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Episode 12 of Kindavangelical just released! The Art and Joy of Civil Conversation

5 Money Myths
5-DAY READING

Have you believed the lie that money will bring you satisfaction and happiness? Many people have, and so they spend their lives trying to increase their wealth. But what does Scripture say about our love of money? In this plan, Pete Briscoe dispels five myths concerning our beliefs about money and how God wants us to experience the true source of joy and happiness.

Day 1

Aligning your life to truths, not myths

I reject your reality, and substitute my own. —Mythbusters’ Adam Savage after adding his percentages to 120%

Have you seen Mythbusters? Great TV for the whole family (except for women, maybe, who don’t seem to understand the male fascination with blowing stuff up). Mythbusters designs experiments to test commonly held beliefs:

  • Would a bull really cause destruction in a china shop?
  • Are elephants really afraid of mice?
  • Is it possible to teach an old dog new tricks?
  • Is shooting fish in a barrel really easy?
  • Is it better to run in a straight line or in a zigzag if a crocodile is chasing you?

Some of the results are obvious, but other results are completely contrary to what is expected. It seems that there are plenty of things that we believe that are way off base. The same goes for Christians and money. Personally, I’d like to start a show called Stewardship Mythbusters. (Yeah, that would go over really big with advertisers. I know.) So, since my chances of making prime time are pretty slim, let me bust a few stewardship myths with you okay?

Myth #1: An increase in money increases satisfaction. The more you get, the happier you get. The more you have, the more peace you have and the simpler life becomes, right?

Um, no.

The truth is that an increase in money increases stress, not satisfaction. The Bible has been saying this all along:

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This, too, is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them? The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep. (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12)

Numerous national surveys confirm this: After your basic needs are met, more money and more stuff only bring more stress. The “more money = more satisfaction” myth is busted.

Honestly, I think we all know this deep down inside, but for some reason, we seem to fail to act on it. We continue to chase after more and more money and material, looking for satisfaction. Our world puts serious pressure on us to buy “more, more, more” every day. Our flesh loves the temporary fix that riches bring… and Satan? He would like nothing more than to distract us from the true-life satisfaction that is found only in Jesus.

It’s going to take some help if we’re going to act according to truth rather than myth. Praise God that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Jesus, I want to align my life to truth, not a myth. I ask that You will show me the truth about where real satisfaction comes from. And then, please, be my strength, so I will apply this truth in all the decisions I make today. Amen.

Day 2

Who makes you wealthy?

He is a self-made man. Yes, and one who worships his creator. —William Cowper

One time, I saw this ad featuring multi-billionaire Sir Richard Branson. He is a pretty amazing guy, actually. Blond and bold, his pursuits and achievements are out of this world, literally. Among a slew of other amazingly daring ventures, he founded Virgin Galactic, the first commercial spaceport, and funded SpaceShipOne, the first successful privately owned spacecraft.  In the advertisement, below a picture of him and a crazy-expensive wristwatch, are two words: Self Made. (I didn’t quite get the connection, but I think I’m supposed to buy a watch like his so I can be a billionaire too.)

It’s a thought-provoking image and message, however, and worth considering as we ponder myths, Christians believe about money.

Myth #2: Wealth is a rational result of resourcefulness. If I’ve made my money, it’s because I made my money, right? I did it. I earned it. I worked hard for my wealth. I started out on my own. No one helped me. I just went at it as hard as I could. I, right?

Nope.

Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:19)

Sure, Sir Richard Branson is brilliant, but where did he get that brain? Sure, Branson has worked hard, but where did he get a healthy body? How about all the education and learning opportunities he had when he was young? His parents provided all that for him, and where did they get the resources? Branson could have died from malnutrition at three months old if he had been born on the other side of the globe. Or he could have been born in a different time, say the Middle Ages, one of the most oppressive times in history. But he wasn’t. He was placed into this place, given this mind, given this energy, given these responsibilities and opportunities, from whom?

Directly or indirectly, everything Branson has is a gift from God. God made him. The same goes for each of us. Everything comes from Him, and we are the work of His hands. Something peaceful and powerful floods our hearts when we truly recognize this: None of us are “self-made.”

My God and my Creator, check my heart, O Lord! Show me where my independent arrogance is taking credit for Your gracious gifts. I praise You, and I thank You for everything that makes me wealthy. To You, be the honor for all that I am and all that I have. Amen. 

Day 3

Are you serving the right master?

Life is a game. Money is how we keep score. —Ted Turner

The human heart has only so much room in it. God has designed us to passionately pursue Him so that we can be divinely satisfied in His love and then love others with His love. Love God, and love people. That’s all the human heart can handle. But the world, the flesh, and the devil would like us to think that there’s room for more.

