I have an unpopular theory about money. I know it’s unpopular because I’ve seen the exact opposite point made about a half dozen times just this week. For those of you who say money is neutral, amoral, or just a tool, I’ll just say I love you, but I’m not sure that I completely agree. So here’s my stab at challenging our conventional thinking. (If I generate some thought-provoking discussion, I’ll consider this post a success.)
Money, so we are told, is amoral. It is a neither a negative nor a positive force. It simply is.
For a long time, I agreed with this assessment that money is completely neutral, neither good nor bad. My thinking went something like this – money can be used for good. Money can be used for bad. Money must be neutral, and it only depends on whose hand it falls into if money is good or bad.
However, I now have the highly unpopular opinion that money is not neutral. I believe that the Bible describes money as something more – something with a great deal of influence. I know this idea is unpopular because almost every time I read a Christian book or post about money, people say it is amoral. Dave Ramsey is one of the common proponents of this teaching.
Once I read Money Sex & Power: The Challenge of the Disciplined Life, my perspective of money began to change. I highly (very highly) recommend this book to any Christian who wants to challenge his or her view of money.
I’ve discussed more about that book and the topic money – good or bad. The basic point is that, for Christians, money is an idol we must be converted from in order to be converted to him. When we are fully committed to Christ, we master the power of money and put it in service to the Kingdom of God.
What a Rock Teaches About A True Amoral Item
So I thought it would be beneficial to compare money to other undisputed amoral item – a rock.
Why didn’t Jesus teach about rocks as much as he taught about money? A rock can be taken and bashed against a vehicle and cause irreparable damage. A stone (just ask Goliath) can be flung into the air causing the death of another human being. The rock can be responsible for taking one of the things most precious to God – a life.
And yet, Jesus never talked about the dangers of a rock. A rock in the hands of a bad person can be bad, but a rock in the hands of a good person can be used to craft a children’s home or any other wonderful building.
But, Jesus did talk a lot about money. I believe this is because money has the innate ability to be something more.
The Bible Says Money Can Be A Master
Money is often in competition with discipleship. It often becomes a sort of idol or god people follow. In fact, in the deeply disappointing story commonly know as the rich young ruler, a man does in fact choose to follow money instead of Jesus.
What is it about money that would make that happen?
None us might have the vocabulary to properly explain it, but in our guts, we all know it’s true. There’s just something about money. Greed. Power. Accumulation. Wealth. Even if you can’t articulate it, you know there is something different about a rock and money.
- Our God has always been an unapologetically jealous God (Exodus 34:14). He refuses to be second on any list. And money, so it seems, from the pages of history, interrupts that order. Money has too often become the master.
- Why, I wonder, would Jesus say, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:24 NIV)” if he considered money to be neutral?
- The depth of the disciples’ commitment to Jesus was attested by the words of Peter – Master we left everything to follow you. Peter showed that nothing is competing for his allegiance.
- In Matthew, Jesus’ third temptation was to bow down to Satan in order to receive all of the kingdoms of this world. Jesus, however, felt like he must worship and serve God only. There is a parallel relationship between bowing down and getting money. The money is the temptation. Worshipping Satan is the vehicle to attain the money. (Mt. 4:8-11). In fact, it seems as though if Jesus cannot be convinced to turn down a money temptation, then he cannot be turned. So Satan leaves him.
- Matthew 6:19-24 – where your treasure is, so also is your heart. Money and God cannot be served at the same time.
- Matthew 19:16-25 – money was the stumbling block that disallowed this man to follow.
Money at the Site of the Accident: An Analogy
Imagine you are a police officer investigating a 5th accident in 6 months at a specific intersection without traffic lights. Do you think you are going to request a traffic light to be placed at the intersection? I think you would. It is not a coincidence that so many people have had accidents at this intersection. This is a dangerous intersection.
When you look through the pages of history, I think you will find that money is an intersection where people often face spiritual destruction. How, I wonder, does something amoral cause so much damage?
I think it is time that as Christians we put up some flashing orange lights around money. Time to say that there is something dangerous about this intersection, and if you don’t proceed with caution, you might be the next casualty.
Money Cannot Be Neutral
As a result, it seems as though money can never truly be a neutral, passive, or amoral thing. It must be slave or master. It is never simply in the middle. Christians are those who proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9). Thus, the line has been drawn. The allegiance has been determined. With only one throne available, money must be relegated to servant.
Money is slave when it is used in ways unnatural to its nature. To give is to use money in an unnatural way. When we give, we show our mastership over, not our slavery to money.
Bible Says Money Must Be Removed As Master and Positioned As Servant
As our lives are daily put in service to Jesus Christ and his kingdom, our money also must be put in service to Jesus Christ and his kingdom.
But, you thought money was something negative? That’s the beauty of our God. He can take anything and use it for his glory. Have you looked in the mirror lately? Just like God took us despised and rejected, hideous creatures and gave us new life, new meaning, and new purpose. We now take that which Satan loves to master, and we restrict it to a place of servitude. Our money is now used for the purposes and glory of God. This is most clearly done through the act of giving.
When you take out your checkbook, your credit card, or a dollar bill, you are entering into an epic spiritual battle. Sure, no one is going to get popcorn and watch you, but in that moment, you are deciding if money is your master or slave.
Alright … let me have it. What have I missed? Why does everyone else say money is neutral? Is there any possibility that money is something more?