Money: A Great Evil Or A Great Encourage?(1)

John was a respected leader in his local church. There was a need in John’s area for agricultural development. A man representing a Christian relief agency for development visited John’s church and felt that his organization could be a good help with the development need for the area. A plan was created for development assistance over a period of five years. Everyone in the church was very excited about the plan. The man from the relief agency request that someone in the church be selected to manage the development scheme. The church selected John for this position.        The church leaders discussed the development projects and a five year plan was created which would benefit the whole area and increase the visibility of the local church as a helping community. Projects were begun and people were assigned various responsibilities within these projects. As promised, funds began to come from the relief agency. John a man, who had a salary of $150 per month, was now responsible to manage over $500.000 per year. As supervisor, John was responsible for these funds and was the one who made final decisions.

In the first year of the project, things seemed to go well and everyone was satisfied, in the second year of the plan, people in the church noticed that John began to change the supervisor on various projects. Some people observed that the new supervisors were all related to John’s extended family in some way. The church member also observed that the newly appointed supervisors were becoming quite wealthy each one was building a new, large house for his family. Most of them were buying new cars, buses grinding mills and other expensive equipment. They became abusive and impatient with the workers on their projects.When John was asked about this, he said that changes were needed to make the management of the project run more smoothly. John became distant from the other church members. He became defensive when people questioned him about what was going on. After a while, the church elders requested a formal inquiry and audit of the whole development programme. John strongly resisted this and refused to co-operate. Finally the church brought strong pressure to bear and an audit was scheduled.But on the day the audit was scheduled to begin, none of John’s appointed managers could be found. Each one had found an excuse to be absent. The audit was never carried out. The supervisors became more and more corrupt, getting into sexual immorality, drunkenness and stealing money and materials from the projects. The supervisors found ways to alter the records of their projects to cover up their stealing.

The matter became a big controversy in the church and split the church into two factions. One fashion consisted of those related to John or appointed by John to leadership in the projects. The other faction represented the rest of the congregation soon very hot words were been spoken and accusations were been made by both groups. The church split into two groups, with each trying to take legal action against the other. There was bitterness, resentment and anger. The local church became a place of mockery to the rest of the community and completely lost its witness for Christ. All that was left were two groups of very angry, bitter people. While this was going on John made several trips out of the country to talk with representatives of the funding agency, but the local church was never given an accounting of any of his trip or an opportunity to speak to the funding agency themselves. In the end, there were even threats of death on both sides. The responsible and wise use of money is needed for many things and that many churches and group of people in Africa have little money to accomplish the good they want to do. But that is not the end of the story. There is a God who can multiply the gift given to him by his people in such a way that miracle of provision for the Lord’s work can happen. In this series we will explain how that can be done. Unfortunately, money also brings one of the strongest temptations to sin in life. The Bible warns us about the destructive power of the love of money in the strongest possible language. The apostle Paul wrote, ‘people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’ (1 Tim.6:9-10). In the story above, a leader of the church was ‘plunge into ruin and destruction’ by the love of money. Beyond that.The testimony and witness of the local church of which he was a part was totally destroyed. Let no one reading this think that the Bible has exaggerated the deadly power of the love of money.

Someone once asked the richest man in the world how much money was enough. With a little smile the man replied, ‘a little more’. So it is with money, sex and power our desires are never satisfied. There is always something more we want or think we need to have. Those who are consumed by the love of money have made money into a god. A god is something in which we put our hope or trust to help us in times of needs. Thus money becomes a god in place of the true and living God because we trust in money instead of trusting in God to meet our needs. The word of God warns people, ‘to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment’ rather than putting their trust in the uncertainty of money (1 Tim. 6:17). This exactly what happened to John, who had broken the first of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:3) by making money his god. He had put another god, the god of money, before the true and living God –  and the god of money possessed and destroyed him. Long ago, Jesus warned his followers about this deadly god when he said, ‘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’ (Mt. 6:24). At the time of giving the Ten Commandments, God added these words in reference to silver and gold: ‘Do not make any god to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold’ (Ex. 20:23). The Lord spoke these words with good reasons many Christians have lost their close relationship with God and have fallen into sin and disgrace through worshipping of the gods of silver and gold. Jesus said a lot about money- both about the danger in it and the blessing possible through using it in the right way. We need to understand that money in and of itself is neither good nor evil. It is simply paper, metals or other material that represent an accepted means of exchange for goods or services in a particular culture. It is needed for most things in the ordinary business of life. Money has the power to do great harm when it is used in the wrong way. A large number of the murders that takes place in the world are related to the love of money. In the United States, it is estimated that as many as 75 percent of all murders are related in some way to illegal drug traffic, which is one of the largest money making business in the world.

