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Thoughts About Money and Spiritual Growth

Dear Friends,

No matter who we are, money has had, is having, or will have an effect on us. Sometimes it’s not so noticeable and other times it’s very noticeable. Sometimes it affects us for the better, and sometimes it’s for the worse. Money can enhance life, or it can rob us of life – spiritually that is (Luke 16:13-16). It all depends on how we view, value, desire, and choose to use money. So our “thought” for today is entitled “Money and Spiritual Growth.” It was put together by the Youth For Christ editorial staff. I found it insightful. I trust you will as well. Enjoy.

Money and Spiritual Growth
“How can money – or the lack of it – hinder our spiritual growth? Strangely enough, having too much money, or two little money, results in basically the same problems, and both can hinder our spiritual growth.

As Agur, a writer in Proverbs, so aptly put it: Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you saying, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal and thereby dishonor the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9). Whether you have money to blow, or barely enough to live on, both can result in the following:

1. Money becomes the center and focus of your life. It can become an idol. When you have much, you realize its power in our world. When you have little, your concern or worry over it can become paramount over faith in God himself.

2. Money is seen idealistically. With lots of money, you feel yourself with extreme power – though that power rests on a very shaky foundation. With very little money, you tend to think that a few bucks will solve all your problems.

3. Money becomes an obsession. Those who have much constantly want more. Those who don’t have enough constantly want more too.

4. Money causes worry. When you’re wealthy, you worry about losing your wealth, being used for it, or being robbed or cheated out of it. When you have no money, you worry about how to get and pay for all you need and want.

5. Money changes your attitudes. Wealth causes many to become suspicious, stingy, and Scrooge-like. On the other hand, lack of money can cause jealousy and resentment of the wealthy, and an overly stingy attitude out of habit.

6. Money changes your priorities. When money gets the better of you, whether rich or poor, it can make you love things and use people – just the opposite of what God intended. It can make you focus on your earthly treasure, which is temporary, while forgetting your real goal: treasure in heaven. But money (or the lack of it) need not hinder your spiritual growth.

The secret is to learn contentment. Paul said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13). When we learn to be thankful for our daily bread (not worrying what we’ll eat tomorrow), when we learn that this world and its riches and problems are temporary, then we have learned the secret of contentment whether we are rich or struggling.

Money is not bad in itself, it is “the love of money” that causes all the trouble (I Timothy 6:10). When you discover that you are thinking more about money than about your family, your own peacefulness, or God, then money has begun to control you and will hinder your spiritual growth. It has become your real god.

When you love God and trust him to care for you every day (whether your treasure is great or small) then you have money in the right perspective and you will continue to grow. And as you grow you will learn how to use the large or small amount God has given to you in order to glorify him. Your treasure will not be where your heart is; the Bible says that your heart will be where your treasure is.”

So, yes, money simply is. What makes it a means for enhancing spiritual life (as was the case with John Calvin, John Wesley, and R. G. Letourneau of International Harvester fame, who instead of giving a tithe and keeping 90% for himself, gave away 90% and kept 10%), or causing spiritual death, is our attitude toward it. When seen as a means to being generous, or sharing what we have with others, it can enhance life. But when greed for more clouds the picture (which Paul says is idolatry), or when one links their happiness to increased wealth, it can breed spiritual death.

Proverbs 30:8-9 (surely in Jesus’ mind as He prayed the Lord’s Prayer) is clear: both wealth and poverty can be dangers to our spiritual health. Yet in prosperous countries, wealth is the far greater problem. After all, when we have more than we need our daily dependence on God is diminished. In prosperous countries (where the fridge and pantry are often full) very few must ever pray with earnest longing, “Father, give me this day my daily bread.” That is, just enough to make it through another day.

As a friend of mine once pointed out (I believe accurately): “More have left the faith because of greed than ever left the faith because of persecution.” And the answer? Contentment, says Paul. The answer is to learn contentment. And then Paul added, “I can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.” That is, in the context, “I can be content with little or plenty with the strength Jesus supplies.” May we pray for it because it is uncommon.

His, Pastor Jeff


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