THE CHRISTIAN & MONEY, BY KIANG P LEE

Greetings again Friends! I hope this post find you in good health and in the best of spirit.

Money is important to everyone. Without it we cannot get far in life. But if we have lots of it, we can just about do anything we wish – well, almost anything! So we spend our time trying to acquire more and more of it. Let’s talk money today.

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US ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR BILL (WIKI COMMONS)

Definition

What is money? Let’s get a brief definition before we start. The world’s economy revolves around it, without money the world as we know it will come to an abrupt halt. Money is a medium of exchange which we all agree to accept for making transactions. Each country has its own money, or currency, that is used as a medium of exchange within that country. Whereas the money system was based on the gold standard or silver standard or some combination of the two, today’s money system is based on fiat money. That means money derives its value by being declared by a government to be legal tender; that is, it must be accepted as a form of payment within the boundaries of the country, for  all good and services, all debts, public and private. This legal practice causes fiat money to acquire the value of any of the goods and services that it may be traded for within the nation that issue it. The currency of one country can be exchanged for the currency of another via a currency exchange. The current exchange rate determines how much of one currency must be used to purchase a specified amount of the other currency. (http://economics.about.comhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money; http://www.investopedia.com)

The reason I want money is because I know other people want money, so I can use my money to get goods and services from them in return. Everybody works for money because it is the medium of exchange for making transactions which affects almost every facet of their lives. So in the sense of defining life, one can say that money liberates, protects, rescues, and even regarded as a ‘savior’ for it saves us from just about every imaginable situation and circumstance – well, almost all!  If I believe that money will have a value in the future, I will work towards acquiring it. So, people sell their labor (work) to acquire money now to purchase goods and services they desire both now and in the future.

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Market Where Money Is Exchanged For Goods (Wiki Commons)

The Christian & Money

Here is the connection between the Christian believer and money: If money ‘saves,’ and we have seen that it does, and we believe Jesus is man’s Savior, then money and Jesus is synonymous. In other words, they exhibit the identical ‘saving’ quality. You can say,  they are one and the same. Well, not exactly the same, because there is only one Savior, not two. Money is a savior invented by man. Jesus alone is the everlasting Savior of mankind. People worship money because it has this ‘saving’ quality. The Bible states, “You cannot worship God and money” (Matt.6:24). In other words, a Christian cannot have two “Saviors.”

To worship something means it has a powerful hold over you that you have dedicated your time and life to its values. So, the passage presents a choice to the believer who to worship: God or money? The Bible says this of Jesus, “Salvation (i.e. in a saved condition) is found in no one else (except Jesus), for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Act. 4:12, emphasis added). This is what the Bible says about the money-god. There will come a time when people “will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be treated as a thing unclean. Their silver and gold will not be able to deliver (save) them in the day of the LORD’s wrath. It will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs, for it has caused them to stumble into sin” (Ezek.7:19, emphasis added). It’s obvious from this passage that money has its limitations and cannot save us completely, most of all not spiritually. In fact, when money is worshipped, it becomes a curse instead of a blessing. It’s a curse because it pretends to be a savior. Only Jesus is the complete Savior. His name, Jesus, means Savior, and He saves both physically and spiritually.

But here is the interesting side of money we have not seen,  money can save if it becomes the impersonation of Jesus. That means Jesus becomes the personification of money. Once that happens, then Jesus and money are one and the same, not two distinct entities. When the Bible says, “You cannot worship God and money,” it is not saying money is evil and you should not have any of it. Remember, the source of all riches is God who created them, including money. When God finished creation  of the earth He  pronounced creation, “very good.” Listen to God’s claim on all riches upon the earth, “The gold is mine, and the silver is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills, the fowls and the wild beasts are mine, the earth and its fullness and all that dwell in it” (Hag. 2:8; Ps. 24:1; Ps. 50:10-11). It simply means because riches originate from the one Source but man has made the mistake of separating it from God into a separate entity of worship. We must choose not to turn money into a god in its own right. God does not want His people to worship lifeless objects which can’t save them. All inanimate things like money and other material things cannot and will not save us, just as an idol can’t save because it has no life in itself. Listen, “Whoever loves (worships) money never has enough (lacks); whoever loves wealth is never satisfied (or happy) with their income. This too is meaningless (worthless)” (Eccl.5:10, my emphasis). (Read Eccl.5:10-20 in Appendix 1 below)

