Money is moral

ESPN’s Chris Broussard was recently asked for his personal opinion about NBA player Jason Collins’ coming out as gay. I thought his response embodied grace and truth. And while he’s been butchered by the media in general, I’ve appreciated the support he’s received from conservative Christians.

But what if Broussard had said this:
(what follows is almost an exact quote, with only a few minor substitutions)

“Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly greedy lifestyle, or openly worship money. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just storing up treasures on earth, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”

Whoa.

This has nothing to do with Jason Collins and his money (for all I know he lives in an  apartment and tithes 95%). This has everything to do with the fact that money is a moral issue. Money, just like sex, is a moral issue. Why do we “come alongside,” condemn, or even excoriate those who live outside of God’s standard sexually, but embrace many of those who live outside of God’s standard economically?

Money, after all, is moral.

Sure, money has no morality of its own, but then it’s rarely alone, is it? Our desire for money is moral, the way we use money is moral, the way we lose money is moral, the way we gain money is moral, the way we spend money is moral, the way we save money is moral, the way we give money is moral, the way we take money is moral, and the way our very possession of money prevents others from having it, is moral.

Our problem is centered around the subjectivity of money’s morality. We don’t have a clear line, and oh, how we love clear lines! Jesus never gave us clear lines, never said, “a Honda Accord is good,  a BMW is pushing it, a Ferrari is definitely sinful.” He never even said, “Buy a bike.”

But here’s what He gave us instead:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

“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.”

Paul added this:

“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.”

and John chimed in with this:

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

These verses convict me. They challenge me, they inspire me. And perhaps most significant of all, they point at me more than they point at others.

As a pastor, I’m concerned that so many of us point at others as we proclaim Romans 1:26-27 with a bullhorn, all the while ignoring our own application of v 25: “they worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” 

What happens to the church when we are we eager to point out the sin of homosexuality, but ignore the idol of materialism (or material preoccupation)?

May Jesus never say to us, like he said to the Pharisees, “You blind guides! You should have attended to the latter, without neglecting the former.”

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About Tim Owens

I'm a husband, father, and Christ follower. I also live in Albany, NY, where I work as a pastor.
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3 Responses to Money is moral

  1. Chris says:

    Once again Tim, very well done. One of the things I love most about you is that you always say the things that need to be said and should be said. Even in so many of our churches today money seems to be king. Recently you wrote about the millions of dollars the church in Dallas spent on a new building. But so many of our churches today fill out their weekly score cards by measuring butts and bucks each week rather than how many disciples did we make today? How many peoples lives did we change today? Like you just said, lets all get back to doing what Jesus wants us to do!!!!!

  2. Jim Davis says:

    Tim,
    This post made me think. I’m still thinking. I’m letting you know that because, in my opinion, there is no higher praise for a devotion/post.
    Thanks.
    Jim

    • Tim Owens says:

      Jim, I take that as a high compliment indeed!! My main motivation for writing this blog is because I think we’re all better off when we think more on our own, and discuss more together. I’m always encouraged to hear that I’m at least in part accomplishing my objectives.

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