12:44 PM EST, January 31, 2013
Money brings out a lot of thoughts and some very interesting comments. You could say it this way, people have things to say about money. Consider a couple of my favorites: "While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery," — Groucho Marx. Now, there is irony in that statement.
"Too many people spend money they earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people that they don't like," — Will Rogers. Ooohhh, the vanity side of money.
And lastly, if you have ever traveled abroad you know this to be true, "It's amazing. The moment you show cash, everyone knows your language," — Aravind Adiga. Money is like the one-world tongue.
Hopefully, something there gave you a chuckle. Money buys a lot — a lot of pressure, anxiety and stress. Whether it is "I do not have enough of it," or "everybody is trying to get it from me," sometimes we need to relax a little, and laugh a little about the subject.
It is important to go deeper, too. I think we need to go beyond the money shortage and money preservation issues. Every once in a while we need to ask, "What place does money have in my life?" And even, "How intertwined am I with my money?"
Jesus Christ also talked about money. As a matter of fact, according to some scholars, Jesus had more to say about money than any other topic. In addition to that, Jesus talked to everyone about money. Whether it was his "inner circle," aka the disciples, or a large crowd of people of various commitment levels, Jesus did not hold back warnings about money.
In Luke 16:13, Jesus says, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." It is important to note here that Jesus is not condemning money, nor does he denounce wealth and possessions in other places, but his notice is that money can take the place of God in one's life.
"You can not serve two masters." What does it mean to serve something? We serve something or someone when its influence controls us. We serve something when we leverage everything at our disposal for "its" interests. We serve something when it is always on our mind. We serve something when it makes all of our decisions for us.
"Either you will hate the one and love the other or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other." Jesus is warning that when our devotion is to money, it disrupts and destroys our relationship with God. Instead of using money to serve God, money takes the place of preeminence.
"You can not serve both God and money." The motives and actions to "serve money" are polar opposites of those at work when serving God. When money is our ultimate, giving us security and well-being, it has taken the place of God in our lives. Voltaire, the French enlightenment writer once said, "Don't think money does everything or your are going to end up doing everything for money." Instead of God, money becomes a person's personal savior.
It needs to be said that the influence or power that money has is very subtle. Think about how well-off you might feel when you have a wallet full of money.
This can make a person feel secure and uninhibited. Recently, I went on a trip and I forgot to grab some cash. The night before my trip, one of my teen-aged kids hit me up for some cash and it drained my wallet. So as I got on the plane the next day, I realized all I had was a credit and debit card. The realization did not sit well. Money can give us a sense of well-being.
Are you susceptible to the lure of money? You may have a problem with money if you have ever stayed in a job despite your total dissatisfaction with it because "I could not make this money anywhere else." Money has you bound up. Money may be your master if, when conflicted with a moral decision, your lips have regularly uttered, "Well, business is business." Money is dictating your conduct.
So, what role does money play in your life? Is it everything? If so, you can change this by an act of your will. Instead of serving money, find ways to use your money to serve God. This great reversal will take the stress level down a notch and present you true security and well-being that flows from a relationship with God.
Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church. Genesis meets at 9:30 a.m. at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey and 11 a.m. at Boyne City Elementary. Visit www.genesiswired.com for more information, or comment on Twitter @NormByers.