Category Archives: Greed

Reconcile with Both God and Man

Our culture emphasizes selfishness and coveting what others have so much, it becomes quite easy for many to rationalize taking advantage of others financially. Some may steal outright. Others may borrow and not pay back. Still others may just deceive someone for personal gain. As followers of Christ, we do not want to follow these practices. If we find that we have done so, let us make haste to reconcile with both God and man.

We have been called to love God and love one another.

Matthew 22:35-40

35One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

If or when we find we have sinned against someone with regards to finances, let us take action to reconcile with them and with God.

Leviticus 6:1-7

Guilt Offering

      1Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD, and deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion, 3or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things a man may do; 4then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him or the lost thing which he found, 5or anything about which he swore falsely; he shall make restitution for it in full and add to it one-fifth more. He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering. 6“Then he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the LORD, a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering, 7and the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt.”

If you have sinned against someone in this way, first stop sinning. Then do not delay in reconciling with both God and man.  This will move you forward into a deeper relationship with the Lord even if it causes you to face some uncomfortable accountability for your past actions.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

What Guidance Does God Provide for Finances?

God has a lot to say about wisdom and folly, righteousness and wickedness in His word. Proverbs, in particular, is filled with wisdom that applies as much today as it did when Solomon wrote it thousands of years ago. Human nature has not changed and neither has application of God’s word for how we are to deal with our fellow man.

Let us explore some of what God has said in Proverbs 11 that pertains to finances. I have included a link to reference to the whole scripture but pulled out some selected verses that are more directly relevant to finances. We can walk through them together.

Proverbs 11

1A false balance is an abomination to the LORD,
But a just weight is His delight.

God clearly calls us to be treat one another as we would want to be treated. Be just and fair. Note the emphasis revealed through scripture… God is not just academically identifying right and wrong, but actually considers one an abomination and the other to bring delight! It matters to God and thus it should matter to us.

2When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom.

Let us not act in such a way as to honor ourselves or make ourselves feel better than others, but rather seek humility and seek to honor the Lord and treat others with respect.

3The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.

Knowing and following God’s way provides a clear path to righteousness. Temptation of the flesh often tempts us to go the way of the world, but God wants us to live His way. When we pursue deceit and treachery, it will consume us and we will find no lasting satisfaction or joy.

4Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.

There is no amount of riches that will mean anything when it is time for us to leave this world and face judgment before God. Only our right relationship with God will matter. Why give that up just to try to get a few dollars more or even a lot of dollars more?

5The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.

6The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.

In business as in life, a righteous lifestyle of godly attitudes and behavior will take us closer to God and bring much success. Greed is an empty pit which can never be filled, it will consume you and dominate your life if left unchecked or worse, embraced.

14Where there is no guidance the people fall,
But in abundance of counselors there is victory.

In personal finances, whether budgeting or reducing debt or investing, do not try to do it all alone as if you have all the answers. Seek good counselors to help you! Seek firm guidance from God and those who have already experienced and overcome the challenges you face today.

15He who is guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it,
But he who hates being a guarantor is secure.

It is unwise to be a guarantor for someone you do not know. How can you trust them? Do not lend what you are not willing to give.

17The merciful man does himself good,
But the cruel man does himself harm.

18The wicked earns deceptive wages,
But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.

Show mercy to others as you would like to receive yourself. Avoid cruelty. Treat others as you would like to be treated. You may think you get ahead with deceit and wicked schemes, but it brings much emptiness and trouble along with the ill-gotten gain.

24There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more,
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.

25The generous man will be prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered.

26He who withholds grain, the people will curse him,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.

Be generous in helping others and give the glory to God. Bless others in His name and watch as the blessings flow into your own life. The blessings will almost surely outweigh what you gave, though it is not necessarily dollars that God gives you but rather joy and closer relationship with Him!

28He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.

Trust not in money and wealth, but in God, Himself, and you will flourish.

It is not right or helpful to say “I was born this way” as an excuse to continue in wickedness or foolishness. To remain in foolishness does not improve our situation, does it? It does not help us manage our money or our lives more effectively, does it?

