Someone said, life is an everlasting struggle to keep money
coming in, and teeth, hair, and vital organs from coming out. Few
have known this better than General Ulysses S. Grant. He led the
armies of the North to victory in the Civil War, and was twice
elected president of the United States. He was a fairly wealthy man
when he retired from public office, but he proved that the wealthy
have problems with money too. They make mistakes on a grander
scale. Grant invested his capital in a new Wall Street investment
firm operated by a smooth talking young man, whom Grant
considered a financial wizard. If the ability to make money
disappear was what he meant, then he was a wizard, indeed, for
Grant lost everything, and at 62 he was penniless.
Among his many friends was Samuel Clemens who had
published many successful books under the name of Mark Twain.
Clemens convinced Grant he should write about the Civil War, and
he would publish his book. Grant signed the contract and got to
work producing two volumes that rank among the world's great
military narratives. Grant got 10 thousand in advance, and his
widow got 200 thousand in royalties. His heirs also got close to half
a million. Clemens made a fortune on the deal, and he decided to try
it with two other famous generals. It didn't work, and Clemens had
some reverses that led him to go bankrupt at age 59. He too made a
come back, and when he died in 1910 he left his heirs over half a
These two famous men illustrate the universal battle of life-how
to make money; how to keep it, and how to make it count. The
Christian does not escape this battle at all. The Christian spends a
large portion of life engaged in making, spending, giving, saving,
and losing money. What makes this hard is the Christian is not
endowed with any special gift that enables him to be any wiser than
the non-Christian in his management of money. That is why the
New Testament is so full of warnings about money, and the danger
of being obsessed by it. There is also, as in our text, a lot of New
Testament advice on how to use money wisely.
All of this would be unnecessary if Christians were just naturally
financial wizards, but this is not the case. Martin Luther was one of
the great theological minds of history, but he had no skill whatever
with money management. At age 42 he had not yet saved a penny.
When he married Katherine Von Bora she discovered he was a
money management drop out, who let money slip through his fingers
with no accounting for where it went. She had to tell their banker
not to honor a draft unless she first approved it. She had to take
over to protect him from himself. This story has been repeated over
and over again in the lives of Christian leaders.
C.S. Lewis was one of the most brilliant Christians of the 20th
century, but he had no sense of money management. When Joy
Davidman married him, she found that he had thousands of pounds
he didn't even know he had. He also had a small fortune in his
checking account, and this was back in the day when there was no
interest on it. She quickly got it into a savings account.
One of the reasons many genius type people are not good money
managers is because money is not that important to them. They are
preoccupied with other and greater things. Einstein, for example,
sometimes used his check as a book mark, and then turned it into
the library. Robert Frost wrote,
Never ask of money spent
Where the spender thinks it went.
Nobody was ever meant
To remember or invent
What they did with every cent.
It is admirable to be preoccupied with values greater than money,
and not to be obsessed with it. Prov. 3:13-14 says, "Blessed is the
man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding. For she
is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold."
Luther and Lewis were wise in devoting their minds to greater
values than money management. But the higher wisdom yet is to
know how to use money wisely without it being the dominant
occupation of your mind. The Proverbs also speak highly of the
values of money. Prov. 10:15-16 says, "The wealth of the rich is
their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor. The wages of
the righteous brings them life, but the income of the wicked brings
them punishment." The balance life calls for both the avoidance of
addiction to money, and the application of the advantages of money.
In other words, money is a paradox. It is both dangerous and
delightful; a curse and a blessing.
Paul says the love of money is the root of all evil, and Mark
Twain said, the lack of money is the root of all evil. The one does
not eliminate the other, for Twain's remark compliments Paul's. It
is lack of money that leads people to such an obsessive love of it that
they do all kinds of evil to get it. The point is, it is hard to say
anything about money, either negative or positive, that cannot be
demonstrated to be a valid statement. The poem, The Song Of Silver says,
Doug from the mountain-side, washed in the glen
Servant am I or the master of men.
Steal me, I curse you,
Earn me, I bless you;
Grasp me and hand me, a friend I shall possess you.
Lie for me, die for me, covet me, take me,
Angel or devil, I am what you make me.
This is just what Paul is saying in our text. Paul recognizes fully
the paradox of money, and so he covers both sides by sharing
warnings as to its dangers, and wisdom as to its delights. If we are
going to open our homes to Christ, we will have to be aware that He
is aware of how we see and use money. This is a vital part of our
life for Him, for money is a major means by which we become a part
of His upper class, which is the servant class. It is important that we
have a good grasp of both the dangers and delights of money. First
lets look at-
I. THE DANGERS OF MONEY.
The primary danger is in its power to deceive us into believing it
is a substitute for God. Paul says the eagerness to be rich has led
some to wander from the faith. Moneytheism- the almighty dollar
replaces monotheism. Christians can be deceived into thinking of it
as a substitute for their love. They expect money to convey their
love, and solve all problems in relationships. Joyce Landolf in her
book, Tough And Tender writes, "We seem to have accepted money
as the cure-all for every disease, need, or problem imaginable. A
man who has not said one real thing to his wife in years shrugs his
shoulders and says, 'I don't know what she wants-she's got
everything. She can go out and buy anything. She's got the house
clothes, and tons of things. What else does she need?' He has made
the money, bought the myth, and paid for it. All he has to show for
himself is a large brick wall made up of material possessions which
stand solidly between him and his wife. He thought his money
would buy a bridge; instead it has built a wall,...."
