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Character vs. Characterizing

Let’s get character straight.  When a house has character, it means that it has a unique charm or a stately presence that evokes awe or nostalgia.  If you call a person a character, you mean that he or she has a magnetic personality, is unpredictable, or acts like a clown.  When you have character, it means (among other traits) that people see you as a principled person.  When people characterize someone, it means that they either have keen insight into the motives of others or else they have the capability to portray other people in the most derogatory way.  

Decency (and brains) demand that you take care of your character.  No holes in your integrity, no skeletons in your closet, no questionable associations, no long-ago statements to come back to haunt you, etc., etc.  You should strive to be honest, authentic and squeaky-clean.  These are the imperatives of social interaction.  If you maintain this kind of character, you’re fine.

Except, you’re not. 

As long as there are detractors who seek to characterize you as someone you’re not, then the horrors of vilification remain a distinct possibility.  Your slightest mistake will become a mortal sin.  Your bumbling will be intentional destruction, your mumbling will show that you are an imbecile, and your stumbling demonstrates your ineptness at life.  These spinmeisters can so twist facts and turn reality inside out that they can create a whole new persona for you. 

No less a personage than Abraham Lincoln suffered attacks from these editorial mercenaries.  Mark Bowden of the Atlantic writes, “Sure, we revere Lincoln today, but in his lifetime the bile poured on him from every quarter makes today’s Internet vitriol seem dainty. His ancestry was routinely impugned, his lack of formal learning ridiculed, his appearance maligned, and his morality assailed.”  For adoring fans 150 years later, these pejorative assessments of the most admired president in history seem unthinkable.  Bowden continues.  “No matter what Lincoln did, it was never enough for one political faction and too much for another. Yes, his sure-footed leadership during this country’s most-difficult days was accompanied by a fair amount of praise, but also by a steady stream of abuse—in editorials, speeches, journals, and private letters—from those on his own side, those dedicated to the very causes he so ably championed. George Templeton Strong, a prominent New York lawyer and diarist, wrote that Lincoln was ‘a barbarian, Scythian, yahoo, or gorilla.’ Henry Ward Beecher, the Connecticut-born preacher and abolitionist, often ridiculed Lincoln in his newspaper, The Independent (New York), rebuking him for his lack of refinement and calling him ‘an unshapely man.’”

So, what if Lincoln had succumbed to his critics?  What if they had convinced him that he was indeed a “barbarian,” that he had nothing to contribute to the welfare or healing of a nation in turmoil?  The Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, his Second Inaugural Address, his conduct of a winning war to keep the union intact—none of these historic accomplishments and events would have happened.  Lincoln proved that character trumps characterizations. 

Long knives were out over other renowned historical figures in American history as well.  Ulysses S. Grant was soundly rapped as a lucky drunkard as a General and an unsuccessful President.  Historians say W. T. Sherman, was “a bundle of contradictions” and “one of the most irritating men of the times,” along with charges of racism and cruelty.  Dwight D. Eisenhower’s critics blamed him for ramping up the cold war and pinned the role of “appeaser” on him because he failed to censure Joseph McCarthy, the communist scaremonger.  Ronald Reagan came under heavy fire for allegedly being in bed with big business, showing hostility to the environment, getting America involved in Afghanistan, and bungling the Iran-Contra arms affair.  Writers often ridiculed Reagan for falling asleep during cabinet meetings and security briefings.  “Reagan’s reputation for snoozing even invited a protest: In 1983, steel and auto workers marched on the White House at 4 a.m. to “wake up the president” to the effects of his economic policy. Reagan said he slept through that, too.” (Daniel Engber, Indeed, if the opponents had their way, few noteworthy people would remain standing. 

Of course, Jesus Christ holds the all-time record for receiving harsh and malicious criticism.  His enemies characterized him a winebibber, an associate of sinners, a law-breaker, a blasphemer, an insurgent, a rabble-rouser and an evil-doer.  In one discourse with the Pharisees, they resorted to vicious name-calling to His face.  “Then the Jews answered and said to Him, ‘Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?’” John 8:48 (NKJV) They were not merely engaging in artful rhetoric.  They had murder in their hearts. “Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”  John 8:59 (NKJV) Their choice of Barabbas over Jesus proved that they operated out of personal animosity against Jesus, not their purportedly noble intentions of pursuing truth and justice. 

Unfortunately, your public reputation is subject to manipulation, political agenda, popular opinion and spin.  You are not who you are.  You are who people say you are, at least as far as your reputation goes.  The worst outcome to false characterizations happens when a person caves or changes position to appease his or her enemies.  (The catch is that flipping is met with equal or greater derision!)

