The Issue of Money
Used with permission.
"For what is a man profited, if he
shall gain the whole world, and lose
his soul? Or what shall he give in
exchange for his soul? Matt. 16:26
Shortage of money is the number one common factor in the hundreds of prayer requests that we receive each week at MountainWings.com.
If money is not the central issue, a money shortage is usually present in both marriage difficulties and health problems.
A sizable percentage of MountainWings' readers deal with money shortage issues.
Some think it doesn't belong in an inspirational email but let your money get tight and get an unexpected check and see if that doesn't inspire you.
I want to address the issue of money as briefly as I can. For a few, my experience may shed a new light on your situation. Some may have a radically different opinion, that is expected; but for many, this will help change your view and possibly your approach to your money situation.
I deal with more money shortage situations than most people simply by virtue of being a Pastor of a church and a businessman. People come to me, both for advice and money in both the church and business worlds.
Hopefully the eight principles below will help someone reading MountainWings.
Principle #1 - Hardly anyone has enough money.
At a recent meeting in my company, some thought I was bragging when I said that I had enough money. I was absolutely serious. I have always had enough money, but I have not always made a lot of money.
When I earned less than minimum wage, I had enough money. When I earned minimum wage, I had enough money. I have enough money now.
Someone asked the multi-billionaire John D. Rockefeller the question of "How much money is enough?"
His answer was, "One more dollar than I have." He therefore, would never have enough, no matter how many billions he had.
I have seen people earn more than double what they were earning in the previous year and they still did not have enough money.
Money is one of those things where unless the spirit gets right, you never have enough. Having enough money is primarily a matter of spirit, not amount, understand this.
Principle #2 - You are rich when you have enough.
Don't be like Rockefeller or else you will forever be dissatisfied.
Often our change from poor to rich is more spiritual than financial. It is why Paul could say if you have food and clothing then you should be content.
Perhaps we should realize that instead of struggling so hard to get more that we should simply want less. The problem with wanting more is that it never stops, and most find that even when they get "the stuff," it's not what they thought in terms of real contentment.
- a. The Kingdom of God is within
- b. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Everyone wants the kingdom, yet everyone also wants to be rich.
I preached a sermon called, "The Roughest Verse in the Bible." It was concerning this basic principle. You can listen to it on
WMA (best) http://www.theonlineword.com/s/5125.wma
Just maybe, for many of you, you have enough already.
Principle #3 - Neither The New Testament of the Bible or any of the teachings of Jesus promise nor promote material wealth.
Some will argue against this to an extreme, but I have looked for it over and over in the New Testament of the Bible. It simply is not there unless you take a scripture and twist it to mean what it really didn't say or you must make speculations about things that aren't written in scripture.
No words in the New Testament promote wealth when looked at in context. NONE!
"What about when Jesus told the disciples where to fish and they had the great haul of fish?" you ask.
Read what they did with the increase after they got it. The disciples ate from the fish then left the fish to follow Jesus. When you read exactly what they did, the pattern becomes clear.
We can sometimes be masters at making scripture say what it never meant because it is what people want to hear and it often justifies our own agenda.
Jesus NEVER pointed us towards material wealth; he did quite the opposite when you read what he actually said.
Many passages plainly point you away from riches but none plainly point you towards it, not in the New Testament.
And no, the verse, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health," is not talking about riches.
Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:8, that if you have food and clothing you should be content. I thought about that verse as I was alone one day. I had a BIG problem with it then, and I still struggle to fully understand and accept it.
"What about shelter?" I thought. How in the world does God expect you to be content with no house? That just didn't make any sense to me.
So I asked God in a quiet moment, "How can a person be content with no house?" God answered me and though I didn't like the answer, the minute I heard it, I recognized the truth of it.
The answer was, "Did my son have a house?"
Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." (Mat 8:20 NIV)
Not only are we not happy with food and clothing, we often aren't happy even in medium or large houses. We want mansions and guess what? Given enough time, we often aren't happy in those either.
Principle #4 - Rich and poor are relative terms.
I went to the Amazon jungle. I wanted to see the rain forest before man destroyed it. The children in the jungle were excited to see an ink pen.
We trekked through the jungle all day with a native guide. He said our hike would culminate by visiting the rich man's house.
I was expecting a huge mansion overlooking the river. When we got to his house, it indeed sat on a hill, but it was hardly a mansion. It was more like a shack on a hill. His house was distinguished by the fact that it had a generator. The rich man had electricity. When the rest of the village was dark, he had light, therefore everyone in the village considered him "The Rich Man."
I learned a great lesson from that. He had no indoor plumbing, no air conditioning, no marble counters or carpeted floors. His house would not even meet minimum building codes in the poorest neighborhoods in America. However, he had electricity when everyone else was in the dark, therefore he was rich.