That is why money is so dangerous. It makes so many people
sincere in their conviction that it will be the cure-all. There are few
human beings alive who have not sincerely thought that a million
dollars would solve all of their problems. It could, in fact, do just
that, but it could also add a whole new batch that you never
dreamed of having. Paul says those who desire to get rich mess their
lives up good. Paul must have had some good examples in his day,
but we have many more in our day. Kit Konolige has written a book
called, The Richest Woman In The World. It is a fascinating book,
not about common place millionaires, but about those more rare
people who have over 150 million. There are only between 400 and
500 such people in the United States, and 58 of them are women.
Before you turn green with envy, you need to know how much it
cost to be this rich. First of all, you are usually widowed or divorced.
If you are still married to a man who has not worked himself to
death, you probably have an unfaithful husband, and a very
unhappy relationship. There is an excellent chance that you hate
your kids, and the feeling is mutual. Many are the stories like that
of John Dodge of the auto fortune, who in 1983 sued his mother for
4 million. She had just gone on a world wide shopping spree and
had spent 11 million, so she was short of cash. She gave him
500,000, and that started a fight. The feuds and scandals, and the
disgraceful behavior of the rich is all on record. We don't have to go
by faith in Paul's warning, for we have all we need by sight.
Palm Beach Florida is the home of the super rich where their
motto is, anything worth doing is worth doing to excess, and they
lived by that motto. It is a materialistic paradise, but it is an Eden
after the fall, with drugs, divorce, immorality, suicide, prejudice,
and all of the miseries of the heart that you find in the ghetto. They
drowned their sorrows in expensive champagne rather than cheap
wine, but it does not lead to anymore happiness. Many of those rich
people spend a fortune on psychoanalysis. They have guilts that rob
them of their peace of mind, and they can't be bought off. They live
so often in fear. They have fear of someone kidnapping their
children; fear of being robbed, and all sorts of fears about losing
They are often depressed, for they have nothing to do. They
don't have to do anything, and so they do those things that people do
who don't have to do anything: They play, go to balls, socialize, and
seldom do anything creative. This leads to them missing so much of
the joy of life, for they miss creative work. They never know if
anyone likes them for themselves, rather than their money, and they
usually learn the hard way that they are targets of many fortune
hunters and con games. Their temptation to do evil is
overwhelming, because they can afford to do anything, and few can
escape being corrupted by such power.
The point of all this, and we haven't started to cover it all, is that
Paul is right, and it can be documented by history and
contemporary life-money is dangerous. If you start falling in love
with it, you will end up married to a financial frankenstein. It is a
monster of a monster that will make you pay a price to be rich that
is not worth it. Most people can't afford to be rich, but they do not
realize it until it is too late. It is true that all of these problems are
experienced by the poor and the middle class as well, but they have
the hope that money will solve their problems. The rich have no
such hope. Let's look now at-
II. THE DELIGHTS OF MONEY.
In verses 17-19 Paul stresses two positive delights of money by
saying it is the key to enjoyment, and to the service of others needs.
God has given us everything He says for our enjoyment, and with
the excess we can pass it on and help others to enjoy life. Money
wisely used is a major factor in happiness, both for time and
eternity, for a wise use of it in time will lay up treasure for you in
eternity. In this chapter where Paul warns about the danger of the
love of money, he also makes it clear that money can be a powerful
agent of love. Paul's point in saying the love of money is the root of
all kinds of evil was not to get Christians to hate money, but to get
them to see that a proper use of money can make it the root of all
kinds of good. You cannot serve God and mammon, but you can
serve God with mammon.
This paragraph of Paul deals with the other side of the paradox,
and makes money the friend of the Christian, and the tool by which
he does the will of God. The majority of the things we enjoy in life,
and which give us pleasure and grateful hearts, are those things that
we have been able to make our own because we have had money.
There is joy, not only in having food, shelter, and clothing, and all
the security and self-esteem these provide, but there is joy in being
able to provide these for those we love. Paul says that those who do
not provide for their own are worse than infidels. Our happiness as
people, and as Christians, is directly involved with the money we
have to provide for our family.
In order to be generous you have to have an excess of money. It
is hard for a starving man with a piece of crust to be generous. Only
those who have more than they need can do good deeds, and meet
the needs of those who do not have the necessities. In other words,
one of the delights of money is that it gives you the ability to be a
source of enjoyment for those beyond your family. The reason it is
more blessed to give than to receive is, because when you are a giver
it means you have been blest with excess wealth, and you already
enjoy what the receiver does, plus you get the added joy of being the
source of their enjoyment. The receiver is blest, but the giver is
doubled blest, and this is one of the delights of money being wisely
used. It is a powerful force for good in the world.
