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« Do You Have A Secret? | Main | Stretch To Excellence, Or Shrink Into Selfishness? »

Are You Making Too Much Money?

money.jpg I knew that title would get your attention! The answer, of course, is no. Correct or not, “no” will always be the preferred answer. This is especially true with high prices at the pump, soaring costs of natural gas and heating oil, and threats of lay-off or loss of jobs. Scary economic conditions send negative reverberations throughout our society. Every time we see wild fluctuations on the stock market or creeping inflation at the supermarket, we grow even more nervous about our future welfare. Politicians keep telling us that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, hoping, of course, that we will vote for them to fix it all. (They haven’t yet.)

Actually, I’m not writing about money per se, but about the way we relate to the world around us, and walk with God at the same time. Two competing forces in our lives, one carnal and the other spiritual, engage in perpetual conflict with each other. Some people struggle to get out of debt, stretch their time and energy to pay the rent and live daily on the ragged edge of sanity. Others struggle to keep their spiritual priorities intact because they are riding the crest of prosperity’s wave. For both, life seems to revolve around having or not having.

The truth is that life does not center upon worldly success, or lack thereof. Jesus said that life does not consist of the abundance of things we possess. And yet, since we find ourselves continually bombarded, brainwashed, schooled, teased, tempted and hounded by the hawkers of the good life, we submit meekly and dutifully get in line like the others. Madison Avenue advertisers spend big bucks to find out what makes us tick and how to get us to part with our money. How do we settle the issue? How do we maintain a balance?

You can have too many things or not enough things.
You can have too much vacation or not enough vacation.
You can have too nice of a home or one not nice enough.
You can have too many perks or not enough perks.

The point is not if you have too much or not enough.  The point is that you may be asking the wrong question. “There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.” Proverbs 13:7. The paramount issue remains the state of your relationship with God. The Bible, in fact, seems to glorify the poor and castigate the rich. Run a word search in your Bible program on “poor” and you will see for yourself. I haven’t met very many people, however, who have the pursuit of poverty or destitution as their life’s goal.

I’m reminded of the cute question I heard long ago. “How do two porcupines kiss? Answer: Very carefully! Likewise, people who belong to Jesus Christ must appraise and conduct their relationship with the world very carefully. We have to keep it at arm’s length. Jesus told us we are in the world but not of the world. Our culture tells us to acquire wealth and be self-reliant, and yet, the very thing we work for may end up destroying us.

Those who burn themselves out for the “almighty” dollar succumb to the devil’s deception. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” 1 Timothy 6:17. Remember the seed that fell among thorns? Jesus explained, “That which fell among thorns are…choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection”. Luke 8:14. The bear we dance with may end up choking us.

In my opinion, the most dangerous attitude that can be acquired by people who run after possessions is becoming envious of others and bitter about their own inability to get what they have. The most dangerous attitude successful people can have is to find continual motivation in materialism. They justify their actions by saying, “Well, I’m not one of those filthy rich people who would sell their souls for money.” Yet, over time, they pinch off bits and pieces of their spirituality to sustain their materialistic habit.

Does God want you to be rich and successful? Good question. Wrong question. The far more important question is “does God want you to live for him, walk with him, trust in him and center your life upon him?” Absolutely! Those who do will discover the immateriality of materialism; the wealth of relationship instead of money; and the life not sustainable by carnal resources. Then, whether rich or poor, your happiness is secure. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content….both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:11-13.

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