…The laborer is worthy of his reward.
With a name like Obadiah Dalrymple, I’m frequently asked what my middle name is. I suppose people assume I must have a crazy middle name since my first and last name are so unusually common (right?). Sometimes I like to make up a middle name in response – something like Habakkuk-Xavier – just to get a look of surprise. My real middle name is John, after my grandfather on my dad’s side. Although I was named after my grandfather, John Dalrymple, I did not know him very well. However, there is one memory of him that will always stay with me and that is the Christmas he gave my brother, Clark, and I $200 each.
Ordinary young kids would probably have blown the money on toys or something – and if left to our own devices we probably would have, too – but due to my dad’s inclination toward stinginess, both Clark and I opened savings accounts and put the entire $200 into our accounts. My grandfather was so impressed with our decision to save instead of splurge that he made a deal with us to encourage us to save money in the future. He promised us that for every dollar we saved each year (up to $200), he would match it at Christmas time. Needless to say, Clark and I scrimped and saved $200 each year, and every year up until my grandfather passed away, we collected!
Money is a sensitive topic amongst Christians, and not just for lay people. Preachers can often be hesitant to preach about tithes and offerings because they want to avoid the old stigma, “When I go to church, I feel like that preacher is only interested in my wallet.” However, I think the sensitivity toward the topic of money extends to all Christians. When we read passages like Matthew 19:16-24, where Jesus tells the rich young ruler to sell everything, we cannot help but think, “My goodness, is that what is expected of me?” This is just one example of the many questions concerning money that people often have when studying the Bible. Perhaps you have wondered some of the following questions, as well…
Maybe the questions you have about money are not included here, but really all concerns on this topic boil down to one question – How does God want Christians to handle money? To answer this will require confronting some very difficult passages, but by the end I hope you see that there is one consistent message throughout scripture, which teaches us how God desires Christians to manage the money He blesses them with. If you follow this message, not only will you find yourself more satisfied in this life, but you will also be investing in the only investment that really matters – eternity.
Part 1 – The Worker and His Wages
Let’s start this study with something that needs to be clear right from the start. If Christians CAN work, then they SHOULD work. It’s not just a good thing, it is EXPECTED! Check out these passages…
- 1st Thessalonians 4:10b-12 says, “…10bwe beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; 11and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.”
There is a clear expectation in this passage that a person should work, be a productive member of society, deal honestly with others, and have lack of nothing. In other words, if we are able-bodied and able-minded, then God expects us to provide for ourselves. We should also note that this means being responsible with the money we earn. If we go deeply into debt, then we will not be able to deal honestly with others, will we? If we buy a bunch of stuff we do NOT need, and then do not have enough money left over to buy the things we DO need, then we are not fulfilling the teaching here to “lack nothing”. It is one thing to face hard times – most everyone does at some point in life – it is an entirely other thing to cause ourselves to fall into hard times simply because of laziness or irresponsible spending.
If you are a Christian, then you are an ambassador of Christ. You represent Christ to the world. If you are lazy, if you spend money you do not have, or if you do not deal honestly with people, then I ask you, is that representing Christ well to this world? If you happen to fall into hard times, then it is perfectly fine to accept the help of others (God wants us to care for each other), but you should also work to pull yourself out of those hard times! The teaching in this passage is simple. Work hard, manage your finances well, deal honestly with people, for the express purpose of lacking nothing.
Next, 2nd Thessalonians follows its sister letter in instructions on working.
- 2nd Thessalonians 3:10 says, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” This passage is so clear I will spare you a lengthy sermon. Plain and simple, God expects an able Christian to provide for themselves. If you are a Christian, do not be a freeloader. Pull your own weight in society, at home, and in the church.
Not only does scripture expect Christians to work, it also expects Christians to be paid.
- 1st Timothy 5:18 “…the labourer is worthy of his reward.” Employees, it is a good thing to be paid for the work that you do. Employers, the people who work for you deserve an honest wage. Deal fairly with them (will cover this more in Part 3).
The conclusion of Part 1 is this: the capable, obedient Christian will work to earn money, to provide for themselves and their family, to ensure they are a productive member of society, who can deal honestly with all people (even non-Christians). Scripture does not promise you riches, scripture frowns upon slothfulness (laziness), and scripture expects you to manage your money in a responsible way. You should run from anyone who teaches you otherwise.
Now that it is clear a Christian should work, and will therefore earn money, the next logical question is, “What are they supposed to do with that money?” Do we sell it all, like Jesus said to the rich young ruler? Do we have a right to keep what we worked for? Generosity is preached in the Bible, but to what extent should we give?
I hope you come back next week to discuss answers to these questions, and more in Part 2 of this study.
(Other passages on work, debt, and dealing honestly with people: Col. 3:23, Rom. 13:7-8, Psalm 37:21, Eccl. 5:5, Prov. 12:24).
- For the Love of Money – Part 2 (obadiahjdalrymple.com)
- For the Love of Money – Part 3 (obadiahjdalrymple.com)
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