The Christian attitude to Money
By HG Bishop Moussa
Although money is a gift from God and has an important role in our lives, yet it is a root cause of all the recent conflicts at the individual, family, and international levels. For this reason the Bible established basic principles for using money to promote human happiness and serve mankind. These principles have been defined to prevent us from making money into another god and worshipping it. So what are these principles?
1. Money Is A Gift
"God... gives us richly all things to enjoy" (1Tim 6:17). So whatever the material income we have may be, it is a real gift from God. In fact, if God hadn't given us life we would not have received that money and unless He had given us scientific, practical and technical abilities we couldn't have gotten anything. Not only that, if He hadn't given us health we couldn't have used the different parts of our bodies in producing what brings money to us: for example a painter uses hands, an engineer uses eyes, a player uses feet and so on. Therefore, the Bible teaches us to talk to God when we offer alms for helping the poor or the church, saying: "All things come from You, and of Your own we have given You" (1Chron 29:14).
2. Money Is Not Essential For Life
God said: "One's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Lk 12:15), and He also said "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Mt 4:4). "For in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Hence life - and health too - is a gift from God. Therefore, whatever we spend or however far we travel, our own efforts to enjoy a good life and good health will end in failure - because life is His and health is His too.
3. Money Is Not Essential For Happiness
"Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife" (Prov 17:1). Happiness is a spiritual and psychological quality which comes from a living relationship with God: a soul at peace, a mind at rest, knowing God's forgiveness, and genuine love of all people whoever and whatever they may be. From this logical concept we can see how hard it is to buy happiness with money: in fact money has brought sadness to those who have a great deal of it. They rest all their hopes on investing or keeping it, but sometimes they destroy themselves by chasing a false happiness.
4. Money Is Transitory
St. Paul says: "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God" (1Tim 6:17). This verse is true: money is uncertain. It may come today and go tomorrow. You may get a fortune today and lose it very quickly again when circumstances change. Money is a dynamic thing. So we must be cautious of it: depending on it could cause a nervous breakdown.
5. Money Is A Talent
The Bible commands those who are rich to "Do good, that they may be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come" (1Tim 6:18-19). So what is required is to invest money for the glory of Jesus Christ and the comfort and salvation of fellow human beings, especially those who share with us in faith. "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). The more we give, the more we are increased in blessings. "The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself" (Prov 11:25). In fact some who are rich have also been rich in faith and offered great service to mankind.
We are stewards over "unrighteous mammon" (Lk 16:1-15). This means that money is not ours, but a gift from God. Think of the unjust steward who used worldly wealth to make friends. Although this money was not his, but his master's, he used it to win friends and influence people. The unjust steward's behavior was wrong in that he had used what he did not have, yet God orders us to learn from "the people of this age", to invest the money which He has given us for the purpose of having prayerful friends. God has entrusted us with our money so we must use it conscientiously. We use what we need and leave what we don't to the will of God, Who may use it in coping with an emergency.
Therefore, God warns us about being wasteful: "The drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty"(Prov 23:21). He encourages us to take up the pieces left over to serve others (Mt 15:37).
6. Don't Depend On Money!
Depending on money is a denial of God. The Lord said: "How hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!" (Mk 10:24), or as Job said: "If I had made gold my hope, or said to fine gold 'You are my confidence'... I would have denied God Who is above" (Job 31:24-28). So the problem lies in considering money as a pillar of life and a support for the future. Yet this doesn't mean we don't save, as saving is different from depending on money. Saving means keeping the money we don't need and offering it to God to use it according to His own will either for service or for unforeseen circumstances.
So we must believe that God is essentially our sole Supporter, but money is not: "He who trusts in his riches will fall" (Prov 11:28).
7. Don't Crave For Money!
Those who love money fall into a lot of evils, such as theft, embezzlement, and illegal practices, because they want to be rich. "Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" (1Tim 6:9-10). So when God said: "No servant can serve two masters ... you cannot serve both God and mammon" (Lk 16:13), He meant thatthe love of money is opposed to the worship of God.
8. Enough Is Enough!
People are always trying to improve their personal income. They keep changing jobs looking for a higher income, but the main aim must be to have enough, not to live in luxury. There is really a great difference between the two: "Godliness with contentment is great gain" (1Tim 6:6); "Be content with such things as you have" (Heb 13:5). "God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work" (2Cor 9:8). Satisfaction should be the norm: "Give us this day ourdaily bread." This is what makes for a contented life livedfor the glory of God. God does not want us to be miserable,but to be happy. He gives us the right to be satisfied.But as for pleasure: "She who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives" (1Tim 5:6). And as for what people admire and run after: "All that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it" (1Jn 2:16-17).
9. Planning The Budget
A Christian must plan the budget for the family. A couple must honestly collect their money together and budget for their needs according to their priorities:
For God: the 'firstlings' or the first portion of everything we produce, the tithe or tenth, and the vows.
For each partner: a suitable sum of money for personal expenses.
For the family: its daily and monthly expenses.
For the children: a family must plan a better future for its children.
For the parents: when they have a special need.
For savings: we must allow God to act according to His will either for the family or for others.
The spirit of understanding, love, justice and righteousness must prevail among us. There's no doubt that a lot of families break up because of money, even though it should not carry so much weight in our lives.