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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As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory) May our hearts break for injustice and exploitation - whether abroad or in our own backyard. Spending a few days for @onedayswages in Thailand. Along with one of our board members, I'm traveling with a group of 10 others to learn, listen and visit a few NGOs including one of our partners, @thefreedomstory. Couple days ago, we spent an evening walking through Soi Cowboy. On a given night, about 10,000 people are in the ring of prostitution in Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, and Patpong. Much of this is driven by the consumer demand. Approximately 70% of male tourists go to Thailand for the sex industry.

Human trafficking is complex. Anyone that says otherwise is lying or selling you something. 
To reduce it to simple terms, or simple problems, or simple solutions…cause harmful consequences. While we can all agree that it is sinful, egregious, evil, and wrong…there are many nuances and complexities. It would serve all of us to grow deep in the awareness not just of the larger issue but the nuances and complexities.

When people speak of human trafficking, they tend to be ‘attracted’ to the issue of sexual exploitation. Dare I say it, human trafficking has become trendy as a justice issue.

Clearly, it’s evil and egregious. But to reduce the entire issue of human trafficking into one form is not helpful. Because the mission is to fight the entire injustice of slavery. And if that’s the commitment, we have to not only combat sexual exploitation but engage in issues of poverty, forced labor, commercial exploitation in tourism, land rights and power abuses, organized crime networks, cultural and economic realities, etc.

Oh, it's so complex but we have to be engaged whether in Thailand or in our own backyards. May our hearts break for the things that break the heart of God... More thoughts to come.

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