In many parts of the world, what we consider poverty is considered great wealth. We have so much food in America that eating too much causes America's biggest health problems.
Principle #5 - Happiness is not dependent on money.
The Amazon jungle was perhaps the poorest area that I have ever visited. There was no industry. The huts did not even have doors. Yet, in the midst of what many would consider extreme poverty by American standards, again I saw something.
The people were quite happy.
The ability to sense spirit is something God gave me long ago. When I sold newspapers as a boy through many of the neighborhoods in Atlanta, the minute people opened the door, I could sense whether the house was happy or sad.
I sold newspapers in the richest and poorest of neighborhoods. Both had their share of happy and sad homes.
The guide told us as we walked through the village with the doorless huts, "We marry around 13 or 14."
"13 or 14?" I repeated, amazed at such a young marrying age.
"What is the divorce rate?" I asked.
"Less than 5%," he replied.
Again I saw that material possessions don't guarantee happiness. We have relatively huge wealth along with a relatively huge divorce rate.
Principle #6 - One American family has contributed to more financial disaster than any other. The Joneses.
Because we often try to keep up with the Joneses, it strains our finances to the limit and beyond. My father, often quoted,
"If your outgo exceeds your income then your upkeep will become your downfall."
Too often we live way above our means. I have always had enough money because I have always kept my expenses well below my income. Whether you earn millions or minimum wage, the principle applies.
Years ago my wife began selling a nutritional system. The system had a cassette tape explaining it. She went throughout several Atlanta upper income neighborhoods putting the tapes in mailboxes.
She only selected the fancy houses as she only had a limited number of tapes.
Six people responded wanting the system. The system cost $100.
Of the six people who responded, not ONE had $100. Each had a story of why they had to wait until payday or could only pay a part now but none had $100.
"How could that be?" my wife asked. "I specifically only put these tapes in BIG houses. They all had two fancy cars and $200,000 plus houses. How could their finances be so tight that they don't have $100?" she kept asking me.
Because they lived next to The Joneses, who lived next to The Joneses, who lived next to The Joneses, who lived next to ...
Principle #7 - Lack of a budget.
At the church, I have a financial expert teach a class each month. It is a six-part series that we repeat each six months. It teaches people how to manage their money. We often tell people in the church to give 10% of their money to the church, but we give them no knowledge on how to manage the other 90%.
People came to me with testimonies about how the class changed their financial lives. The first thing the expert did was to have everyone create a budget.
NO ONE had a budget. No one could say exactly how much they were spending. Sure, they all knew what the rent or mortgage was, but it was often the "other" stuff that sunk them. No one could tell you with any degree of accuracy exactly what they were spending as a total.
The expert told the story of how one lady had come to him for a loan. She wanted to buy a car. She was going to pay for the car by the week at one of those "pay by the week" places.
She got angry at him when he would not lend her the money. He had her to do a budget. When she did, she was shocked to see that the weekly payments plus what she was spending on other stuff added up to more than what she was earning. If he had loaned her the money for the down payment on the car, it would have been sure financial disaster.
WRITE IT DOWN exactly how much you spend each month on EVERYTHING. You may be surprised. Just something as simple as a two pack a day cigarette habit is $200.00 per month.
Principle #8 - Learn the principle of giving.
I cannot logically explain this, but I know it is true. It is no accident that the U.S. is the most prosperous country on the face of the earth, but we also give more than any other country on earth.
Yes, I know the U.S. has flaws but that doesn't change the principle or the result. We benefit from our benevolence; we suffer for our malice.
God spoke a Word of Wisdom to me personally concerning money.
"Anything beyond sufficiency is insignificant."
It has taken me a long time to understand that but the longer I live, the more convinced I am of that truth.
Money is similar to food. You need it; if you run short, it gets very uncomfortable and even unhealthy. Yet excess consumption has great dangers. Having excess food is wonderful if you do the right thing. The problem is not in having the excess; the excess is a blessing. The challenge is in doing the right thing with the excess.
Even the Old Testament of the Bible listed lack of both money and food as a curse and its abundance a blessing. The problem was that it wasn't long after the abundance that the people became corrupt. It is very hard to keep abundance in balance.
That's why Jesus said it was HARD for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Money has always been and always will be an issue. It traps most in this world; it even traps most of us preachers.
"No servant 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."
The Pharisees, (ministers and priests) who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts." What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight. (Luke 16:13-15 NIV)
The messages of this week have presented you with the principles for abundance and some guidance for using the abundance.
The next issue is my story on what God specifically spoke to me concerning how to handle the blessing of money. To read it, click here:
Remember that a golden chain binds just as tight as an iron one.
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