Money & Our Faith – Let’s Get This Straight…

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matt 6:24)

I am going to put this passage into full perspective and find out what Jesus meant by saying this – since this is hugely overlooked and mis-interpreted in Christendom. It’s a value we need to start setting in it’s correct place. This whole chapter from vs. 1 – 34 is tied together by this central theme – money.

Firstly, you have the 3 passages about hypocritical faith and ‘reward’. In ‘giving to the poor’ (vs.2), when you ‘pray’ (vs.5), and when you ‘fast’ (vs.16) – do not do these things to be noticed by ‘people’ – as Jesus states ‘they have their reward in full’. What reward? Public attention? Looking holy? Gloating? I actually think that is a piece of it – but it is no small stretch to also see that these same people that ‘looked righteous’ also did it for public show so people would give to their ‘faith structure’ (knowing they were ‘holy men of God’). It seems their reward is the actual money they recieve from the un-knowing people that think these people are ‘doing good’ – when all in all – they are not quite what they claim.

Vs.1 sets the actual precedent for the chapter “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
Basically, is it that – God does not care about the amount of wealth we can build? Have at er’ – so to speak. No. The people were using their religious system to guarantee they would have money – and likely accumulate quite a bit of it – so as to secure themselves a position in society. They get noticed for doing good – people admire that – they give to that system cause it looks ‘godly’ (trend keeps going until someone points it out). Jesus is pointing it out! And we wonder why he is hated in his day? Never get between someone and their ‘cash cow’.

This is further pointed out in vs.19-24 (so as to hammer the point home). Vs. 19-21 talks about storing treasure in heaven, not on earth (accumulation of wealth) – why? Cause your ‘heart’ will be tainted by the very thing you admire – at some point God chases ‘wealth’ or becomes void due to it. Vs. 22-23 talks about the eye and how it see’s light (perspective). If the light becomes ‘darkness’ or ‘shaded’ then rhetorically – ‘how great is this darkness!’. Basically, money can shade people’s very views about religion and society – and make them change what is actually being said for personal gain. Vs. 24 wraps it up – you can’t serve both money and God (since perspective is skewed in the process). Jesus seems to be stating very clearly – money can jade even the finest religous person – so much so – they betray the very thing they hold dear – God.

Verses 25-34 are passages about ‘don’t worry’ concerning food, clothing, drink, life span, and time – these things God does ‘care about’ concerning you. This is in complete contrast to the idea of wealth building for personal use/gain. I know it’s not the norm in a capital-ist society to think like this but if you read closely it all makes a lot of sense.

See what if the system worked as it should? What if the teachings did not have to badger people about their personal ‘love of wealth?’. It’s not that far off that these same people (religious folk) would develop a system/society where that wealth is shared with one another (including the poorest of them) – in area’s like clothing, shelter, food/drink, and security. We would actually see a faith system something like this in Acts? If you check that Acts passage out you find they are people of faith – devoted to the ‘teachings, prayer, and passover/communion’. They ‘had all things in common’ (shared) – including shelter, possessions (clothing very possibly), food/drink, and friendship. We just might find our anxieties wash away too ‘Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe’ (the people in this passage hardly look ‘worried’). Could this be what Jesus was pointing to in this passage in Matt 6?

So some logic…1 + 1 = 2 – normal math we all know is true. Now if I keep finding passages like this in the gospels and letters – then at some point if the addition keeps adding up (and not subtracting) – then we must have a consistent theme: Matt 19:21, Luke 12:33, Luke 16:1-13, Acts 4:34, Rev 3:16-18, Matt 5:3, I Cor 4:8-14, Mark 4:19, I Tim 6:17-18, Luke 6:24, I Tim 6:9-10, James 5:1-6, James 2:1-9, Luke 12:18-20, Matt 21:12, Luke 16:14, I Tim 3:3, 2 Tim 3:2, Heb 13:5. 3 gospels, a history, 4 letters of Paul (if Hebrews is), and James and John. All of these passages tie into this theme in one way or another concerning wealth and religious hypocrisy (and it’s dangers).

My Verdict for the teachings: Capital-ism and faith cannot be partners together to make one believe they are adopting the values of the teachings of Christ – this is contradiction.

