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The Divine Dare

By giving generously you'll make sure that money is a tool for God and not a drug for yourself.


Everybody has to make decisions about how we're going to deal with money. There are a couple scholars named who talk about two metaphors for the role money plays in our lives. Money, they say, is a tool and a drug.

For a long time economists thought of money only as a tool. We value money because it's useful. It lets us pay the bills, keep the lights on, stay fed, get work done, and so on. We see this use in Jesus' parable of the talents, in which the master gives his servants a certain amount of money and then says to them, "Put this money to work until I come back."

The tool theory of money left odd questions unanswered like these: Why is it that people who are already rolling in money want to have more? Why will a person with more than enough money make sacrifices that may damage friendships or family life or emotional health just to get more money?

I don't have a deep, emotional attachment to my tools. In fact, I don't have tools. Nancy will tell you. She'll ask me, "Wouldn't you feel better if we had a hammer or a pair of pliers around the house?" I'll explain, "I don't want to run the risk of developing a deep, emotional attachment to a tool."

Money is a tool, but it's also a drug. Money makes us feel things we would not otherwise feel. It gives us a temporary escape from pain or a momentary illusion of wellbeing. We crave money because we want the buzz. The biblical writers knew all about this dimension of money. The apostle Paul wrote, "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." Just replace "get rich" with the phrase "get artificially relaxed with alcohol or drugs," and the parallel is amazing.

Money ...

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John Ortberg is pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

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Sermon Outline:


I. Tithing generosity

II. Firstfruits generosity

III. Harvest generosity

IV. Offerings generosity

V. Sabbath generosity