True nobility reveals itself when the literary storm rages on but does not succeed in destroying its subject.  Instead, the strong person stands resolute and unbending despite the blows—and often because of them.  I have observed that people of character live on a higher plane than those who would demean them.

Moreover, I have noticed that most complainers have neither the talent or fortitude to take the initiative, forge the strategy, lead the movement or make the substantial difference in the world that the one they carp at does.  And old saying goes, “Those who can’t do, teach.”  I would modify that to say that those who can’t do, complain. 

Invest in character.  If you do, the false characterizations will eventually fall apart. 


Surgery Prep

When they insist that you arrive thirty minutes before your first appointment for physical therapy, you know it’s so they can slam you with paperwork.  You will rack your brain to recall all the medications you take.  You will have to answer yes or no to whether you have (or have had) hundreds of medical conditions (is “maybe” an acceptable answer?).  Had any major surgeries?  The one that stumps me every time is the date I had my gallbladder removed.  ’03? ’05?  Who cares? But that question at least started me thinking about a spiritual application: how does one prepare for an operation?

Yes, living the Christ-life means going under the proverbial knife.  There’s the heart transplant, the new tongue, the new brain, new eyes and ears, the feet replacement, the thorn insertion, plus, the implantation of a set of eagles’ wings.  But, in spiritual as well as physical surgeries, you must endure all the offensive unpleasantries of preparation.  You have to sign the consent form, shed your stylish outfit, don the dreaded drafty gown, stretch out on the gurney, surrender control of your body to the anesthetist and trust the surgeon.  The surgical suite staff cannot force an unwilling patient to succumb to an operation.  Doctors and nurses will not chase you down the hospital corridors, tackle you and drag you kicking and screaming back to the carnage chamber.  Only you can decide your fate.

In the sense of risk, all surgeries are equal—some are just more equal than others.  If you’re scheduled to have a heart transplant, you have days (or maybe weeks) of prep time ahead of you, plus a team of surgeons needs to participate in the operation.  Open heart surgery is a big deal, and the recovery time is long, slow and painful.  But that’s only to add a few years to your natural life.  When the Great Physician oversees a spiritual heart transplant, why should it be any less traumatic?  Yes, your old flesh will suffer, your ego will hurt, and your pride will die, but we’re not talking just a few more years for a less-than-quality life.  We’re talking eternity with Christ!  

Figures for surgical no-shows are reported to be 34% in the US, but higher worldwide, and as high as 60% in some countries.  Reasons given range from miscommunication and/or misinformation to personal problems.  Exorbitant cost, irrational fear, unwillingness to be inconvenienced and a general lack of trust in the medical system may also motivate cancellations by the patient.  The hospitals or clinics, however, can cancel surgeries.  Most of the time, they cite incomplete or no preparation as the cause. 

Are you serious about a spiritual overhaul?  Do you pray about change, but “chicken out” when you approach the deadline?  Are you more like Demas who loved this present world than Paul who crucified the world to himself?  Do you think you can just go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning as an entirely different person?  As long as you run away from the preparation stage, you will never take the victory lap. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Climb up on the table.  Submit to the procedure.  You’re in good hands. 


The Intangibles

Confession alert.  Sometimes (actually, very often) I look around at my life and just say, “Wow!  I don’t deserve any of this.  I can’t even figure out why or how I am this blest!” It’s not that I’m worth much financially (ask my tax guy), or that I own multiple properties (I don’t), or that I have an assortment of vintage cars in a huge garage (nope).  It’s just that I have incredible assets like love, joy, and relationships, that may not bump the financial needle forward, but nevertheless profoundly enhance the quality of my life.  Remember, the intangibles are unquantifiable. 

But, we still don’t believe it. We like cold cash. Dollars and cents.  We measure (or we try to measure) everything material and tangible in financial terms.  (By the way, you’re worth about $4.65, maybe more if adjusted for inflation. Don’t be too depressed.  “According to a recent article in Wired magazine, a body could be worth up to $45 million — Calculated by selling the bone marrow, DNA, lungs, kidneys, heart … as components.”)  Anyway, Blue Book helps you to estimate the value of your vehicle; surveying eBay approximates the value of your antique Roseville Pottery collection, and your local numismatist will tell you how much your 1900’s pennies are worth.  In fact, it’s possible to comb through your entire holdings and come up with how much money you’re worth.   