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27 thoughts on “Money & Our Faith – Let’s Get This Straight…

  1. The doctrine of tithing should always be taught with the doctrine of Baalam so as to keep things in balance.:0/

    I believe there will come a time when all forms of human government will be brought to an end and God will rule in each individual heart and mind. The government system I’m looking for is one governed by Jesus. Until then, I say, “Give to Ceasar what is of Ceasar” and live not according to a love of money but according to faith. Give hilariously for all things belong to God and He can’t be outgiven.

    I’m not really a capitalist or a socialist, I’m just a Christian and I’m waiting for my Kings return. In the meantime, I’ll be storing my treasures in heaven and my treasures are not green or gold.

  2. Good Word, anon
    Hi society
    Great research on this vital point. I think the key thing you pointed out is the reward people are seeking for what they do. When it comes to serving others, I think God’s motto is the same as Nike’s, “just do it”. God’s way of being good is not our way. We tend to corrupt it to being good for goodness’ sake.

    Expecting recognition or reward for the good things you do is serving “God and wealth (KJV mammon)” which is duplicitous.

    Great post.

  3. Thanks Pam and Jim for the comments – again good insight.

    I think the reason i wrote this is because I have watched for years now – Christians tryng to defend their greed in the ‘name of God’. I just watched Benny and Henry Hinn’s little masterpiece of accounting – Osteen’s huge church – Jim Jones Socialist mistake – seperation of greed and faith as explained by a Christian – Catholic church pay-outs for abuses – Miracle Channel abuse of fund-raising practices – and the mega-church thing in general. At some point this all gets so sickening – this money and faith tied together like Jesus was a Jewish banker or something. It’s all so hypocritical I am not even sure where to start in dis-mantling it – thus the blog came.

    I think Matthew 6 is all about this exact thing – religious hypocrisy in the name of the almighty dollar…which is very un-discernable in a Capitalist society centred around making money – actually makes sense for churches/pastors/tele-evangelists to go for the ‘American Dream’ in this society – it’s the norm. I think as a church society we need to wake up and call this kind of stuff what it is – greed pure and simple (and very anti-Christian in the sense this is not what Jesus taught whatsoever). If these people wanna cream ‘American way dude’ they can go ahead – America isn’t God’s promised land nor is Nationalism to be confused with Christ-isms. Just taking the grey out of this situation once and for all.

  4. Hi Society,

    These false prophets aren’t new and you can read all about them in Jude. They appeal to our own greed and the only way to stop their manipulations is to quit being greedy. The battleground within is the only one that Christ assures us the victory.

    However, it has been a long time since I’ve heard a really good evangelical message. Twenty years ago that was the norm and I took it for granted. Does anyone want to reach hearts for Jesus anymore?

    Pam

  5. Great message Society! The church is awash in “mammonism” today and that is a shame. A shame so bad that we cannot let it go without doing all we can to get the proper focus back. We are no better than the Israelites who carved idols of gold when we allow God’s holy words perverted to be about seeking wealth and reward rather than sacrifice and service. Love you for making such a stand!

  6. Unconvinced …

    How do you know if the people who make money are full of greed? Can you see what’s going on inside them?

    Are you claiming that you have been given a supernatural ability to know their thoughts? To judge them?

    And what about the people in non-capitalist countries like China? Do you really think they are less greedy over there?

    Aren’t there a lot of hammer-and-sickle politicians out there who try to gain society’s approval by saying how they will take company’s profits and give them away to those who don’t earn them? Haven’t they received their reward in full?

    Any attempt to understand Christ’s teachings politically is a failed attempt to understand Christ.

  7. BB, unconvinced? I will answer your questions to the best of my ability – but I am only repeating the message that is already within the texts themselves.

    “How do you know if the people who make money are full of greed? Can you see what’s going on inside them?” (BB)

    Depends on what people we mean here? Many ministries make their financial statements ‘known’ and they are all ‘non-profit’ institutions. I don’t need to know what is going on in ‘someone’s heart’ at all to get the clue of what a ‘not for profit’ institution is doing with it’s money. Are you even aware of what churches ‘rake in’ a year? I did a check once in 7 of Canada’s biggest churches – the numbers were like $60 million altogether. Remember these are ministries, not for personal ‘gain’.

