Andrew Carnegie, the famous industrialist and entrepreneur of the 19th century, had a sister who complained that her sons were always asking for money but never replied to her letters.
So Carnegie bet her 100 pounds that he could get them to reply within a week. So he sat down and wrote to each of his nephews asking how they were. He ended both letters by saying that he was enclosing 50 pounds for each of them. He received a letter back from them within the week giving Carnegie their news and ending with "P.S. Uncle Andrew, you forgot to enclose the 50 pounds." Carnegie knew how to get someone's attention!
Perhaps someone is reading this and thinking, "There is no one farther from being right on the money than me." It could be because you are in debt up to your eyeballs, or each month you are spending more than you make, or maybe you have gambled away much of your finances. Whatever it might be, there is a great dissatisfaction with money in your life. How does one get on the right track about money?
Being "right" brings the idea of a morality that of course is a discussion about what is right and wrong. The question we could ask of ourselves is "Does God approve of the position that money has in my life?" Some in our day reject the idea of something so "divisive" as right and wrong. However, God's character (who he is) and his desires are clearly made known in the Bible revealing that the concept of a moral law is just as logical as the law of gravity.
A famous Scripture in the Bible is I Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." Many times this passage is erroneously misquoted as "Money is the root of all evil." Notice that it is not money itself that is evil, but the love of money. Money is a neutral thing that can be used for good or evil. We could say it this way: "If you love money you are wrong!" And if you do love money corrupt practices are not far away.
The "love of money" is also a money trap. A very helpful passage is found in Proverbs 23:4-5, "Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, surely they will sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle."
What does it mean to love money? We love money when it becomes the supreme value in life. We love money when it replaces God as the ultimate source of power, truth and goodness in our lives. It is problematic to put your hope and trust in money, for its permanence is fleeting.
The book of Proverbs is a great reference for understanding the value of money according to God. In Proverbs 22:4 it says, "Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life." From this Scripture we can ascertain that God normally rewards faithfulness and fidelity with prosperity. Additionally, true wealth is not just about money, but about honor and life as well.
One of the greatest outcomes of earning money and establishing wealth is expounded on in Ephesians 4:28, "He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need." It is honorable to earn a living, take care of our own financial responsibilities and to be in a position to help those who are experiencing misfortune.
Are you caught in the money trap? Does money have your attention? If so, make God your No. 1 source of wealth and power and become right on the money!
Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, which meets 10 a.m. Sundays in the cafeteria building of North Central Michigan College in Petoskey and 10 a.m. Sundays at Boyne City elementary. For more information, visit www.genesiswired.com. Comments and insights are welcomed on Twitter @NormByers.