Generally the discussion of money within the church is a sensitive one. ABC as a congregation has not discussed it as a topic in many years.
Wealth: Wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or valuable material possessions. This includes the core meaning as held in the originating old English word weal, which is from an Indo-European word stem.
Yet money and indeed material wealth, is an important aspect of the Gospels.
Recent John Oliver did a segment on Televangelists which has prompted an increased awareness and investigation into how the church and the aspect of material wealth tie in together (view here):
Luke 12:13-21 shares the following interaction and teaching from Christ:
3 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
The following questions were asked and discussed amongst the congregation:
● How much money do you think a person needs saved in order to retire?
● Does a person’s wealth cause you to relate to them differently?
● Is it wrong to want to accumulate wealth?
● Money is one of the leading causes of marital and relational conflict. How or why does money cause breakdowns in relationships? (Refer to 1 Timothy 6:10).
● If a person’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of his wealth and possessions, what does it consist of?
● How do you feel about the “redistribution of wealth?”
● Would you be willing to lower your standard of living for the benefit of others?
● How do your daily financial choices reflect where your heart is?
● How can you store up treasure in heaven, and how will you begin investing in your retirement plan this week?
Is wealth bad? Or is it the LOVE OF WEALTH that is bad. The scriptures sat that man cannot serve both God and money.
A story was recalled by one congregation member who knew a christian politician that had much wealth. This politician made the statement that he feared his wealth and status in part due to the scripture about the “camel through the eye of the needle”.
Matthew 19:24 “I’ll say it again-it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of A needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
Yet he was also thankful for what he had for it allowed him the opportunity to share the Gospels into the lives of other wealthy and powerful people who otherwise would not have been as easily accessible.
God equips each one of us for a distinct purpose. It is our heart and what we are lead to do with what He gives that speaks volumes.
Consider Luke 18 and the Christ’s interaction with the rich man:
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Selleverything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
It was not the mans wealth that prevented him from moving forward with Jesus, rather it was his desire for his wealth. The love of the goods of this world can never be elevated above God.
We must each evaluate our hearts. What is our priority?