Making Money: Why the Guilt?
Christians sometimes have a hard time talking about wealth—especially personal wealth. There are hundreds of scripture verses about money, and the Bible is clear about our responsibility to tithe and give to the poor. The Word teaches that stewardship and contentment mean more to God than the numbers on our bank statements.
Believers who practice sacrificial, consistent giving need not feel guilty about their riches. Still, many Christians who make a more-than-comfortable living often feel conflicted about their lifestyle.
Why the Guilt?
Jen Michel is one of those conflicted Christians. In a Her.meneutics article, she says, “We are rich. And I am sorry. I admit to feeling a secret shame for the money my husband makes. I admit to feeling that there is someone to whom I should be apologizing.”
Michel continues, “We need a new conversation about money if we are to recover its best purposes. In the church, this conversation starts by inviting rich people to openly admit, without shame, that they are rich. I know I cannot make these choices faithfully without the church holding the conversation of money and its proper stewardship…I believe—and the Bible insists—that the much with which I've been entrusted has been meant for good.”
Why are many of us ashamed to get paid well or to declare our financial success? Such a view may be as harmful as the unbiblical belief that God provides wealth if we do the right things or have enough faith.
Attitude is Key
Our attitude is key. THC contributor and leadership consultant Kimberley Parsons notes, in Making Money: Get What You’re Worth Without Guilt: “More often than not, the most common roots of our money issues come down to faulty beliefs: that at the core, we are unworthy, unable, or unfair. However, those words imply that as God’s masterpieces, we are not good, and he was faulty in how he created us. When I have a case of unworthy/unable, I’m gently reminded he uniquely created me to do what I do. From his vantage point, I have something valuable to contribute.”
If we’re fairly compensated for what we do, and that compensation makes us wealthy, we should give the glory to God and give back to others. No guilt—or shame—required.
In “Making Money: When You Make a Lot of Money,” top-level executive and THC editor Glynn Young shares guiding principles for how he and his wife manage their income: “First, what we have does not belong to us…We’re expected to manage it and use it wisely. Second, we’re blessed, so we distribute the blessing given to us. Our needs are more than provided for, so we in turn provide. This isn’t about income tax deductions; this is about a biblical mandate.”
That mandate gives us the framework in which to make personal decisions about possessions, giving, and stewardship of all that God has entrusted to us. As we do so, let’s keep in mind that money is not evil, but our motives can certainly be.
As Rick Warren—who no longer takes a salary at his church after the success of The Purpose-Driven Life—explains, “The Bible teaches that we are to love people and use money, but we often get that reversed and you start loving money and using people to get more money. Money is simply a tool to be used for good.”
Some believers have new, shiny tools in their garages…others have old, rusty tools. And God can use both kinds of implements for his purposes, and to his glory. When we give in gratitude, out of abundance, God is glorified.
Doug Wilson, “Making Money: A Gift by Any Other Name,” states it well: “As a family, one of our passions has been to live generously and to be faithfully present—that is, we engage. We recognize and experience the brokenness of the world and strive to live generously in a way that cares for our culture...We passionately want to enable people to experience the world as it was meant to be and to see truth and beauty reconnected in their daily lives. We believe our giving helps make that happen.”
One of the benefits of work is making money. Some people are blessed to receive a lot of money for the work they do. Money is often considered a taboo topic, but in this series, Making Money, we invite you to join us in lifting the veil and bringing the topic into the open. Ask questions, right along with us. Let's consider how to live in the world as people of faith who desire to do good work, and to be good stewards of our resources.