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The Bible is a spiritual book, but not so spiritual that money doesn't matter. It does matter, mostly because of the human inclination to worship money instead of God. It matters because from the beginning of time human relations have been soured by greed. The movie character who gave the notorious "Greed is good" speech was echoing the world's wisdom, not the Word of God.
In fact, the Bible takes the position that will shock no one: Money doesn't satisfy.
The rich and the poor have this in common: The LORD made them both.
Riches won't help on the day of judgment, but right living is a safeguard against death. Proverbs 11:4
Trust in your money and down you go! But the godly flourish like leaves in spring. Proverbs 11:28
It is better to have little with fear for the LORD than to have great treasure with turmoil. A bowl of soup with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate.
Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished.
The hot sun rises and dries up the grass; the flower withers, and its beauty fades away. So also, wealthy people will fade away with all of their achievements.
Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth -- except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers!
People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich are always worrying and seldom get a good night's sleep.
There is another serious problem I have seen in the world. Riches are sometimes hoarded to the harm of the saver, or they are put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one's children. People who live only for wealth come to the end of their lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day they were born.
And this, too, is a very serious problem. As people come into this world, so they depart. All their hard work is for nothing. They have been working for the wind, and everything will be swept away.
A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty.
Look here, you rich people, weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh in hell. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every whim. Now your hearts are nice and fat, ready for the slaughter. You have condemned and killed good people who had no power to defend themselves against you.
Jesus, who apparently owned very little, understood that the key problem with money is that we let it separate us from God. It isn't bad in itself, but we let it become an idol.
"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
Jesus said again, "Dear children, it is very hard for those who trust in riches to get into the Kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!"
The disciples were astounded. "Then who in the world can be saved?" they asked.
Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God."
Paul and the other apostles knew that Christians, like human beings in general, forget that their money should be used to benefit others. It seems that the more we have, the more likely we are to neglect our fellow man, and to neglect God:
The love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.
The Book of God's Promises -- Copyright, 1999 by J. Stephen Lang. All rights reserved, used with permission.
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