By Benjamin C Maxson, Director, General Conference Stewardship Ministries

Summary: Money plays a critical role in our lives. We cannot deal without it. So, is the issue one of whether or not we will work with money, or is it a matter of the comparative level of importance or priority in our lives? Is it a matter of what we love--a matter of where we focus our passion?

Have you ever thought of trying to live without money? It would be rather difficult, especially in today's world. On the other hand, have you ever thought of living without God? What if you had to choose between money and God? Jesus contrasts the competing power of money with God by stating No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money (Matt 6:24). There are few places where God makes such a direct comparison. Yet the competition is very real. Money competes for our interest, our time, our energy. It easily distracts us from more important priorities.

Money plays a critical role in our lives. We cannot deal without it. Even God's church has to deal with money. So, is the issue one of whether or not we will work with money, or is it a matter of the comparative level of importance or priority in our lives? Is it a matter of what we love--a matter of where we focus our passion?

The love of money is the root of all evil. You flatter yourself that you are about right, when you are not. God seeth not as man seeth. He looks at the heart. His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. Your great care and anxiety is to acquire means. This absorbing passion has been increasing upon you until it is overbalancing your love of the truth. Your soul is being corrupted through the love of money. Your love for the truth and for its advancement is very weak. Your earthly treasures claim and hold your affections (Testimonies, vol 3, p 243).

Where is your passion? What motivates and drives your life? Though not easy to answer, these questions reflect two contrasting forces shaping our lives and characters. Jesus said Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30). And Paul tells Timothy 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 Tim. 6:10).

The intense passion for money getting, the whirl of excitement and pleasure seeking, the thirst for display, the luxury and extravagance-- all are forces that, with the great masses of mankind, are turning the mind from life's true purpose (The Adventist Home, p 135). What is it about money that is so alluring, so tempting? Stop and think for just a moment. How do you feel when the bills are due and you don't have all the money you need? Then how do you feel when you cash your surprise birthday check and you have $100 in your pocket? There is a strange sense of security when one has enough money. With enough money, one can purchase just about everything else. Or at least that is often the thought. Just think of what we could do if we had just little more money.

The love of money is the root of all evil. In this generation the desire for gain is the absorbing passion. If wealth cannot be secured by honest industry, men seek to obtain it by fraud. Widows and orphans are robbed of their scanty pittance, and poor men are made to suffer for the necessaries of life. And all this that the rich may support their extravagance, or indulge their desire to hoard. The terrible record of crime daily committed for the sake of gain, is enough to chill the blood and fill the soul with horror. The fact that even among those who profess godliness the same sins exist to a greater or less extent, calls for deep humiliation of soul and earnest action on the part of the followers of Christ. Love of display and love of money have made this world a den of thieves and robbers. But Christians are professedly not dwellers upon the earth; they are in a strange country, stopping, as it were, only for a night. They should not be actuated by the same motives and desires as are those who have their home and treasure here. God designed that our lives should represent the life of our great Pattern; that, like Jesus, we should live to do others good.--Ellen G White, Signs of the Times, December 20, 1983.

Pause for a moment and consider how much of our society focuses around money--How to get more, and how to spend it. Money is equated with success and power, with recognition and position, with accomplishment and importance. On the other hand, the lack of money is often seen as failure and weakness.

Take a look at yourself! What has won the passion of your heart? Is it money? Or is it God?

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April–June, 1999

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