For Christians, the words “money” or “wealth” can be a taboo, especially when discussing it with friends or family and the goals that we might have for it.
When we talk about things such as property investment, crypto currencies, high yielding shares, wealth and financial management our internal alarm bells ring and we are on guard to make sure we are thinking through our intentions and checking our hearts.
This is a very good and wise thing that Christians do and something we need to keep doing daily. In our precautions, is there a possibility that we are too scared of money which is an attitude that in turn harms the church?
The Bible and the foundations it teaches us about money and wealth is the first thing we must keep going back to whenever we are thinking about this topic.
The Bible is clear that we can only serve one master, and that is choosing between loving money or loving God (Hebrews Chapter 13, verse 5). Under no circumstances in our lives will we ever need to choose to love money over God. One of the key reasons for this is the Bible’s emphasis that money and wealth does not gain us entry into eternal life. It is from this core principle that others are built.
We are also reminded to not be envious or covet other people’s wealth or belongings. This principle addresses sins such as greed and theft. The solution we are presented with is to be content with what we have and trust that God provides and looks after us.
Advancement of the Kingdom
Another principle that the Bible talks about is treating money as a tool or resource that can be used for the advancement of God’s kingdom, but not something to rely on. We see this in the exhortations to readers to be generous with their money and wealth and stories in the Old and New Testament about the joyful and eager generosity of believers.
An example of this is the early Macedonian church seeing giving as a great joy and privilege. Paul testifies:
“..they gave as much as they were able, even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.” (2 Corinthians chapter 8 verses 3-4).
Early Christians gave because they saw it as a privilege to serve God and His people; it was an expression of thanksgiving to God for saving us through Christ. It was also for the purpose of the advancement of God’s kingdom and for people to hear, learn and turn to Christ. This is not something that was exclusive to the early church.
In his book “Gospel Patrons: People Whose Generosity Changed the World”, John Rinehart writes the stories of three partnerships between famous Gospel workers and their relatively unknown counterparts who loved Jesus, wanted to see the Gospel transform people’s lives and were very generous in their resources for the advancement of the Gospel. Rinehart would call these partners “Gospel Patrons”
One of the Gospel Patrons was Humphrey Monmouth, an English merchant who partnered with William Tyndale. Monmouth supported all of William Tyndale’s living expenses in order to allow him to translate the New Testament to English. Monmouth would also use his business connections to enable the mass printing and distribution of the first English New Testament, allowing everyone to read the Scriptures for themselves.
Are we too complacent and scared of money?
These Christians throughout history were not only very generous with what God blessed them with, but eagerly wanted to see the Gospel proclaimed to those who do not know Jesus and who were heavily involved in their partnerships and ministries. They are an encouragement to us Christians today and their examples should spur us to think through how we, in our current circumstances that God has put us in, can use our time and wealth generously for the advancement of God’s kingdom.
For those who are able, when we think through money, wealth and investments with vehicles such as property, shares or crypto currencies, let us not approach these as though they are taboo amongst Christians. Rather, let us discuss these honestly with each other and spur each other.
One of the benefits is that it helps us not make money or investment mistakes. There are many such as: not budgeting and understanding our expenses, negative gearing our properties, timing the share market and speculative investment into crypto-currencies without understanding.
We should be asking difficult questions to each other such as: whether we really need 4 coffees a day or whether that extra overseas holiday is required. We can also challenge each other in our investments by asking whether we should really be buying that stock that is “tipped” to spike (potential gambling) or acquiring more property through bad negative gearing debt and reduce discretionary income.
By being smart in how we earn money (whether through work or passive income streams), budget and use our wealth, we can make a bigger impact than expected and expand our capacity to support Gospel ministry. Our approach of money as a taboo may actually be harming us as the Bible cautions us against loving and relying on money, but there is nothing wrong with wealth itself.
Instead, by being open and honestly discussing how we think about money, wealth and investment with each other we can aim to keep each other accountable against the love of money and identifying Gospel needs and opportunities (there are plenty!) that we should be generously giving to and partnering with. Ultimately we will spur each other in how we can play our part, by God’s will, to advance His kingdom.
Brandon Tsang is a Sydney-based writer currently working in IT. He studied Marketing and Economics at UNSW and loves to spend his spare time hiking, playing volleyball or watching Netflix.
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