Generous Living – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Back in the 60’s a genre of films labeled “Spaghetti Westerns” came into vogue. These movies about the American Wild West were directed and produced by Italians and Italian companies hence the label. Arguably the most famous of the genre was a 1966 movie starring Clint Eastwood titled, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I never have watched this movie but I am a big fan of the title. It has served me well as the framework of written articles, closing statements in court and in sermons. Once again it rises from the cinema grave and gives wings to this week’s post on money.
This past weekend’s message continued our series on Generous Living. Pastor Ed skillfully and eloquently talked about the place of money in the life of a Christ-follower. His four-fold perspective is an excellent guide. One passage Ed referenced was 1 Timothy 6:5-11. Verse 10 reads, For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. The major take-away from this verse is money, in and of itself, is neutral. It is the love of money that injects the characteristics that lead to the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of modern living.
Money, when viewed and used in a holistic, Christ-centered way, leads to valuable and meaningful results – The Good. It provides for our daily needs, creates opportunities for greater works, is a means to meet the needs of those less fortunate and is a medium in which we can honor God. Money begins to take on the Bad when our spiritual compass strays and we focus on money itself as the sole means of provision. We go down the path that the dollar is the mighty one in our lives rather than Almighty God. We become self-focused, less secure, and seek means to make more money to the detriment of our inner peace. It is Bad to live stressed out about making more.
Finally, when our hearts turn to the point of loving money rather than loving God, the Ugly settles in. In subtle and not so subtle ways we worship money and believe in its power to “save.” In our worship we buy things, buy experiences, buy relationships, buy emotional security, and buy self-worth along with inner peace but the end is always the same – it is never enough. We do things, sell things, work harder, ignore loved ones and sometimes become entangled in ugly ways we could never have imagined. Pastor Ed warned, “Be careful what you buy, it has the capacity to OWN YOU.” Slavery is ugly. We are wise to know the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.
We are often reminded in the New Testament to focus on good things. This holds true regarding our view of money. As Ed relates when we view money well it is inspiring so be focused; money is a tool so use it appropriately; money is a crutch so lean on it carefully; and money creates opportunity so spend it wisely.