What a weekend i had.
A weekend with punch.
A weekend seminar where i was forced to think about what kind of (financial) future i will have if i continue to live present-minded like i do now.
Dun get me wrong. I’m not a wild spender and nobody who observes my lifestyle would think so.
But here is where it gets me nervous: i only care about my current habit (ie. “as long as i limit my spending”) but very little about my future finance: have i prepared about retirement? have i saved enough so in retirement age i would not have to downgrade my lifestyle violently? am i sufficiently insured? am i aware that $1000 now is worth very little 20 years from now?
These got me nervous not only because most of the answers are “No”, but also the fact that I was a finance graduate! I knew these stuffs! I understood the material. And yet i didnt live accordingly. Oh boy.
But i was grateful to be reminded. And also encouraged, by the life-experiences of the speakers, who are wise brothers and sisters who lived out “kingdom perspective” not only at church but also in their wallets (!) and bank accounts (!!).
So, packed with a conviction that we should be wise stewards of the wealth and possessions that the Lord has blessed me and my family with, i shared some key points with my church friends.
Because it was a fellowship setting, so naturally i “had” to begin with something “spiritual”: the parable of talents.
Here it is:
14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver[b] to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.
19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’
21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together![c]’
22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’
23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’
26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’
28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Now, as you can see here, the Lord doesnt condemn money, but even encourage its growth. It’s his gift, and he demands accountability. How can we be wise in this? By spending purposefully, giving generously, and investing wisely.
As soon as I finished my sharing, a brother kinda showed uneasiness and reminded everyone that it’s a parable about “the Kingdom of God”, and as such it’s related with things of the Kingdom, like the natural and spiritual gifts he gives us, how we should multiply and put them to work.
He’s right, of course, it’s a parable, and it’s about God’s Kingdom.
The parable right before this one, is the Ten Bridesmaids, and the point is to be watchful.
This one, is different, it’s about being productive with whatever we’ve been given.
Notice that nowhere does He condemn money. How could he? He’s the one giving them the talents.
So what is wrong with saying that one of the ways to faithfully obey the parable is by managing our wealth wisely?
Naturally I was perplexed why he got uneasy about it.
For a splash of background info, in the past this same brother and I did have theological differences. I always thought it’s fun to have differences and felt no annoyance. Well…a tiny bit…just to be COMPLETEly honest. But i was quickly reminded that it’s better to lose the argument and win the relationship.
This time is no different, I just nodded in agreement.
The danger, though, with spiritualising the whole parable is that it gives people excuse to be financially careless.
“Oh it’s about God’s Kingdom! How dare you twist God’s words and tell me what I do with my money!”
When the time of reckoning comes, he’s the one on the losing end.
In the world of ISIS and other attacks on Christian faith, we need to stand together with ALL brothers and sisters, regardless of theological agreements.
A Philippino sister (a “pinay” they say) said she admired the culture in Indonesia where all Christians and Catholics live harmoniously. I said, how could we not? In the biggest muslim country in the world (thank God it’s a moderate one), how could we not gather all the help we need?
So, as I said, I nodded in agreement. Even with no ISIS around.
Theological concrete-ness, is always better, than theological correct-ness.
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
May you be wise in managing your talents, money or whatever else.
Thanks for reading.