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God and Money Lies

This Sunday I heard an excellent sermon on Jesus’ teaching about money in the Sermon on the Mount. But in the course of the service, I also heard a number of lies about money. I didn’t hear these in the sermon exactly but I did hear them Sunday morning. My experience of both God and money has been demonstrably significant in my life so it was hard not to interject at some of the lies that were shared. Two, in particular stand out.

“If we have any money, then it was given to us by God.” False. It’s hard for me to fathom how anyone could believe this. I suppose if we consider money a good gift and God to be the giver of good gifts then we’d have to say money comes from God. But money in itself has no moral value whatsoever. And fundamentally, if we have any money then it was either given to us by someone else or taken for ourselves. The source of our money is rarely so inexplicable as to be worth attributing to God. Maybe if we counted our job as a gift from God then by extension the paycheck is also but this is stretching it. Money is at best like a hammer and at worst like a drug. God does not trade in currencies.

“All of my money, is God’s money.” False. I’m not sure I know what people mean by this. It seems similar to saying, all of my stuff is God’s stuff. But this is just silly and ignores the whole idea of stewardship. Is it God’s Xbox or God’s wedding ring? It’s not useful to say that God owns those things and it’s not true. One of God’s greatest risks in creation was letting us own things ourselves. In that way, God steps into a position of vulnerability and intimacy with us, hoping that we will care for the things he cares about. The danger of describing it as God’s money is that we eschew our own responsibility and authority over it.

Money is characteristically relational. It’s meaningless without someone or something with which to exchange it. Let us be thoughtful, when we describe God and money, not to lessen this key characteristic.