Those who spend their lives in search of money, thinking money is the answer to everything and bring the fulfillment they seek, will instead discover emptiness to their disappointment. It is the wrong use of money which creates evil and make a false god of money. The only way is for God and money to become One – this is a Trinitarian principle. Nothing exists in isolation, solitarily, but everything is inter-dependent, collaborative, and united like God’s Triune nature. Money does not save, Jesus does, therefore only Jesus is to be worshiped for He is God, not money. I can’t let money be my master and Jesus too, “for I’ll hate one or the other, and become devoted to one and despise the other” (Matt.6:24). So, when I see money as Jesus Himself, then money becomes a divine attribute. When this happens, what is usually a curse brought about by the money god, now becomes a blessing from Jesus Himself. It is a question of personal leadership in my life. (Read article “Money is A Curse” by Sheldon Drobny in Appendix 2 below) 

How do we do this? How do we merge the two so that Jesus and money become a single expression and a true blessing in the believer’s life?

To worship Jesus means to take on Jesus’ Person. (Matt.6:24) I live life vicariously in Him. He said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt.11:29). Paul said, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?” (2 Cor.13:5). I think of money as a servant of Jesus. Money becomes a blessing coming from and through Him as the offshoot of my relationship with Him. Anything that’s a blessing (the good money can buy) in my life is the reflection of God’s grace in my life. James says this, “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens” (Jam.1:17). Grace is the presence of His Spirit in my life. (Heb.10:29) The Spirit’s role is to magnify Jesus in my life by enhancing my Love relationship with Jesus, so I am being conformed into His likeness as the Son of God. (John 16:14; Rom.8:29) Herald (Holy Spirit) is the One who gives me the wisdom and empowers me to make money become an expression of Jesus Himself. God tells us, “But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore” (Deut.8:18, NASB). The Bible quotes God as saying, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4:6) Yes, it is not the power of money and what money can do that counts – the Spirit (grace/Love) of God and what He can do in me and for me. (Rom.5:5) So, this merging of Jesus and money begins with God’s grace through the move of His Spirit in my life. It is what I often refer to as the “Triune Life.” That’s to mean, that all of life is interconnected, and nothing exists independently by itself.

The following passage shows clearly that God and money are one and the same: “The blessing (grace/Spirit) of the Lord brings wealth (money and what it can buy), without painful toil for it” (Pro.10:22; also see Psa.24:5). There’s a far-reaching point being made here, i.e. it identifies money in two broad categories. When money is part of, and comes from Jesus, it brings an abundant life with peace, joy, without pain. It produces true life. But when money comes from the money-god then it brings the opposite effect – fear, depression, curses, pain, and ultimately death. When I merge money with Jesus and see them as One, I uncover and find genuineness in my humanity because I am able relate with Jesus on a person-to-person basis in Loving relationship. When I worship the money-god I am relating with an idol, and I lose my humanity because I cannot speak nor relate with an inanimate object (idol). Relationships only happens between persons, like what’s taking place between the three Persons of the Trinitarian God. Man, who is made in God’s image, live relational lives because God is relational in His Tri-Personal Being. Many lives have been destroyed because they can’t see this crucial difference – an inanimate idol, like the money-god, cannot relate, so fallen man is dominating the one-way dialog. And man in his depraved nature is influenced by the devil who is the author of confusion. Only a living Person, Jesus, saves.