Obedience to all of Christ's commands to feed the hungry, clothe
the naked, and in general meet the needs of suffering people, all
depend on having money. The Good Samaritan could not have
taken the beaten man to a inn and paid for his care had he not had
enough money. His loving heart would not have mattered had he
been broke, for he needed money to adequately meet this man's
needs. Jesus could feed the 5,000 without an investment of funds,
but He knows we cannot feed anyone without money, and so He
knows that money is the key to caring about needy people. The
ministries of the church all over the world depend upon God's
people sharing their wealth.
Good money management enables the Christian to have more to
give, and it helps the body of Christ do its job more effectively.
Pharaoh saw in Joseph a man with a mind for management. He let
him take over the management of Egypt's agriculture. Joseph
developed a massive savings program, whereby he would save the
abundance of the bountiful years to supply the need in the barren
years. We do not know how many lives he saved, but on top of the
Egyptian's, he saved his own family, and thereby the survival of
God's plan of salvation does include the idea of saving money,
and the wise use of money. Jesus needed to earn money as a
carpenter, and He needed a treasurer to take care of the purchases
made for His band of disciples. There is no escape for the need for
money, but if we have the right attitude, we can see it is a tool to
help us be all that God wants us to be. You cannot be a steward of
God if you do not have any money to manage.
Well done thou good and faithful servant was spoken to one who
had managed his master's money wisely. The wise use of money is a
key measure of our maturity as stewards of the master. Every
ministry in history has had to deal with money, and when it is not
done wisely the kingdom suffers, but when it is done wisely the
Evangeline Booth after 30 years of leading the Salvation Army
had 70 million dollars in capital and property to leave to her
successors. She lived a life of very careful economy,
and even though she was offered the chance to live like royalty, and
was given the chance to stay in the most luxurious places, she
refused lest people think she was using donations for her benefit.
Rich people knew she used her money to help the poor, and that is
why she received checks for up to a half a million dollars.
R. G. LeTourneau was one of the greatest stewards of God in
history. When the book, God Runs My Business, was published in
1941, he had already given 10 million to the cause of Christ. His
motto was, "Not how much of my money do I give to God, but how
much of God's money do I keep for myself." He recognized that all
he had was a gift from God, and his job was to use it wisely for his
master, and he did.
When Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea and Cliff Borrows,
and others, sat down to plan the strategy of their evangelism, they
looked at the issues that had to be corrected that made evangelists
unpopular. The number one problem was money. The constant
begging and manipulation of people for money gave evangelists a
bad name. They wanted to be different, and they wanted to use
money wisely, and this made Graham the major evangelist of this
century. Back in 1952, a millionaire came to Graham. He said he
would underwrite his ministry so that he would not have to worry
about finances. Graham refused the offer, for he said he gets
thousands of letters a week with a dollar of five dollars in them, and
he said, "My work would nose-dive immediately if they knew that a
rich man was underwriting me."
All of live on both sides of the paradox of money, but the more we
become aware of the presence of Christ in our lives, the more we will
move from the dangers of money into the delights of money. One of
the most dramatic examples of this is the life of Mary K. Beard.
Evelyn Christensen titles her story in her book, What Happens
When God Answers. She was abused by her alcoholic father who
broke her back, all her ribs, and her nose twice. She ran away from
home at 15 and married the first man she could find. He was a
gambler and a thief. For 5 years she followed him in a continuous
crime spree. She lived with beautiful clothes, jewels, and a costume
built car. They lived for money, for it was their God.
They were eventually arrested and sentenced to 21 years in
prison. Mary repented in prison and fell on the concrete floor, and
gave her life to Christ. On March 16, 1973 this money worshiper
became a worshiper of Christ, and what a chance this made in how
she saw and used money. She first of all became the first woman in
the United States to receive a graduate degree while serving time in
prison. She gave her mind to Christ. She then decided to minister
to people who did not have the money to enjoy some of the common
blessings of life. Many prisoners families do not have money for
Christmas presents, for example. She started what is called Angel
Tree. Children of prisoners write down on a piece of paper what
they would like, and these are hung on Christmas trees in churches,
shopping malls, and public places. People take an angel from the
tree and purchase the gift written on it. This nation wide project
has provided presents for 31,500 children, as of 1987.
Jesus enjoyed being rich, for it was only by His infinite worth
that He could purchase our redemption. If He had no worth, He
could not have been our Savior. All giving depends on having.
Having can be a delight as well as a danger. It was Christ's delight
to give up His riches and become poor that we might be made rich.
One of the reasons we can rejoice at communion is because it
represents the basis for our inheriting eternal life and all the riches
that accompany it. Thanks to Jesus we who love Him will be rich
forever. The question for us is, is Jesus pleased with how we use
what He has given us? Are others blest because we have learned to
use money wisely? If so, then we are on the right side of the paradox