Can they mix?
I have often wondered, can we mix faith with money? Can they be together? Or a better question would be – can we have both of them together?
In the Christian bible, before Jesus began his ministry, he was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, the devil took advantage of the condition of Jesus by putting him to the test. The devil asked, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:3-4)
In the answer of Jesus, living on bread alone is not enough. We cannot live on bread alone and we cannot live on the word of God alone. We must have both.
We have to have faith and money together. Right?
When I was in the early stage of my renewal and started to read the bible, I would impress my wife Maricel with my self-acclaimed “gift of wisdom” by sharing to her my own interpretation of the scriptures. Oftentimes when I read the bible, I would give favorable meanings on the scriptures, always to my advantage just to keep my life comfortable. We would argue about my rationale on how we would apply my interpretation in our lives simply because there was no real wisdom behind it.
My old interpretation for this passage was, “we can have bread by holding on to every word that comes from God.” That means – everything is going to be fine even if we do not work or we do not save money for our future. As long as we read the bible, go to church, sing worship songs and follow the Ten Commandments, God will provide for us!
You could only imagine what my beloved wife has gone through. All the frustrations, trials and tribulations she had from me!
(As our relationship with God grew deeper, the words and promises in the bible became alive in our daily lives. It gives us a different meaning everyday and it teaches us how to use it through practical and applicable application in dealing with the daily challenges of our lives – I will give you several examples later.)
I am not a master in theology; but I have read several passages in the bible that tells us that faith and money cannot mix. In the book of Matthew, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
There is also the story of the rich man who approached Jesus to ask this question, “What must I do to have an eternal life?”
As described in the bible, he is a righteous man who is extremely rich. Throughout his life, he has honored his father and mother, he never committed murder, he never had adulterous relations, he never stole anything from anybody and he was never accused of defrauding or bearing false witnesses to his neighbors. He is a perfect model in the society and someone that we can consider a saint in our present time.
Jesus replied to him by saying, “Go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21-22)
After hearing this reply, the man was totally disheartened that he went away sorrowful. He was probably expecting a positive and favorable response which would be beneficial in his own terms. After all, he has done nothing but good things throughout his life.
After he walked away, Jesus added, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25)
If I was the rich man, I would probably have these thoughts in my mind – I don’t think Jesus is serious when he told me to sell everything? Is he kidding me? To have eternal life, do I need to sell everything I have then give to the poor then follow Him? I have religiously followed the written commandments throughout my whole life. As if that wasn’t enough that He had to ask me if I can give away my life savings? All the money that I inherited and all that I’ve earned for working 16 hours a day for the last 20 years! I don’t think so!
If being rich and having great possession is wrong, there is no way for me to enter the kingdom of heaven! Ergo, faith and money can never mix.
But there has to be a way… right?