Eugene Cho

faith and money [3]: control or controlled?

I read once that a person spends about 80% of their time awake engaged with MONEY:  earning it, spending it, and dreaming about it.  And so while money is a tool for us to use, if we’re not careful, it’s easy to see how the “love of money” can grow to become an idolatrous force in our life.

Richard Foster wrote in his book, Money, Sex, and Power:

Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon greed.” If you’re enslaved by greed, you will not lead others with integrity.

He goes on to say that if we don’t learn how to control money, money has such a seductive element that it will control us.  This marks the distinction between money and mammon.  Money – when it controls us – becomes godlike and thus, mammon in our lives.  And so, we have to ask the question:

Do you control money or does it control you?

Jesus makes it very clear in Matthew 6:24 what he thinks about Mammon.

No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

But the idolatry of money is subtle and deceptive.  We have to guard our hearts.  Here are some questions I’ve learned from mentors and personal experiences that I shared last Sunday at Quest to help us re-focus how we as Christians can engage with money as a tool rather than a “god.”  Like many of you, I struggle and constantly try and need to check my heart and stewardship.

Question: Do any of these questions “hit” you in the heart?

  1. Is it your money or God’s money?  Are you the owner or steward of the money?
  2. Do you make decisions based on money or by seeking God’s guidance?
  3. Do you honestly believe that God can provide for you?  Simply, do you trust God?
  4. Would you be willing to work for less money if you felt that God was leading you to a lower paying job?
  5. Do you constantly worry whether or not you will have enough money?
  6. Do you constantly fight over money with your spouse or family?
  7. Are you constantly envious of wealthier people? 
  8. Do you give joyfully, faithfully, and sacrificially to the work of the Kingdom including your local church?  Are you marked by generosity?
  9. Do you spend more than you earn, rely on credit cards or loans, and find yourself drowning in debt but with no plan? 
  10. Are you a slave to the Upward Mobility mindset:  You want more. You need more. You must have more.  Repeat after me: Contentment.

Filed under: religion

5 Responses

  1. […] or Controlled? Eugene Cho at Beauty and Depravity is doing a series on faith and money. This is his third entry on the topic. He links to the other two. Here he gives some thoughtful question about […]

  2. Andy says:

    Finally! I’ve been waiting for you to post the 10 questions since last Sunday. Thanks PE.

  3. Sylvia says:

    That was a great sermon last week. Very time appropriate.

  4. Jim C. says:

    There is an old Chinese saying (fr. Dad and Mom), “People have two legs, money has four legs.” Don’t chase money, you’ll never catch it. I just realized another thing. Money has to go to you. Right? Because there are people out there who have a lot of it. How do they get it? They attract the money.

  5. […] faith and money [4]: blessed and vulnerable This is Part 4 of the series on Faith and Money.  You can the previous entries here:  [1] Where is Your Treasure, [2] What is Money, and [3] Control or Controlled. […]

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It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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