Christians try to pretend that money doesn't matter,
but seriously, we're just full of -
well - you fill in the blank.
If it didn't matter, God wouldn't have devoted great portions of scripture to discussing gold, the rich, the poor, giving, and greed.
Some say there are over 2000 verses that relate to finances.
I've read statistics that 15% of what Jesus said related to money and that there are more verses on money than there are on hell.
Life's too short for me to count Bible verses so you'll have to do your own fact checking on that.
I've spent much of my life missing the boat on God's teaching about money.
(I am such a slow learner that I'm sure I'm one of the reasons God decided life had to be eternal. About 5000 years into life on the other side, I imagine I'll have a slew of "aha" moments and God will just slap His holy forehead.)
For instance, for most of my life, I've thought money was just bad and to be avoided at all costs.
You can tell because my choices of college major and career look as though I was thinking "How can I find a way to work the longest, hardest hours with the least opportunity for financial gain? That will certainly impress God."
So, I reached my goal on the hard job/low pay front but now I've come to understand that Jesus would have loved me and been pleased with me even if I'd been a Fortune 500 CEO.
(Great! It's a little late in life for THAT revelation, right?)
And, I'm sort of a stingy giver.
Okay, I'm a seriously stingy giver.
If I have $1.00, well, it's MY dollar. And it probably took me two hours to earn it so it's very special to me.
Tossing it and several more like it into a collection plate next to the shiny dollars of Christian CEO's and doctors and engineers takes a Herculean amount of effort on my part and a solid shove from the Holy Spirit.
(So right away, you see I lose big points on the cheerful giver part and that is usually my argument with the Holy Spirit for why I should snatch it back out of the plate, you know, out of a twisted interpretation of obedience to 2 Corinthians 9:7)
Anyway, I've developed the self-discipline part of giving and God's now working with me on the cheerful part, having explained to me that He can tell when I'm faking.
(There are vast unsanctified wastelands that remain in my soul in need of the continuing work of Christ.)
But, in struggling financially myself and working with people who live in poverty, I can assure you that money matters.
Not because money itself matters - it will pass away when the earth passes away
but it matters at the grocery story, with the electric company, and at the gas pump
it matters when my kid needs something I can't buy
and it matters like when Jesus was talking with His disciples about bread, He wasn't really talking about bread but about something more.
When God talks about money, it's because He's talking about a whole lot more.
Money matters because it's a great revealer - it reveals our spiritual poverty and lack of love like nothing else does.
My struggle to be a cheerful giver, reveals my lack of faith, personal greed, and penchant for comparing my lot to others. It shows that sometimes I worry that God won't take care of me so maybe I need to take care of myself. It reveals that I still love myself first.
That momentary struggle at the collection plate reminds me that no matter how many cool blog posts I write, I still need Him on a really basic level in order to become the loving woman He wants me to be.
People with plenty of money have their own revelations -
how much is enough? does their security rest in their savings and investments or in Jesus? are they willing to give sacrificially? do they judge people with fewer resources? do they blame people with fewer resources - think they're not as smart or as blessed as they are? do they thank themselves for their wealth or God?
When we're in a position to affect another person's financial situation, do we make our decisions based on God's guidelines or "is it just business - nothing personal"?
Here's one thing God knows about money that we're too stupid to figure out - it's ALWAYS personal. It's NEVER just business.
How we handle money, resources, financial decisions, giving, spending, receiving - it reveals our personal relationship with Jesus and our love (or lack of it) for others.
When Bernie Madoff stole millions of dollars from rich people - he didn't just take their money - he robbed them of years of work, future dreams, inheritances they'd planned for their children, self-respect, dignity, independence. That's personal.
When companies "downsize" or institute layoffs, it's intensely personal for the men and women affected and even by the ones left employed who have to fill their roles, often for the same pay, and now work under a cloud of guilt and fear.
The only people who tell others that "money isn't important" are the people not wanting for it.
People without money know it's important - not just for what it can buy but mostly for what it reveals.
Money is the hand that pulls back the curtain on Oz revealing him as a fraud.
Money matters because it reveals our spiritual poverty
but there's a cure for that that can be found in a relationship with the One who uses gold to pave His streets.