    “Are you claiming that you have been given a supernatural ability to know their thoughts? To judge them?” (BB)

    Unless reading or being able to see are supernatural abilities – then yes I have that. The judgements have nothing to do with the person (more their slanted interpretation) – I don’t judge their future or soul in any sense – but I am sure not going to sit back and call what 1/2 of these charlatans do and teach ‘Christianity’ since I think they do not represent ‘Christ’s’ teachings at all – actually contradict them.

    If you see a pastor with a $10 million dollar house – shouldn’t questions arise? Is this a just standard for someone of the faith to have when Jesus himself (our teacher and Lord) had not even a ‘place to lay his head’? How is that much property helping ‘the least of these’ exactly? I have no problem if they work for that house – but as leaders in this faith – they have taken an oath – to God – not to people’s tithes.

    “And what about the people in non-capitalist countries like China? Do you really think they are less greedy over there?” (BB)

    Really could care less if China is or isn’t – it’s not the point of the blog irregardless – it’s a rabbit trail away from dealing away with this ‘at home’ problem with interpretation of Jesus’ teachings (namely Matthew 6).

    “Aren’t there a lot of hammer-and-sickle politicians out there who try to gain society’s approval by saying how they will take company’s profits and give them away to those who don’t earn them? Haven’t they received their reward in full?” (BB)

    Likely, but again that’s not the point of this blog – the point is what is stated in Matthew 6 is Jesus calling out the Pharisee’s on their hypocrisy with money and their focus on that money. They were abusing their religious symbolisms (giving, prayer, and fasting) to gain their capital earnings in some sense (Luke 16:14 calls them straight-out ‘lovers of money’ and Matt 21:12 – that selling in the temple episode where Jesus ‘gets very angry’). Maybe they were robbing the poor and Jesus has quite the affinity for the poor if you check.

    “Any attempt to understand Christ’s teachings politically is a failed attempt to understand Christ.” (BB)

    I want this on a large banner type sign and you waving it at a local church that supports the Religious Right, Moral Majority, or any other quasi-Christian faith-politik agenda (as for as voting is concerned) – cause I couldn’t agree more with you!

    I am not talking about seeing Christ through the lens of any politics – or I would have stated that clearly in the blog – as it is I mention over 20 various passages (all of Matt 6 mind you) from 3 gospels, 4 letters of Paul, James and John…really what more is needed to say on the issue that the biblical passages aren’t telling us? I am not mis-quoting a single thing – I have them all out for everyone to check over with their own eyes and come to a verdict about this ‘theme’.

    As for Capital-ism – just so we both know and are clear on this – it is an ideology first and foremost – which means that it is competing with Christian teachings in that sense (or is a direct challenge to it) in that they are both trying to portray an idea to ‘live your life by’. I think that is worth noting – since we ‘follow Christ’ and not ‘Capital’ (basically one could literally exchange Capital for mammon/wealth in any of those passages – since they have the same meaning). This has nothing to do with politics – but looking at life through the lens of what we ‘as Christians’ believe to be right to ‘follow’ concerning Jesus’ teachings (namely Matt 6).

  8. “As for Capital-ism – just so we both know and are clear on this – it is an ideology first and foremost – which means that it is competing with Christian teachings in that sense (or is a direct challenge to it) in that they are both trying to portray an idea to ‘live your life by’ … This has nothing to do with politics” SocietyVS

    Either you are presenting us with a new definition of ‘capitalism’ (meaning people’s idolatry of money) or you are giving us a definition (where free trade sets the price of goods) which is defined by political policy.

    Surely you are not suggesting the two are the same thing?

    Usually an “ism” refers to an ideology, but not always. For example symbolism, metabolism, photo realism, etc. Although capitalism is a religion for many, it is also an approach to economics. Like most things it depends on the person.

    There is no need to get contentous about words, but if someone told me they were a capitalist, I’d think, “That person believes government should keep their hands off money”. If someone said another person was a materialist I’d hear it as an accusation that they value things more than God.

    I noticed several comments here contrasted capitalism with socialism, which seems like a very political dicotomy to me.

