One of the dangers of prosperity is the propensity to utilize it as a source of confidence and motivation. For those of us in the United States, the dollar becomes the unit of measure for tools, services, and time. Dollars exchange hands when the opportunity arises to build friendships over a cup of coffee or at those moments when something broken is beyond our skill level to repair. Have you ever considered though, how money impacts our obedience to the Great Commission?
Obviously, money is a key aspect of being able to navigate society, but it comes with some dangerous side effects if we are not careful. While there are plenty of people who decry the use of money as evil, raising red flags about the increasing reliance upon a capitalistic system and we know that Scripture also warns that a love of money is the root of all evil. However, as money becomes the tool towards task completion, confidence booster, and life fulfillment the focus here is not to reiterate some of those topics, but rather to focus on some specific concerns and how they relate to some specific areas of the Christian life.
One of the underreported aspects of our use of money is how it is used to delegate responsibility. At times, this can be a great blessing. Sometimes there are major tasks beyond our skill level, that to pay someone else to do it is not only more appropriate but is also an opportunity to bless someone else by providing for them. However, many simply use money as a way to avoid responsibility.
Unfortunately, there is a second aspect when money becomes a factor to be relied upon: it has the propensity to eliminate relationship opportunities. Being able to do things ourselves and not have to rely on our money to buy us out of the circumstance, creates opportunities for developing deeper relationships. When one doesn’t know how to complete a project, there comes an opportunity to rely on acquaintance to help and guide. Or perhaps it can be a time with children; at the very least there is an opportunity to teach them and instill a work ethic in them.
It Impacts Evangelism
What does this mean for missions? The impact is more than we might initially consider. First, collaboration with others, creates opportunity to build relationships and can result in sharing the gospel. I am familiar with a family whose neighbor was antagonistic towards Christianity. However, when the family was working on a major project at home, he and his wife would always volunteer to help. It created a strong relationship with neighbors, who had the very least learned to live together in peace, but even more the man started attending events at our church. I cannot say whether or not that man has continued and to the best of my knowledge he still has never submitted his life to Christ. What I do know is that there was an impact being made because a family decided not to for themselves what they could have paid someone else to do. As another example, I can think of several times myself in which a homeless person has approached me on the street asking for food. I responded like many people do, I handed money over and bought my way out of an awkward situation. Year later, I adopted a change by not handing out money. While that reasoning was partly stewardship related, the other rationale was by buying food (usually there was a restaurant or grocery store nearby) it created an opportunity for evangelism, a core trait of the Christian life.
It Impacts the Great Commission
From evangelism, we take a step towards the Great Commission and consider how using money to avoid responsibility impacts our commitment to the Great Commission. Support for the Great Commission is silently defined as simply giving money. Ask most churches about their missions program, and the direction they will take you is the amount of money they spend and on whom. There is little effort to go beyond that by participating in the Great Commission ourselves. Perhaps the question that needs to be asked is, “Is financial support obedience to our Lord’s command?” For many, an honest examination would reveal that most churches are avoiding their responsibility in the Great Commission to others. Essentially, we are buying our way out of the Great Commission.
Money is a necessity because it is how our society operates. However, within churches, there are some side effects to relying so heavily on our money that must be considered. It cannot be used as a resource to avoid responsibility, but as God’s gift to steward His mission. Money does not drive the Great Commission, the heart of those giving the money does.
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