Today I’m posting the second post on a discussion I had with Paul Williams (from Provident Planning) regarding wealth Christians. I have attached our email exchanges:
My response to Paul
Sorry for the long delay. Here’s my follow up. Perhaps it is more of a discussion starter than another point.
Paul, I think it is clear that we are more in agreement with each other than we are in disagreement. So the question becomes – where then is the prophetic voice? I think both you and I recognized the danger of ‘calling out’ wealthy Christians just because they have nice houses and buy luxurious things. We recognize that it is an issue of the heart. And we both recognize there is a spiritual danger with wealth.
Christians dismiss everything as “as a matter of the heart”. Of course, it is a matter of the heart, but throughout the Bible people were often at a place of spiritual blindness. Since we are the wealthy teaching the wealthy, it seems that all of us feel hypocritical about addressing the topic. I know that I often do.
But doesn’t the heart impact actions? Is there ever a point where what a person keeps or what a person gives indicates the heart is tainted? I firmly believe that the Bible does not allow Christians to judge the heart, intention, or motives of another. Thankfully, that is God’s job. However, there are many examples where we are encouraged to challenge each other’s actions. An unhealthy action reflects an unhealthy heart.
Is there ever a point that someone can challenge another Christian and say, “You have too much”. Jesus did, but he was Jesus. The prophets did, but their words were the Word of the Lord.
In many ways, I don’t like the phrase “personal finance.” I think as Christians our finances should be a lot more “open” than “personal”.
How can we honestly and legitimately check the condition of our own heart when it comes to self evaluating our relationship with wealth?
You’ve brought up some excellent questions. And I’m not sure there are definitive answers or lines in the sand. For me, calling other wealthy Christians to examine their hearts regarding wealth is a matter of encouraging them to look at their response to those in need. And this is how I try to examine my own heart. When I see a person in need, do I close my heart of compassion against them or do I look for ways I could help – even if it means sacrificing some of the things I’d like to keep for myself?
If we’re not willing to help those in need or lay down our lives (deny ourselves) for our brothers in need, then I think we have an unhealthy relationship with whatever money we have (whether a small amount or a great amount). I think this was part of Jesus’ point in His teaching on do not worry. He seemed to be telling us that we ought to generously give what we have to help the poor – trusting that God will provide for our needs as we seek His kingdom first. Our first reaction is, "I might need that for myself or my own family." or "I don’t want to give that up." But Jesus seems to challenge us to first trust God to provide for our needs, and second, to carefully examine ourselves and make sure we’re serving God and not money.
So I think we can still challenge each other as Christians, even if we’re wealthy and not quite there ourselves, to be looking toward a generosity that isn’t bound by our worries or our selfishness. We can push ourselves to make loving sacrifices for the sake of those in need and encourage others to do the same.
What do you think?
Well, Paul finished by asking what I think. But, I’d like to defer that question to you – what do you think?