Money Myths: “Just a Tool”

January 31, 2018

By A.J. Thomas
Money is just a tool.  You can use it wisely or foolishly.
Money, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad.  It’s a matter of how you use it.
 
Many of us have been taught the neutrality of money.  The sentiments above are the common axioms of this myth.  What I’d like you to consider today, however, is that money is not neutral.  It is not sitting passively inside a toolbox, waiting to be picked up by skilled or clumsy hands, just a thing to be applied in noble or destructive ways at the whim and motivation of the person in whose hands it rests.
 
Money is not just a tool.  Money is an entity.  It is not just something we use; it is something we relate to.  Like any thing or person with whom we are in relationship, we exert influence on our money, and our money, in turn, exerts influence on us.
 
Jesus seemed to know this, when he taught, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be, too.”  There has always been a correlation between our heart and our treasure.  They are traveling companions.  We think of the heart as our center, our core, the locale of our being and very life: the place where we hold all the things that matter most to us, our commitments, our priorities.  And really, what is more indicative of our day-to-day priorities than what we do with our money?  How we earn it, save it, spend it, give it – all of that points to what is going on in our hearts.
 
Whatever has our heart is also going to get our treasure.  That’s common knowledge.  But the teaching from Jesus on this matter goes beyond common knowledge.  Everyone knows that our wallet follows our heart, but the Christian faith actually puts it the other way around – that our heart follows our treasure.  “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be, too.”  In other words, put your money somewhere, and your heart is sure to follow.  Relate to your money in such a way that you tell it where to lead you, rather than letting it lead you wherever it wants.
 
This is why the practice of generosity is such an important spiritual discipline.  If the goal of the Christian life is to become Christlike, perfected in our love of God and neighbor, placing our treasure into God’s hands through our church is one concrete way that we allow our hearts to draw closer to God.  While there are some church finance committees who want to continue to advance the myth of money’s neutrality – “Pastor, you worry about the spiritual stuff, and we’ll worry about the money” – the reality is that the money is at the heart of the spiritual stuff.
 
In my own life, I have realized that giving is one very important way that God is saving and sanctifying me.  The intentional and consistent practice of giving helps keep me oriented toward God and not going off on some other path.  Decisions to prioritize giving keep me from giving into impulses toward selfishness and greed, from buying into the myth of scarcity rather than abundance, to turn inward in a posture of preservation rather than outward in a posture of hospitality.
 
Money is not just a tool.  It is an entity.  How are you relating to it?  And how is that relationship drawing you closer to God?
 
Rev. A.J. Thomas serves as the Founding Director of Joyful Giving Group, LLC, where he is dedicated to cultivating a culture of generosity.
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