“Money: a great servant but a cruel master”

The person who first said this to me wasn’t just throwing something at me to sound clever.  He had learned the secret of contentment.

The Lord had blessed this man with a great amount of money.  And as tempting as it is in contemporary American culture to think this man as a greedy, rotten, self-centered person who drives after wealth by stepping on poor people, nothing could be further from the truth.

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This man and his wife remain some of the most generous, kind-hearted, warm, humble, and gracious Christ-followers I know. 

Only Heaven knows how much money this couple has given to others simply because they knew the Lord had given them their wealth to invest in the Kingdom work of Jesus.

To them, money was not something they pursued.  Instead, it was a tool they leveraged for Jesus.  Money was not their master; it was their servant.  And they are servants of Jesus.

Early on, this couple learned the truth of Proverbs 23:4-5.

4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. 5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.  

Proverbs 23:4-5
New International Version

The crazy thing about money: it seems the more we have the less we make.  The desire to have money is unquenchable. 

I once worked alongside a man who looked me square in the eye and said, “I love wealth.  I love making money.”  That man is now in a prison for a bank robbery.

Our own cleverness for making money can make us do strange things.  It tempts us to compromise and go places in our behaviors we would normally never go.  It calls us to wear ourselves out to get more of it only to leave us wanting more.

We can exhaust ourselves trying to gain riches.  And yet, as surely as we get it, it will “sprout wings and fly off to the sun…”.

Money is a cruel master.

Wealth is a mirage; it doesn’t exist.  Here’s what I mean: think back to your first job.  Didn’t that paycheck seem like such “good money”?  Could you live off that paycheck now?

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If you’ve been in the workforce for a decade or more, you are “wealthy” compared to when you started.  Back then, what you make now was “rich”.  Do you feel “rich”?  Wealth is a mirage and we will run ourselves to the ground trying to catch it.

The wisdom of this Proverb is also that of my friend: ensure money is a tool or a resource.  Do not let it become your master. 

One of the key ways the Lord teaches us to use money and not to be used by it is by teaching us generosity.  By tithing to our local congregation, giving to other Christian organizations, and supporting the Lord’s work across the world, He’s teaching us to leverage what we have for Him. 

It’s not about the dollars; it’s about our attitude. 

Throw off the chains of your money as your master and put it under your feet as a tool to advance things of eternal consequence.