Tim Keller on Money

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From this (1 Chronicles 29:11, 14) we learn, 1) Despite how much you worked for your wealth–everything you have is a gift from God. Even if you have worked hard for what you have, it was only with health, talent, abilities and “luck” (favorable circumstances) God gave you that you were able to achieve what you did. If it was not for God, you could have been born on a mountain in Mongolia in the 11th century—and then where would you be financially? 2) Secondly, God does not give up ownership of his creation when it leaves his hand and comes into yours. The more money you have, the more power you have to arrange and influence what happens in your piece of the world. However, though God gives you power over certain pieces of the world, he does not give you ownership of that piece! Bill Gates has power over more of the world than you do, and you have more power than many others, but none of us own any of it. 3) That leads to a stark conclusion: a lack of generosity is not just stinginess, but robbery. Matthew 25, the parable of the talents, very specifically says that we are to invest the money God gives us into God’s causes and seek to multiply its effectiveness in the lives of others. In this way, we are like investment managers–we are not to use our ‘client’s’ money in a way that violates his values and purposes. A failure to use the owner’s money as he wishes, for his investments, is not being miserly, it is being a thief.

The Bible talks about money 20 or 30 times more than it talks about sex. Why? Because money’s spiritual power blinds us to itself. When people are committing adultery, they know they are doing it. But hardly anyone who loves money too much knows they do. People are always confessing sexual sins, but almost no one thinks ‘I’m materialistic’ or ‘I’m greedy.’ If A) the Bible continually warns us about the danger of materialism, yet B) almost no one thinks they are guilty of it, then C) it means a great number of people are blinded to (and by!) the power of money in their lives. The only responsible thing to do is go on the working hypothesis that we are infected by materialism and must be on the watch for it. If materialism is this insidious and stupefying, it is a lot like alcoholism. Maybe the best sign of materialism is this – you aren’t willing to even admit the possibility that you are enslaved to greed.

The only way we can be free from the power of money, and to be sure we are free (and not self-deluded), is to give money away so much that we lower our living standards. We must know that we live in smaller or less opulent surroundings, that we take simpler vacations, that we spend less money on clothes, etc, than we otherwise would.

(Tim Keller, Money and Christian Worldview)

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