    “If you see a pastor with a $10 million dollar house – shouldn’t questions arise?” SocietyVS

    Yes, or perhaps questions should arise if he is your pastor. Do these $10 million pastors seem like the rule or more the exception?

  9. “Usually an “ism” refers to an ideology, but not always.” (BB)

    But Capitalism is an ideology – it was defined by Weber in his work ‘The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism’ (notice it was also called ‘Weber’s Thesis’). The goal of this economic system is to determine to role of Capital in society – and it’s attributed in this work as work ‘ethic’. Even wikipedia has this “An economic system can be considered a part of the social system and hierarchically equal to the law system, political system, cultural system, etc”. Capitalism is not highly divisuble from ethics and seems to involve itself into the social construct of a society – including religious systems it would seem.

    “If someone said another person was a materialist I’d hear it as an accusation that they value things more than God” (BB)

    Because of the word ‘material-ist’? I have a very hard time distinguising in meaning the word capital and material since they are essentially the same thing. I guess the better question with regards to economics is ‘should a church be Capital-ist’?

    But since we are looking into semantics of words – Capitalist – since it is an ‘ist’ – someone who seeks to build and accumulate capital for the basis of profit (as a bsse definition). Economics – is essentially the study of the social construct of trade and barter systems of a society (resulting in an economy). They both are talking about ‘social constructs and wealth’ that are not seperate from the human value system – but particularily ‘tied up with it’.

    “I noticed several comments here contrasted capitalism with socialism, which seems like a very political dicotomy to me” (BB)

    Agreed – but there were a lot of biblical passages also presented – 20 to be exact – but I was taking a shot at Capital-ism as a system for sure – which is not a political system but an economic ideology. I think the building of wealth on earth (which is the ultimate goal of Capitalism) does go into direct conflict with Jesus’ teachings about ‘storing wealth in heaven’. I am not saying that individually we should not have what we work for – but if we have a couple of millions in the bank – maybe we should do something about building programs and services for people ‘in need of it’. Even if most churches are not ‘like this’ – how much of the aspects of Christianity are they bending and breaking for Capitalist ideas?

    My point of the whole thing is to address the use of wealth in the Christian teachings – and I had a very tough time finding and justifying almost everything related to ‘greed’ and the ‘love of money’ all over the NT (oddly enough one church in Revelations is reemed out for this exact thing). I guess for me the problem arises when I see people using their faith to build wealth – and not sharing it with those in their community that could use it. There is something sinisterly callous about that – socialists often recognize that about this system.

    If Jesus is poor – what would you do in a Capitalist system to help him?

  10. I think godly people will behave in a godly fashion in either system. Greedy people will operate upon greed within either system. Both systems have their pluses and minuses but they are of human derivitive and we should not look to either to solve all of our problems. Capitolism gives poor people the room and incentive to dig themselves out of their poverty (in the pure sense) but those “who don’t work, don’t eat”. Socialism (and in this I include many government programs in the U.S.) does help those who are unable to help themselves but also creates people who can’t help themselves. It is as detrimental to a group of people to make them dependent upon the state by creating in them a welfare mentality as it is to allow them to starve.

    Pam

  11. “I think godly people will behave in a godly fashion in either system.” (Pam)

    So true. And Society is trying to make the point that the many churches are NOT acting in a Godly fashion. There is way too much focus on the business end of things… the money. As Society has pointed out, Jesus gave serious warnings against the reliance on money and materialism. We live in a society that lives a breathes money. You are a success or a failure according to your wealth. Churches, instead of preaching what Jesus taught, are making it more and more about the money.

    This has less to do with whether a person or a pastor is wealthy than it has to do with where the focus is. It is not about secular politics, it is about avoiding the trappings of greed and luxury.

    The focus has definitely shifted from godliness to business in today’s churches. Messages from the pulpit are made palatable so as not to offend. Sure there is always some sort of biblical message, but if you want to keep them coming make sure the entertainment is first rate. It is driving away those who are looking for truth and real Christ-likeness.

