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Christians And Money

By bro Alvin Lin

There are 2 common misconceptions concerning money among Christians. For some, they see money as an evil that they regard as sinful to have. For others, they see money as an indication of God’s favour that they aspire and overwork to be rich. The truth of the matter is that money is neither inherently good nor bad. There are many examples of rich people who are pleasing to God – Abraham (Gen 13:2), Job (Job 1:3), Joseph (Mat 27:57), Zacchaeus (Luk 19:2) – as well as many who are displeasing to Him – rich fool (Luk 12:16), rich man (Luk 16:19), rich young ruler (Luk 18:23). The problem then is not with money itself, but with the attitudes toward money. The commonality among the aforementioned rich men who displease God is that they really loved money (1Ti 6:10) – the rich fool loved money more than God (Luk 12:21), the rich man loved money more than his fellow men (Luk 16:25), and the rich young ruler loved money more than his soul (Luk 18:22). The danger with loving money is that it will replace the love of God (1Jo 2:15), trust in God (1Ti 6:17), and service to God (Luk 16:13). How then should Christians handle money? Let’s consider the example of the Macedonians.

How they gave

The churches of Macedonia (which includes the Philippians, Thessalonians, and Bereans) gave joyfully even though they were in a “great trial of affliction”, and they gave liberally even though they were in “deep poverty” (2Co 8:2). The generosity of the Macedonian churches is a real eye-opener to us. While we are sometimes reluctant to give to appeals for help from brethren because we want to save up for a rainy day, the Macedonians were eager to give to needy brethren even though they are facing problems of their own. While we are sometimes tight-fisted with our giving because we want to spend on ourselves, the Macedonians gave “beyond their power” even though they did not have enough for themselves (2Co 8:3).

What they gave

The churches of Macedonia gave to help the “poor saints which are at Jerusalem” (Rom 15:26), as well as to help Paul in his missionary journeys on a number of occasions (2Co 11:8-9; Php 4:15-16). The example of the Macedonian churches is a proof of their growing love, knowledge, and discernment (Php 1:9-10). We are likewise commanded to “do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10 c.f. Mat 25:41-45), and to support evangelistic efforts (3Jo 5-8 c.f. Mat 10:40-42). Of course, our giving for benevolence and evangelism ought to be motivated by love, otherwise “it profiteth [us] nothing” (1Co 13:3).

Why they gave

The churches of Macedonia gave not for personal pride or glory, but because they wanted to share the grace that they have received from God with others (2Co 8:1). Paul affirmed that the giving of the Philippians is a “fruit that may abound to [their] account” and is a “sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God” (Php 4:17-18). When we give for the aid of the needy and for the spread of the gospel, we bring glory to God (2Co 9:11-13), and at the same time foster closer bonds with fellow men (2Co 9:14). In doing so, we are “laying up in store for [ourselves] a good foundation against the time to come, that [we] may lay hold on eternal life” (1Ti 6:19).

The fact of the matter is that we are merely stewards of God’s money and one day we will be called to give an account (1Pe 4:10). Everyone of us has been given “gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us” (Rom 12:6), and those who have been blessed with riches have an obligation to give with liberality (Rom 12:8, ASV). After all, “to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required” (Luk 12:48). Let us therefore learn “in whatsoever state [we are], therein to be content” (Php 4:11), and use whatever we have for God’s glory (1Pe 4:11).

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