Does Scripture demonize money?
Today’s post is a guest post. I am interested to hear if there are any responses or comments:
How to Save and Live Through Christ Simultaneously
Perhaps one of the most prevailing misconceptions in our modern society is that the Bible is vehemently against money, in all its manifestations. Many self-styled “Christians” advocate that in order to truly live through Christ, one must give up all material possessions, since that is what He taught. While I can understand this line of thinking, I truly believe that Christ did not–nor would not today–demonize money as some have mistakenly done in America and elsewhere in the world. There is this image of Christ as a “socialist,” and to me, this is an absolutely sickening portrayal of Christ, if only because this interpretation seeks to superimpose politics on our Lord and Savior, who transcends any man-made political or ideological system.
What I propose to do is look at some of the more oft-quoted “money-is-evil” Bible passages and interpret them through a perspective that is more pragmatic, more centered on living the “good life,” which I define as such: Living in accordance with what Christ taught in an effort to have a stable and wholesome personal, professional, and spiritual life.
If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
This is one of the most famous quotes that many appropriate to legitimize the rejection of money. However, if one reads the whole context–this quote is from the parable, “The Rich Young Man”–what Jesus is really trying to say is that money has no use in the after life. Giving to the poor is, of course, to be commended. But in following Jesus (it is obvious by the end of the parable that Jesus defines “following” as trailing His steps to the Kingdom of Heaven), we must remember that money is a useful force for good in this world, although in heaven it is nonexistent, since money is a manmade creation.
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.
Here’s another classic, this time from the Old Testament, which is supposed to make us feel guilty for saving. However, again, context is important, of which one can only understand if one reads the Book of Ecclesiastes in its entirety. The whole point of Ecclesiastes is to proffer a soul-searching narrative. The narrator questions pretty much everything on which his society places value. In the end, however, the narrator reaches the following conclusion after he’s doubted the very fabric of his life: “Fear God and keep his commandment, for this is the whole duty of man.” And so, the rejection of money in Ecclesiastes can be understood as only the temporary rejection of everything, the end result being embracing God.
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Here’s another Book of Matthew gem. At first glance, this Bible passage seemingly serves to incite others to reject money on a wholesale basis. But this quote can be understood more subtly. What Jesus is trying to say here is that money is a tool, not an end in itself. When we do not save our money and use it carefully for the good of our families (and our Churches and communities), then we are allowing money to become our master. In the final analysis, the point this passage gets across is that money should serve us and not the other way around.
There are millions of more Bible passages very similar to the ones I’ve listed and discussed, and we could go through them all day, but the main point that I want to make is this: Being a Christian does not mean living a life intentionally deprived of material possessions. It means using your earthly possessions wisely in order to serve the more important ones–family, Church, community, and most of all, God.
This guest post is contributed by Emily Thomas, who writes on the topics of online college degrees. She welcomes your questions and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Pictures from Heather