  12. I agree with you, Ken. Churches are being run like businesses to make a profit. I don’t like the way it tastes either. I just think it has more to do with the condition of the heart than anything. We can’t blame it all on the leaders either. They wouldn’t be so successful at appealing to our greed if we weren’t so greedy.

    Pam

  13. ” I just think it has more to do with the condition of the heart than anything. We can’t blame it all on the leaders either.” (Pam)

    I would put the blame solely and squarely where it needs to belong – on the structural system that allows for this to permeate – maybe Jesus was right with accusations against the temple ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands’ (Mark 14:58). He said he will ‘destroy’ the temple – Jesus rarely if ever used that language about anything – yet we find him using it about the most holy, revered, and sacred place in Israel. Maybe Jesus is telling us something about structural systems and how warped they can become – that it might be better if they could change – but how do you change staunch tradition? You don’t – it needs to waste away.

    It’s funny that Jesus knew the power of religion over one’s belief system – and this is the same thing we wrestle with now in the faith (this tradition and buying into the money game). I love to believe we can get into discussions on this whole thing – but it is not something most people are willing to do (since Capital-ism is not good, it’s greeeeeeeeeat!). Most people believe Jesus never taught against money and it’s abuses – it’s there – it’s mis-represented on every level – but it’s plainly there. Do we have to wait for the destruction of this ‘temple’ or is it open to change?

  14. The temple that Jesus destroyed was His own body when He offered it up for sacrifice. Then He took that Life up again to offer to all who believe. We too have to be willing to sacrifice knowing that Jesus will also lift us up again. I don’t know what it is like to live where you do under socialism but here under capitalism, sacrifice has become a dirty word and not many are ready to sacrifice anything.

    I agree with much of what you say but differ in that I believe all systems have come from the human mind and heart and all are prone to corruption and it is the corruption that taints each system. Either system would do better with less corruption. That is a matter of changing hearts and minds. I don’t have that power but I do know the One Who changed my heart and mind. I put all hope for change in Him. As a Christian, I believe my energy should be spent in pointing others to Christ and not in changing the system. However, when I was young I did not see things this way. Especially in the raising of my children, I struggled hard to create for them a Christian environment free of corruption. I have spent many hours writing letters and making phone calls hoping to influence legislators. Through this experience that ended in disapointment for me, I learned that only God can raise a Christian and environment doesn’t percipitate or hinder that inward change that comes from belief in Christ. It is a work of the Holy Spirit and though He lives in me, I’m not Him.

    That doesn’t mean however, that I throw up my hands in despair in the battle against evil. My focus has changed and my hope is not placed in what I or another can do but in what He promises to do. In all of it, we each have to take our stands and I can’t judge what God is calling you or any other brother or sister to stand against. To anyone willing to stand up against the sin of greed, I will lend only my support whether they be a capitalist or socialist because I know there are good godly men in each system that will not be made popular with the majority of those benefiting by either system.

    From an old crusader to a younger one, I have learned that in any spiritual battle the battleground is always within, no matter what is taking place without, and it is the process of the battle that matters more than the outcome. It is by the process that we learn more of Jesus and become more and more like Him.:0)

    Pam

    p.s. I agree that we always should talk and not be insulted when someone disagrees with us. If we could truly make another agree totally with us, then we would have destroyed that other and replaced him with a clone of ourselves. We all have to allow the other their own process. Besides, I get bored talking to only people who agree with me!;-}

  15. ” I don’t know what it is like to live where you do under socialism but here under capitalism, sacrifice has become a dirty word” (Anon)

    Oh I live in Canada – it’s quite Capitalist up here too – I have to admit it’s getting more and more Capitalist in the past few years.

    I think the sacrifice part is kind of what I am talking about – but mainly that Jesus actually set down ideas for the faithful to follow concerning ‘money’ – and I think current church has crossed a lot of those lines (and I think it is better to address that than to overlook it’s implications).

    “As a Christian, I believe my energy should be spent in pointing others to Christ and not in changing the system.” (Anon)

    I am actually in the opposite conundrum right now – I have seen quite a few teachings of Christ get taught slanted-wise – and no one notices and no one cares (cause each person is an individual and not a community). Fact is, we are a community and when one thing happens it effects us all – and I think it’s best we start meeting with our ‘church boards’ to discuss these issues in greater detail for the life of the community. I used to have your attitude also my dear friend – then I noticed the same problems keep occuring even if I say and do nothing.

