Singer songwriter Glen Hansard embodies the true spirit of Christmas with his sincere support of Dublin’s homeless. As we enjoy the festive season, it might be timely to remember why we commemorate His birthday amid the tinsel, trappings and bon homie, a celebration where money seems to take a central role. St Paul in his first letter to Timothy (6: 9-10) stated “for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” and while Mark Twain comically quipped the lack of money is the root of all evil yet St Paul meant money in itself is not evil but elevating it to a greater priority than God can lead to a downward spiral spiritually.
Is there a link between money and the Bible ? Most of us have seen dramatic changes in recent years – the increase in homelessness is just one sad factor of the recent recession and yet most people take the view that the poorer we are, the closer to God we become. And while Bono still may not have found what he’s looking for, the answers to many of our financial issues whether poor or wealthy, even for non-Christians, are to be found in the Bible :
God is the originator of financial blessings ( 1Samuel 2:7 & Proverbs 10:22 ) and states the diligent hand brings wealth (Proverbs 10:4) Nothing wrong with having it – money is a tool and can be used for good or bad. It is the attitude that counts. We have all heard about the camel and the eye of the needle proverb. This is not castigating against riches, it is simply confirming those who prioritise their riches ahead of more important works and deeds, i.e. God’s work, will find it impossible to conform to Christian values. The young man who asked this question on Mark 10:22 “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions”…his God was money and he broke the first commandment.
How many of us go to church each week and when the collection plate/bag is passed, we fumble for loose coins or coyly crumple a €5 note into it hoping your fellow worshipper believe it to be a € 20 ! Leviticus 27:32 gave us an instruction from God – all money is His anyway – to “give a tithe or tenth”, meaning 10% of our income. Even Jesus maintained this practice ( Matthew 23:23 ) but how many of us adopt this instruction ? And while we now conform to the New Covenant as per the evangelist John “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17) it is still no harm to think of this Old Testament instruction.
A couple of years ago, I went to Bishop Al Green’s ( yes the singer ) Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis where every member of the congregation was given an envelope and at collection time, each pew was frog-marched up to the top of the church under Bishop Green’s watchful eye to place your envelope in a gigantic basin – he was nt taking any chances ! I also was nt sure he was promoting himself or God.
In Proverbs 6: 6-11, the reference to the ant who wisely stores up food for the winter, stating in 13:22 that “a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” This leads us to believe that having more money puts us in a better position to help others whereas poverty limits that help.
Proverbs 21:20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up
Proverbs 22:3 A prudent man forseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
e.g. couple on € 65,000 pa, they save € 6,000 each year and earn 3% compounding so that at the end of 15 years, will have accumulated €113,486.34… and by withdrawing c.€ 3,500 each year thereafter you will still maintain the accumulated balance of € 113,486.34 as you will only be withdrawing the interest each year.
This is making your money work for you and God has a reason for the principle of saving money and earning interest as in the parable of the talents.
Matthew 25:13-30 Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’”
Proverbs is a rich resource when it comes to finding the keys to better managing your money. Verse 27:23-27 states Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds ; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations. When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself, and the herbs of the mountain are gathered in, the lambs will provide your clothing and the goats the price of a field: you shall have enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household, and the nourishment of your maidservants. Planning is also covered in verse 22:3 and 27:12.. “A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The foolish go blindly on and suffer the consequences”
Morality is a diminishing trait in these modern times. The “won’t pays” who can pay, wiggling out of debts you incurred knowing that you would never repay, social welfare fraud, insurance fraud – these are perpetrated by people lacking in character and morality. Being true to yourself, following your conscience and being respectful to your fellow human being are aspirations we should all have. The Bible is an invaluable resource if you are Christian and want to check on your values. Luke 16:11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?
Season’s greetings to you and your families.