the green monster

This was originally posted on CF, but I felt that it was more of a journal entry than anything else.

The topic of money  is very close to my heart. I sit here among my possessions and am very thankful. Indeed, I am very blessed. But something is wrong in my heart, you see. I love money. At times, I may love it more than God. I trust in my paycheck to get me through the next month instead of God. I give God lip service and encourage giving, generosity, and humility, but my actions to fulfill my own words are few and far between. Sure, I give money and support and all of that… but I won’t do it if it inconveniences me. I won’t do it if it impoverishes me. So perhaps I am a good picture of a lukewarm believer in this area. My heart is split in two. I ache for ways to help and build the Kingdom, but I also look for new ways to spend my money, not truly caring about my budget…

So, who am I? A hypocrite. But I still know the truth and I want to allow God to revolutionize how I use the monetary blessings he’s given me.

The best book I have ever read about Christians, money, the world around us, etc… is Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. It was assigned reading for a senior year seminar at college, and it changed my awareness of my heart’s love of money. It gave me a new goal for how to change and what being a follower of Messiah truly means in this culture of abundance and excess. I cannot recommend it enough. Please look for it in a library or bookstore near you.

Let me take a gander here into the scriptures… I can’t post all the verses about money (as it is one of the MOST popular subjects in the Bible) but here are some that deserve attention:

Don’t be afraid when someone gets rich, when the wealth of his family grows. 17 For when he dies, he won’t take it with him; his wealth will not go down after him. 18 True, while he lived, he thought himself happy people praise you when you do well for yourself 19 but he will join his ancestors’ generations and never again see light. 20 People, even rich ones, can fail to grasp that, like animals, they will die.

This is the meaning behind that old phrase “you can’t take it with you”. No matter what we gather up into storehouses, banks, funds, or possessions in this life, none of it will help is in the next. We are like all of Creation… dust to dust.

Proverbs 28:6
6 Better to be poor and live an honest life than be crooked in one’s ways, though rich.

I think we can all agree with this. Our character is what matters, not our possessions, position, or appearances.

Proverbs 28:20
20 A trustworthy person will receive many blessings, but one rushing to get rich will not go unpunished.

This, I think, is speaking of those who harm and cheat others in order to be rich.

Matthew 19:23-30
23 Then Yeshua said to his talmidim, “Yes. I tell you that it will be very hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 Furthermore, I tell you that it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” 25 When the talmidim heard this they were utterly amazed. “Then who,” they asked, “can be saved?” 26 Yeshua looked at them and said, “Humanly, this is impossible; but with God everything is possible.” 27 Kefa replied, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. So what will we have?” 28 Yeshua said to them, “Yes. I tell you that in the regenerated world, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Isra’el. 29 Everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times more, and he will obtain eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

I don’t think Yeshua is talking about getting into Heaven… but instead, becoming subject to the rule of God in their lives, the Kingdom here on earth. It is so difficult for those of us who are rich to subject all of our lives to the rule of God. He teaches here that those who make sacrifices for the sake of the Kingdom will be great in the world to come. It is the oposite of this world where the richest are first and the poor are last.

Luke 12
Then to the people [Yeshua] said, “Be careful to guard against all forms of greed, because even if someone is rich, his life does not consist in what he owns.” 16 And he gave them this illustration: “There was a man whose land was very productive. 17 He debated with himself, `What should I do? I haven’t enough room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, `This is what I will do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and I’ll store all my wheat and other goods there. 19 Then I’ll say to myself, “You’re a lucky man! You have a big supply of goods laid up that will last many years. Start taking it easy! Eat! Drink! Enjoy yourself!”‘ 20 But God said to him, `You fool! This very night you will die! And the things you pre pared — whose will they be?’ 21 That’s how it is with anyone who stores up wealth for himself without being rich toward God.”

I have a dear friend who seems to care more about her retirement plans and saving money up for her daughter’s college fund than how she gives her money now. She is so focused on that goal… that large amount of savings for a good life later… that she has forgotten about the good life NOW and using those blessings for the good of others as well as herself and her daughter.

1 Timothy 6:6-12
Now true religion does bring great riches, but only to those who are content with what they have. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world; and we can take nothing out of it; 8 so if we have food and clothing, we will be satisfied with these. 9 Furthermore, those whose goal is to be rich fall into temptation; they get trapped in many foolish and hurtful ambitions which plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all the evils; because of this craving, some people have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves to the heart with many pains. 11 But you, as a man of God, flee from these things; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

Flee from greed, hurtful ambitions, temptations, and the like. Instead, thirst after the qualities that will illustrate our wealth of life in Messiah.
I’ve seen this affect my own life.

Rev 3
“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Laodicea, write: ‘Here is the message from the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Ruler of God’s creation: 15 “I know what you are doing: you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth! 17 For you keep saying, ‘I am rich, I have gotten rich, I don’t need a thing!’ You don’t know that you are the one who is wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked! 18 My advice to you is to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, so that you may be dressed and not have to be ashamed of your nakedness; and eyesalve to rub on your eyes, so that you may see. 19 As for me, I rebuke and discipline everyone I love; so exert yourselves, and turn from your sins!

We often quote the bit about being lukewarm… but how often do we use it in context? It’s about money! Not about being on fire for God or preaching out on the street… It’s about money. We trust in our wealth and we don’t realize that we’re wretched, poor, blind, and naked. We’ve grown accustomed to dry, materialistic living. We don’t know what it is to trust God fully with our lives. I sure don’t.

So this post was mostly for myself. But I hope it offends and convicts others as well.