We are all born to sin and selfishness. No one needs to teach a child to grab or demand something for themselves or hit someone when they are angry, but we certainly need to teach them to forgive and share and think of others. We can say that an alcoholic may be born with a tendency to become addicted to alcohol but do we not encourage them to turn from it and overcome that sin rather than embrace it and accept it? Of course! So it is also with other sins.

We must be careful to look to God’s definition of sin, of right and wrong, rather than the world’s definition. If we follow a broken compass, will we not get lost?

Each of us must decide if we will take the difficult, narrow path that leads to Jesus or if instead we will stay on the wide, easy path that leads to eternal separation from God… following our own selfish desires and the deception of Satan.

I pray as many as will hear the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ will accept it and travel the narrow path.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Wise Are Those Who Follow God’s Instruction

Are you looking for some “get rich quick” schemes and gimmicks? or are you looking for wisdom and advice that has stood the test of time. I find all of the wisdom in Proverbs to be applicable to our lives and situations today. Human nature has not changed and neither has God’s wisdom for how we should manage our relationships with other people and manage our own decisions for how to live our life and manage our finances.

Read Proverbs 10 with the belief that God can speak to you through it about specific things you should keep doing or change regarding your life decisions. Pray He would give you insight into applying the wisdom specifically for your life.

Proverbs 10

  1The proverbs of Solomon.
A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.

      2Ill-gotten gains do not profit,
But righteousness delivers from death.

      3The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger,
But He will reject the craving of the wicked.

      4Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.

      5He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely,
But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

      6Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

      7The memory of the righteous is blessed,
But the name of the wicked will rot.

      8The wise of heart will receive commands,
But a babbling fool will be ruined.

      9He who walks in integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will be found out.

      10He who winks the eye causes trouble,
And a babbling fool will be ruined.

      11The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

      12Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.

      13On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found,
But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.

      14Wise men store up knowledge,
But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.

      15The rich man’s wealth is his fortress,
The ruin of the poor is their poverty.

      16The wages of the righteous is life,
The income of the wicked, punishment.

      17He is on the path of life who heeds instruction,
But he who ignores reproof goes astray.

      18He who conceals hatred has lying lips,
And he who spreads slander is a fool.

      19When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.

      20The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver,
The heart of the wicked is worth little.

      21The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of understanding.

      22It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich,
And He adds no sorrow to it.

      23Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool,
And so is wisdom to a man of understanding.

      24What the wicked fears will come upon him,
But the desire of the righteous will be granted.

      25When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more,
But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.

      26Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
So is the lazy one to those who send him.

      27The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened.

      28The hope of the righteous is gladness,
But the expectation of the wicked perishes.

      29The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the upright,
But ruin to the workers of iniquity.

      30The righteous will never be shaken,
But the wicked will not dwell in the land.

      31The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom,
But the perverted tongue will be cut out.

      32The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable,
But the mouth of the wicked what is perverted.

Notice how God’s word integrates how we deal with our money into a broader context of righteousness or wickedness. How we manage our money is absolutely a function of our relationship with God and the condition of our heart in submission to Him. One can not be fully righteous without learning how to deal properly with finances according to God’s word. Conversely, one who becomes increasingly righteous will understand much about managing finances.

God provides clear warning about the dangers of the love of money. Money must never be our master, but rather a tool or servant to help us serve God while we are here on this earth.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

What behaviors or attitudes do you need to change in your life? Pray for God’s help in dealing with money.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Love of Money Is the Root of Evil; Love of God Brings Peace and Joy

Those who are greedy can never be satisfied. They can never have enough. There is always someone else with more. Money does not bring peace and contentment, but rather it is a tool to help us. Like any tool, though, if used improperly it can injure us. In fact, the love of money can consume and destroy us when we put it above obeying God.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Instead of seeking peace through money, find peace and joy through building relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Study His word in the Bible daily and seek Him daily in prayer. Live according to His commands. In that way, you can store up treasures in Heaven and find peace in this life, regardless of circumstances.

Psalm 23

1The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.

2He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.

3He restores my soul; he guides me in the paths of righteousness  for His name’s sake.

