Make Money Matter
We have to impress our children with the conviction that it is folly to trust in riches, but that it is not a sin to have and use wealth if we do it God’s way. It is the love of money and not the money itself that is the problem. Money will not keep you from having a headache, but you will be able to buy aspirin if you have some of it. Obviously, there are much more expensive events that we may need money to overcome.
We need to be honest about the money we spend. First we need to actually look and see where our money is going, then we need to make a plan. Are the things we are buying helping us in our relationship with God or are they hindering our progress toward Heaven. There was a scene in a movie years ago that showed a man who had lost his wealth. As he was leaving what had been his extravagant house he began to pick up items saying that he would be okay as long as he could keep this item and that item and before long he had more than he could carry and he couldn’t even walk anymore. Sometimes we are the same way with all of our stuff. Our possessions are weighing our souls down so that we struggle to walk toward Heaven.
We also need to ask if we are using our money to help others get to Heaven. Even if we were able to say that none of our spending was hindering our trip toward eternal life, we are falling short if we are not using it to bring others to Christ. There are many charities out there that do wonderful things in this physical world, like finding cures for diseases, protecting the environment or helping feed the hungry, but if that is all they do it is not enough. Even if we could eliminate poverty and disease completely the more serious problem of sin would still destroy souls. There is nothing inherently wrong with trying to make this world better, but what value is this life compared to eternity. Jesus fed hungry people and healed sick people, but He did not come for that reason. He came to seek and save the lost, and as Christians that is the first obligation we have toward others after taking care of our own.
Why do so many of us wind up mediocre with money? One of the biggest problems is not that we are doing bad things with money, but that we are not doing the best things with it. If a family goes out to eat once a week and spends $50 more than a home cooked meal would have been and imagine if this couple did that from the time they were married through their 50th anniversary, then over that 50 years this couple would have spent $130,000 eating out. Think about how much more it would be if they used credit cards and paid interest on it over the years! In fact, if they charged their first dinner and left it to accrue interest and paid for the rest of those dinners, that one $50 dinner rolled over month after month at 10% interest would wind up costing over $5,800! Now that is an expensive dinner. Is it wrong for a family to go out to eat? Certainly not, but even too much of an okay thing can destroy what is best.
The enemy of the best is not the worst, it is the ‘good enough’. How often do we look around and think we are doing ‘good enough’ or ‘better than a lot of people’. I imagine the servant who buried his master’s money in Jesus’ parable of the talents probably thought those thoughts. At least I won’t lose it may have been his motto, but Jesus called him a wicked and lazy servant (Matthew 25:26). God expects us to be wise with the things of this world. Jesus said that if we can’t do well with these worldly things we will never be trusted with true riches (Luke 16:11-13). So, probably the most difficult question we have to ask is: “Am I doing what is best with the money entrusted to me?” Of course if we are honest we must admit that we are not doing the best with all of our money. We need to make an effort to improve this area of our money and train our children to have wiser money habits than we have had.
The fact is we have to make money matter because money matters. Money is a proving ground for us and how we handle it says a great deal about our character. When we remember that it all belongs to God, that we are only managing it for Him, and that we will answer to Him for our management, we will need to change the way we use it. I know I can think of many things I have done with money that are not what God would have wanted done with His money. Over a lifetime a person may easily have over $2 million go through his hands. What is there to show for it at the end of that lifetime? - jp