"The Gospel and Money. . . What Sayeth The Lord?"
A Moment To Ponder
(Reflective Questions and Self Evaluation)
*These questions should be answered a second time after reading this chapter.
- Am I using the money I earn, the way the Lord would intend?
- When is money a good thing?
- When is money a bad thing?
- What do the scriptures tell us about money?
- What is the difference between a want and a need?
- What can money buy?
- What can money not buy?
- Does money have a righteous or an evil influence in my life?
I remember taking my little girl to the store to pick up something I needed. In the process of viewing all the wonderful things on the aisles and shelves, my nine year old pointed to something she wanted. The following conversation ensued:
Daughter: "Daddy! Would you buy me that?"
Daddy: "Do you want it more than anything else in the store?"
Daughter: "Oh yes, will you please buy it for me?"
Daddy: "Do you have money in your savings account?"
Daddy: "Then why don't you buy it instead of me?"
Daughter: "No, I want you to buy it for me."
Daddy: "Is your money worth more than mine?"
Daughter: "Well, never mind."
Daddy: "I guess you really don't want it as badly as you thought."
I am sure I offered her the opportunity to earn the money for this coveted item. More important was the concept that most of the time, there is no such thing as getting something for nothing. I was attempting to teach my daughter the value of money. For a little girl, she had worked hard and saved up a lot of money. The lesson for her to learn was that there is a price to be paid for everything. The cost here was not only the price tag, but the time and effort she expended to earn what was needed to buy that item. Upon considering the item, she felt it was too expensive. Her savings required a lot of time and effort to accumulate, and that item would not return an equal value in satisfaction.
This daughter grew up to be very practical in her money management skills. By the age of 21 years, she owned a car outright, had a savings account, paid for 2 years of college, and even purchased a home as a young married person. She learned to be patient and prudent in her spending. By foregoing immediate gratification she could later afford the more important and expensive things of life. Eventually she became the family bargain hunter, and the best at saving her money. This daughter never assumed unnecessary debt. In contrast to this daughter, I knew of other young adults that spent their money as soon as it hit their wallet. They played and enjoyed life, but by the age of 21 years, they had spiraling debt and little to show for it. Money seemed to elude them.
Money- It is both amazing and perplexing. It touches virtually every material thing in our society. It is the life blood of world economies. One needs only to sit still and look around the room to understand that every material thing they see or touch has or did have a price tag on it. Money buys the essential things such as food and shelter. It purchases cars, clothing, computers, entertainment, investments. At the same time it can buy a toothbrush, a comb, a piece of gum. Money is essential to our daily life as we know it. It creates commerce.
Money has the amazing power to create a system of organization and balance. It promises predictability and assures stability. A money standard gives a sense of control and allows all to participate on a level playing field where everyone knows the rules. Financially speaking, it helps maintain a code of conduct and a common language that all understand. It helps keep society in balance.
A definition of "Money"- a medium of exchange or barter of goods and services in which one person sells an item and the other person buys that item. Imagine, this process of exchange takes place literally millions upon millions of times globally within an hour. Somebody buys and somebody sells.
What would happen if coin and credit (forms of money) all of the sudden vanished for a couple of months. The disfunction created in our communities would throw us all into a chaos beyond description. There would be no easy way to barter or exchange goods and services through the general population. Food would probably disappear first, then fuel. Transportation would become encumbered and then cease all together. With no products delivered to market, there would be no basic food supply. Daily routines would turn upside down. Panic and pandemonium would become the norm, as mankind would embrace the instinct of self-preservation. Crime would increase. People would steal what they needed. Society would live in fear, and life would become scary and tragic. Without a money exchange system, the world would fall apart.
In 2008, the slowdown of money flow and credit created worldwide concern and bank failures. Since then, great efforts to restore a global process of barter and exchange has occurred. Most all world economies are dependent on a flow of money.
