Editor’s note: “Living on Purpose” is a Kentucky-based religious column provided free to the Bartlett Express. We also welcome local columns with similarly universal messages; send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We often hear the term “it’s all about the money,” but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to hope and a sense of spiritual well-being. Humans use their creativity and imaginations to dream about being satisfied and I would say that fantasies about power, fame and money are the most common.
The recent record-breaking lottery generated quite a bit of excitement and, like everyone else, I was amazed at how the jackpot grew and what a mesmerizing effect it had on the masses. It is our lust and greed for money that increases its influential power to deceive and distract us from what’s really important.
Certain religious interpretations declare that gambling is a sin and it might be, but casting lots is not always associated with wrongdoing. I can agree that someone who cannot afford to pay their bills and yet will waste money on daily lottery tickets needs more than a financial advisor. Nonetheless, I personally do not see anything wrong with someone spending a couple of dollars every now and then to have a chance to be financially secure.
It is true, money cannot bring happiness and I question whether or not even winning the lottery would truly be a blessing for many, as I believe that would depend on how mature and level-headed the individual is. I have also pondered that instead of praying to have more money, maybe we should spend more time asking God how to better manage what we have.
We have heard about the stories of those who have lived modest lifestyles and then suddenly find themselves with a mind-boggling amount of financial power. However, many of these testimonies have not turned out as one might think and, in the end, have actually been more like a curse. I am not knocking money, in fact I need it and it can do a lot of good, but in the hands of those who pay no heed to God’s instructions it can become like a blind man operating a wrecking ball. Instead of wealth being used as an instrument to help others, if we are not careful it can actually use us by capturing our mind and possessing our soul.
The Bible mentions a lot about wealth and there is no shortage of books and sermons to help further explain the benefits and dangers. One camp teaches that God desires to bless His people with material abundance while the other side emphasizes the need to give everything we have away and to live by faith alone. I personally fall into the category of trying to find a reasonable balance that can enjoy God’s blessings while also learning how to be compassionate and generous toward others.
Yes, Jesus told His followers to sell all they have, give it to the poor and take up their cross and follow Him, but does this mean literally or to just be willing? Surely there is no condemnation to work, earn a paycheck, pay our bills, have a home and support our family all the while faithfully representing Him as a true Christian.
I have also wondered if winning the lottery is strictly by chance or if God has a hand in who wins. We realize He already knows in advance who will have the correct numbers, but how in
the world with so many people praying to win, does He choose one winner? Let’s just say it’s possible that God could give us the numbers through road signs or a dream, but we must remember that more important than having a bank filled with money is to make sure we are not in love with it. Hopefully, we all can agree that having money and being rich are two different things, and even if we have small finances, our true joy, peace and contentment will always be found in the secret place of His presence.
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have turned away from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Timothy 6:10).
Written by Dr. Billy Holland, who lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl. He is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain. He wrote “A Lifestyle of Worship — living in the awareness of God’s presence,” and his new CD is “Keeper of My Soul.” To learn more, visit billyhollandministries.com.