The Heaven and Hell of Money

On Chapter 7 of John Piper's Desiring God 

Money cannot save the human soul, but loving it can certainly bring about its damnation.  In 1 Timothy 6:9 Paul teaches that the desire to be rich is a temptation that ensnares and brings one, “into many senseless and harmless desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”  I think people take warning labels about trans-fats more seriously than they do the teachings of the Bible about money.

If money can lead the soul to its greatest miseries then why not develop an attitude towards it that can result in the soul’s greatest delight?  Paul teaches in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 that this end can certainly be achieved.  We are to be, “rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for” ourselves “as a good foundation for the future, so that” we “ may take hold of that which is TRULY LIFE.”  A person’s attitudes toward money will impact their eternity.  Money is a curse and a blessing.  It is in many ways an obvious litmus test of the salvation of the soul.

Are you born again?  Does the Holy Spirit indwell you?  How do you manage and spend your money?  These questions are deeply connected.  We would like to think that salvation is a uniquely spiritual concern.  Truth is, it is also a financial one.  Many people would affirm that they are born again and that they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but they horde material resources, squander their money, and use none of it generously.  How can a person be born again but have such a devilish delight in money?  1 Timothy 6 exposes this fallacy of naming the name of Christ and having a love affair with money.

Piper challenges us to use our money as a means to take delight in God.  Chapter 7 is a good exposition of 1 Timothy 6.  It is straightforward and challenging.  If we use our money in our Hedonistic pleasures of God there will be two marked attitudes in our stewardship.  We will use our money to invest in eternity and we will develop a trend in our spending that reflects our mission.  Piper calls it “war-time” spending (199).  This is hard to conceive in our minds simply because our nation does not understand much about the concept of sacrificial spending.  Yet in the World War eras, war-time spending was a concept easily understood.  The nation’s resources were focused on winning a war.  Industrial resources, energy, the food supply, and the economy were budgeted and directed toward victory.  Most of us who name the name of Christ do not have spending habits that reflect a burden of sharing the gospel with the lost populations of the world.  Many will cop out at the word “rich”, relegating Piper’s chapter and thoughts only to those who have an even greater income than their own.  We create a new spiritual tax bracket labeled “not rich enough” to be generous and loving with money.  The truth of the matter is that the word “rich” is intrinsically relative and the principles of Scripture are not reserved for a certain tax bracket, but these principles apply to all of our resources.  The rich and the poor - the haves and the have nots - are all called to the same, using our money to reflect the eternal destiny of our souls and our delight in God.  At the very least, Piper’s example of the giving nature of the prayer band in India (201) should be enough to disarm anyone’s argument as to why they are not included in what the Bible teaches about money and the generous soul.  His statistical analysis here is deeply convicting and calls every reader to examine financially to see whether or not he or she is born again in Christ Jesus.

If a person loves God, they will love Him with their heart, soul, mind, strength - and money.  Money cannot save the human soul, but it is an obvious indicator of one’s eternal destiny.


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