The Limitations of Money
The topic of this study is “The Limitations of Money.” I want to make clear at the beginning that this study is not particularly directed at any individual; yet in another way it is directed at every individual. There is a tendency in man’s heart to think that the resources, and other advantages which more money offers, are able to accomplish more good than they are really able to. At the very least, every person has a tendency in one form or another that pulls them towards some attitude towards money which is not in line with Biblical values and Biblical righteousness. I need to hear this myself and what I am about to present is something which I needed to zero in on and focus on for myself in keeping my own heart, even if I didn’t share this with anyone else
We’ll start by just reading Proverbs chapter 2:
“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. 7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. 8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. 9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path. 10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; 11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: 12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; 13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; 15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths: 16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; 17 Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. 18 For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. 19 None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life. 20 That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. 22 But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.”
So in light of what we’ve just read, even one wicked choice involved in obtaining money will undo all the good which that money could possibly do- and worse yet! Whenever we neglect spiritual wisdom and neglect to do whatever the whole counsel of God requires of us, then we are really poor and headed for destruction- and that is true whether our heart is set on things like material wealth and financial security or whether we’re simply slothful for any reason in the Word of God, prayer, and the overall pursuit of righteousness before God.
It’s important to remember that the goal always ought to be righteousness, not wealth and not poverty. It cannot be understated how important it is to set our hearts on doing what is right before God and to view all our dealings with mammon as avenues to obtain THAT- and if/when we do so, then obviously any wrong attitude towards mammon and any dishonest or any shady dealing with mammon at all will seem hideous to us and utterly counterproductive to our ultimate goal! And whenever such dealings don’t seem utterly hideous and unthinkable to act upon, then that is a red flag that our hearts are not right and that mourning and repentance before God is surely needed.
James 4:7-10: “7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
And if you read James 4 in its context there, it is very much dealing with the carnal strife to obtain the things of earth which all men are prone to as well as the neglect to do well in the pursuit of things of earth which all men are prone to. With all this said then, the very common concept, especially a concept that has come to be associated with Christian ministry, that goes something like “”If I only had more wealth/money/mammon, I could do so much more good” is seen to be fraudulent- especially when such is said as a complaint.” A narrow exception to this might be if it is said by someone who is in a position to literally save people’s lives who are in dire circumstances, like people starving or otherwise being delivered to death (like the brothers we know in famine right now with people and animals literally dying before their eyes and the people who are rescuing Christians and other enemies of the Taliban in Afghanistan now). But when that’s really the case it is someone literally putting their own life on the line and offering their blood essentially to help others in desperate need- definitely not the context of the vast majority of such lamentations and definitely not the case when someone one’s own lifestyle has the potential to be enhanced beyond mere necessities were they to be given more wealth/money/mammon.
The Apostle Paul was much more concerned with the young man he mentored, and with the Christians in general, not being content having what they needed than he was concerned with them not obtaining material wealth. And Paul obviously knew of the good which wealth might do and he was writing inspired by God’s Spirit who knew this best. Yet God also sees the whole picture and a man with much godly discernment sees the picture well enough to know that there are limitations on the good that wealth can do. There is another realm where the battle is ultimately being decided which no amount of wealth can obtain the victory in, even though it might very well be a hindrance and a distraction which prevents the victory from being won in this ultimate battle.
1 Timothy 6:5-10: “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows…”
One lesson that we can learn from the above passage is that those in poorer countries who seek to come to America or other nations which are richer than their own are often not making a good choice. Making such a move or even setting one’s heart on making such a move opens one up to a new world of temptations, challenges, frustrations, etc that are hard for even those motivated to make such a move for pure, godly reasons to handle. And if they are motivated by a more comfortable life and they are not literally fleeing famine and/or war or seeking to honestly fulfill a real duty which makes such a move a necessity, then in the spiritual realm they are not different from someone who walks across a battlefield where their enemies are waiting, seeking to shoot them, while they basically say “Shoot me! Shoot me!”
Yet fleeing the love of money and things related to that is not enough… there’s more. 1 Timothy 6:11-12a “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…”
2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
You can only have the spiritual discernment and skill to faithfully demonstrate righteousness and minister God’s Word to produce the fruit of righteousness in those you influence when you are faithful yourself to put off the old man and put on the new, to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to pursue the things God values, to do all that you know to be His will, to study His Word and find better light and good direction, to be zealous to do good before him, and to get in your proper place in the various circumstances and situations in which you find yourself. Spiritual discernment and power from the true God do not come any other way. If we are not wholeheartedly pursuing and doing righteousness and being faithful to do all that we know we ought to do before Him, then our money cannot serve righteousness and we are prime candidates for instead serving mammon and any and all deceitful lusts associated with such service. In that case we’d be better off going home and not even attempting to be gospel ministers on any level.
2 Timothy 2:1-7: “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. 6 The husbandman that laboreth must be first partaker of the fruits. 7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.”
With these things said then, it’s good to consider the things which compromised people who attempt to be gospel ministers, in spite of their service to mammon, have used as counterfeits for actual spiritual power and spiritual discernment from God. Such things have been labelled as the workings of God’s Holy Spirit when they are not. And the influence of such deceitful labeling is everywhere and we need to be aware of it and make sure we purge this influence from our own minds and methods. Here are just a few key examples:
- The use of soft music to draw people to altars, to induce them to say sinner’s prayers, make confessions of faith in Christ, etc.