The scriptures reference the word "money" over 150 times. If you consider gold, silver, brass, copper, precious stones, and other forms of barter (money), there are over 1,200 references made. Treasures, and riches are cited over 430 times. There has always been some form of currencies for thousands of years. As one studies the topic, they learn that money offers the benefits of equilibrium and calming society.
The perception and the influence of money on individual choices and actions can be noticed in the scriptures over and over again. Marvelous teachings that give insight as to what is important in this life are shed in these accounts. One learns that it is "how money is used" and "how it effects behaviors" that is good or bad. Money in and of itself is neither good nor bad.
To use money to provide the necessities of life is good. With money, people can bless the lives of others as well as themselves. For example, a purchase of a flower garden can bring joy and pleasure to all. A bouquet can be used to cheer up the sick and afflicted, or to celebrate a birthday, or to give comfort in a funeral service. Each blossoming plant can serve as a testimony of God, His love, and His creations. The purchase of a flower can be a good thing.
After planting a vegetable garden, the purchased seed can germinate into plants. The plants can grow into a bountiful harvest. The process can teach many lessons of life as one nurtures and protects the garden until it reaches a fullness of its creation. The harvested fruit can be shared with the poor, the needy, and less fortunate. Using money this way brings great blessings to oneself and others. It also teaches self reliance.
Money used to complete our earthly mission and bless the lives of others, is money's most noble and righteous purpose.
On the other side of the coin, money can be used to hurt ourselves and others. One can hamper their eternal progression by purchasing the wrong things. Inappropriate entertainment, harmful substances, addictions that destroy the body and soul, are purchases that estrange mankind from God.
The flattering use of money can purchase power, the lusts of the flesh, popularity, and fame. In the end, such purchases achieve no eternal good, and never draw one closer to God. In fact, they take one further into darkness and farther from the light.
It can be said that "how money is used" is very important to one's physical, emotional, and spiritual health. If used as God would intend, it will lead to happiness, joy, and a successful vibrant earthly experience.
If money were used as Satan would intend, it leads to loss of free agency, a soul that craves the unhealthy, and a dismal future with no hope of lasting happiness.
Can money buy all things? Some people think, "Yes." The simple truth is, "No!" It cannot, and will not.
Yes, money is important in order to purchase the necessities of life, but it can also purchase the unimportant. It can deliver many temporal toys, physical frills and thrills, comforts and pleasures of all descriptions. One thing money can never purchase are the spiritual things of God.
In the New Testament, the Book of Acts, we read:
"Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost, And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter; for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me." (Acts 8:17-24)
The Prophet Peters rebuke was divine and inspired. With powerful authority from on high he declared, "Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money."
God's gifts cannot be purchased with money. These gifts include: the priesthood authority, testimony, the Holy Ghost, a relationship with the Father and the Son, forgiveness of sin, peace of mind, freedom from guilt, joy, wisdom, peace, salvation, exaltation, virtue, purity, redemption, miracles, celestial power, glory, dominion, sanctification, can not be purchased with money. These precious treasures are earned through obedience, sacrifice, good works, faith, devotion, dedication, long-suffering, patience, service, repentance, diligence, hope, love, and charity. The birthright, the endowment, and the promise of living in God's presence can never be purchased with all the coins and riches on this planet. By no means is money celestial tender. At best, it is telestial tender and buys a telestial reward. John Henry in Chapter 1 realized this in the end.
As Isaiah put it, money does not buy God's goodness.
"For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money." (Isaiah 52:3)
Some preachers have taught that money is the "root of all evil."
"But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." (1 Timothy 6:9-11)
What the apostle Timothy meant, is that money used in the wrong way can create great evil, destruction, sorrow, and eternal harm.
Satan has a plan for money. He uses money skillfully to promote his own selfish agenda. He is the Master of Illusion, as he tempts man with vanity, popularity, fame, and a false sense of power and authority. He manipulates the natural man into following their carnal instincts and lusts. Thus believing, "All things can be satisfied with money!" Sadly, the satisfaction of these lusts is temporary and does not bring lasting peace to the soul. In fact, these lusts bring enslavement and a loss of freedom. Lucifer would create multiple addictions with things that seem to be good, but are not. His purpose in battle is to ruin lives and capture souls that will serve him for eternity. Money is such an easy way to accomplish this end.
The most evil use of money to be found in the history of mankind is recorded in the New Testament.
"And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. . . Then Judas, which betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders . . . And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, departed, and went and hanged himself." (Matthew 26:15 , Matthew 27:3, 5-6)
Filthy lucre in the form of thirty pieces of silver, was used in the plot to crucify the "King of kings", the "Savior of Mankind." Seduced by Satan, Judas sealed a secret contract of murder for a few pieces of silver coin.
Just as Satan orchestrated the death of our Savior, he will also employ the riches of the world to destroy the children of men. The "Father of Lies" will use money to turn men's hearts away from Christ. What is the price that man will accept to turn away from their Savior and God?
Read: 3 Nephi 27:32
Satan would use money to indulge mankind in the appetites of the flesh, the lust for money, power, and the desire for riches. Billions upon billions of dollars are spent each day on pornography, drug addiction, substance abuse, and lascivious entertainment. These lusts often lead to serious crimes, and darker decadent behaviors. The dollar cost exceeds that of all the wars known to man. The number of lives wounded are too numerous to number. The destructive toll and pain to families and innocent victims is beyond measure.
All of these lusts and temptations have one purpose, to lead men away from God. Imagine how much better the world would be without the evil things that money can buy.
As contemplated in past chapters: "Is the desire for wealth and riches impeding our relationship with the Lord?" We have been warned not to sell our Savior for what money can buy (3 Nephi 27:32). It is a sobering thought. Are we putting more energy into the things of the world, or in the things of God?
A good standard of measurement regarding our priorities in life is to ask, "Is what I seek a need or a want?" Am I using what God has blessed me with to build His kingdom?
Having a stewardship over the Lord's material and temporal blessings is a responsibility sometimes overlooked. When utilizing the Lord's bounty in our life's purchases, do we measure the good we could do for others, or the good that we could do for ourselves?
Basic to human existence are "needs" such as food, shelter, clothing, and love. These are the physical and emotional elements that provide safety and security for the human population. When these needs are unfulfilled and unattended, there comes discomfort, sickness, and possibly desperate and dangerous survival behaviors. We live in a world where all needs are not met. The Lord has asked us to be vigilant in administering to those needs when presented. We are to seek out the sick, afflicted, the lonely, the needy.
Unnecessary to human existence but highly sought after are "wants." Wants can vary from the simple and sweet, to the truly absurd and extravagant. Wants are not necessary to live a happy and healthy life. Meeting needs is essential to a happy healthy life.
The challenge of managing the stewardship and bounty that God has granted us, is to distinguish between needs and wants. God has counseled His children to enjoy life and appreciate the beautiful things of this world. Some wants that bless the lives of oneself and others are acceptable to the Lord if they lead others to Christ. For example:
Mary was born with a God given talent to play the piano. A piano is not necessary to survive; it is not a need. Yet, knowing music can be a prayer to the Lord, and that often sacred hymns invite a spirit of harmony and peace to a home, Mary wanted a piano. God would want her to develop this talent to bless the lives of many. The righteous desire in this instance is merited if used as God intended, to bring others to Christ. Mary's hope for a piano does fulfill a need, to bring others to Christ. If Mary wanted an expensive and rare grand piano, that served her own vanity, and would be used to exalt herself above others, it is now a want. Any well-tuned piano could fulfill the calling of sharing God's gift.
Man makes choices everyday as to his stewardship over God's plenty. For example, John, a father of three and a husband, was the sole provider for his family. He needed a car to fulfill this obligation. His job location was fifty miles away. While searching for reliable transportation, he had narrowed his choices to two; a brand new Chevrolet Corvette, or a Toyota Corolla S. He acknowledged that both would fulfill the need. The Corvette was flashy, fun, and noticeable. It cost $68,000 and would get 20 miles to the gallon. His monthly budget would be higher for gasoline and auto insurance if he bought the sports car. The family's savings account would be near exhausted.
The Toyota was common, practical, and could be used with the whole family. It cost $18,000 and would yield 38 miles to the gallon. It would fulfill the transportation need too! By buying the Toyota, he would preserve a year's supply of money for emergencies. The money would be available to fund his children's missions. They would have greater financial security.
John tried to convince himself that the Corvette would set him apart in his career. He would look successful in the eyes of his colleagues and clients. Besides, he was due a raise and a nice year-end bonus. Joan, his wife, felt that the $50,000 difference in price represented more a want than a need. Their life savings would be consumed if they bought the Corvette. Joan's argument with her husband was that for $50,000 they could send five missionaries into the mission field. The cost of vanity would bring no blessings into their home.
John had a dilemma. He wanted the Corvette; it was his dream to own a Corvette! He could smell the fresh leather, feel the wind whipping through his hair as he drove down the highway! It would be such a great sacrifice to give up the dream that he had worked so hard for!
John resisted taking it to the Lord in prayer because deep down inside of his heart, he knew that pride was the essence of this want. John did take it to the Lord, bought the less prestigious Corolla, saved his marriage, and preserved $50,000 in the savings account for future needs and emergencies.
This hypothetical situation illustrates a challenge that we all may face throughout our lives. "The Lord has blessed me to prosper. Now, how would the Lord have me use that prosperity?"
Prosperity: the state of being prosperous, material well-being, or having flourished. Man in general is confused with this definition. In a temporal sense, it means having more than others. The very poorest in the United States may be considered rich in comparison to the poor of Africa.
Spiritual prosperity or wealth is not defined by material possessions. It is having sufficient for one's needs, knowing, and trusting in God. It is clear that money cannot buy health, love, trust, wisdom, or the blessings of God. Spiritual prosperity is eternal, priceless, and everlasting. God does promise spiritual prosperity to those who live His commandments.
There are countless lessons to be learned from the scriptures about stewardship and riches. Consider the lessons of each of these scriptures and what the Lord is trying to tell us! Read each scripture carefully and take note!
Read: Mosiah 18:27-29 What should those do who are given abundantly?
Read: Mosiah 4:19, 21-23, 26 Who are beggars?
Read: Jacob 2:12-13, 17-19 How shoud riches be used?
Read: 2 Nephi 26:30-31 What should we labor for?
Read: Alma 1:29-30 How should we treat those in need?
Read: Alma 4:8 What are some of the the dangers of riches?
Read: Alma 5:53, 55 What is God's caution about wealth?
Read: Alma 31:24-28 What is the hyprocrisy found in these verses?
Read: Alma 34:27-28 What is God's warning in these verses?
Read: Alma 39:14 What can riches cause?
Read: Helaman 12:2-4 What often happens when men are blessed with riches?
Read: 3 Nephi 6:15 How does Satan use money?
Read: Mormon 8:37, 39 Another warning.
Read: D&C 104:13-18 Who do the things of this earth belong to?
The messages in these scriptures are clear. When riches become the object of one's affection, when money is used to purchase false idols and the vain things of the world at the expense of doing good, when pride blurs spiritual vision into believing that man is better and more deserving than his fellow beings, man is forsaking God.
Everything on this earth belongs to God. We are merely His stewards. When blessed with prosperity, we are to use our good fortune to bring others unto Christ. The great message in these scriptures is, "charity to all men." God expects His children to voluntarily take care of one another. This is celestial love unblemished, undefiled, perfect in Christ and the Father.