Money, Money, Money

In 1254, Mongke Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan, brother of Khubilai), then the Great Khan over the Mongol empire, arranged a debate between representatives of the Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist religions.  After the debate, Mongke told a Franciscan monk: “Just as God gave different fingers to the hand so has He given different ways to men.  To you God has given the Scriptures and you Christians do not observe them.”  He based that judgment on his observation that Christians eagerly placed money ahead of justice.

In the summer of 1775 George Washington arrived in Massachusetts to assume command of the fledgling Continental Army.  Since the army was then more of an aspiration than an actuality, he struggled to whip them into shape.  His characterization of New Englanders was particularly harsh.  As biographer Ron Chernow notes, “Washington frowned upon these Puritan descendants as greedy, sanctimonious hypocrites, telling Joseph Reed that ‘there is no nation under the sun (that I ever came across) pay greater adoration to money than they do’.”

In 1843 Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol.  Early in the story the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge confronts the ghost of his late partner Jacob Marley, who was equally parsimonious.  When Scrooge tells him that he was always a good man of business, the ghost replies: “Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” 

In 1974 the O’Jays had a hit with their song “For the Love of Money”.  The title was taken from I Timothy 6:10, which states “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  The song warns against the dangers of greed and chasing the almighty dollar, saying don’t sell your soul for that mean green.

What is it about money?!  Why are we so captivated by it?  Why is it that even believers who should be putting our trust in God are often tempted to put our trust in our bank accounts?  We need to remember that money is a good servant but a bad master.  As the eighth commandment (you shall not steal) instructs us in stewardship, so the tenth commandment (you shall not covet) instructs us in contentment.

Yes, God often prospers his people; frequently he blesses us with more than we need.  But as Randy Alcorn wrote in The Treasure Principle, “God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.”  Our upcoming Vision Campaign will be a good opportunity for all of us to examine our hearts and our attitudes toward the financial blessings God has lavished upon us, to use those gifts for his kingdom, to store up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).

I leave you with these words of the apostle Paul to Timothy: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (I Timothy 6:17-19)

Steve Hoogerhyde serves as an Elder at Grace Redeemer Church.