"Money is the root of all evil"
"Jesus was poor, so you should be too!"
Some times these statements are based in spite, other times they are based in good intentions. There's a general feel that you shouldn't have "too much" (something that's hardly quantifiable), because instead, you should be giving it away. But I submit to you that the more prosperous we are, the more we can sustainably do more good for more people. I also submit to you that God is big enough for us to have what most people would call "too much" and still do more good for others than the naysayers ever will, even those who spend their lives giving things away to avoid having "too much".
First of all, let's respond to the common statement I just mentioned. Here is the scripture that people like to use, from the American Standard Version.
It's 1 Timothy 6:10
"10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
This scripture does not say that money is the root of all kinds of evil, it says the LOVE OF MONEY is. Total difference. And this scripture is obviously referring to people who will do anything to get it, even at the expense of their faith and values.
And as for the second statement, here's the scripture it's sort of taken from in the Amplified:
2 Corinthians 8
9 For you are becoming progressively acquainted with and recognizing more strongly and clearly the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (His kindness, His gracious generosity, His undeserved favor and spiritual blessing), [in] that though He was [so very] rich, yet for your sakes He became [so very] poor, in order that by His poverty you might become enriched (abundantly supplied).
There are two things to note here. The first is that Jesus became poor in a relative sense, since he gave up Heaven for a while and came to earth. He was NOT dirt poor while he was on the earth (and I'll prove it in a moment), but compared to Heaven, earth just can't compare.
The second thing to note is how many people quote half of this verse. It quite literally says that this sacrifice was so we "...might become enriched". Well. How about that?
So I want to present you a few scenarios that I think illustrate the problems that come from believing the lie that we are supposed to be poor, or rather, that we aren't supposed to be rich.
You know the scenes. And yeah, there are multiple ones.
Let me start off by saying, NOTHING that follows is meant to be an insult in different stages of life and development. I'm just trying to be honest and candid. Also, I believe in giving, and I think it's something we should all do. Now, on to the matter at hand.
Scenario 1-The Christian band. On the chance that they are ready for success and big exposure, they basically speak against it. They don't believe that they can receive prosperity from God, so they almost seem to write it off as something you have to sell your soul to get, which they'll never do. The industry at large seems to just accept that these artists will never be as big as a Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, or Black-Eyed Peas, and so the artists do too, and on some level, they take pride in that. They try to stay away from things like "fame" and even see it as a dirty word. But if you really believe that what you have to say is worth as many others experiencing and hearing as possible, isn't that, in some way, fame?
And if you don't believe that, then why take a single promo picture or even give your band a name? Why not just anonymously release music through shadow aliases on the internet, because, you know, "to God be all the glory"?! Gets convoluted really fast, doesn't it? And do I believe "to God be all the glory"? Yes! But He's glorified through the great things he does through his people, but too often we've been told, directly or indirectly, that we shouldn't go for or have or do "great things". How many people have been cheated out of hearing something positive that would have helped them in life because of this?
There's something to be said about learning to do good business. Christians, we need to be prosperous to do good business, and to be the kind of people others want to associate with, or aspire to be like. Do your best to pay people what they're worth, and find the difference between being generous and underselling yourself. Most kids don't want to be like an artist who can't keep up their gear or who begs for gas money at shows and online "because the royalties just aren't enough, because the Christian industry really isn't that big". They want to be like Lil' Wayne. And truth be told, it's people like him, with money and influence, who have affected the culture (and I'm saying that as a neutral statement, not a slam against him, just a fact). Too often Christian artists take pride in being some sort of "barefooted traveler", which just reflects their less-than-accurate mental picture of Christ. So frankly? The end result is that a lot of people "in the world" who you're "trying to reach" don't want to be anything like you, or your poor God.
It's true, Christians are to be in the world, but not of it, according to scripture. It's true that Christians shouldn't do everything like the world, and at the end of the day, yes, that will separate you from some people. But truthfully, in not doing things "like the world", you should do it better, and often, we have not. There's almost something to be said when a "faith-based" band can be on Christian radio in exclusive clubs and hip churches all over the country, but the kid who lives 25 miles from them who listens to Linkin Park 4 hours a day hasn't the foggiest idea who they are.
And it's true that the "Christian Industry" is a place full of all kinds of people, and it has done great things. Really. But I think Christians in general would do so much greater things in every industry if we just believed that God wants, even NEEDS us to be prosperous.
I think the worst part of it is, the intentions are good, but the information isn't.
Now, dear reader, don't go assuming. I've played for a crowd of 3 before, when the band was 7 people. I've played for nearly empty rooms before, and I've played in front of hundreds. I've given away a lot of music, and I earnestly believe in giving to others and to good causes. My goal here isn't to disparage the "working musician". It's to paint a picture of lack of balance, not lack of good intentions.
