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.
“I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.” Isaiah 48:17 ESV
If you are starting out in your career, now is the time to implement a financial formula that works. For most of us who never learned the art and science of financial management, balanced with life’s other more important values, can learn from the success and mistakes of others.
Warren Buffet, the third wealthiest man in the world, began his career by living on 50% of his earnings for over twenty years while investing the difference. John D. Rockefeller, one of the wealthiest men in his time, used a similar approach to life. My mom and dad, hard workers with only an eighth grade education, exercised a similar formula which allowed them to send two children to a private school, pay off their house in five years, and enjoy retirement debt free.
That formula is simply to live on less than you make while investing the difference. A simple strategy that few in today’s culture are able to discipline themselves to practice. Yet those who practice it, appreciate the results.
The ideal is too find something you either enjoy doing or are good at to earn a livelihood. As the income comes in, the lust is to start spending on everything you desire. Don’t. Instead start by allocating the money from that first paycheck for the important and not desirous needs of your life.
First start by asking God where he wants you to share his income with. Whatever he instructs you, follow through. It most likely will be your local church; yet he may also suggest a para-church ministry or a nonprofit that is doing good work in serving humanity from God’s perspective. Wherever it is, God enjoys a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). Start off by giving a percentage that you can do so cheerfully. Some in the church preach the discipline of giving a tithe or ten percent as a starting point. If you can do so cheerfully, do it. If you can give more, do it. If you can only give less, do it. Whatever the amount, I assure you as God transforms your heart, you will become more generous in your giving over time. It is all his anyway. We are only learning to behave as his stewards.
Next, start saving. Whatever % amount you give away for a cause greater than yourself, save the same % amount until you reach 6 months of your annual income. It may take a few years, but when you arrive, you will have reached a point of economic freedom. If anything happens to your job, you have a reserve to fall back on. If an emergency arises, you have assets to fall back on. You don’t have to live by paycheck-to-paycheck in fear any longer because you have an emergency reserve.
After reaching your six month savings plan, start investing. Study and become a student of investment. If you are not adept at investment, than hire a personal planner without an agenda. Let him/her direct you into the instrument that will take your money and let it grow. There is no better way to earn a living than making money from money. That is how the rich live.
But you say by following the above, I will have to deny myself immediate pleasure and desires. Yes. But the fruit will taste better in the long run. Ask Warren Buffet. Ask my parents. Ask those people now in the late season of life who first spent their money without saving if they would do anything different.
The Bible states that the borrower is a slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7); that there is profit in all labor (Proverbs 14:23); and God knows how money is best invested (Ecclesiastes 2:24-6) These principles are true today as they were 3,000 years ago when first written. Yes, it takes faith to deny the self now for the potential of a better future. So are you ready to make the faith journey with your economic life? It all starts when you earn, give, save, invest, and then spend.
“Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything.” Ecclesiastes 10:19 (ESV)
The first pages of the Bible that I every read was the Book of Ecclesiastes. As a seventeen year old seeker of God, I was stumped to understand the contents of the Book. What is so spiritual about physical pleasures? marriage? labor? Is all vanity? Yet the first scripture that I found excited as a young entrepreneur was the above. Living in a physical world which requires physical food, drink, and power to function, the above scripture makes more sense than just dollars. In fact, 40 years later the scripture has more meaning now than ever before.
For example, bread and wine are the dinner staples of Biblical times. Every dinner included the two. Jesus himself at the last supper took these two staples and transformed them into an everyday memorial. Whenever bread and wine are taken, we are reminded of Jesus and commemorate his death, resurrection, and future return. (Maybe that is where the custom of saying prayer before each meal came from?).
Also, isn’t bread shared between friends. It is a custom even as of today to invite people over for meals as a show of friendship and hospitality. Most often, where laughter and good conversation takes place, bread is usually a staple of the meal. Likewise, wine with its alcoholic contents, loosens the heart and helps ease the emotional pain. Been so since the beginning of time. A little wine loosens the tongue and makes one feel a little happier. (Too much wine though causes one to lose control of their ability to manage their emotions and mental faculties). Yet in Biblical times wine was the main drink at weddings, festivals, and dinner. Jesus’ first known miracle was changing water into wine.
Most people don’t have a problem understanding bread is made for laughter; a few less with wine gladden’s the heart; but money a solution to one’s problems? Yet money is the answer for most of the challenges that people face each day. With money, one is able to purchase happiness (not joy), freedom, and opportunities that others without money cannot know. Ask yourself with the many challenges you face each day, how would they be different if you had more money to throw at the problem?
In fact Jesus spoke about money more than many other topics. He didn’t avoid the issue. Instead, he met it head on. His concern is when we make it a priority rather than secondary in our life. Yet money makes this physical world go around. If given the choice, how many would rather be poor than rich? Not many I’m sure.
In this physical world, it takes money to operate. People need money to purchase the necessities of life; governments need it to operate; even churches need it to cover the cost of ministries. Money answers many of the problems that confront them.
Again, the problem lies when money becomes life’s priority and foundation instead of Jesus Christ. When one keeps their priorities in order, is radically in Christ, than the above scripture makes perfect sense. What do you think?