Friday, February 27, 2009

What do you guys think of this?

7 comments:

Brody Harper said...

Anytime I hear things like this I wonder what their bank accounts look like.

Vitamin Z said...

Seth,

Thanks for this posting this.

I think in order to answer the question "what do we think" it would be important to interact with what the Bible says about money instead of just some knee-jerk response.

When I read the NT I see some staggering warning about money. We should not over interpret these things, but take them at face value. 1 Tim 6 will rock you to your knees if you let it and makes me question myself (as I should) in terms of how our family uses money.

Thanks for the conviction today. We have more money than we know what to do with (most of us) no matter what the current financial "crisis" tells us. Compared to the rest of the world, if you own a pair of shoes you are rich.

I think most of us should probably spent a summer in a 3rd world country and them come back and talk about the financial "crisis". I wonder if that would temper our tone a bit.

Again, thanks for the conviction today. I pray that God would make me one who holds things loosely for the sake of the kingdom.

z

Seth Ward said...

Brody, me too. However, to Piper's credit, I believe he is famous for shopping thrift stores and giving all his money away and driving clunkers and so forth.

Vitamin, I think maybe to start with, I would start with the definition or some consensus of wealth. But that gets sticky as I'll get further...

Basically, wealth is having more or an abundance of "things" money, gold, silver, houses, - essentially it's having much more than you need.

It think that Jesus states implicitly and amazingly that it is the "root" of many kinds of evil of course, not evil itself. However, the root is the root. And we know very well what those evils are and that just because Jesus didn't say that it "is" evil doesn't mean that it is pretty darn close.

I've experienced the love of money and the evil that that has brought, yet I have never been rich. How does that play in Piper's argument? I think that wealth for me, then and maybe now, would be a curse. I've always been fine abiding by the Matthew 6:25-34 and I think I'd be worried if I knew about how much money I had and how to keep it if I did have a bunch.

I also do believe, that poverty, extreme poverty is also, almost always a curse. If it isn't a curse then why are we called to alleviate it? The difference being that poverty is rarely an idol, however, sometimes it is. Some can become boasters of poverty. "Look at me, I'm selling all that I have even though I don't need to." What is truly sad about these folks is that they really aren't. Money is just as much of a God as it has always been, they are just giving up the things that get them off the hook.

But most times poverty is not. The worst irony is that someone's love of money is usually at the root of the worst kinds of poverty, so in the end, the curse still begins with the love of money.

It is interesting that Piper uses "wealth" as being a curse, rather than the "love of money."

In many ways, I do believe his statement. Some are given wealth and have an almost "special grace" to be generous with it, but for most, even the best of us, it hacks away at us little by little until we are so afraid of not having it, that we hoard and hold secret worship and prayer services before the altar of our ticking portfolio. "Please God, just let the price come back up so I can sell..." Instead the prayer should be, "Please God, help me to turn loose of all that I have, so that I may be free. Help me to trust. Help me to believe." After all, our dreams and passions are much more valuable and worthy of our energies. The fight to make them NOT our idols is something that God can actually accomplish. Most times, with money, it involves what Jesus called for the rich man to do: "Give it up. Get rid of it. It is killing you and you can't even see it."

It is a wonderful irony that the men who seemed to be blessed with the ability to make money by the mountain end up giving it all away - Warren Buffet. Warren lives in a modest middle classed home, drives a regular old car and takes a 100,000 dollar a year salary. He is famous for saying that he wants to leave his kids enough money to help them achieve their dreams, but not so much as to cripple them. Bill Gates... Bono... Sam Walton used to drive a clunker truck and never changed his lifestyle to reflect his richness... and so on and so forth. There are many great examples of those that have been given this "special grace." I believe that Matthew was one of those. Judas was not. I'm pretty sure I'm not.

Anonymous said...

Seth

I left the same comment over at Z's. Piper is usually right on, but not always. For another view, see Dr. John Schneider: The Good of Affluence - seeking God in a Culture of Wealth.

I saw your post on Redeemer, I was a member and elder there for many years.

Chris

Vitamin Z said...

Just to be clearn, I'm not saying that it's a sin to be rich. In 1 Tim 6. Paul commands those who are rich to be generous, not to give all they have away to the poor. So I don't think it's a sin to be rich (whatever that means) and I don't think Piper would say that either, but just that we all need to check ourselves and understand how the Bible presents wealth as very dangerous. That is hard to miss and I recognize that danger alive and well in my own heart.

These discussions are always very tricky because we have no hard and fast lines to draw and our legalistic tendencies long for them.

Another thing I think Piper is pushing on (and I think he is being intentionally extreme to make a point) is that basically no one would dare say these things in public and we all need to be reminded that Bible says the money can put your soul in grave danger if we are not careful. As people who live in the Disneyland that is America we forget how wealthy we are and how much ease we have. These thing can be (not always will be) contrary to the gospel in very significant ways.

z

Anonymous said...

Vitamin Z

I don't disagree with you, but this teaching has been used all too often to make those with wealth feel guilty.

There are many wealth narratives in the N. T., both negative and positive. Why is it that Piper and others (and don't get me wrong, I enjoy Piper immensely), only focus on the negative.

Chris

Greenup Family Blog said...

Chris,
I agree that it is interesting to see how 'some' billionaire's end up giving away the majority of their estate & end up being 'generous'. I am currently reading a biography of Warren Buffett and there are some good things to learn from his life...yet, he needs Jesus. Even though his has pledged to give away his estate and the world will benefit from the stewardship of that money, he needs Jesus. In the pursuit of his estate and his 'service to the world' in making money, he had a bairly tolerable marriage, and his relationship with his children was minimal. There is always a cost.