2-You're chilling with your amigos, and by some slip of the hand the TV remote glides past a station airing a preacher. Someone uses the word "televangelist" or "megachurch" and an immediate, predictable dialogue ensues. Words like "crook" get used, someone cites some unfortunate truth about ministers who have really cheated good people out of their money, but this has tainted their view ever since. If you're in a really special situation, one of the people in the room is really religious and pulls out the "filthy lucre" one-liner. And it eventually gets topped off with the oh-so-common "Besides, do you know about all the good they could do for others with all that money?! Because, "God forbid they drive that nice car or live in that big house when so many people are hurting around the world." The overall rationale is that, it makes sense for celebrities or talking heads to be rich, but preachers aren't supposed to be. People of God aren't supposed to be rich. Because that's somewhere in the Bible, right?
And that last statement becomes the source of fear and disparagement for all kinds of people. Repute and money become things you not only aren't sure aren't "evil", but they're things you're afraid of being ridiculed for.
But ok, now, hang on.
What do you make of Genesis 12:2 then? Where God says the following to Abraham?
"2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others]."
What do you make of the fact that Solomon was one of the richest men in history? Or the fact that Jesus was brought fine expensive gifts from kings upon his birth, and later on in life, had his own treasurer? Oh yeah, Judas, that was his job. And what do you make of the accounts in Matthew 26 and John 12 where a woman puts perfume on Jesus, the value of which was a year's wages. Check out what Judas, (yeah, THE Judas) says:
"4 But Judas Iscariot, the one of His disciples who was about to betray Him, said,
5 Why was this perfume not sold for 300 denarii [a year’s wages for an ordinary workman] and that [money] given to the poor (the destitute)?
6 Now he did not say this because he cared for the poor but because he was a thief; and having the bag (the money box, the purse of the Twelve), he took for himself what was put into it [pilfering the collections]."
Hrm. Well, looks like Jesus didn't have a problem with expensive things. And he obviously had enough money to be providing for 12 full-time employees, giving to the poor, AND overlooking Judas' nasty habit.
It is my firm belief that money isn't evil. And neither is fame. They're just amplifiers of who you are, and Christians, you can relax, they are things that you can use wholeheartedly for God, as long as you keep selfishness out of the way. That's not always easy, and it is a big responsibility, but we were never expected to take that responsibility alone. The Bible makes it clear that we are not to go loving money or fame, making them our main focus and becoming self-absorbed or absorbed in the pursuit. Still, God said he would make Abraham famous. Why? Because the more ACTUAL RESULTS and repute Abraham got, the more people would not only see that his God was real, but that Abraham was into something that they would want to get in on too.
Let me turn on a lightbulb for you. KIDS DON'T WANT TO BE LIKE THAT POOR MUSICIAN WHO DOESN'T SHOWER AND IS BARELY MAKING IT! They know the Grammys. They want to be like Taylor Swift or Will Smith or some rapper who goes home to a nice house every day with a front gate. And you know what? Once upon a time that was Abraham. That was Solomon. Boyeee.
And before you go about criticizing that dreaded televangelist, let me tell you, there are a LOT of things about some of the stuff on 'Christian TV" I don't like. I don't like it when people try to buy you off by selling you packets of "Holy Water" (Catholics, that's not a slam at you, you aren't trying to sell the stuff). I don't like it when people more or less beg me for my money to stay on the air. A lot of the same stuff that you find distasteful, I do too.
But there are ministries run by really rich people who got there by trusting and following God. People who have nice things and nice houses, but do a TON more for the poor at home and around the world than you probably ever have. I'd rather be one of those people.
Scenario 3-You're hanging around watching a movie with your bros. You get into it, and you begin to notice a trend in film. The good guy is a relatively poor guy, and the bad guy is some filthy-rich meiser.
It's true, this is that case a lot of the time, but it's almost as if we expect successful people to be evil. The love of money may be evil, but money isn't. And greed isn't exclusive to rich people. A lot of "lower class" or "middle class" people can be among the greediest. Greed isn't determined by how much you have. I don't have a problem with this scenario playing out in our fiction to a point, since, as I said, many times it happens that way. I just think that we need to remember that it doesn't HAVE to ALWAYS be that way.
So, I think I'll just top it off by saying this: Focus on knowing the truth. Focus on being the type of person that, amplified, will just amplify the truth. Money, notoriety, they're just amplifiers. They're only as good or bad as what they're being used for, but if we're told to throw everything away, how can we be expected to sustainably do good? I believe that you can learn things from the Bible and put them into practice and receive prosperity from God in every area of life. I'm not saying that we need to become over-thinking, over-working, money-obsessed business people. No, not at all. But I'm saying that we need not be afraid of being blessed either, so that we can show what you're ACTUALLY supposed to do with it.