Money is simply the medium of exchange between two parties. Somewhere back in time, someone came up with the inspiration that paper supported by something of value was easier to carry around for trade rather than livestock, land, and crops. Eventually, paper money became the norm.
Yet money is the god of many. Those who have it want more; and those who don’t have enough want more. And then there are those who treat money as an evil necessity and the cause of world problems who believe everyone should have more than enough without having to work for it.
Then there are times when our pride blinds us into thinking that money is evil and poverty is good. Others feel guilty they have abundance; they are OK with those less fortunate to rob and steal from others. Then there are others who make their life mission to earn more than they can spend in multiple lifespans. They never have enough and too much is their baseline.
Today’s Scripture came to my attention as a young man entering the business world. Still young in the faith, I wasn’t sure how to relate with money. This Scripture helped me to stay focus. I enjoyed working, earning, and spending on those items which brought me pleasure. Besides, food, shelter, clothes, car, and entertainment, I also gave to causes which were close to my heart. My desire was not to be wealthy, retire early, nor live a lavish lifestyle. Instead, I chose to walk with my Lord and learn how to live the life HE gave me.
In the prayer Jesus taught his disciples (Luke 11:3), he requests from his heavenly Father only food for today. He shared parables of people who invested their time accumulating food where they had to build larger barns (Luke 12:18) to store the crops for future period and emphasized they risk abandoning their walk with God. Jesus also said the rich will have greater difficulty entering God’s Kingdom (Luke 18:25). However, HE also emphasized that nothing is impossible for God.
Life is living between two extremes. Being rich or being poor are two extremes of wealth. For many of us, we will learn to live life in between. And I am OK with that. For it places us right where today’s Scripture highlights the better place to be. Enough for today so I continue to lean on the Triune God, favorably walk with HIM, and bring HIM no shame but honor and glory for WHO HE IS.
Money is a necessity in today’s world. God knows what we need and will always provide the means to satisfy our needs. The money trap is emphasizing the cash rather than the God of wealth. God owns everything. He can easily open the gates of prosperity for you to enjoy. But HE also knows prosperity can easily destroy you unless you have the character to manage the wealth. HIS purpose is to prepare you for eternity; not live comfortably and satisfy every insatiable desire you have. When you come to know HIM, you will also come to know yourself and realize the wisdom of living between the two extremes.
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[c] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, [ to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[e] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Capitalism is an economic system which allows the private ownership of property and the unleashing of human potential. The economic gains have alleviated poverty in more countries than any other man-made system.
The system rewards those who are successful and punishes those who fail.
The Parable of the Talents is a story Jesus gave which highlights what God expects from each of us.
In the story, Jesus emphasized the private ownership of property, personal responsibility, and economic trade. The owner was going on a trip and therefore invested a portion of his capital with three of his managers. But each manager’s share was apportioned based on their ability. One started out with 62.5% of the owner’s wealth, a second with around 25%, and the third with the remainder 12.5%.
When the owner returned, he asked for an accounting. The two who combined started with 87.5% of the owner’s investment, doubled his money. Each accepted the personal responsibility to venture out and invest the owner’s wealth to gain a good return on their efforts. The one who had the smallest amount to invest though, was fearful and didn’t do anything. In fact, he was so afraid of failing, he simply buried the start-up capital in the ground.
The owner praised the two who took risks and doubled his money. However, the one who didn’t even try, he chastised him. Even if he didn’t try himself, the owner believed he would have done better by giving the capital to bankers and received at least interest on the money. The owner called him wicked and lazy for not doing something more with the capital he received.
The shocking outcome though is the one talent was then given to him who had the most. Many of us in today’s culture would cry unfair. But the owner made the statement that those who have more will be given more, and those who have little, will even lose out on what they have.
Of course, we can solely spiritual the entire parable which emphasizes that those who have Godly riches and use them for the sake of others will experience more and more of heavenly rewards. But those who aren’t rich with heavenly treasures, and fail to share what little they have with others, will even have the little they own taken away. Yet, isn’t God also concern with both our spiritual well-being as well as the physical necessities?
Here Jesus demonstrates private ownership of property, employees, and capital investment. Yet shocks the audience with the fact that those who may have little will even have less unless they are willing to take risks with the small portion they are given.
Jesus lived under Roman domain with his fellow citizens. And throughout Scripture he emphasized principles of capitalism. It took Adam Smith to write his book some 1800 years later to reveal the benefits of a capitalistic system. As all systems reveal, the problem isn’t with the process or structure, but with the heart of humanity. It takes a strong moral compass to effectively work. And without God’s guidance and the bridling of human nature, people have a tenancy to destroy one another. Yet, under the authority of Jesus Christ, people can redeem any system and fully employ its benefits for all. The same is true with Capitalism.
The benefits and rewards have built the most developed civilization in human history. Yet humans still have the challenge of managing the power, money, and luxuries earned from their efforts. Without God’s Spirit allowed access to change a person’s heart, it is a matter of time for a person or society to self-destruct from their ungodly lifestyle. Yet Jesus once stated that what is impossible for man is possible with God.
The same is true with a Capitalistic society. But are we willing to make that happen?
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
I am surrounded by a culture predominately immerse with money, sex, and power. Whether it’s portrayed in the movies, on the internet, or social media, I am constantly shaking my head asking myself how did we as a nation get here.
Why does this world seem to take what is good, wholesome, and beneficial for mankind and rampantly exploit their features? Like the sugar addict who can’t get enough, we as a people take what God has created for our good and dismantled it into a commodity. We buy and sell money, sex, and power because we can and we don’t even consider the downside and the pain and misery we produce along the way. All we care is we get our share and the hell with anyone else. At least that is how I have come to witness the culture being thrown in my face without my approval.
When the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians church, God’s people were likewise dealing with similar worldly vices. In his letter, he emphasized that we do not control the world around us but we are responsible for our own personal behavior. And personally, we are instructed to kill our carnal desires.
Whenever any desire for a goal, commodity, or experience supersedes our desire for a more intimate relationship with the Triune God, trouble naturally follows. Throughout human history, most of us humans never seem to get enough money, sex or power. At least, my unscientific study seems to indicate that these are the three most abused desires; when run rampant, they leave a trail of destruction. We want more and more and more, but yet are never satisfied. Lives are shattered, families destroyed, and eventually nations crumble.
This is why a relationship with the Triune God is necessary. For you and I are wired to become one with HIM. When the Triune God is allowed to fully express HIS life in you and me, then HIS divine nature which includes self-control is a force to subdue our inner carnal desires. HE also gives us the knowledge through the Bible of what is good, but that alone is not enough. Mankind needs HIS Spirit living in us to fully control the dark side of human nature. And even then, we may occasionally fail, but HE in HIS divine grace, has already forgiven and restored us in Christ Jesus. We are included with Jesus in the Triune circle of life.
We don’t have to partake in this world’s culture of in-your-face excessiveness. Instead, we can quietly and humbly walk with our God, allow HIS Spirit to direct us toward living an abundant life full of real love, joy, and peace which the world truly wants but has no understanding of how to make it happen. Yes, you can even enjoy money, sex, and power bridled under the domain of God’s heart. Because after you had a taste of real life with HIM, you than come to know how to effectively manage and measure real satisfaction and fulfillment in your world.