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International Money Exchange (Wiki Commons)

By saying money will come to the believer “without painful toil for it (money),” or, as another translation put it, “and hard work adds nothing to it (money)” (Prov.10:22b, emphasis added), it is saying my labor is not what “brings the bacon (money) home,” it is the grace of God in my life, His blessing, He is the first-cause, the trigger effect, directing my footsteps to His abundance. His grace is the undergirding safety net I tread upon throughout my life. There’s something else this passage conveys to me: the kind of life Jesus brings does not come with all the stress of negative repercussions, heartache, and broken dreams and pain, for it has nothing to do with my toil and performance. The truth of the matter is, this is not “my” work; this is the grace of God in action in my life.

It has to do with God’s unconditional love for me. By freely giving and sacrificing His Son, the Father brought mankind into union with Him to make this abundant life possible for me. Does the “living waters” of His Spirit of Love flow in my life because of my effort (toil), or does it flow freely immaterial of my performance? (John 7:37-39) Grace is the free gift of God flowing from the depth of the Father’s Love. Paul asserts, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; (nothing to do with my labor/toil) it is the gift of God” (Eph.2:8). As someone said, of what consequence is my performance, if I am not placed on an assured path which leads to and guarantees my success? If I’m on a path which leads to doom and failure, no amount of effort and performance will save me, no matter how grandiose it may appear.

Life is like riding a train, it depends upon which track I take. In life, there are only two tracks, one leads to true life and the other to false life or death. If I worship the money-god, then I’m riding a train-track which ends abruptly like an unfinished road, plunging me into a deep ravine to my death. Everything I have worked for and done with my life, represented in the train engine (me) and all the cars it’s hauling behind it, will all be for nothing. If I believe in Jesus then He puts me on His track with the Spirit leading me to my destination with a glorious future. Here’s God’s promise to me and those who take hold of His Son, “I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. (Jer. 29:11, NET).

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Life Is Like a Train Ride-It Depends Which Track You Take. The Mountain in the Backdrop is Symbolic of God’s Overarching Sovereignty and Presence, Guiding Us by His All-Embracing Love  (Wiki Commons)

It’s About Relationship

As intimated earlier, it is about who we choose to relate with: Jesus or money? The following passage tells us how to merge the two into one expression of life, “They (God’s people) will receive the Lord’s blessing (money) and have a right relationship with God their Savior” (Psa.24:5). So, it’s all about relationship – my relationship with Jesus brings abundance (money as part of it). That’s how money and Jesus is made One. My Love for Jesus must be the primary focus of my relationship with everything else, including money. I can’t have relationship with inanimate things, like money, jewelry, gold, land, real estate, cars, my job, boats, hobbies, pet projects, etc. But they are filtered through my relationship with Jesus. In fact, when I have relationship with inanimate things, the Bible calls it idol worship. Idols has no life and cannot respond in any form of relationship. Only Jesus alone who is the manifestation of God’s Love is the One we have relationship. When I see all the material riches, including money, I see them as the by-product of my relationship with Jesus, and it is never separate from it. I am never in love with money and things, my first motivation is to Love Jesus, and everything else become offshoots of my relationship with Him.

It is sad, as much as it is true, but people choose to have relationship with these inanimate things (money and material stuff) which cannot save them, but brings curses instead. People think money will supply and sustain them physically, provide for their security, and furnish the riches they dream of. But it is a fool’s paradise. They don’t realize, let alone understand this ludicrous form of relationship with money which brings curses and pain. The saying “all that glitters is not gold,” rings true. They spend their whole lives in aggressive pursuit of money, building up and bolstering these relationships with inanimate things, when God wants them to have relationships with Him, His Son, and with our fellow humans through His Love. The truth of the matter is, all these created inanimate things are simply the personification of the One who created them – Jesus. Yet He is Spirit and does not need to be defined by them to prove His abundance. Jesus is super rich! In the same way, my life does not need to be defined by things. I only need to be defined by One Person with whom I can have personal relationship – Jesus. He is the Personification of all wealth. (1 Cor.3:21-23; Rom.8:17)

The prophet says this, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare” (Isa.55:1-2). Yes, it speaks of a promise of being sustained physically, materially, and in every other way, without money. The answer is my relationship with Jesus.

