Summary: It is hard to say anything about money, either negative or positive, that cannot be demonstrated to be a valid statement.
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.