I tend to loathe the "How to be rich and be a Christian" movement that is in certain sectors of Christianity these days. You can call it the health and wealth gospel. But, actually, what I am talking about is bigger than the health and wealth gospel movement. It is the line of teaching that aims to justify "building bigger barns" that Jesus warned us about. And I know that saying this automatically offends many of the wealthy people I know, some of whom support missions.
Personally, I don't think it is wrong to own anything or to have money. We have to be careful not to condemn wealth but to condemn greed. But it seems like this argument, "It's not wrong to have money, only to be greedy," is often the very mask that covers up greed. It is sad that we have to waste energy in our lives or in the church trying to justify the wealth we have.
If we think to ourselves, "I give my 10% to God, so I can do whatever I want with the rest!" then we miss the heart of Jesus. We miss it.
I am not one to be dogmatic about a 10% line, increasing our giving by 1% a year, etc. I know for some 10% is an unimaginable sacrifice. For others, giving 10% means sacrificing luxuries, not necessities. And it is to this latter group that I am referring in this post. Is the 90% that we're living on still more than we need?
I tend to be one who promotes living more simple lives, consuming less, and giving more. Kind of like food. Gluttony is the sin of overeating--eating more than our bodies need. Just because I have lots and lots of food doesn't exempt me from gluttony just because I only ate half of it and gave the rest to the local homeless mission. No, I should only eat what my body needs regardless of how much food is on the table.
So, I tend to think the same way when it comes to wealth. I should only consume as much as I need, regardless of how much I make.
I write these things because I want to warn people to be aware. Beware of those books, seminars, conferences, classes and audio Cd's that give us a lot of solid financial and accounting advice, but mask greed. I don't want us to hide behind a truth that it isn't wrong to have wealth when our hearts are more excited about that wealth than serving Christ. That doesn't mean we throw away good accounting and financial planning, but it means we root out greed whenever it sprouts.
I want to warn people that this is NOT what BAM is about. It is not about making ourselves wealthy. It is all about furthering the mission of God in our world.
If I call myself a "Christian businessman" then what I am saying is that I am a businessman who happens to be a Christian. The word "Christian" is the adjective modifying the noun "businessman." So, it means that I am a businessman first, Christian second.
Perhaps it would be better, then, to call myself a "Businessman Christian." I am a Christian who happens to be a businessman. "Christian" is not just an adjective modifying my identity--it is the root of who I am. It just so happens that I do business. I am a follower of Christ first, and a businessman second. That means I do business for Christ--not try to make Christ do business for me.