Money and success

Image: Money and success

How much money do you need? How do you know if you're successful?

Article adapted from original by Graham Knox from Insight.

Under siege

We are bombarded with TV images, advertising and celebrity lifestyles, all presenting similar messages about the acquisition and ‘power’ of money, the trappings of wealth and the next ‘must have’ thing.

Against this culture, does the Bible have anything to say about money, the pursuit of wealth and our attitude to possessions?

Success is..?

How would you answer the questions:

  • What defines success for you?
  • How do you know that you have finally become 'successful?'
  • How important is it that you are 'successful'?

Whilst most people would define success as earning lots of money, buying the right house, or getting a great job, the Bible says to be careful about basing our purpose, our life and ideas on the ways of the world:

'Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.’ (Romans 12:2)

Jesus also says to be careful not to make money our god, as we can be in danger of losing our salvation:

"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?"  (Matthew 16:26)

You've got to serve somebody

Take a look at Matthew 6: 19-33:

"“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is Jesus talking about when he says ‘store up treasure in heaven’?
  • What does Jesus mean when he says ‘no-one can serve two masters’ (v24)?
  • How do I feel if others have a lot and I have a little?
  • How do I feel when I see others with a lot less than me?
  • Is any amount of wealth ever enough?

Final thoughts

We live in a materialistic society where many people serve money. They spend all their lives collecting and storing it, only to die and leave it behind. How can we know if God or money is our master? One test is to ask ourselves which one occupies more of our thoughts, time and effort.

Jesus says we can only have one master. He contrasted heavenly values with earthly values, teaching that our first responsibility should be to things which don’t fade, can’t be stolen, used up or wear out. Jesus calls for a decision that allows us to live contentedly with whatever we have because we have chosen what is eternal and lasting.

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