Category Archives: Christian Living

For the Love of Money

…is the root of all evil.  That’s what the Apostle Paul was teaching to Timothy in I Timothy 6:10 KJV.  In context, his message is in direct response to the church at Ephesus and their leaders’ desire for financial gain.  Not only is this message one of conviction for that church, but it’s also equally applicable to today’s society, as the focus on money seems greater than ever. 

Turn on the evening news these days and what’s the major topic?  Money.  It’s all about money, in the form of bailouts, stimulus, greed, corporate corruption, financial advisors stealing, the housing bubble collapse, bank failures, the stock market…money, money, money.    I would argue that the majority of the current problems our country is facing are the direct result of the love of money, rooted heavily in a lack of Godliness.  We’ve become so obsessed with money on a global scale that it is literally undoing countries left and right. 

Case in point: I began following the news, via the cable news channels, after the presidential election of 2000.  It was such a contested event, that I wanted to tune in daily for new updates.  Since then, I’ve made it a point to monitor world news and current events, though more so from a Biblical perspective, in the past year.  In this time, I’ve never seen such an obsession with the stock market as I’ve seen within the last year.  Rather than searching for the latest Dow Jones index in the morning paper or on the old CNN Headline News, you now see it everywhere; it’s a ticker on every channel.  It’s even a category on my new iPhone (yeah, guilty as charged).  People seem to bow to the market as though it’s an idol, a beast capable of controlling a person’s destiny, when in fact it’s nothing more than man-made instrument used by many to measure self-worth.  One of my biggest pet peeves regarding the stock market is the daily office discussions.  I remember the stock market taking nose dive last year and the monitoring fixation that took place several times a day.  It became such an annoyance that I would jump into the conversation just to offer up an opinion like, “You can’t watch that every day, it’ll drive you crazy”, in an attempt to discourage the exchange.  These examples are just microcosms of the passion, or love, of money that’s captured our society.

So what’s the Christian’s role in these discussions?  How are we to live in a society so obsessed with money?  Our role is to let Christ’s love and Light shine through us.  We can do this, not through negative comments, like I made above, but through sharing the truth of the Gospel.  Paul enforces this very action in I Timothy 6:17-18, “Command [warn] those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command [charge] them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”  When we use Christian love to point out the dangers of the love of money it will open up the door for us to share the Gospel.  Instead of saying, “You can’t watch the market every day, it’ll make you go crazy”, maybe something more along the lines of “That market is just so unreliable and unpredictable isn’t it?  I used to follow it pretty regularly too, but after reading a passage in Mark 10, it changed my whole perspective on money.”  Then just kindly tell of Jesus’ parable on the Rich Young man.  That’s just one example, but hopefully it will make you think of opportunities to share the gospel when conversations, such as those on money, come up.

It’s easy for any of us, believers and non-believers to get caught up in race for money, but ultimately as Christians, we need to avoid the trap of trying to get money and focus on how we can give more.  It’s times like these when Christians need to step up their giving, not only through tithing more, but through giving to local shelters and food banks.  In doing so, we’ll show that our true Master is not money, but God. Matthew 6:24

Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Sowing Seeds: Applying the Parable

With spring approaching, it’s a great time to begin planning your garden.  I doubt that anyone would attempt to plant their garden seeds on their driveway, probably wouldn’t plant seeds amongst your rose or blackberry bushes, and I doubt anyone would throw a few weed seeds in with their good seed.  Yet this is exactly what happens in the parables that Jesus teaches us in Matthew 13. 

We’ve probably all heard the first parable of this chapter, The Parable of the Sower.  This parable falls along the lines of the analogy I used when planting your garden.  Jesus tells of seeds that are thrown along the path and devoured by birds, sown in rocky soil and withers shortly because it has no roots, and others that fell among the thorns and are choked out.  He then tells of those seeds that fell on good soil and produced grain some hundredfold.  In Jesus’ explanation of this parable found in vs. 18-23, we learn that the seed is the Word of God and that the soil is the heart of man.  Those seeds that were planted along the path, the evil one snatches away.  The seed sown in the rocky soil are hearts that receive the Word with joy, but when times get tough falls away because there is no root within.  Those seeds that are sown among the thorns are those people that hear the Word, but fall victim to the deceitful cares of the world that chokes out the Word.  The seed that brings forth fruit are those that hear the Word and understand it.  This parable is probably one of the best known and a fascinating example of those that hear the Word of God and choose to either reject or accept it.  As important as the parable is to understanding these truths, I want to draw attention to a second parable in this chapter.  Perhaps a lesser known story, The Parable of the Weeds

 Jesus tells this parable in Matthew 13:24-30 and I’ve included it below:

 24Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

 27“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

 28” ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
      “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

 29” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ “

Jesus explains this parable in vs. 36-43 describing that the one who sowed the seeds is the Son of Man, the field is the world, and the good seed represents the “sons of the kingdom.”  The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the “enemy” that sows them is the devil.  The harvest is the “end of age” while the harvesters are the angels.  As the weeds are pulled up, they are thrown into the fiery furnace and the righteous will “shine like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father.”  While Jesus does and excellent job of illustration, I’d like to apply this lesson to the modern day world. 

