There is one common criticism of all Christian churches; “They just want my …” and I don’t need to finish the sentence. We all know.
Instead of defending something wrong, we should admit that there are serious problems with money management, everywhere. Religious groups beg and most people don’t want to give.
Jim and Tammy Bakker took money for their PTL ministry and spent it on an amusement park and an air-conditioned dog house. Oral Roberts said ‘send me a million dollars or God will take me home’ and he was paid by the owner of a dog racing park.
We are all infected with wrong thinking about money. The best of us earn and save, and spend carefully, and the rest miss at least one of those points “earn – save – spend.” The formula is simple and it applies to everyone, you, me, and church leaders. It is simple, and it is fundamentally wrong.
One of the great money prophets of our time is Gail Vas-Oxlade. Her books are popular, and on her TV show she loves to take on “princess” shopaholics. She makes those fools cry about their money craziness, and it’s great entertainment; as long as the finger of judgement is not pointed at me. Gail Vas-Oxlade makes sense, but I disagree with her. Please note, this is disagreement with great respect.
Ms Vaz Oxlade claims that she will not divorce her husband, although they live apart. She will not file for divorce because it will cost her $1000 and she will not spend the money. And she is a wealthy woman.
So what is wrong with the ‘earn – save – spend’ formula? It fits perfectly with my Scottish sentiments.
Should we earn money? Yes. Should we save? Sometimes. Should we spend? No.
Earning: the Bible says if a man will not work, he should not eat (II Thessalonians 3:10 ), and therapy for thieves is the opposite of stealing, work hard to have money to give away (Ephesians 4:28 ).
Saving: We need money when the bills come due, but Jesus said “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupts, and where thieves break through and steal. “ (Matthew 6:19-21)
Spending: Don’t spend, invest.
The secret is to invest all resources. Life makes more sense when we do this because life is a busy project, and projects need support.
If Jesus was among us today, we might think he was an investment consultant. He talked about money often, and his focus was on investing. He told a story about servants who guarded a King’s money while he was away. When the King returned, those who invested were rewarded. Greater returns got greater rewards. The man who carefully saved the king’s money and got no return on his investment was executed “throw this useless servant into outer darkness.” (Matthew 25:14-30) I think he was sent to hell, for saving too much.
Also, spenders as bad investors are condemned in the Bible: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2) and “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3)
Paul invested his money and his life into people “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?” (II Corinthians 12:15)
Too many of us have lost our purpose. Every life is a project, and all resources are investments. A car, a home, an education, money in the bank, and a good job are nothing until they contribute to a purpose. And healthy food and exercise can keep us useful. At least that’s the theory.
If you take your family to a church, you should invest money there; or find a different church. Why invest time in a bad investment that doesn’t deserve your support?
And an air conditioned dog house is a foolish investment.
And to Gail Vaz-Oxlade, investing wisely is different from saving and not spending. I am not advising divorce. Maybe your thousand dollars should be spent on marriage counseling, but life should not be suspended by withholding a small investment. You have important things to do and resources should be invested.
We each have a life on this Earth to do, not to be. How is your project coming?