Money and Financial Gain – The Gremlin of Greed That Surrounds Us – Part One of Three
To date, we have found that wisdom is both from above and necessary in our daily living. It is a life skill that comes with knowledge and practice. It is the Hebrew term chokmah, which means skillful living or wisely winding your life with skill around the circumstances you face with good judgment and sober thinking and knowledge.
|Have you heard the story about the monkey who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar?|
As the story goes, there was a cookie left inside an open jar, and the opening of the jar was just big enough for the monkey’s hand to enter but not big enough for his fist to come back out with the treat in it. So, if he insisted on trying to hold onto his treat, he would be stuck. The moral here is that there is a price for greed: the monkey got himself captured because he refused to just let go of the cookie.
|We live in exciting but dangerous times. Matthew 6:24 warns us: 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. In his Sermon on the mount, Jesus warned his disciples that the lure of their day was a competing master that would replace God in their lives. That sounds almost ‘”un-American” to us. But therein is the problem. Before you think that is overly dramatic, here is a recently told story:|
There once was a wealthy man who gave to Christian causes far above his tithe. He said he met with a financial planner years ago. After they had talked for a while, the financial planner took a sheet of paper and drew a box, and outside of it he put a dollar sign representing money and a cross representing Christ. He said, “I hear two things vying for your attention. I can’t help you plan your life until you tell me which of these things you want in the center of that box, which represents your life.” The wealthy man thought about it a moment and then said, “I want Christ at the center of my life.” That was a turning point—that was when he started investing in eternity.
Yet for me, the forks in my life-road are not so clear cut. I identify more with Nelson Rockefeller, who, though he was one of the wealthiest men in our country, is said to have responded, to the question: ‘How much more money do you want or need?” – His answer: “Just a little bit more!” The challenges are subtle but real. Like the frog that was slowly cooked in the beaker of water, increasing the temperature a degree at a time, wise living includes facing these life-dangers head on.
That is where I get caught. What about reasonable investments? How much do I expand the winery and vineyard? What is the impact on my life and priorities? I have three active businesses, and about 25 employees – small by most business measurements but real for me in the time and priorities and resources I use in these endeavors.
I most identify with the parable from Jesus in Luke 12: 16-21. 16And He spoke a parable to them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully. 17And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room in which to store my fruits? 18And he said, I will do this. I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and I will store all my fruits and my goods there. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat drink and be merry. 20But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul shall be required of you, then whose shall be those things which you have prepared? 21So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.
Jesus was right in his early ministry sermon. It does come down to personal and earthly wealth versus riches toward God, wealth in the Kingdom of God. The benefits and affluence of our culture and nation are unparalleled. There is no easy formula. And this is an open question that I regularly review in my life and with those around me. May God give you and me wisdom in these.
– John Moore