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January 21 – Thinking About Money

When it comes to building or repairing things, I am the last person to call for help. The Christmas before I got married, my family gave me a set of screwdrivers because they knew that as the “man of the house” I might need to (try to) fix things around the house. They assured me that they had already registered the screwdrivers with the police as “dangerous weapons.” I point that out because I know some people that do repairs all the time. They have amazing toolboxes with some beautiful tools. I don’t know how to use most of those tools, of course, but I have often thought about how cool it would be to have a tool box like that. Were I to mention that to my wife, after she stopped laughing she would bring sense to the situation and ask me, “But where are you going to use them?” In short she would be reminding me that having a great toolbox was not a goal to achieve in life, I needed to think about what I wanted to do and get the right tools for that.

Jesus tells one of the strangest parables when He talks about a servant who knows he’s about to be fired. This servant figures out that he’ll need some help after he gets fired, so he manipulates some bills to get some of his master’s debtors to be willing to help him later. What’s strange about it is that the master commended the servant for acting shrewdly. Jesus also seemed to commend the fact that he was using the world’s wealth to create opportunities for himself. He also said that God’s people aren’t too good about handling money. I think the problem for most of us is that we see money as a goal, and not as a tool. If money is a goal, then it becomes our master. If money is our master, we have real problems. “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.” (Luke 16:13)

In the days of Jesus, wealth was considered a sign that a person was right with God. God, after all, wouldn’t let someone who was unrighteous gain lots of money. Jesus began shattering that idea by noting that the rain (blessings that brought crops) fell on the just and the unjust. His interactions with people like the rich young ruler and Zacchaeus reminded us that money was not the goal of a child of the light. Money is not a goal, it’s a tool to draw others to the mercy and grace of God. My pastor reminds the church often that Ministry is spelled “M-O-N-E-Y” because the things we do to minister cost money, for the most part. If we have wealth, our goal should not be to live a life of self-indulgence, it should be to find a way to use that wealth to honor God by caring for the needs of others.

I get a lot of offers to make money on the internet. Some of them are obviously scams. Others are legitimate businesses that friends are involved in. They will talk about all the money they make. They want me to make lots of money, too. With these businesses, the person helping you make money make money themselves. While I suspect some of these people use some of that money in ministry, we don’t hear about that, or see it. I would hope that they were following Jesus’ call to give in secret. How should we approach money? John Wesley said, “Make all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.” He understood that money is a tool that God has given us to help others. So if you’re wealthy, you already have a stocked toolbox for ministry. And if you’re not sure whether or not you’re wealthy, compared to the rest of the world, if you are reading this, you’re probably in the top 1% of those with wealth. Use it for God.

Oh Lord, it’s so easy to become enamored with money and all the things I can do for myself with it. Give me the right attitude about money. Help me to use my wealth as a tool to show others Your love.

Daily Devotion by Bob James


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