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US DOLLAR COIN, SUSAN B ANTHONY DESIGN, MINTED 1979. NOTE PHRASE, “IN GOD WE TRUST.” TRUST GOD, NOT MONEY (WIKI COMMONS)

What Defines You?

Answer the above question as true as your heart can in your spirit: am I defined by things and money, or, am I defined by Jesus who is the Personification of creation and abundance. Listen, when you give something to your children, like a toy, don’t you think it odd if the child thanks himself/herself or even the inanimate toy, for bringing him/her happiness, and ignores the source of his joy, you, the parent? Yet, we do this all the time with God when we lack faith. A wise child will realize that to keep his/her joy sustained will depend upon his/her relationship with the source of joy – the parent. Not the child herself, and certainly not the toy!

Learning to Wait

The Spirit which governs my actions defines who I am. One is He gives me power to make me “wait on the Lord.” Many don’t know how, or don’t want to, or lack the patience to, “wait on the Lord.” Again the Psalmist, “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” (Ps.37:7) Yes, many times I look at the next person, my neighbors, those I work with, and compare myself with them and what they have in terms of money and material stuff. This is the most unwise thing to do, and many have fallen into the money-god’s trap of anxiety and impulsiveness. There is only One with whom I am called to compare myself – Jesus and none other.

Faith

What it comes down to is faith. I live and act upon what I believe will bring me and my loved ones happiness. Do I have an unwavering faith in Jesus as the source of all true wealth, not false riches acquired by the money-god through selfish means? Jesus warned that everything happening in this world is working against my faith in Him and in the true riches He desires to give me. So, He instructs me to live one day at a time, for each day will bring ample doses of money-drug called “filthy lucre” which debilitates me with narcissism and self-love. And the aim of money-god is to keep me from reaching my dreams. (Matt. 6:33-34; 1 Tim.3:3) But the truth about my life of faith is I’m not alone, the Spirit is with me to empower me in my relationship with Jesus. Jesus says to me as He did with Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor.12:9). Further, he said, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Phi.4:6-7) 

Faith takes me further and brings me to the reality of my calling and God’s purpose for me. Many unbelievers view the Christian faith as a cop-out, an excuse for facing up to the reality of life. Is it, or does faith actually guide me into the reality of life? The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a Rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb.11:6). That’s another way of saying, without faith I don’t have a footing to stand in discovering my relationship with God, and thereby my life’s destiny. Listen, Jesus said, “Life is spiritual, your physical existence doesn’t contribute to that life” (John 6:63). But both lives are intertwined and codependent. What I see in the physical world is affected by what’s happening in the spirit realm. (Eph.6:12) And if a person does not have God in his/her life, then that’s a cop-out and evading the reality of life. To have a calling is a gift from God our Father, and Jesus, and it takes living faith to believe that my gift is activated from the divine source. Here is the crux of the matter: real money which truly blesses comes through my gift and calling, from the spiritual Source in Jesus, not a physical source in me.   

Calling & “Life-Gift”

He blesses and gives me rest within the context of my purpose and “life-gift.” (Psa.37:7) That’s the important thing to remember about ‘Jesus and Money.’ A person’s “life-gift” defines the valleys and people he or she has been called to flow through life and where He or she will find abundance. God gives me abundance (money) through His purpose for my life. Material wealth must be funneled through my gift and dream-life, for God’s blessing comes through each man’s gift to glorify Him. I do not seek money for money’s sake, but wealth comes through the passion for my gift and calling in Christ.

God Use Our Gifts For His Glory and to Bless Us (Wiki Commons)

When you live your God-ordained purpose (Bulamanriver), all your life’s activities are magnetizing to your gift and dream-life, like Joseph of the Bible. Remember this: for a blessing to be true it must be a holistic blessing comprised both of spiritual and material/physical aspects, or, ‘Jesus and Money.’ You can’t have one without the other. This is what abundance as defined in God’s Love means. It is not just spiritual without the material/physical aspects, neither is it vice-versa. When that happens, miracles become part of your life because the Spirit flows in you. ‘Jesus and Money’ can’t travel in separate  and different direction, they are of one and the same essence and existence. So, we see why it is about relationship because the two are connected – one cannot do without the other.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or email me on bulamanriver@gmail.com.