4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

How We Achieve Results Matters

Most people would agree that how we achieve results matters, but not everyone agrees on what defines the standard. Many would agree that it is based on applicable laws and regulations. That is a good start as a minimum reference point, but laws written by men often do not sufficiently or correctly (consistent with God’s word) define a standard for ethics and morality.

The only true and unchanging standard of ethics and morality is the one defined by God and documented throughout the Bible. This standard is higher than just “can we” do something within the laws of men, but instead builds to “should we, even if we can legally”.

  • Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.
  • Proverbs 22:5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; he who guards himself will be far from them.
  • Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

By clearly defining what you consider to be acceptable ethical behavior ahead of time, you will have a much easier time making the right decision later when confronted with the opportunity to choose an unethical option that seems to offer profit.

For example, you may have an opportunity to make money by selling a product to people and getting a commission. However, you have to decide if you will really consider your clients and their needs… when your product will actually benefit them… or if you are willing to sell it to them at all costs, even by lying to them about the product or trying to make them fearful of not buying your product.

Don’t wait until you are in the moment to decide what your standard will be, it is too easy to make the wrong choice.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

In God We Trust… Not In Money

It is far too common that we trust more in our money than in our Creator. We are taught that having “enough” money makes us secure and safe. High salaries help us feel confident and self-sufficient. We must be cautious to use money righteously, as a tool, but to trust only in our Father in heaven.

Psalm 49

The Folly of Trusting in Riches.

For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

     1Hear this, all peoples;
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,

      2Both low and high,
Rich and poor together.

      3My mouth will speak wisdom,
And the meditation of my heart will be understanding.

      4I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will express my riddle on the harp.

      5Why should I fear in days of adversity,
When the iniquity of my foes surrounds me,

      6Even those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the abundance of their riches?

      7No man can by any means redeem his brother
Or give to God a ransom for him—

      8For the redemption of his soul is costly,
And he should cease trying forever—

      9That he should live on eternally,
That he should not undergo decay.

      10For he sees that even wise men die;
The stupid and the senseless alike perish
And leave their wealth to others.

      11Their inner thought is that their houses are forever
And their dwelling places to all generations;
They have called their lands after their own names.

      12But man in his pomp will not endure;
He is like the beasts that perish.

      13This is the way of those who are foolish,
And of those after them who approve their words.

Selah.

      14As sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
Death shall be their shepherd;
And the upright shall rule over them in the morning,
And their form shall be for Sheol to consume
So that they have no habitation.

      15But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol,
For He will receive me.

Selah.

      16Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich,
When the glory of his house is increased;

      17For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
His glory will not descend after him.

      18Though while he lives he congratulates himself—
And though men praise you when you do well for yourself—

      19He shall go to the generation of his fathers;
They will never see the light.

      20Man in his pomp, yet without understanding,
Is like the beasts that perish.

We all perish. Money will then be worthless, even if we managed to accumulate a bunch of it. Money cannot help us enter into the kingdom of heaven. Put your trust in God. Money is but a tool He can use to bless us, or a trap Satan can use to tempt and distract us.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

How Shall We Conduct Ourselves?

Not everyone we meet is to be taken at face value for everything they may tell you. Some may invite you to eat from their table, but silently curse you if they think you are being greedy about how much you eat or ungrateful about not thanking them enough. (Yes, I have met people like this! You probably have also, even if you don’t recognize it.) We should thoughtfully consider our behavior and how it matches with what God tells us to do (and not to do) and also how our actions may affect others around us. God has much to tell us about life and conduct in the Bible.

Proverbs 23

On Life and Conduct

     1When you sit down to dine with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you,

      2And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man of great appetite.

      3Do not desire his delicacies,
For it is deceptive food.

      4Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,
Cease from your consideration of it.

      5When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.
For wealth certainly makes itself wings
Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.

      6Do not eat the bread of a selfish man,
Or desire his delicacies;

      7For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
He says to you, “Eat and drink!”
But his heart is not with you.

      8You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten,
And waste your compliments.

      9Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
For he will despise the wisdom of your words.

      10Do not move the ancient boundary
Or go into the fields of the fatherless,

      11For their Redeemer is strong;
He will plead their case against you.

      12Apply your heart to discipline
And your ears to words of knowledge.

      13Do not hold back discipline from the child,
Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.