Myth #3: I can be fully surrendered to Christ and still love money.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”  (Matthew 6:24)

Money isn’t evil, but Scripture tells us that the love of money is, and for good reason:

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.)

Money isn’t really much more than pieces of paper with pictures on them or virtual numbers in an online statement. And yet, people kill for it. People get divorced over it. Friendships get destroyed because of it. When we love money and put our trust in it for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in life, it always leads to destruction.

The greatest commandment is that we would love the Lord our God with all of our heart, all our soul, all of our strength, and all of our might. All of it. He is our master, our only master because the human heart only has so much room in it.

Jesus, take inventory of my heart right now. Show me where I love money and the material. I confess that I often want to serve this master. By the power of Your Spirit and the wisdom of Your Word, free me from the master of money so that I can follow You in complete freedom and truth. Amen.

Day 4

How much tithe should we give?

Money and legalism are great business partners. If you want to know how much of your wallet is required for righteousness, the Old Testament would say 10%, the amount required by Jewish law to support the Levitical priests and the Temple. If you want to put a financial figure on the requirements of fiscal religiosity, just count dollars and cents until you’ve given about 10% of gross income before taxes. It’s really easy, and if you are more committed than the average, all you have to do is up the percentage, and you will feel pretty good. Right?

Wrong.

Myth #4: God requires 10%.

Here’s the problem: Nowhere in the New Testament are we ever told to give a mandatory 10% gift to God. Jesus only mentions the “tithe” twice. Once in parallel passages from Luke 11 and Matthew 23, and once in Luke 18… and neither of them are positive statements about the 10% tithe. Read carefully and let Jesus’ concern be felt:

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” (Luke 11:42)

In Luke 18:9-14 we read: To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The Pharisees were “letter of the law” guys. If we follow their example today, we seriously risk neglecting “the justice and love of God.” The 10% tithe myth is busted.

We are not Israel. We are the Church. We are not under law but under grace. 

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)

Lord of all, when it comes to money, move me with Your love and not a number. Guide my heart that I might make free, wise, and exuberant decisions with Your resources in love, not in law. Amen. 

Day 5

What is biblical stewardship?

I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess. —Corrie Ten Boom

Back when we were kids, adults were always telling us, “Watch your language!” When it comes to stewardship of God’s resources and our prayers, that’s probably still pretty good advice for us today.

One of the great traditions in Western Christianity is passing the offering plate during the service. Usually, this ritual is preceded by a prayer that goes something like this: “Blah, blah, blah, Lord, we want to give to You a small portion of what we have been given… Blah, blah, blah, Amen.”

If you hear those words enough, they probably pass in one ear and out the other without much thought. If that prayer sounds okay to you, then you’ve probably bought into another serious money myth—one that is at the core of almost every other error:

Myth #5: Stewardship is us giving God a portion of what we have.

Let’s unwrap that prayer and see if you don’t see what I’m trying to say.

There’s really only one thing right with that prayer. It’s when we say, “Lord.” God is Lord over everything, so when we say “we want to give You,” that doesn’t work because everything is already His.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. (1 Corinthians 10:26)

Really, there is no money or material that He needs or wants anyway. We can’t give Him anything. But the prayer continues, “We want to give you a small portion.” Really? I mean, if He really is the Lord, why do we want to emphasize the smallness of our gift to Him? We are either admitting that this is an extremely small portion compared to the blessings that He has given us, or it sounds like a confession that our gift is a small portion of everything that we own. Either way, the attitude behind this sincere and holy-sounding prayer really concerns me: those who believe in myth number five essentially say, “Here’s a little bit, God, but I’m keeping everything else for myself.” It almost sounds like God is supposed to be really appreciative that He got anything at all.

What is biblical stewardship? Stewardship is God giving us a part in what He is doing. Stewardship is not us helping God (like He needs any help at all!). It’s an incredible opportunity, and a gift from Him, for us to be involved in something that matters beyond the material, beyond the financial.

Jesus, please enable me to watch my language. Help me to listen to the words that I use, so I can discover the meanings and motives behind them. Let me replace the myths I have about money with the liberating truth of Your Word. Everything is Yours Lord, including me. Thank You for the privilege of being a part of distributing Your resources for Your glory. Amen.

Reflection:

  1. How can I make my perspective about money and material goods a Godly one?
  2. Do I put too much value into “stuff” and “keeping up” with everyone else?
  3. Am I giving God what He’s put on my heart to give or merely the leftovers?

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