God's Money

It's His. Not Yours.

God's Money is a blog that helps people use their financial resources in a God-honoring way. A blog post is typically released every Monday written by Donald F. White.

Post #1 "I'm Only Human

 

I’m Only Human

While there are many things that differentiate humans from the other creatures that roam the earth, two stand out to me: 

  1. Our unique ability to communicate with words, not only spoken, but written, and 

  1. Our unique ability to trade goods and services in exchange for money. 

Speaking to one another is so important that even mute people communicate words with “sign language” that not only the deaf, but anyone can learn to “speak”.  Not only is speaking words extremely important, but the ability to communicate via written words separates us from every other creature on Earth.  Is it any wonder that the Apostle John starts his book with, “In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God” (John 1.1)?   

Not only does our use of language make us unique, so does our use of money.  If you think about it money, in and of itself, is just paper or rocks.  Gold, silver, platinum, or other “precious stones” only have more “value” than other material, because humans have deemed it.  Indeed, much, if not virtually all, human interaction involves wealth and money.  Take away money from people and they, unlike the other creatures on the planet, become destitute. Is it any wonder that virtually every book written at one point or another has money somewhere in the storyline?  Hence the Apostle writes, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Some people eager for money, have wondered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1Timothy 6.10). 

I studied Journalism and Communication in college.  I am totally fascinated with language.  If you listen or read my Bible studies I publish weekly, you know I love the nuance of the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek that the book was originally penned.  I also love finance.  I like to say when I made my entry into the workforce I chose money over writing, when I became a financial advisor over a journalist. 

While words and money are what distinguish humans from the primates, words and money often separate people.  I am not sure if every destroyed relationship has at its root either words and/or money, but it is right up there.  The old ballad is true - People need people.  Yet how often do you allow hurt over words and/or money to come between you and another?  Spouses divorce.  Brothers never speak to one another again.  Friends go their separate ways.  The list of crushed relationships over words and money is endless. 

Nevertheless, there is another uniquely human activity that can miraculously suave the wounds, break the shell of silence, and restore relationships – forgiveness.  Forgiveness, if you think about it, is the divine solution.  The common human solution is if someone wrongs you, just cut off the relationship.  Withdraw, love at a distance, avoid intimacy or involvement.  Most of all, if you do “forgive”, you should never forget.  You know the saying, “Dog bites once, dog’s fault…”  And how many times has that separating hurt centered around something related to money? 

The most pressing question every human needs to answer is why.  Why should I forgive?  To many, forgiveness seems too easy. That person who wronged me needs to pay for his or her sin!  He or she needs to suffer the consequences.    

When the transgression is financial, the immediate thought is restitution.  The thief should be made to repay what was stolen and then some.  Recently, someone came into my mom’s apartment and stole her jewelry.  Mom was given money from her loss, but she is still upset.  How do you repay the sentimental loss?  How do you “repay” the loss of security she now feels?  How do you repay what was taken from her emotionally, socially, or relationally? The truth is the victim is usually powerless to demand restitution and the perpetrator rarely can ever repay any way.  Restitution is great, but it does not restore relationships.  

What about revenge?  If repayment does not work, maybe I can exact revenge – an eye for an eye.  That is Biblical, right? But as David Augsburger once wrote in his book, “70 times 7”, “If you attempt to get even with your enemy, you just become even with your enemy.”  In fact, David writes, “Doing something to get back at your rival puts you below your rival.”  Revenge essentially lowers you to your rival’s lowest level.  Furthermore, it can boomerang and keep the injury within you. Revenge punishes the victim.  It aims the weapon of revenge on yourself hoping the recoil will hurt the perpetrator.  Revenge simply does not work.  It corrupts the avenger while having no impact on the wrongdoer. 

Here is the issue – we are only human.  Humans have feelings.  Humans not only hurt physically, we hurt (maybe even more) emotionally.  Worse yet, since we put such a high value on money in our culture, when you are hurt financially, resentment can take the soul hostage and quickly grow to full blown hate.  Hatred is the costliest of emotions.  Even though it may warm you at first, ultimately, it sears your conscience and you often become leery of others who have never even hurt you.  Have you ever noticed when you have not forgiven someone how bad you often feel?  I know for me, when I start acting caustically, suspiciously, or find myself being hypercritical of others, I usually need to forgive someone or something.  Wishing destruction on another is self-destructive.  It can lead to elevated blood pressure, ulcers, stress, even death. It is not worth the exorbitant cost associated with it.   Even worse, it will make you bitter, the cruelest killer of all.  Hence, the Apostle wrote, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, malice and evil speaking be put away from you, and be kind, tender-hearted, forgiving, even as God through Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4.31) 

Bitterness is like a cast.  It protects you from further injury, but it also keeps you from using the casted limb.  It is paralyzing!  Worse, it does not allow you to respond to your soul, freezing reason and emotion.  Do you want to be cynical, uncaring, critical, caustic, and not trust people or God?  Crawl into a shell of distrust and let bitterness rule your soul.  But here’s the kicker – bitterness becomes an excuse for acting badly and irresponsibly.  It allows you to play the blame game where you blame everyone but yourself.  It is a cyclical, repetitive, tightly closed circle of self-centered pain.  I once heard it compared to learning to ride a bike.  You get the bike going, but you do not know how to stop.  Afraid to quit, you just keep peddling hoping your dad will just grab the handlebars and get you off! 

The only way to be healed when you have been hurt is to take the divine approach rather than the human one – forgiveness!  Forgiveness is letting go of the pain to the Lord God Almighty.  Forgiveness is accepting those who have injured us just like God did for us.  It opens you up, rather than shutting you down.  Most of all, it opens you up to God’s acceptance and His forgiveness.  Jesus said it best in the Lord’s Prayer, “…Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Amen.