Blessing:

Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the Triune Life as a Bulamanriver.*  Be strong in the Lord’s joy.

Kiang,  

Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. To read the many facets of life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website www.bulamanriver.com where you can order a copy of my Book.

All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.

Note: All information is copy-write. Any information obtained from this website that is used for publication should be acknowledged by citing the website address, date of acquisition and information pertinent to original authorship. For general guidelines regarding web citations see The Guide for Citing Electronic Information

APPENDIX 1:

Riches Are Meaningless – Ecclesiastes 5:10-20

“Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.

11 As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?

12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
permits them no sleep.

13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:

wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,

14     or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
15 Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry in their hands.

16 This too is a grievous evil:

As everyone comes, so they depart,
and what do they gain,
since they toil for the wind?
17 All their days they eat in darkness,
with great frustration, affliction and anger.

18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot.19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.”

APPENDIX 2:

“Money is a Curse” By Sheldon Drobny 

Posted: 05/09/2006 12:46 pm EDT Updated: 05/25/2011 11:50 am EDT (an excerpt)

A few days ago Bill Gates was quoted as saying that he wished he were not the richest man in the world. For a society like ours that admires wealth so much, this statement seemed to be strange. Yet in fact, the endless accumulation of money for its own sake is the worst thing that can happen to a person and for the society in general.

I have observed many people who have become extremely wealthy since I am a financial advisor, CPA, and venture capitalist. In most cases, those who become very wealthy lose their psychological motivation to provide the means of support to their families. People who no longer have to earn money to survive unwittingly must turn to other things in order for them to seemingly have a purpose in society. And most of these other purposes are bad. Once anyone has achieved wealth, they usually turn to achieving power and influence in society and they are usually ill prepared to do things in the best interest of humankind. Rather, they turn to family wealth accumulation to create legacies much as the Pharos did in ancient Egypt.

In the musical, Fiddler On The Roof, Tevya is told by his future son-in-law Perchek, that “money is a curse.” Tevya responds by saying that “God should smite him with this curse.” Perchek was an early 20th Century socialist who understood the exploitation of the masses by those who had money and power. Tevya then sings a song called If I Were A Rich Man. One of the great lines of that song is, “…when you’re rich they really think you know.” And that is the trouble we have with rich and powerful leaders. People really think they are wise because they have money and power. My experience is that wisdom and competence are inversely proportional to the desire for wealth accumulation

The qualities of good leadership have nothing to do with money and wealth accumulation. Occasionally wealthy people have qualities of good leadership, but that is only coincidental. There are many factors that make for a good leader. Many people have written about the subject and it is an extremely rare talent. Unfortunately, the choices of leaders are based mostly upon wealth and influence and accordingly we are stuck now with many corporate, community, and political leaders who are incompetent.

Money is essentially a “zero sum game.” Most people do not understand that. The obscene salaries of many corporate executives are not going to the rank and file workers or the shareholders. That is why the middle class in America is struggling so much. And without a strong middle class, the U.S. will be heading towards an eventual insurrection as we almost had during the Great Depression. And the current political situation has exposed the corruption and cronyism involved in wealth accumulation.

A few years ago I visited my daughter in Spain while she was an exchange student. One of our tour guides was politically savvy and asked me why the rich and powerful in America are insensitive to the needs of the masses. He explained to me that after the death of Franco in 1975, the emerging socialist movement gave the wealthy classes two possible choices. Plan A was an insurrection in which they would lose all their property. Plan B was that they pay higher taxes to create the safety net needed by the masses and more fairly redistribute the wealth. Given that choice, the wealthy in Spain chose plan B.

I am afraid that in our country, it may come to the fear of losing everything through an insurrection that will finally convince the wealthy class that it is time to make a change. But, it will take a massive grass roots effort to make that happen. Hopefully the very wealthy will recognize this before they self-destruct.

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