Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gluttony 3

More thoughts on gluttony...

My theory of how we should use/possess money is related to how I view gluttony.  You will usually hear one of two approaches regarding Christians and money:

1) It's not wrong to have money as long as you tithe (10%) to God/church. 

2) It's not right for Christians to be rich or make lots of money.  We should live simple and not be wealthy.

The former preaches against the love of money rather than the possession of it, arguing that it's okay to have it as long as you don't love it.  The latter preaches against the possession of money, usually arguing something to the effect of, "If you still have it, how can you convince me you don't love it?"

The Bible teaches us "You cannot serve both God and Money."  Also, "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

The Bible also reprimands the greedy by saying, "You have hoarded wealth...".  Jesus told us the following story in Luke 12:15-21:
Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '

"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?'

"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
It is clear that we should not love money and wealth.  It is not our goal.  It is not our purpose to become wealthy.  Our purpose is to serve God and his Kingdom.  If we pursue worldly wealth, then we are not walking according to God's plan. 

And while we may certainly use money in God's service, the Bible also tells us not to hoard wealth.  What does that mean?  It means we should not keep extra wealth around that isn't necessary when it could be used for more important things or for helping others. 

This is how our use of money relates to gluttony.  It is not wrong to have it or use it but we should not consume (or store it up like fat around our waistlines) more than we need. 

I have no problem with Christians making millions of dollars doing honest work and business.  But how much of that do they spend on themselves?  Do they feel they have the right to use 90% of that just because they tithed 10% to their church?  Are they not still accountable for how they spend every penny?  Would they not also be guilty of "building bigger barns" and hoarding wealth when they build themselves mansions and buy lots of very expensive "toys"?

I know of one Christian business man who does in fact make millions of dollars.  But his standard of living is on par with someone making $30,000 - $40,000 a year.  No one would ever know how much money he actually brings in, and indeed most people around him do not.  What he spends on himself is a small percentage of what he could spend.  So, what does he do with his money?  Not only does he tithe to his church (and beyond) but he also supports many different kinds of ministries and specifically, he helps missionaries in his denomination establish businesses in "closed" (creative access) countries.  He has helped establish dozens of these enterprises in order to get the gospel into places that are difficult to reach.  No one can accuse him of hoarding his wealth.

I also know of a young man who does not make enough money to live on.  It's not because he's lazy, addicted or mentally impaired.  It's just that he has never had anyone to help him get a good start.  I expect that he will eventually establish himself and make enough to live on and help others.  But it will take time.  Right now, he sponsors a child in Haiti and gives a few dollars to his church on Sunday.  If you were to do the math, the money he gives to his church and child would probably be around 5% of his income.  Yet, it is still difficult and a sacrifice for him.  Most people with his level of income don't give a penny because they need it to eat on.  I believe this man is like the woman who gave a few pennies to the temple--Jesus said she gave more because he was giving all she had to live on.  It was a sacrifice.  Many of those giving large amounts weren't sacrificing, but giving from what was left over from an abundance.

We should not be gluttons for money.  We should use and give money; not love it and hoard it.

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