Monday, February 22, 2010

Money: Master or Servant?

Oscar Torres sent me a link to an article in the London Telegraph about an Austrian millionaire named Karl Rabeder (right) . He is selling his estate, worth about 3 million pounds (5 Million dollars), and giving the entire proceeds to charity. His motive? His money is making him miserable.

"For a long time I believed that more wealth and luxury automatically meant more happiness," he said. "I come from a very poor family where the rules were to work more to achieve more material things, and I applied this for many years.”

But over time, he had another, conflicting feeling.

"More and more I heard the words: 'Stop what you are doing now – all this luxury and consumerism – and start your real life'," he said. "I had the feeling I was working as a slave for things that I did not wish for or need.

I have the feeling that there are a lot of people doing the same thing."

However, for many years he said he was simply not "brave" enough to give up all the trappings of his comfortable existence. ”

When money is our master, when we are serving it, it is a god-substitute, and money is a cruel god. It makes the enjoyment of wealth impossible. (Eccl. 5:10) "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity." It stirs up crippling fear of financial loss. We become anxious about getting more, willing to violate God's will to conserve or create wealth. It cripples conscience, ruins relationships, and promotes a host of other griefs.

"But...covetousness must not even by named amongst you...for you may be sure of this that everyone who is...covetousness (that is an idolater) has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Eph 5:3-5). Paul's words are a serious warning, one to which we should pay special attention.

Here are some signs that money has become a master not a servant.  
  • Anxiety about financial loss.
  • The unwillingness to give joyfully to God's work.
  • Measuring your value and self worth by your income or assets.
  • Lack of contentment. "Now there is great gain and godliness with contentment" (1 Tim 6:6).
  • Preoccupation with things: cars, homes, furniture, or vacations.
  • We obey the gods we worship. A sign that mammon is our god is the willingness to break or ignore God's will to serve that god. For example, failing to tithe, inordinate consumer debt, inability to live within a budget, etc.
On the other hand, there is great joy and happiness when money is our servant. We get to participate in the joy of giving. We experience the joy that comes with contentment. We experience God at work supplying our needs in unexpected ways. We get to live outside the rat race. Whatever our level of wealth we are able to enjoy what God has given.

Live in the Spirit. Make money a servant not a god, and you will not know the pain that Karl Rabeder experienced.

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