Today: Saturday, December 07, 2019

What am I worth?    (10/2/2011 )

Every news item seems to tell us more of the unfolding, painful, story of the current economic crisis.

I don’t pretend to understand economics. But a crisis like this can be a time to re-examine ideas and theories we may have come to take for granted: times of uncertainty can become periods of fresh thinking and creativity.

What strikes me is the difference between how things might be and how they actually are. Consider the vast pay gap between those who are most valued (at the top of their businesses, or with wildly acclaimed gifts on the stage or football field) and the rest of us, or even the poorest in society. How can one person be valued at millions of pounds, while another is regarded as virtually valueless?

The way consumer society works can seem grossly unfair. But change can be as difficult as not changing, and some of the most recent grand political schemes for making society fairer haven’t been very encouraging.

Jesus had a great deal to say about money, and what he said still rings bells. Too much money, for instance, can lead to pride, complacency and false reliance (it doesn’t have to, but the temptation is very real). In the Bible, the man who built yet bigger barns is called ‘a fool’ because he was about to lose all his investments overnight—death would end his wealth (Luke [NT] 12, verses 13-21). Too little money, however, can lead to suffering, misery and early death.

Even those who have just enough money may be envious of those who have more. They may not use what they have wisely, and may never learn contentment. Money brings problems!

Jesus told a story about an employer who paid the same wages to those who’d worked a full shift and those who’d only come on duty for a short time (Matthew [NT] 20, verses 1-16). The point of the story seems to be that God looks at us not as economic units but as people who need resources to live. So everybody needs to receive enough to live on. A minimum wage, and adequate care for those genuinely without work or in need, is fundamental.

Jesus also made it clear that God isn’t very interested in our bank balance, or even how much we give away. Someone who is seriously poor, but gives a significant proportion of what little they have, may actually be far more generous than someone who can easily write a cheque (Mark [NT] 12, verses 41-44).

He went so far as to suggest that the more money we acquire, the harder we may find it to discover God’s reality (Mark [NT] 10, verses 23-25). The principle seems to be not that we should not work or earn well, but that we should be very ready to share what we have, and avoid the kind of greed that makes us want to hold on to every penny.

None of this answers our economic problems, but it might help us to re-evaluate what money is worth—and, more importantly, what people are worth.

Pray: Thank you, Lord, for money and what it can do. Help me to use what I have received wisely and generously, and to see it as a tool - not a god.

Think about: If you really had to live on an absolute minimum, how much would you really need?

Challenge: Could you use some of your money this week to make a difference in someone else’s life?

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