    “To anyone willing to stand up against the sin of greed, I will lend only my support whether they be a capitalist or socialist” (Anon)

    Now that’s a good attitude to have (I agree with you) – no label changes you about someone – as long as trhe ethic is being maintained and righteousness is being sought after. BTW, I am not trying to defend a political system – sorry if everyone is getting that assumption.

    “it is the process of the battle that matters more than the outcome” (Anon)

    You know – I totally agree! I am doing this more for awareness than for change – since change will be a tough sell in a Christian environment worried about PR/marketing/and trends – and dis-avowing wealth (ouchey mama that’s a spicy meatball!).

  16. Better yet is to learn to be happy without material wealth. Christ is enough and as my Tamaya mom taught me, “Beware of those who come with filth and poverty upon their tongues.”;-} One also does not need to be wealthy to love money and be greedy.

    I’ve paid my dues on church boards, fought the good fight so too speak, now I’m just to pray.:0)

    Pam

  17. “If Jesus is poor – what would you do in a Capitalist system to help him?” SocietyVS

    Exactly what he said. Give to the least. In a non-capitalist system you’re not supposed to do that because it’s “the government’s job”

    Jesus didn’t give the command to the government, but to single individuals.

  18. “Fact is, we are a community and when one thing happens it effects us all…” SocietyVS

    Do you recall that story of the weeds sewn among the good crop? The farmer allowed them to grow together, just like today our lives seem to depend on each other, but after they had grown the weeds were all thrown into the fire, and this fire did not affect the good crop.

    “I would put the blame solely and squarely where it needs to belong – on the structural system that allows for this to permeate”

    Do you believe the structure will have to answer for its choices on the Day of Lord? Or do you suppose individual people will have to answer for their choices and face judgment?

  19. BTW, I am not trying to defend a political system – sorry if everyone is getting that assumption. (Society)

    I think you are meaning to address the corruption in the churches not the secular government? That is what I am talking about anyway. I agree with most everything else said here by others also, but I just wish to the church wasn’t corrupt and polluted.

    Until the people stand out against the system the system will continue to rot away. If we just glory in all the good that the system does and ignore the direction it is headed in we will wonder one day how it got so bad. Look around at the people who go to church and those who are in leadership roles. What do you see?

    I see a lot of good talk and a lot of socializing, fund raising, sending money and supplies all over the world, etc. None of this is terribly bad stuff, except that the system is designed to feed itself first. And in order to pay the salaries and the mortgages and the expensive furnishings… it takes a lot of money. So what do they do? Oh well, we all just need to give more and do more. I am all for supporting a church, but I am not in favor of making that support an expected thing rather than a voluntary thing. Church has become a burden rather than a place of worship and teaching.

    As a Christian, I do not want to see anyone feel that they have to give. I don’t even want to see a plate passed around, all giving is to be completely voluntary and not expected.

    The day I see a church stand up for this one New Testament principle is the day I will have hope for it’s correction and recovery. That is the day I will start giving to the church again.

  20. “but after they had grown the weeds were all thrown into the fire, and this fire did not affect the good crop.” (BB)

    I think that is a good point – however in that analogy they are growing out in a field (which one could take as meaning the entire earth – or this is about everyone on the planet). People within our communities do effect us though. Sunday school is a prime example – somebody (you need to trust) is teaching the kids of the church – what they learn there can directly effect your family and that kid’s view on life. Everything in the church is quite close-knit in that sense. We could do into missions, bible study, communion, tithes, prayer meetings, etc…but I think you see how what you will effect another.

    “Do you believe the structure will have to answer for its choices on the Day of Lord?” (BB)

    Well the structure is something we as humans promote and defend – so even if the structure can be changed (and needs to be) – we still find people defending it – who answers in that scenario? The machine or the person who builds and nurtures it? It’s funny but Christians never think God would judge them concerning anything – but if we see Jesus as judge – why would he put up with his ‘name’ being used in ‘vanity’ all over the place?

