Your View of Money Can Affect Your Life
HOW important is money in your life? Or, rather, how prominent is money in your thinking? For many, it comes first both in their life and in their thinking. They may devote themselves fully to efforts to amass money. Some work themselves into an early grave for it. To obtain money, others will rob, cheat, lie or even commit murder.
What is the Christian view? The Bible shows that money does have a certain value in this system of things, protecting a person from poverty and its sad consequences. As King Solomon stated, “money is for a protection.” (Eccl. 7:12) Moreover, material assets can be used to help persons in need.—Acts 4:34, 35; Eph. 4:28.
A Christian, however, wisely watches that money does not become so important to him that his sense of values is distorted. Money should never be allowed to become the prime thing in our life. Certainly it would be foolish to sacrifice the prospect of eternal life for the sake of possessions.
A PROBLEM FOR RICH AND POOR
The danger of attaching undue importance to money is illustrated in the case of a rich young man living in the first century C.E. On asking Jesus what he must do to gain everlasting life, he was told: “Sell all the things you have and distribute to poor people, and you will have treasure in the heavens.” What was the man’s reaction? “He became deeply grieved, for he was very rich.” Yes, the young man wanted eternal life, but his money was more important to him. Jesus went on to show that this was not an unusual situation. He explained that, as a general rule, “it is easier, in fact, for a camel to get through the eye of a sewing needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God.”—Luke 18:18-25.
Of course, there are rich persons who will inherit God’s kingdom. But this will be because of their availing themselves of the divine means for salvation. (Luke 18:27) For them to do so requires that they no longer trust in their wealth and influence but use their possessions wisely, to God’s glory. Thus they ‘store up treasure in heaven,’ since the Most High will richly reward their fine deeds.—Matt. 6:19-21; Luke 16:9.
A poor person also may find it difficult to maintain a proper view of money. If he has the opportunity to improve his financial situation at the expense of his Christian principles, this can be a real test for him. For example, he may be offered a well-paying job involving work that violates his conscience. Or, the employment may regularly keep him from associating with his fellow believers. Initially, the extra money that would become available might seem like an answer to his prayers. At last, he thinks, some of life’s burdens are being lifted.
But call to mind the man Achan. From the spoil in Jericho, he seized what did not belong to him, bringing death to himself and his whole family. (Josh. chap. 7) Similarly, snatching at opportunities to gain materially at the expense of one’s Christian conscience may result in serious spiritual harm. (1 Tim. 6:9) Mere money can never benefit us in the way that faithful service to God does.
Therefore, Christians in developing countries are wise to keep a balanced view of money. For instance, in one land the daughter of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses was offered a scholarship to study in the United States. In her country, such a scholarship was viewed as a most valuable prize. But the family decided to reject the offer. Accepting the scholarship would have taken the girl too far away from home during her formative years. It could have exposed her to many problems that she might have been too inexperienced to handle. For these reasons the family decided that working at maintaining a good relationship with God was more valuable than the possible material benefits that an education abroad could bring.
But how can a person have the right perspective when life is very difficult? There are parts of the world where large numbers of people live in deep poverty. To make a living, men may have to work 12 or 16 hours a day, six or seven days a week. Under this kind of pressure, it may appear that money is life. God’s Word, however, can help a person to avoid becoming unbalanced under these circumstances. By following the Bible’s guidelines, the individual comes under God’s loving care in a more direct way. This gives him security.
Jesus Christ made this very clear. On one occasion, he addressed a large crowd, many of whom doubtless were familiar with poverty. He encouraged them to ‘stop being anxious about their souls as to what they would eat or drink, or about their bodies as to what they would wear.’ How could a poor person do that? Jesus referred to the birds, pointing out that there was a loving Creator who provided all the necessities for these creatures. Why, this Creator even clothed, so to speak, the flowers with beauty. With reference to the birds, the Son of God raised the question: “Are you not worth more than they are?”—Matt. 6:25-32.
Of course, people are more valuable than birds or flowers. So Jehovah God will care for people, especially if they act on Jesus’ further words: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” Yes, a person can feel confident in relying on Jehovah for help, provided he puts Kingdom interests first.—Matt. 6:33.
WHY TRUE WORSHIP HELPS
That is why the message of true Christianity is something that the poor truly need. It provides unfailing help in dealing with their problem. Surely there is real comfort in knowing that the Creator will aid them to care for their families if they continue serving him.
This does not mean that they can rely on other people to look after their families. That is still their responsibility. (1 Tim. 5:8) Nor does it mean that they are going to become rich. No, they will probably still have to work very hard to make a living. But they can go to bed at night with calm hearts, confident that the next day Jehovah will again open the way for them to feed their families.—Ps. 4:8.
They will be like David. Before becoming king, he experienced many hardships. Yet, toward the end of his life, he could say: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous left entirely, nor his offspring looking for bread.” (Ps. 37:25) Many Christians can testify to the fact that Jehovah is looking after his servants today in the same wonderful way. Consider, for example, the statement of one materially poor Christian woman who describes herself as “indigent, but rich in children.” At one time she had to live as a refugee because of terrorist activity in her country. In spite of the hardships, she and her children never forsook true worship. She says: “We are content with our condition because of the richness of our spiritual life. Yes, godly devotion with contentment is great gain.”—1 Tim. 6:6-8.
Truly, all—including poor people—can enjoy great blessings when they seek God’s kingdom first. By applying the Bible’s counsel, they can improve their family life, avoid money-wasting vices—gambling, smoking, heavy drinking—and learn to make the best possible use of their resources. They can gain the needed wisdom to deal with problems successfully. Most of all, they can look with confidence to the time when poverty, along with all other human ills, will be abolished.—Isa. 25:6-8.
So whether we have little or much in the way of possessions, a right view of money can contribute toward the enjoyment of life. Whatever our situation may be, the important thing is to put God’s kingdom first, and to keep doing what is right in his eyes. This may require endurance on our part, but it will bring great blessings both now and in the future. Hence, as the apostle Paul encouraged the Galatians: “Let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.”—Gal. 6:9.