My husband and I love the show “Locked Up Abroad” on the National Geographic Channel. If you haven’t seen it, the show takes viewers inside firsthand accounts of capture and incarceration far away from home with intimate personal interviews and dramatic reenactments. Most episodes demonstrate the terror and unfortunate consequences that can occur when one illegally chases money.
As Mike and I watch the story unfold, our faces usually reflect an attitude that silently says, “Wow, that was stupid” or “they deserved that”. But when I got to thinking about it, those people’s lust for money is really no different than ours sometimes (we just choose to say ‘no’ to body-packing drugs out of Cuba).
Money is a touchy subject in church. As a pastor’s wife, I’m not oblivious to the tension pastors face when it comes to preaching about money from the pulpit. The truth is, the Bible isn’t vague in regards to how we handle money, but unfortunately some pastor’s have poisoned the water in their selfish desire to grow their church or increase their personal income. 1 Timothy 6 puts things in perspective:
“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6: 9-10 (NIV)
Money is not inherently bad. Money, when put in its place, is actually a good thing. It allows us to provide for ourselves and our families and gives us the resources necessary to flourish in society. Success and working hard is not a bad thing either, but once again, money cannot be our focus – it cannot be our #1.
If money is #1, that means God is not #1, which will cause other things in life to fall short as well. God has a plan for each and every one of us. For some, His plan includes a large savings account. For others, living on bread alone isn’t an understatement. While we should continue to be good stewards of our resources, work hard and strive to be successful, we are called to be content with what He has given us.
Like in episodes of “Locked Up Abroad,” the desire to be rich can bring temptations that far too many give into. These temptations include but are not limited to:
- Doing something illegal
- Working yourself to death
- Not being thankful for what you have
- Marrying or dating a man for his money
And the worst? Stealing from God. Just prior to the passage above, Timothy states,
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8
Nothing we have is because of something we did; God gave us anything and everything we have. Withholding our tithes from God is like cheating on your taxes, like and employee that steals from their boss (Malachi 3:6-12). God owns 100% of our money, so giving back 10% (or more) shouldn’t be difficult. It’s simply giving back to God a portion of what was His to begin with.
Chasing money only leads to ruin and destruction. Biggie Smalls, while talented at creating a musical beat, was wrong all along. It’s not “All about the Benjamin’s”, it’s really all about Him.
Sometimes a hard look at your financial statement can be a reflection of where your heart is (Matthew 6:21). Make sure God is #1, family is #2, and money is somewhere farther down the list. Oh, and please don’t end up on an episode of “Locked Up Abroad.”
“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10 (ESV)