There are few topics that cause as much controversy within the church as money. In some places you dare not speak of it, in others it becomes an unhealthy focus. It would seem easier to ignore the topic entirely if it weren’t for the fact that Jesus talked about it a lot! A number of the parables in the gospels use money or wealth to illustrate a point. We pick up the idea that money is important, but not for its own sake so much, rather in the the way it can reveal the attitude of our hearts.
Precisely because money and wealth has become such a hot topic in the church it is very easy to get labelled, misunderstood or confused. I don’t claim to be an expert in this area of wealth and money in the bible but I have been giving it a lot of thought recently. The problem with a lot of the teachings in the bible on money and wealth is that so often it is about truth held in tension. You get the wrong end of the stick by taking distinct sides. The truth is often found somewhere in between two extremes. At times it is like navigating a perilous journey in a large ship through a field of icebergs.
One additional challenge we face in discussions on money is we often reach for stereotypes to inform our arguments. Like any stereotype they are usually completely unhelpful in the search for truth. Common unhelpful stereotypes on this topic include:
- All poor people are lazy
- All poor people are responsible for their own situation
- All poor people have nothing to offer society
- All rich people are corrupt
- All rich people have trampled on someone to get where they are
- All rich people are greedy and selfish
One final challenge to any discussion on money, wealth and riches is that we all bring baggage with us on the topic. Our upbringing often biases in one direction or the other. Normally by osmosis we pick up attitudes to money/generosity and unfortunately some of the stereotypes above.
A prickly topic indeed. As I continue to think through a healthy perspective on money and wealth these are some of the land mines I want to avoid. I’m sure I will share some more thoughts on these topics as they continue to develop. It might be a prickly topic but also an important one to give thought to.
What other land mines do I need to avoid in my thinking?!