money… the root of all upheaval

This is money.Money. Some take a vow of poverty and avoid it altogether, while others are willing to hurt other people to get more of it and keep it. Conflict over money been cited as the number one cause of divorce in America. Just like our government, people are borrowing more and more of it every year. People who play the lottery long for it, and those who win the lottery wish they never had. Money may not be the root of all evil, but it certainly has been at the middle of a lot of botheration.

Last week, Rob Curwen and I began facilitating a Financial Peace class at Christ Community Church. Financial Peace is a 13-week course in which Dave Ramsey teaches via DVD, and then we have a small group discussion about saving, giving, budgeting, and a number of other topics.

We have a wide range of people in the class who are in a wide range of different places financially. Everyone comes in with at least a portion of their financial story stained by mismanagement, foolishness, greed, or a sense of entitlement.

However, there is also a common thread of humility in the class. Every person has said, “I’m here because I don’t have it figured out, and I know the mess I’m capable of making with money.” It’s refreshing to be in an environment of such unpretentiousness.

The messes that we have made with money are not because money is evil. In fact, money is neither good or evil. It is amoral.

Dave Ramsey gives an excellent illustration of this by comparing money to a brick. You can build a house with it or you can throw it through a window with a hateful note attached. What we choose to do or not do with money determines whether it will be a power for good or for evil.

I get frustrated with the left side of government when I hear comments implying that profit is something to be ashamed of. The assumption is that if a person has a lot of money then they must be greedy. However, the Bible makes it clear that having money and possessions in your storehouse a good thing. Proverbs 21:19-21 puts it this way:

In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

Much of the consumer debt in our American culture is related to one of two things. Either a lack of personal responsibility or the drive to maintain an image that portrays wealth, whether it exists or not.

A family of four with a gross income of $90,000 and $48,000 in consumer debt is not wealthy. Unfortunately the two SUVs in the driveway present a costly facade. When presented with the choice between a making a car payment or giving to the to a specific human need, the car payment wins every time. It’s not that this family set out from the beginning to ignore the poor of the world, but this happens by default when acquiring and consuming is the lived-out priority.

Regardless of where we are in the journey to have financial peace, money is one of those dangerous things that God commanded us not to hoard or to avoid, but to manage well. When we do, we develop a “bountiful eye,” as Proverbs 22 says it:

“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed,
for he shares his bread with the poor.”

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