Summary: “The wealth of the rich is their fortress; the poverty of the poor is their destruction.” (Proverbs 10:15 NLT)
Ooh boy. We could spend a while on this one. We will, as a matter of fact. We’ll be on this for a few weeks.
Money isn’t a comfortable subject for Christians. Privately, we don’t have much of a problem with it at all. Who doesn’t like money? But publicly, we traverse the subject like we’re walking on a new froze-over pond. We’re not sure if our next step will be on solid ice or if we’ll fall through.
It’s because we’re getting mixed signals.
“The wealth of the rich is their fortress; the poverty of the poor is their destruction.” (Proverbs 10:15 NLT)
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19)
“With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.” (Proverbs 8:18)
“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23)
“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children …” (Proverbs 13:22)
“… Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven ….” (Mark 10:21)
Wealth is a fortress … Do not store up treasure on earth. Riches, honor, wealth and prosperity come with wisdom …It’s hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children … Sell everything you have and give to the poor.
Sheesh! The Bible applauds good stewardship and promises blessings to the faithful; at the same time it says that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.
What’s a guy to do? It takes money to live and the harder I work the more I’m supposed to make, right? Success is a good thing, right? What’s the answer?
It’s not like we’re getting the straight scoop from those in charge either. When you go to church, you hear that it’s more blessed to give than to receive and to reinforce the point, they take up an offering.
Listen to Christian TV and radio. Whatever the message, one message is clear; you need to send in your money to keep the message on the air.
So if your money isn’t supposed to be important to you, why is it so important to everyone else?
That’s why we’re going to explore what the Bible says about money … and maybe un-mix the message a little. We’ll start the Hebrew and Greek languages (like usual) to find out what the original words really meant.
“Money” is used 116 times in the KJV translation of the Old Testament. All 116 times it’s the same Hebrew word: “keceph.” That’s “silver”; the currency of the day. Whether it was silver coins, bars, earrings, nose rings, bracelets, or some other precious or semi-precious metal that traded like silver; “keceph” was cash.
Sure, people could buy, sell and barter with a lot of stuff other than “keceph”; gold, cattle, goats, wheat, wine and oil were used at times. But when the Hebrews talked money, they thought “keceph.” At least they weren’t confused.
For two thousand years a single Hebrew word was sufficient to describe money. It’s a different story in the New Testament. Christ was born in Bethlehem around 6 BC and John penned the last words of his Revelation around 95 AD; about 101 years, start to finish. One twentieth of the Old Testament time period. In that short time the New Testament writers couldn’t describe “money” in less than eight different Greek words.
Is confusion about money a New Testament thing? Let’s see.
“Stater” after the Greek word for “standard” described a coin or a unit of money. There were actual coins called “staters” usually of silver, but sometimes in gold. A silver “stater” in Jesus time was worth four drachma. When Jesus and Peter showed up in Capernaum the tax collectors wanted them to pay a temple tax; two drachma each. Jesus told Peter to go to the lake and throw in a hook; the first fish he caught would have a “stater” in its mouth – four drachma – tax for two (Matthew 17:24). Funny how things work out.
“Argurion” is Greek for money too. Like the Hebrew “keceph,” it means “silver”; not a specific amount, but cash in general. Remember the parable of the talents? A master gives his three servants five, two and one talents of money respectively (a talent is a certain weight; they weighed out money back then to make sure they weren’t getting short changed). The servants with five and two talents took the money and made a profit. The servant with one talent buried his in the ground to avoid risk … bad idea. When the master returned he rewarded the two who made a profit and threw the risk-averse servant into the “darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:14-30)