First, let’s think about the good seed sown in the field.  We know from the first parable, that this good seed are those that receive the Word of God, understand it, apply it, and bear fruit as a result.  These are Christians that are firmly rooted in the Word of God.  Reading and studying it daily, feeding on the Daily Bread. Luke 11:3 Next, let’s look at the sowed weeds.  Think about what is happening here.  The field is planted, the good seed sown, ready to take root and grow.  Those Christians that receive the Word are prepared to bear fruit.  But what is the role of the weeds?  First let’s examine the role of weeds in nature’s wheat field. 

The Department of Agriculture states that the presence of weeds within a crop can adversely affect the production by increasing cost in several ways, the greatest of which is “a reduction in yield due to weeds competing with the crop for available light, nutrients and moisture.”  Hmmm, so the enemy in verse 25 came through while everyone was sleeping and planted weeds with the intent of reducing the yield of the harvest.  The interesting aspect here is that the weeds are among us and their sole purpose is to compete for the light, to keep it from us, to hide the Truth.  The life of the “weed” mirrors the life of the “wheat”; same soil, same nutrients, same water, same sunlight.  We can look at it as working at the same jobs, going to the same church, our friends, relatives, you name it.  In fact, the King James Version of this same passage refers to the weeds as tares.  These “tares” are thought to be the species darnel.  Consider the following definition of this from Wikipedia: “…usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and is considered a weed. The similarity between these two plants is so extensive that in some regions the [darnel] is referred to as “false wheat.” It bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears. The ears on the real wheat are so heavy that it makes the entire plant droop downward, but the “false wheat”, whose ears are light, stands up straight.  It parasites wheat fields.”  This truth is simply too profound to ignore.  The tares among us are actually a “false wheat.”  If we preach the Bible and hold fast to its doctrines and truths then that must mean that the “tares” preach a false Bible with false doctrines.  We appear exactly the same, indistinguishable until the time of the harvest.

How then did we allow the weeds to get planted in the first place?  Because everyone was asleep.  Matthew 13:25, “But while everyone was sleeping, His enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.”  The Great Awakening occurred in the 1730’s (1730-1755), some 200+ years after the Protestant Reformation (1500s).  Then there were arguably periods of “awakenings” in 1790-1840, followed by the third 1850-1900, and the fourth 1960-1980.  While these later movements, especially the 4th, are debatable, it has been a long time since the first Great Awakening, offering a lot of time for the church to fall asleep and the enemy to grab a foothold and plant his weeds.  That’s exactly where we are today, the church is asleep and the weeds of the devil have been planted.

In the final verses Jesus speaks of His own discernment in not having the servants pull the weeds, instead allowing them both to harvest.  Since  the tares and wheat are virtually indistinguishable until harvest, potential would arise to damage the wheat.  This practice saves the wheat that was able to fend off the weeds.  Waiting until harvest allows the wheat to fully mature, though likewise the weeds, but the harvest creates a better opportunity to separate the two because the wheat bows due to the weight of their ears.  We can view this allegory  as a symbol of the Body of Christ bowing down as the “harvest” comes with His return.       

It’s often easy to read a parable, or even a passage of scripture, and not fully grasp the idea.  It’s especially easy to gloss over these parables without applying them to our daily lives.  The Lord gives us the ability to understand these things through the Holy Spirit.  In fact, Jesus mentions this very thing in vs. 11-17, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.  Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.  In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ” ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.  Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’  But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Are you the tare or the wheat?…….The harvest is coming…

Part 4: Build your House in ’09

The Windows and Doors

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

What if you had a house that had no doors, no windows, or no way to let in natural light?  You would have electrical lights, but without sunlight it would begin to get depressing.  A house without windows and doors becomes more like a dungeon, than a healthy living space.  Now think about being in the middle of the woods at night.  You’re lost, hungry, cold, and miserable.  The moon isn’t visible and its pitch black outside, except for the lights from a large log cabin setting up on a hill.  It’s your only hope for survival.  But without the windows and doors of that cabin, the lights would not shine.  Without that light, you couldn’t see it, as though it didn’t exist.  If it were just a dungeon, like in our first example, with no windows or doors, the light wouldn’t shine.  The same is true of us Christians when we are content to live within ourselves, become self-absorbed in our own “rat race” and refuse to observe the verse above by letting our, “light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

The Bible tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV So we know that works will not save us, but we also must recognize that, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:17 NKJV In context within this chapter, James is instructing us that we are called to serve others, not through our faith, but through our service by means of our faith, so that as Matthew told us above we may have our, “light shine.”  This outward expression of an inward connection allows others to see how God works in the life of a believer.  Later in this same chapter, James references Abraham.  “Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’  And he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.”  This example shows just how strong faith and actions work together in our lives.  As James concludes this chapter he states, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26

Just as we are to have faith and works, we can express those works through our spiritual gifts given to us by the grace of God.  The scriptures tell us in Romans that, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:6-8 Each of these gifts, and others, are examples of how we are able to express our faith outwardly to others.  When we use the gifts to serve one another, the Apostle Paul tells us to do so in love. Galatians 5:13  Peter builds upon this thought by telling us, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” I Peter 4:10

We can profess our faith to others, recite Bible verses, show up to church to worship, but our faith, our heart, our inward light will only shine when we set aside ourselves by serving others.  Our service is the true window to our soul and one of the best testimony’s we have for non-believers.

Luke 11:35-36 “See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.  Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.”

II Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”