      14You shall strike him with the rod
And rescue his soul from Sheol.

      15My son, if your heart is wise,
My own heart also will be glad;

      16And my inmost being will rejoice
When your lips speak what is right.

      17Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But live in the fear of the LORD always.

      18Surely there is a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.

      19Listen, my son, and be wise,
And direct your heart in the way.

      20Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;

      21For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.

      22Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.

      23Buy truth, and do not sell it,
Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.

      24The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him.

      25Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.

      26Give me your heart, my son,
And let your eyes delight in my ways.

      27For a harlot is a deep pit
And an adulterous woman is a narrow well.

      28Surely she lurks as a robber,
And increases the faithless among men.

      29Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?

      30Those who linger long over wine,
Those who go to taste mixed wine.

      31Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup,
When it goes down smoothly;

      32At the last it bites like a serpent
And stings like a viper.

      33Your eyes will see strange things
And your mind will utter perverse things.

      34And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea,
Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast.

      35“They struck me, but I did not become ill;
They beat me, but I did not know it.
When shall I awake?
I will seek another drink.”

There are many things we should carefully consider as we live out our life. What we choose to do and what we choose not to do… and how we choose to do it. Look to God for the answers to what is right and wrong and you will be wise. Look to the world for the answers and you will live as a fool.

Pray for God to help you in your passion and hunger for His instruction… to learn it, to apply it to your life, and to share it with others. Always remember, when we claim to follow Christ, how we live our life is one of the most powerful witnesses for (or against) Christ. How we live our life will always overshadow what we say about Christ, unless they are aligned… then it shines a light to show others the way to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Tax Time Again… arrgh. What Would Jesus Do?

It is that fun time of year again… tax day is approaching. No doubt, most of us… with rare exception… would prefer to pay less taxes (or no taxes) to the government. Many are tempted to lie and misrepresent their income to the government in order to reduce their tax bill. We should take care to consider what God wants from us, instead of what we want. There is no qualification about agreeing with the government on how the money is to be spent in order to pay the taxes. We are simply to pay the rightful taxes due.

Romans 13:1-7

Be Subject to Government

      1Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Matthew 22:15-22 

Tribute to Caesar

      15Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. 16And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. 17“Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” 18But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? 19“Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. 20And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” 22And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.

Ok. So we are supposed to pay the rightful taxes due. Got it. That said, paying taxes is a lot like spending money. We should do so carefully and only pay what is required. There is no “extra credit” in overpaying taxes. In fact, government often uses the money inefficiently and without wisdom. In almost all cases government uses the money without giving glory to God.

We should pay careful attention to how managing our money affects what we pay in taxes. Key decisions in investing and estate planning can have big implications. To ignore the significant impact of taxes on our financial planning is to be irresponsible and likely pay too much money to the government. If you want to give it away … that is great, but find a way to honor God with the money and give it away wisely rather than overpay the government.

Many reputable investing sites have resources to help such as those at Charles Schwab’s online resource center section on taxes or Fidelity’s online guidance and retirement section on taxes. These resources can be very helpful. So too can relatively affordable tax software like TurboTax which make complying with your tax requirements accurate and more efficient… saving much time and headache. If you prefer, consult your financial advisor and tax professional for impacts that you should consider for your financial planning.

The money we pay in taxes (federal, state, local, income, sales, inheritance, etc.) represents a lot of money. Understanding how to optimize your tax burden will help you achieve your overall financial goals more effectively.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Taxes… Just as Aggravating Now as Long Ago

Many of us are frustrated or angry about the amount of money that our local, regional, or national governments demand in taxes. Given the exhaustive examples of how that tax money is wasted badly by the government or given away to others who are not working or paying taxes it is understandable why we would feel this way.

Do you know that Yeshua faced something similar during His earthly ministry? Let’s watch Jesus’ response when confronted by others to pay a tax (to the temple, not Caesar) from which He is actually exempt.

Matthew 17:24-27

      24When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?25He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” 26When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. 27“However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”

My first observation is that it appears the collectors of the temple tax wasted no time in coming to find new visitors and ask them to pay the tax.  There is no record here of a welcome or greeting of any kind but rather the focus is clearly on collecting their money. It seems those who collect other people’s money to spend as they see fit (e.g. tax collectors) have not changed much in thousands of years. Human nature is still human nature.