Going further, there is even a position known as a Cost Estimator whose typical job is to identify factors affecting costs, such as production time, materials, and labor; read blueprints and technical documents in order to prepare estimates; collaborate with engineers, architects, clients, and contractors; calculate, analyze, and adjust estimates; recommend ways to reduce costs; work with sales teams to prepare estimates and bids for clients; and maintain records of estimated and actual costs.  Everything, it would seem, has its price. 

You would be crazy, however, to let this compulsion to quantify everything you own bleed over into assessing the intangibles of life. “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10. “For the price of wisdom is above rubies.” Job 28:18. And then, consider this stark question: Was the real price to betray Jesus thirty pieces of silver?  Even if Judas had received thirty trillion pieces of silver, it would not have been enough for the Master. 

Here’s the thing: If you gauge your net worth in dollars and cents, you are setting yourself up for a freefall into depression. Even if you’re doing okay, one dip in the stock market, one unfortunate contraction of a malevolent germ, one pink slip in your time card slot, one slip on the ice, one tragic moment on the freeway, two idiotic clicks on your computer mouse, and BAM!  Your meticulous compilation of units of value, all of your bean-counting fussiness, all of your excessive orderliness can come crashing down. 

To pastors and church leaders, don’t obsess so much on income and budgets, on attendance numbers and productivity goals, or on vision-driven strategies and stringent personnel training that you run roughshod over the intangibles of discipleship and loving God.  The more you base your hopes on political-campaign style programs, corporate-world techniques, and public relations tactics, the less you rely on the Holy Spirit, and the further you distance yourself from the warm glow of loving fellowship and the compassionate care of the body of Christ.  Those qualities don’t show up on the bottom line of your financial report. 

But, you say, what about the 3000 people who were added to the church on the Day of Pentecost?  Somebody must have been doing some quantifying!  You’re right, but it was after the fact! Going forward into the event, nobody had a clue about the outcome.  Moreover, I submit to you that the 120 disciples in the upper room didn’t know what this was all about.  They didn’t even know that they were going to speak in tongues!  They were simply were immersed in the worship of God and the devotion to the parting words of Jesus.    

If you live by the numbers, you’ll die by the numbers.  If productivity is the measure of your success, then it will also define your failure.  Slow down.  Drink in the divine presence.  Breathe in the mists of the glory of the King.  The intangibles of loving God transcend the external trappings of Christianity and escort you into a deeply satisfying relationship with God.  You can’t put a price on that. 

“And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10:41-42.  NKJV 



As we advance further into the twenty-first century, minimalism continues to gain popularity in décor, style and architectural schemes.  Millennials fight relentlessly to rid the world of clutter, confusion and complications.  They despise walls crowded with hangings that cover every square inch of available space.  They much prefer empty shelves over loaded curio cabinets.  The bare, clean look is in. 

This may not be my taste in decorating as much as it is in life, but I will say this.  Getting rid of clutter takes courage.  We live with far too many hitches, snags, anxieties, hang-ups and special considerations in our lives that do little else but restrict mobility and hamper productivity.  We carve out niches for this person, pockets for that kooky idea, nooks and crannies for favorite nuisances, concessions for otherwise impossible people and baggage rooms for problems that we can’t figure out how to solve (so we keep walking around them.)  What a relief to our bewilderedness when some courageous soul strides fearlessly into our lives and screams “Enough!  This is going, that’s history, and no more of something else!” We may feign protest, but secretly, we breathe, “Thank God!”  (Have you ever seen an estate sale?  When all is said and done, someone is going to come in and get rid of your clutter.  It’s not a pretty sight!)

There’s nothing like a good scare to force you to re-evaluate your priorities in life.  Gillian Mohney says, “An intense scare can do more than elicit a good scream; it can physically affect the body as the neurological system releases intense chemicals in response to a threat. For most the response to a fright is more or less harmless, with the body becoming primed to fight or flight its way out of a bad situation.” 

There’s one cliché I love and continue to use: “Cut to the chase!”  Get out your sword, your scissors, your utility knife and your wastebasket and start ridding yourself of time-wasters, problem-generators, redundant routines that accomplish little, and stressors that cause more aggravation than amity.  You can de-complicate your life if you try.  Simplify your existence.  Less is more. 


Command Condemnation to Go! 

“Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” Romans 5:8-11. 

When you were saved, you were released from guilt feelings.  Occasional bouts with the old life sometimes made you wonder if you had really changed. During these struggles, you momentarily gave in to the former desires and committed sin.  Immediately, you were overwhelmed with remorse, and a feeling of condemnation began to haunt you. At first you blamed this on immaturity in your Christian walk.  Eventually, you believed that the problem was much more basic.  Chronic condemnation set in, a feeling that you were totally unworthy, a lost cause, a hopeless case, a discredit to God, church and self.  Self-condemned, you withdrew from active participation in the church, became uncommunicative and distant and lost your testimony.  The less you openly professed, the less guilt you seemed to feel. 

Condemnation results from guilt and rejection, as though you were under sentence.  For the believer, however, there is no bona fide condemnation.  “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17. The Apostle Paul emphasized this truth in his writings to the Romans.  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1. 

There is, however, a feeling of condemnation that wields enormous power to influence behavior.  It can cause: deep depression from constantly blaming oneself; chronic fatigue, psychosomatic illness; self-degradation; paranoia (the sense of being criticized, spied on; tendency to constantly complain or criticize others; casting oneself into greater sin with abandonment.  This feeling can be self-induced, or it can result from a demonic attack. Just remember that it is not a legitimate feeling.  But what about a person who commits sin after he or she is saved?  Does this constitute condemnation before God?

The answer is that God looks at saints and sinners as the government looks at aliens and citizens. (Ephesians 2:11-17).  Aliens may be deported if they commit a crime.  They have no access to the protection of our laws.  Citizens, on the other hand, must pay for their crimes, but they have access to a legal system through which they can get justice.  Believers have access to God’s forgiveness.  “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:7-9. 

Believers must understand that forgiveness of sins and the reconciliation of man to God lies at the core of redemption’s story.  It is Christ who bears the punishment for the penitent’s sins.  He will not refuse, avoid, recoil at or limit your sins, or block your access to his atoning grace. There is absolutely no reason on God’s part why you can’t be forgiven! 

Be confident, therefore, of your salvation.  Claiming salvation equals denying condemnation.  When a jury returns a verdict on a defendant, the person is either innocent or guilty.  He cannot be both.  “And such were some of you: but you are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor. 6:11.   


Conquer Your Conflicts

“What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” James 4:1-3. 

So, a disagreement occurs between you and another church member. Attempts to straighten out the problem fail.  The matter grows to mountainous proportions in your mind. You develop a toxic attitude that transfers to the entire church: “If you have a certain name, you can get by. If you are talented, your faults are overlooked.  No one really cares about your feelings. The other person continues to be accepted by the church without correction or resolution of the problem.”  Eventually, you rationalize yourself out of fellowship. Fighting like this impairs spiritual judgment and the combatants often pass the quarrel down to the next generation.  

Conflicts begin with unkind remarks, rivalry, competition, prejudicial treatment, failed commitments, injured feelings, obnoxious behavior and carelessness and other matters.  Simple misunderstandings, however, are to blame for much strife.  Regardless of how they start, strife between brothers and sisters in the church pose extreme danger to all.  “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” James 3:14-16.  It doesn’t end well.  “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” Galatians 5:14-15. It’s time to do something about it.

Conflict resolution starts at home.  Look for the source of the problem within your own heart first. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?  I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:9-10.  Failure to judge yourself and the quick propensity to blame the other party shows up your own arrogance and pride.  “You, then, why do you judge your brother?  Or why do you look down on your brother?  For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:  “As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10-12.  In the general population, conflict management often follows these strategies: 

  • Avoidance.   Pretending it doesn’t exist.  This only makes things worse.
  • Giving In.  This may suspend the conflict, but often leads to resentment.
  • Stand your Ground.  This entrenches the battle lines but prolongs peace.
  • Compromise.  This indicates progress but could also mislead.  Beware!
  • Collaboration.  Creative problem solving without concessions.

Here is the Christ way: 

  1. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.  If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”
  2. “But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
  3. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”  Matthew 18:15-17. 

The absolute best thing for you is to be a peacemaker“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9. Bring your spirit under control.  When you yield to anger or frustration, no matter how justified you may feel, you only exacerbate the conflict. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32 


You Can Survive the Timeline of Change.

“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Philippians 4:1-13. 

Once life gets going in a positive direction, beware!  Just around the next corner, stuff happens.  John Covington writes, “Nothing stays the same; it either gets better or worse … Cows do not stay milked.” One woman who didn’t survive rationalizes, “What I had was good for me at that time in my life, but not now.”