- The employment of excessive, unnecessary emotion (shouting, crying, laughing, etc) to draw people to do the same and to attempt to make sermons and prayers seem powerful before God.
- Using manipulative tactics to induce guilt in people, not truly guilt about their treason against God but rather guilt related to matters which has more to do with seeming shameful before man and related to not wanting to look bad before man (if they don’t come up to the altar or put money in the collection plate or raise their hand to a certain declaration which they are being persuaded to agree to)
- The use of music, whether it be loud or soft or otherwise to stir people’s emotions and to produce emotional experiences which are carelessly and boldly declared to be encounters with God.
- The use of hypnosis and carnal psychological tactics to get people to jabber “in tongues”, to get “slain in the spirit”, to induce “holy laughter” and other various hysteria which pervade circles influenced by the fake revival Azusa Street.
- Running campaigns to build large buildings, elaborate sound systems, and other things related to a church meeting place which are obviously excessive and then when the goal is raised attributing the meeting of that goal to God’s providence and the Holy Spirit..
-Obtaining donations for a meeting place and the operations of the church (including the minister’s salaries) through psychological pressure, manipulation, and/or other unrighteous means (like events where there is alcohol served and/or there is immodest entertainment and/or raffles/lottery drawings with portions of the funds which those who donate are eligible to win) and calling any success in this the work of God.
The reality is that those who do such things depend on such things and feel the need to label them as the work of God’s Holy Spirit (obtaining much money, emotional manipulation through music, shouting, entertainment, etc), precisely because they do not actually have God’s Holy Spirit! (Remember here Simon the sorcerer’s great error in thinking that the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, can be purchased with money)
When men really have God’s Holy Spirit they do not absolutely need money beyond providing their own needs and they do not need music, much shouting, and they do not need to appeal to people’s emotions and/or shame them up to altars and into “making decisions for Christ” etc!
(Speaking specifically to the GMC/WFF missionaries): You guys have accomplished more with so little already than maybe everyone I know in the first world has accomplished despite usually having so many more material resources at their disposal. And even if I’m wrong, and perhaps some here have done more than I thought for God’s kingdom and perhaps you have done less than I realize, it would still not be because they had more money and resources than you did. And I do not say that to compare you with others as if it’s a competition or as if my opinion matters at all, I only say it so that to emphasize that dependence on more money and resources to advance Gods kingdom is way more dangerous than not having enough money and resources. This doesn’t lift the responsibility from those who can afford it that know about your needs and your opportunities. But I also believe that if these don’t do our responsibility they are hurting ourselves more. And the bottom line for all of us is that we should do what we’re able to do; and even if we can’t do as much due to others letting us down, that is on them and not on us. If we have two talents and we gain two more, then we can be just as acceptable to God as the person with five talents who gains five more. There is never good reason to be discontented, to be bitter, to complain, and to not be joyful and enthusiastic over whatever we are actually able to do for God’s kingdom- even if it really seems like we could do more if we had more. We might even see that in a different light with more discernment and as we see things unfold over time.
We’ve actually been building here on last week’s study, as some key Bible passages from it are key passages also in what we’ve been looking at here.
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13) We know that the context here is meeting the needs of others and we know that Biblical understanding, spiritual discernment, and overall caring to know and to follow through with actually doing what we need to do to make sure they have what they really need are keys to knowing what to ask for and to having power with God to receive what we really need. We know that there there are true riches to be had which mammon can never substitute for and which mammon can never impart; and at the same time these can never be had without faithfulness in mammon. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
To close then: Hebrews 12:25-29: “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.”
May we be consumed then with the things that cannot be shaken.
And I’ll add in closing here that as you read the Book of Acts and see Paul proceed in his missionary journeys, specifically in Acts chapters 13 to 19, you can notice that Paul’s pattern over time was to stay in cities longer after he had planted churches in them. He never ceased thinking about how to advance the Gospel further, but he did especially focus on not losing the ground he had already gained when he had indeed already gained ground. He labored much to secure, cultivate, and enrich that ground so it could stand hold up without him and so it could be used to gain further ground whether he was around later or not. You also see in that section of Acts how a few times the Apostles sought to go somewhere but the Spirit of God forbid them from going- at least for the moment (he was forbidden from going to Asia when he first sought to go, yet he got there eventually). Sometimes limited mobility is a blessing. And not just related to this topic, but in many other ways also, having things not as easy as they might have been can actually be a big advantage. There is a lesson in that the Vikings derived their above average strength and endurance for battle through having to row their own boats when they traveled from coast to coast of the various places they conquered.
Often less is more when it comes to material resources. If we don’t believe that we’re prime bait for the snare of the devil because frustration, bitterness, anxiety over money, and other such things give him a foothold in anyone who is infected by these. Don’t let it happen. Otherwise anything we offer to the Lord is in the realm of Cain’s sacrifice. It won’t be accepted and we’ll have a problem infinitely greater than any problem related to material lack. “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight. 9 The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.” (Proverbs 15:8-9) We also can’t lead others further than we are ourselves. People have to deeply believe that “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.” (Proverbs 11:4) We can’t be an honor to God nor eternally benefit others if we’re not living demonstrations of the proper attitude towards mammon who use mammon faithfully in the service of God’s kingdom and righteousness while discerning and honoring in every way the boundaries of mammon’s limits.
Brother Aaron can be reached at [email protected]