money or money connected issues in the Bible.

Money is addressed more than any other topic, even critical ones such as love and faith.

I’ve always thought that when God chooses to focus on an issue we need to collectively pay attention to what He is saying. Most of the observations, sharing of wisdom, admonitions, and encouragement about money are like rockets going off to get our attention. Here is some more of what Edelman wrote:

We pay lip service to the idea that money isn’t that important, but how we spend our time and what we pursue seem to reveal our true belief. Money by the ton is the ultimate dream for so many people. When they talk about an ultimate fantasy, it’s winning the lottery or inheriting a fortune from some rich relative. Mark Twain wrote, “Some men worship rank, some worship heroes, some worship, some worship power, some worship God, and over these ideals they dispute and cannot unity—-but they all worship money.”

The heart of the issue is that we attribute to money the attributes of God: love of, power with, problem solver, encourager, and solace giver.

Those replacements are the idolatry of not only our age but of all ages. As our societies become more complicated the issues become more nuanced but the root of the problem remains the same.

Because of my 30-year involvement in the Retirement Planning and servicing industry, I’ve developed an acute awareness of the issues surrounding money. My own conclusion about the problems it causes has nothing to do with how much or how little of it you have. Here are some observations that speak into the issue:

1.     You learn more about life and priorities when you have too little than when you have too much.

2.     The challenge when you have too much is “What does God want me to do with the amount over “enough”?

3.     It is wise to evaluate your financial situation from the perspective of what you need and the balance for the work of the Kingdom. The alternative thought process is to ask, “How much should I give to God, with all that remains is mine”. The first approach is the best one.

4.     Understanding that we are to be faithful for a lifetime, not just a season, informs our thinking about retirement. Preparation for that time is important. Preparing spiritually, emotionally, physically and yes, financially, is all part of the process of being available for God’s direction during those last three decades and stages of life.

5.     Use the term Future Funded Ministry to describe the financial preparation needed.

6.     The lack of money controls us just as surely as its plentiful availability.

7.    We learn quickly how important money is to us when we start giving it away.

When we give equal importance when preparing for our future ministry and to the spiritual, physical, emotional, and financial pieces to the puzzle, we are indeed living a balanced life. When any of those are out of balance, a course correction is needed.

Knowing God and enjoying Him forever is the best!

Stay with us as we Journey with Trusted Advice along The Way.

Bruce