At your initial conversion, God was the answer to your every need, whether financial, personal, social, etc. Over a period of years, however, typical changes take place: marriage, children, different job, promotions, new friends, new homes and neighborhoods, maturing family and changing interests.  Gradually, you may think that the spiritual principles and guidelines which were once relevant no longer apply.  There may not be any major crises, but you just begin to feel differently about life, God and the church. Consequently, you drift into building your life with the principles and philosophies of the world. When the crisis does come—and it will—there will be an overwhelming sense of loss, shame, emptiness and futility.

Consider this analogy.  The ageing of the human body causes changes in posture, strength, gait, stamina, metabolism and appearance.  These changes happen so gradually that the body’s adjustment to them seem nearly imperceptible.  Yet, when comparing a snapshot taken at age twenty with one taken at seventy, the difference is stark. Thus, it is important to understand that your ever-changing landscape makes an impact on your total person and your relationship with God.

Samuel noticed this change in King Saul. “So, Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel?” 1 Samuel 15:17. Saul’s advancement inflated his self-image to the point of unglamorous pride.  In the end, that pride cost him his life.

Life’s changes call for spiritual answers, all of which emerge from deeply embedded beliefs.  What part of you is supplying answers?  Your past character traits? Your parents? Friends and fellow workers? Secular education? Television? Popular songs? Radio, magazines books, conventional wisdom?

Of all the battles you fight, this one is the most deceptive because no clear battle lines exist. Thus, the Scriptures admonish us to “walk circumspectly.” (Ephesians 5:15), meaning to pay attention to the passing scene as you walk through life.  Never dismiss the fact that change represents an opportunity for you to grow and learn more about God.

Map out your strategy.  Maintain your walk with God when your family changes. Don’t compromise your standards.  For example, even if your children veer from the right pathway, don’t condone or defend any wrong behavior.  Make or accept job changes with great caution. Examine your motives.  Ask where a new job will lead you. Will it threaten your consecration? Will it damage your witness? Moreover, don’t let blessing and prosperity ruin you.  The world’s philosophy about success runs counter to spiritual attitudes.  Blessing can make you feel less of a need to pray.  Neither should changes in your social status affect your soul. Every change in your life or the live of close friends will deliver an impact on you.

When praying about change, don’t ask God to bless your decision before you ask Him what your decision should be.  The will of God is paramount in your life.  In seasons of change, hold onto your spiritual anchors.  Keep your supply line open.

“For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:15-18.


Don’t Let Money Destroy You 

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

Two typical patterns emerge in matters of money: Financial adversity.  After managing to survive financially for several years, a crisis occurs (loss of job, illness, etc.). Insecurity and fear develops about money. Peers prosper while your finances stagnate or worsen. Tithes and offerings seem impossible. You become obsessed with what you lack instead of what you have.  Envy, jealousy, and resentment torment you. Financial prosperity. Having come from an average or even poor financial background, things begin to go very well for you. Money opens up a new range of possibilities for you in purchasing power, leisure time and social status.  Possessions start claiming more and more of your time. Your new status puts you into a new peer group with new expectations of you. Their opinions begin to crowd out spiritual relationships and obligations.  Money becomes the answer to every problem. Giving to God loses its sacrificial meaning. Finally, God is no longer in first place. 

Money itself is not the problem.  It is the attitude towards money that warrants our concern. I Timothy 6:10. “For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  Money is much more than a medium of exchange.  It means independence.  It stands for success by establishing a high standard of living.  Money represents a way to fulfill our needs and wants.  It can be a measure of devotion, but it can also be an instrument of power. 

Jesus called money “mammon.”  Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” Luke 16:11. Mammon is a Syriac word for money, riches, property, worldly goods or profit, and possibly referred to a Syrian deity.  In other words, mammon is a power to which we surrender. Paul warned Timothy, But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10. 

Money elicits several driving forces, like fear of too little, anxiety of having too much, guilt if it was gained illegally, greed that motivates a desire for more, etc.  But you must understand that money is not an end in itself or that possessions do not measure your life.  The most important strategy you must use is to place your use of money into a moral context.  Are you getting, giving and using money for the glory of God?  Live according to God’s law of ownership. “The earth is the LORD’S, everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:1.  Use, do not serve money.  Money is either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you use it!  

Since we earn our money through gainful employment, you need to develop practical attitudes about money and work.  Work is good and necessary.  You should shun work that destroys or corrupts.  Keep your boss/employee relationship ethical.  Refuse to take advantage of your neighbor.  Dedicate yourself to a personal giving program.  But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able … always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8.