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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One Day’s Wages

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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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