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What Does Money Make of You?

A salesman was trying to sell a housewife a home freezer. He pointed out, "You can save enough on your food bills to pay for the freezer." The woman quickly agreed, "Yes, I know. But we're already paying for our car on the taxi fares we save. Then we're paying for our washing machine on the laundry bills we save, and we're paying for the house on the rent we're saving. I'm afraid we just can't afford to save any more right now." She had a different take on saving money, didn't she?! If you really want to read some revolutionary advice about money, listen to Jesus' financial advice in Matthew 6:19-21 and verse 24: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also ... No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Jesus is clear in this passage that we can master money, or money can come to master us! An anonymous poet challenges our materialistic age with these words about earthly wealth: "Dug from the mountainside, washed from the glen, servant am I or the master of men. Steal me, I curse you; earn me, I bless you; grasp me and hoard me, a fiend shall possess you; live for me, die for me, covet me, take me; angel or devil, I am what you make me!" Money has the power to do all of this — depending on what we make of it!

Focus on Matthew 6:24 quoted above where Jesus warns that money can become a master. He said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (money)." People often speak as if they own their money when just the opposite is true — money, or at least an inordinate desire for and love of it, owns the person, causing them to all sorts of unholy and illegal and unhealthy things to get or hang onto it. In the words of 1 Timothy 6:10, "the love of money is the root of all evil." The story of the "rich, young ruler" Jesus encountered is well known. But in the end we learn there was one thing the young man did not rule — his great possessions. Jesus challenged him to master his material riches — "Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." But he couldn't bring himself to do it. And the Bible says "he was sad at this word, and went away grieved, for he had great possessions" (Mark 10:21-22). But in reality he didn't have them, they had him! Henry Fielding observed, "If you make money your god, it will plague you like the devil." Because we live in a money-hungry world, we need to ask ourselves, "Are we mastering money or is it mastering us?" Oliver Goldsmith noted the perverse effect money has on human society when we make a god of it — "Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, where wealth accumulates, and men decay." What have you made of money? Your answer determines what money has made of you.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