Tuesday, August 07, 2007

a follow-up

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the comments regarding my post on Luke 12 and finances but alas, I'm naive and so I was a bit surprised.

I wasn't necessarily (I love that word) saying that saving is a sin (after all, parables are multivalent, right?) but the prophets of old and John the Baptist and Jesus speak enough about money that we should clue in that when dealing with that stuff, we are moving away from God, not toward God.

When we store up or when we save, we are putting dependence on first, ourselves and second, on money. Geza Vermes says it better: [There is a] fundamental impropriety of forward planning in the eschatological age."

Again, let me be clear: I'm guilty here. I am just as entrenched in American ways as anyone else so I want to be sure not to make this into a finger pointing tirade. If anything, it's my confession. I still have such a hard time imagining a life totally and utterly dependent on God in every aspect of my life. When Jesus draws a picture of the Kingdom, I most often don't see and truthfully, I'm only giving a slight effort in looking.

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11 Comments:

Blogger pastorkes said...

joe-

loved the previous post and this one. i'm amazed at how quickly myself and others want to talk ourselves out of what Jesus was saying.

someone in the previous responses mentioned jack's speech at pepperdine. great stuff. i remember one line in particular from jack:

"the way we try to get out of this is by saying 'it's the love of money that is the root of all evil, not money'. the problem is, i never met a dollar i didn't like."

6:44 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Joe, my husband and I are retired. We have a medicare drug plan but right now I am in the "doughnut hole." You might not know about this at your age.

My drug bill for August was $725. I was glad to pay it from savings/investments. Would you rather me depend on you, the taxpayer?

Can't one give to the less fortunate and church and still plan for the time when one does not work? I think so.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Beaner said...

Here are my BIGGER questions (from the past post)

Do you think the Holy Spirit helps us to interpret Scripture? If so, could 1 passage be speaking to one person a certain way, but it might speak differently to another person?

Furthermore, if we take into consideration the thoughts & opinions of Biblical Scholars, do we end up just listening to the ones whose interpretation matches what we already feel?

If you changed your mind about a Scripture, how did you come to that change?

Just some thoughts in my head!

10:40 PM  
Blogger jch said...

Hey chris, while I don't know about the "doughnut hole" of which you speak, I do know a thing or two about government healthcare as Ira depends on Medicaid. Without it, his prescription bill would double yours. So maybe I should also take this time to say "thanks" to all you taxpayers out there. :)

And Beaner, sure, scripture can be interpreted in so many ways; hence my comment on many parables being multivalent. However, when a subject is revisited as often as money is, I don't think we can escape it at a fundamental level.

7:50 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

What I am struggling to do (badly) is to rely more on God's direction with money than my own - and that is including saving. Doesn't it make sense that God would rather I save to support my children, than pretend money isn't important and throw it away on garbage - like eating out (my biggest fault). My problem with money has been acting like money isn't important - which has led me to treat it with unimportance. Now I am trying (key word) to give it the respect it deserves - BUT not give in to the worldly importance. Rather use it in an important way in my life that follows my Christian views. If I believe God provides for me, why would I not take care of it?

8:57 AM  
Blogger jch said...

I have, at no point, advocated for the waste of money. And like you, Kate, use my children as a way to advocate savings and smart planning. But could it be that my definition to "providing" or "provision" is more worldly than Godly?

Anyway, again, I'm not saying we shouldn't be wise and thoughtful. I'm just sayin...

9:36 AM  
Blogger J-Wild said...

I ask without sarcasm, what exactly are you getting at? You seem to strongly advocate in your posts that if we were to take Jesus seriously at his word then we wouldn't store up things for ourselves in anticipation of future joys or problems. And that serious Christians shouldn't give much attention to practical issues regarding money? I just don't see how that could be possible short of living in a "off the grid" commune.

Of course you might be thinking along the lines of "in the world" (I must generate and use money in our society in order to live), "but not of the world" (the acquisition of things both physical and emotional obtained by money do not hold spiritual value to God).

In a practical sense are you saying that perhaps saving money for things that add a deeper value to life such as a college education, a home, giving to charities or religious institutions, and self-sufficient retirement with medical care are prudent actions taken by people who are good stewards with their money? Yet those who have boats, vacation homes, sports cars, and expense vacations as their motivations for saving are in effect the fools Jesus was talking about?

Of course there is a lot of gray area between the two scenarios as pastorkes said "I never met a dollar I didn't like."

I am wondering if you would think of yourself as "saver of money with problems" in the same vain as being a "pacifist with problems?"

12:36 PM  
Blogger jch said...

I'm saying that those who intentionally choose to live life without are closer to knowing God and knowing his kingdom than I am. I'm saying that those who are poor, as Jesus says in the Sermon on the Plain, are blessed; that those of us who are rich - or in other words, those of us who have time to consider savings - better be forewarned.

Ultimately, as I implied in my posts and as you suggest, I am a "saver with problems." AGAIN, we simply can't shrug off the words of the Bible concerning money. There's much more in Bible re money than there is, um, say homosexuality. But that's another post for another day...

12:47 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Suppose you came to retirement age and had no savings. Social security was not enough. Then suppose your rich uncle died and left you a million dollars. He had saved all his life. Would it be wrong for you to use the money that, according to you, he had obtained by depending on himself? If it would be all right for you, why wouldn't it be for him, had he lived?

3:05 PM  
Blogger Carolina said...

I've thought a lot about this one. And try to mesh together all the teachings on money. Elsewhere in the NT, disciples are instructed to work to provide for themselves, a spouse, their children, aged parents/grandparents, widows in the extended family. Also paying taxes, being generous and sharing with God's people in need, looking out for orphans and widows, helping the poor in general, offering hospitality to missionaries and others etc. Sounds to me like making, investing and saving money is very much the work of a christian, given all the dependents we are supposed to be serving! Also reflecting back on the Proverbs which counsel careful management of agricultural resources including I suppose "saving" the bounty of the summer harvest to get ready for a long winter. I think saving makes sense as long as one knows in one's heart that it all came from God and it could all be lost and this world is just a temporary passing through.

The huge challenge I find is that our collective standard of living has gotten so high that I forget that we are also instructed to be content if we have food and clothing. Most of us in the USA have more than enough of both. What about housing? Health insurance? Vacations? It's hard for me to think about not having those things. I went through a phase of buying jewelry until I realized just how insane it was. I was trying to heal some emotional pain with some cheery trinkets. Talk about not depending on GOD!!!!!

10:51 AM  
Blogger Sandi said...

Joe, have you ever read about George Mueller? Or read his journal? I'm thinking that somewhere along the way you probably did...

If not, he was a man who lived himself and ran an orphanage COMPLETELY on prayer alone...meaning he did not ask a single person for money, no one paid him a salary, he only prayed to God for his and the orphans' daily needs, and he was always provided for -- sometimes just in the nick of time.

His story is challenging and your words here make me think of him.

9:43 PM  

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