Money: Foundational Ideas

“Money has never made man happy, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has, the more one wants.”
–Benjamin Franklin

I think it’s time we talk about the five-letter word that nobody wants to talk about: M-O-N-E-Y. Money is like your cousin Eddie—the family member who nobody wants to talk about. Discussion about him is frowned upon at family gatherings. Nobody wants to mention his name. Even granny holds back. Even granny, for Pete’s sake! I do apologize if your name is Eddie or Pete (#sorrynotsorry). Money seems to be such a taboo topic in our culture today. It’s the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. But it’s a topic that we cannot avoid especially as we venture deeper into simplicity. It should come as no surprise that money was one of Jesus’ major teaching points found in the gospels. Except for the kingdom of God, He talked about money more than any other topic. In this post, we’ll look at some foundational ideas on money that will hopefully ground our understanding of it. We’ll then explore more about money throughout this blog especially as it relates to simplicity.

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Money is not evil nor is it a sin to possess it. Contrary to what some may believe, money is not evil. The Bible tells us that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10, ESV, emphasis added). But money itself isn’t evil. Money can certainly be used (and often is) for ill purposes. Where evil thrives anywhere in the world, chances are that a love for money is likely at its root. But the simple possession of money is neither sinful nor wrong. It’s clear that we need money in order to participate in this world economically and nowhere in the Bible does it condemn the possession of it.

There’s a difference between the possession of money and the utilization of it. I don’t think it’s helpful for us to speculate on how much money is acceptable for Christians to have. The Bible doesn’t inform us of specific limits and examples abound in the Old and New Testaments of worshipers of God who fall within the whole economic spectrum. I believe God is more concerned about the proper utilization of money (how it’s being used) rather than the actual possession of it (how much we have). You can possess a large quantity of money and utilize it very well for God’s kingdom. In the same manner, you can possess very little money and likewise utilize it very well for God’s kingdom. A good question to constantly ask ourselves is this: am I utilizing the money and resources entrusted by God for the right things—things like being generous to others and moving God’s kingdom forward? We’ll talk more about how God expects us to use money later. But for now, it’s important for us to understand that money—whether in large quantities or small—will always be a matter of proper stewardship.

Contentment and keeping an eternal perspective is important. No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, we should seek to be content where we are. Paul told his young mentee, Timothy, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8, ESV). The apostle Paul urges us to be content with whatever we currently have in this world. Money and the things money can buy can never be the determining factor for happiness and fulfillment. Contrary to popular opinion, our personal worth is never measured in dollar signs. The Bible is very clear about where our wealth and riches are really found as believers in Jesus. They’re found in heaven (see Matt. 6:19-21 and Eph. 1:3). And so it’s important for us to keep an eternal perspective in mind when handling earthly resources that will come our way.

So here are some of my initial thoughts on the topic of money. As always, comments and insights are welcomed to help unravel the complexity of this topic.