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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Money Talks

As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. Matthew 13:22 (ESV) 
This morning when I read this scripture, I was struck by the word "deceitfulness". The verse mentions worrying, for sure, but it's not specifically worrying about money. The money is actually deceiving this person. What is the deception? The scripture passage doesn't really say in Matthew or Mark. The parallel passage in Luke gives a slightly different perspective:
And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. Luke 8:14 (ESV)
This version of the story makes it even clearer that there are "cares" or worries or stresses that can be a problem, but there is another category of "thorns" - riches and pleasures. It's not just bad things that can choke the Word; things that we normally see as "good" things can do so as well.

So how are we "deceived" by our own money? I think the biggest deception may be that we think more money can make us happy. We've all seen the now-famous Jim Carrey quote “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.” And I think everyone who is not as wealthy as Jim Carrey is (most of us!) will tend to have a "sopur grapes" reaction, something like "That's right, Jim! You found out that just because you're a zillionaire famous actor, you're miserable just like us regular folks!" But then we fall into the same trap: "Man, it's four days to payday. If I just had twenty bucks I could get that thing I just saw at the store..." or "...I could order pizza tonight and I wouldn't have to cook..." or "...I could go see a movie and relax..." and we think that whatever thing it is will make use feel happier. And it's true in one way: it might make us feel happier in the moment.

That's why it's so easy for our riches to lie to us.

Because after you eat the pizza, you're going to get heartburn. That thing from the store was actually not that well made, and it fell apart a week later. The movie turned out to be a stinker. Or maybe none of those things happened, but in this world, the luster eventually wears off on everything. There is only one thing that goes against that trend, and that is because it doesn't originate in this world. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that "Man's chief End is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." I've found in my life that there are always high points and low points, but when my focus is centered on the Lord, the high points are higher, and the low points are actually higher too. When you are wrapped up in Jesus, things are better than when you are wrapped up in anything else.

Your money is a liar. Also, the money you don't have is a liar. They both tell you they can make you happy, but they cannot. When you don't let those "thorns" choke out what the Word of God wants to speak into your heart, this is what happens:

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:15 (ESV)