At this point it is worth noting that the temple tax was deemed a measure of atonement for sin. As Jesus was free from sin, He could have rightly refused to pay it. Additionally, Jesus makes the point that God does not tax Himself anymore than a King taxes himself and thus Jesus would again be exempt.  However, many would not understand or accept Jesus correct explanation of why He was exempt. It would cause them to stumble.

Similarly, we can sometimes make an argument that some of the taxes should not apply to us, or those who take in income in cash may rationalize that the government will waste it anyway and so they decide not to report their cash income. This is a typical human response for someone who is focused on what may be best for them or is just angry with the government waste.

However, Jesus was aware that refusing to pay the temple tax would stumble some and discourage them from following Him. The greater purpose directed Him to pay the tax even though He was exempt. Jesus was focused on a bigger picture than just the incremental tax payment.

How might this apply to us today? If we submit to Jesus, scripture commands us to proclaim Him publicly. If we proclaim Him publicly, but then give the appearance that we also break tax laws or worse, actually break tax laws… it could not only reflect badly on us personally, but on Jesus Christ whom we publicly represent. We may stumble people as they struggle to see what it means to live for Jesus Christ.

It is fine to be accurate in calculating tax payments and avoid paying the government too much. It may even be noble or helpful to actively campaign to lower the tax burden as it would help many.  However, we should avoid even the appearance of wrong doing in how we manage our finances in general, and our taxes specifically. Thus, we should pay what we owe by law.

When we decide whether or not to do something, each of us should take time to reflect… “Am I only considering how this affects me? or am I also considering how it may affect or stumble other believers or those who may be watching and deciding if following Jesus really does lead people to be different from others?”

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Do You Serve Money or Does It Serve You?

We can learn a lot about someone’s character by observing them in times of grief or opportunity. In Genesis 23, we see the godly character of Abraham as he seeks to bury his wife, Sarah. He serves God rather than money. Money is a tool for him. We should learn from his example.

      1Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. 3Then Abraham rose from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, 4“I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” 5The sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, 6“Hear us, my lord, you are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our graves; none of us will refuse you his grave for burying your dead.” 7So Abraham rose and bowed to the people of the land, the sons of Heth. 8And he spoke with them, saying, “If it is your wish for me to bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and approach Ephron the son of Zohar for me, 9that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he owns, which is at the end of his field; for the full price let him give it to me in your presence for a burial site.” 10Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the sons of Heth; even of all who went in at the gate of his city, saying, 11“No, my lord, hear me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the sons of my people I give it to you; bury your dead.” 12And Abraham bowed before the people of the land. 13He spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, “If you will only please listen to me; I will give the price of the field, accept it from me that I may bury my dead there.” 14Then Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, 15“My lord, listen to me; a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.” 16Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, commercial standard.

      17So Ephron’s field, which was in Machpelah, which faced Mamre, the field and cave which was in it, and all the trees which were in the field, that were within all the confines of its border, were deeded over 18to Abraham for a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city. 19After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20So the field and the cave that is in it, were deeded over to Abraham for a burial site by the sons of Heth.

Reviewing Abraham’s actions at this difficult time reveals some important points to consider that can impact your finances:

  • The Hittites had great respect for Abraham even though He distinguished himself as a man who followed God and was a foreigner in their land. They worshipped other gods.
  • Abraham showed respect for the Hittites despite their different beliefs. This does not mean he agreed with them or participated in their false religion.
  • Abraham was not afraid to openly ask for help.
  • Abraham, though wealthy, was not greedy. He refused the opportunity to take advantage of the offer of receiving the land for free. He did not even haggle. Further, he avoided any possible appearance of wrong by conducting business in the open with witnesses.

As Christians, we can strive to follow Abraham’s example in dealing with non-Christians. For those who are not openly hostile and seeking to kill Christians, we can conduct business with them and show them proper respect. We treat them as someone God loves and someone whom we would love to reach with the good news of the gospel.  However, we do not hide our faith. We openly live so as to show that we follow and serve God. Our behavior and attitudes should differentiate us clearly from those who do not follow God.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .