As money is such an integral part of our lives that can seem like a ridiculous question to ask. Money can occupy so much of our thinking. It can also be the source of so much emotion, both negative and positive.
But what is it? Put most simply money is simply a tool to facilitate deferred bartering.
Of itself money is just a piece of paper. But what that paper has come to represent is access to products, possessions and ultimately dreams. The 2 minute video below captures some of these sentiments:
Money is so more than just paper, or plastic, or metal or numbers on a screen. It is an amplifier of who we are and the impact we can have on the world we live in. If we are basically living selfishly then money increases the opportunities to be more selfish. And if we want to live lives of generosity then money can increase the potential to do that in so many more ways. The simple equation is:
Intention x Income = Possibilities
The greater the intention and the higher the income then the more are the possiblities.
Using money to buy things for yourself has a place, but it can only reach a certain limit of satisfaction and fulfilment. With all the options and resources we have in the Western world, we live in one of the most materially advanced eras in history. At the same time money can cause us to have such a wide range of emotions from thrill and excitement at the possibilities to stress, fear and even terror at potential or actual loss.
Another way to look at money is to see it as stored up freedom and energy. With money I can develop freedom to do things I could otherwise never do. I can also leverage my actions to do so much more than would be possible by my own efforts.
Problems can come from having too little money and too much money, but most of us would say we would rather have the problem of more money rather than less! Having said that it is interesting how the Bible consistently warns of the dangers of material wealth being a distraction to godliness. Money brings apparent success and comfort. But with that success are real dangers.
I can't think of better wisdom than Paul's instruction to Timothy in the New Testament (chapter 6 verses 4-10). This is how it is translated from the Greek in the Message version. It is well worth pondering over:
"A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.
But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after."
We cannot not think about money. It is an important part of life. The challenge, however, is to put money in its proper place so that it is respected, but not worshipped. When only money governs our thinking and decisions then it in danger of becoming an idol. An idol is a false god that promises much, but cannot ultimately deliver. The danger comes when we give money too much importance in our lives.
With that warning about money it is worth also adding there is a lot of positive potential with money - but that is for another post!
You may also find of interest Podcast #011 Money