    “Or do you suppose individual people will have to answer for their choices and face judgment?” (BB)

    This is how I see it (and this is a complex problem): The leaders are responsible for what they teach others to do, others are responsible for their actions but also for questioning the leader’s actions (accountability), and all in all we are required to work one with another in a loving manner. Responsibility does fall upon each person for their actions – but all in all – it affects everyone when one is not living up to their responsibilities.

    We know a lot of this is being breached in churches and for us to not say anything – is the norm. I see such a weird blend of OT and NT teachings one has to almost wonder where this is all coming from? Money was really the tip of the iceberg – but it’s a big problem the church struggles to interpret accurately. A lot of people aren’t greedy by no stretch – but do they ask questions to the church about how their money given is spent? Have 1/2 those people ever cared about the poor? Are they taught to? Do we ever talk about personal wealth in church? When does material goods cross the line of ‘too much’ or ‘greedy’? It’s not like we are really asked to look at this anymore.

    For me I see the issue very clearly because I was dirt poor growing up (so I could understand the charity part of this). Now I am older and I make a very good wage in what I am doing – with no place to spend this money except on more material crap. Charities are so big they are faceless (no guarantee were that money is being spent), churches ask you to tithe (but many spend money so recklessly/aimlesly I wouldn’t dare – and it’s usually self-serving), and the only real option is either developing programs or finding local programs to support.

    For me, I see the problem with having money now – it doesn’t do anything for/with you – yet we accumulate more of it in hopes of setting up a personal kingdom (with plasma tv, deck in the backyard, energy conservative windows, video game system, surround sound, digital camera, finest cars/suv’s, pretty picket fence, etc). This list can go on and on – meanwhile on the other side of town (you know that part people wish they could forget even existed) – people are living off macaroni and noodles, renting, used furniture, no technological gadgets, borrowed clothing, stolen toys, etc. I struggle rectifying this because I see this everyday – I am both sides in one. Having money seems almost criminal to me in some regards – when I see the lack of compassion society has for the less fortunate – and they could so use what I have.

    I guess I made a personal decision not to ignore that part of me that was poor and needed this help – and really wished it existed as a child. I choose not to ignore people anymore in this predicament – I give a lot of stuff away and lend them money (if it comes back it does). I onyl wish the church had a program that addressed issues like this – instead we have financial seminars. I always liked Jesus’ ‘woe to you that are rich’.

  21. I desire to be able to give as the NT commands, hilariously. I desire to give as the Spirit directs me to give but the Spirit also tells me that I should not cause a weaker brother to stumble and sin. If the leaders of the church are weakened by the sin of greed and love of money, the joy is taken from my giving and the Spirit tells me I am to continue to give to God but as a more mature believer, I am to test the spirits and discern that my money is given for that which is truly God’s work and not to promote a human work. All human works and systems will crumble and aren’t worthy to receive that which belongs to God. I also can’t use sinful church leaders who misuse gifts meant for God as an excuse not to give to God’s work. I best not be keeping God’s money for myself or I will have bitten in to the same sin.

    Pam

  22. Hey Society,

    Quite a response. It seemed especially thoughtful to me and reflective. Lots of good questions.

    I feel a little better knowing you aren’t putting the emphasis in changing laws and government policies around but for people to look into their own lives and policies. That’s a message I can support.

    Jesus did preach, “Woe to those who are rich.” This is hard for a capitalistic economy (or for anyone for that matter) to accept. Although I think that warning is very important my approach to it a “whoa…” feeling and not like a going to Disneyland feeling, not that it is that way for you.

    Again, God bless you, Jason, and the rest of you also. May our lives not consist in the abundance of our possessions!

  23. Thanks Steve – I will play!

    BB, I think these biblical issues we can all work through in some way and find the common ground we have in Christ (well through his teachings also). I just think these kind of discussions are good for us all – helps us sharpen our minds and thinking with regards to what is happening around is in our church societies and gives us a chance to discuss that (which I personally love)

  24. Thanks Pam – that means a lot to me.

    I don’t mean any ill-will to anyone in these discussions – I like to throw a point out there and then disect it piece by piece (both biblicall and socially) – I think it is a good practice for all of us – gets us thinking about how these teachings can work in our lives.

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