Notes from Paul’s sermon, provided as an alternative to Steve’s reflection in his absence – sorry Steve!
1 Timothy 6:6-19
How many of us consider ourselves to be rich?
How many of us consider ourselves to be poor?
How many of us like to talk about how much we earn?
How many of us like to talk about how we invest our money?
How many of us would say that we love money?
Or that we love what money can do for us?
In Timothy it says that the “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”, the writer goes on to tell Timothy to “command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17 18, 19 NIV)
We may not be money grabbing people who pursue wealth at all expense (are we?) but are we influenced by the powers of this age, by the way of life in our culture, by the adverts and fears that are created by businesses and the media?
What do we do with our money? And what is our money doing for us and for the world?
There is a lot of concern these days about the ethics of investment? Questions are being raised about what our money is dong. Well of course, my money is doing what I want it to do! Isn’t it?
Money in the bank? What is the bank doing with your money? Can you influence it?
I won’t name banks but there are banks that are:
• funding companies that land grab,
• funding companies that demolish rain forests,
• funding the arms trade,
• funding big businesses that use their powers to either break laws and get away with it or can choose to work in countries where laws are weak.
Eg. Barclays – removing the ability to transfer money to Somalia? Campaign supported by Mo Farah.
Many pension companies behave similarly. You pay your pension in the hope that when you reach retirement you can live off the interest of your investment and continue to live in comfort. The pension company takes your money, invests it where they will make the most money irrespective of how it affects the lives of many people eg arms, etc), they hope that you will die the day you retire, they want governments to raise the retirement age so that you have to pay for longer.
So on a day to day basis and long term our money is working. But is it working for the wellbeing of people or against them?
Keith Hebden, in his book “Seeking Justice” describes violence as “that which works to reduce our humanity”. Many of these banks and companies use our money in a way that dehumanises other people, in a way that reduces them to numbers, or in some cases totally ignores their existence – rather like the rich man ignoring Lazarus. Sometimes we do the same. Our actions lack compassion, our actions dehumanise someone, we do them violence in Keith Hebden’s words.
What can we do?
Jan has been asking what would people in church like to talk about, and despite my earlier questions, you do want to talk about money! So later this term we will be having a “grub and gossip and gold” evening where we can talk about our concerns.
I the meantime we can still talk to each other and share our concerns and our experiences. Some of us are already trying to invest our pennies in more ethical organisations. Some of us have started to move our money to more ethical banks and told our old banks why – there is the Move Your Money campaign that can help give advice on this.
We can ask ourselves What Would Jesus Do? WWJD!
The writer of Timothy instructs that we should “do good, be rich in good deeds, and be generous and willing to share”. Our investing of our money because of fears of an uncertain future would be much different if we knew that we could trust in our community to be there for us in our old age. Maybe I’m being too idealistic?
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:8)
Perhaps, more importantly we should remember that we are already extremely rich, rich in the abundant, overflowing love of God. If God can be so abundantly generous towards us then perhaps we can be just that little bit more generous towards each other and the poor man at our gate?
The Psalmist says:
“Know that The Lord is God, it is he who made us, we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” “He is good and his love endures for ever, his faithfulness through all generations”
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:2 NIV)