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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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

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41 years ago today, our family immigrated to the United States from Seoul, South Korea. I was six years old; the youngest of three sons. My father, when he was also six, fled from what is now known as North Korea. Just recently, he shared with me that he and some of his family had been in a refugee camp when war and violence broke out on the Korean peninsula. It's emotional thinking about what my brothers and I went through coming to a completely foreign country. It wasn't easy. And then, I think about what my parents had to go through:

They fled their homes near Pyongyang which also meant leaving some of their extended families.

They experienced unfathomable hunger and poverty.

They experienced the pain of war.

They immigrated again to the United States as adults with minimal resources and a handful of English words.

All in hopes that their children would have the opportunities that were never afforded to them.

I'm thinking of my brothers today. I'm thinking of my parents and honoring them for their sacrifice and tenacity. And finally, I'm thinking of refugees and immigrants all around the world that are yearning for family, peace, hope, and opportunities. Don't reduce Martin Luther King Jr. to a yearly quote on social media. Live out the dream. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Confront evil. Be a truth-teller. Seek justice. Love mercy. Pursue reconciliation. Build bridges. Love your neighbors. Forgive your enemies. Pray unceasingly. Live a committed life of peace, love, and justice.

The God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today.

Be brave. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here's the full context of his famous quote: "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that." An important word for the Church... Oh, how God loves the nations. The Scriptures make this so clear. No one - let alone, the leader of a country - should ever disparage other nations with such a disgusting comment.

To the beautiful people of Haiti, El Salvador, and of the many countries of Africa: We are so sorry. Please accept our apologies on behalf of President Trump.

I've had the privilege of being in Haiti twice and numerous countries in Africa including Kenya where I took this picture during an afternoon drive near Kijabe. In many of these visits, I witnessed such creativity, courage, leadership, hospitality and kindness. To follow Jesus without obedience, repentance, self-denial, and dying to self is an oxymoron. In other words, are we more in love with the idea of following Jesus than actually following Jesus?

Grateful for an incredible Sunday at @seattlequest of beginning our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.

my tweets

  • Be humble. The world is bigger than your view of the world. And certainly, God is much bigger than your view of God. || 17 hours ago
  • 41 years ago today, our family immigrated to the United States from Seoul, South Korea. I was… instagram.com/p/BeEoA_ogLtx/ || 3 days ago
  • Don't be lazy and make assumptions about people. Ask about their story. Then listen. Be humble. Be teachable. Be human. Be a good neighbor. || 4 days ago
  • Don't reduce Martin Luther King Jr. to a yearly quote on social media. Live out the dream.… instagram.com/p/Bd_bYCDgM9h/ || 5 days ago
  • Everyone loves the idea of justice...until there's a personal cost. But there's always a cost to justice. Grateful… twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 6 days ago
  • RT @BerniceKing: As you honor my father today, please remember and honor my mother, as well. She was the architect of the King Legacy and f… || 6 days ago