Money also has the power to do great good to help people and advance the kingdom of God. Money can be a great encouragement to the work of the Lord. Think about the following statement by the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit: ‘ whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously’ (2 Cor. 9:6). Paul then goes on to say, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all time, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work….now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also ..enlarge the harvest… You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion”(2 Cor.9:7-8,10-11).This is an amazing promise from God. When God’s people give generously to do the Lord’s work, God promises to multiply what they have given to such an extent that, ‘in all things at all time, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…..so that you can be generous in every occasion’ (2 cor. 9:8,11). For a recent example of what God can do through his own people regardless of the situation, consider the following true story from an Africa country where the economy is in various serious trouble. A dedicated Christian brother who was a university lecturer began to hold meetings with Christian students to teach them about living a more dedicated and holy Christian life.

As time went by, more and more young people began to listen to his lectures. Many of them began to recommit their lives to Christ. Part of their commitment meant giving God an tenth (a ‘tithe’) of all that God had giving them. Many people who rededicated their lives to the Lord through the preaching of this man began to give the Lord a tenth of all their possessions; some even gave more up to 50 percent or 75 percent of all they had.

The result is one of the most amazing chapters of church history in Africa today. In a few short years, this renewal movement, based on total commitment to Christ, has grown into one of the largest churches in Africa. In a country were many people cannot afford to buy even the basic necessities of life. This church has built a large college campus in the capital city. Many students from this denomination receive theological education at this school and are trained for the ministry of the gospel at the very low cost. Why? Because the church receives large sums of money from outside the country? No. It’s because the members of the church have learned to give generously to the Lord from what they have. God has blessed their faithful giving and multiplied their resources. This denomination also has a local church with one of the largest weekly attendances in the world. This story is a living example of the words of the apostlr Paul from 2 Corinthians 9, which are quoted above. God blesses individuals and churches that gives generously to the advancement of his work. When God blesses what they give, he makes it grow beyond their imagination regardless of the country, culture, or condition of the economy in the country – because God is all-powerful and faithful. God keeps his promises. He is the God of the resurrection. He is the God of the impossible. He is the God for whom no human situation is too difficult. It is up to his people to do what he asks them to do and them to discover with amazement what God will do. This not to say that God promise financial prosperity and wealth to his people if they just have faith. That is a false idea being taught in many places today. The apostle Paul said he knew what it was to be in need, that he had learned to be content with either a lot or a little (Phil. 4:12). None of the apostles of Christ died as rich men. What God does promise is to meet our basic needs (Phil. 4:19). Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread (that is, our daily needs; Mt.6:11). At the same time, the Bible warns us that people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction’ (1 Tim. 6:9).It is evident from the examples given above that money can be used to bring great blessing and great good to the lives of many people, but that it can also be the means of great temptation, sin and evil. The question is what can be done so that money does not bring temptation, sin and evil as in the story of John? Clearly there is a need for God’s wisdom if money is to bring deliverance and not destruction. In what follows, we will take an imaginative journey into what is possible when a whole community of God’s people (for example, a group of local churches or all the churches in one country) act together to do something for the kingdom of God. Not done read part 2 of this series. (Resource: Biblical Christianity in Modern Africa by Wilbur O’Donovan).

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