Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
John 16:12-18; Revelation 3:14-22; Job 31:24-40; Daniel 11-12
As I write this piece, economic uncertainty abounds. The Euro appears ready to collapse and the news relentlessly discusses a deeper recession. The words in today’s passage in Job have a lot to say in our current situation. Only a few years ago many in Ireland rejoiced in the Celtic Tiger and the fortunes many had made. We put our trust in wealth and property investments saying ‘You are my security.’ Now that they have collapsed, our world is shaken. Anger grows at what bankers, property developers and politicians did or didn’t do. Many are in deep financial trouble, and the rest of us are fearful. Fortunes have been made and lost; houses bought and foreclosed; many are unemployed. The pain is deep.
We should reflect a little further on Job’s message. He doesn’t just say that taking our security from money and things is unwise. He says it is sinful because it means we have been unfaithful to God. How could God have an issue with a nice house, new cars and some money in the bank? The problem is not the things themselves, but the way they point to where we place our trust and security. What we spend our time focused on shows what we think is most important in life. Job reminds us that the more we place our security in money, the less we are faithful to God. The more we trust things, the less we trust God. As Jesus said, we cannot love God and mammon (i.e. money). We will be devoted to one and despise the other, but we can’t serve both (Matthew 6:24).
Many have fallen into the trap of trying to pursue both, including the Christians in Laodicea that Jesus addressed in Revelation 3. These people had fallen into the trap of acquiring wealth and believing this would take care of all their needs. Jesus calls them lukewarm, and wishes they were either hot or cold. He would prefer they were either on fire for God, or clear about rejecting him. They are neither: just blah – fit to be spit out.
The problem with wealth is that it lulls us into smug spiritual slumber. Like the frog sitting in a pot of water, we don’t notice the temperature increasing until we’re cooked. We live as if money will take care of everything; make us secure; show us what is important in life. But it can’t.
Now that money is becoming scarce, we start to realise this. Money never could meet our deepest needs. Only God can. As economies fail, we start to see our true poverty, need and blindness. And there is Jesus, standing offering his healing salve, making himself available to us. All we need to do is open the door of our hearts, and he will come into our lives. Only in him do we have the means of living truly healthy, wealthy and wise.