The problem with the god of money is in its deceptions, which hold many Christians in bondage, writes Rev Lam Kuo Yung. Photo by Ryan Cheng on Unsplash.

“It’s too radical, Christians are not saints!”

“That won’t work, people will take advantage of our goodwill!”

“Isn’t that communism, and isn’t communism bad?”

These are the usual protests arising from the reading of parts of the book of Acts which speak of Christians giving sacrificially to help their needy brothers. (e.g. Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35).

We tend to over-provide for our own wants and under-contribute to Kingdom needs.

Yet interestingly, these are the very passages which fired the imaginations and stirred up the passions of numerous disciples throughout history. Those Christians saw in these New Testament records undeniable proof that ordinary Christians could indeed share their possessions in extraordinary ways.

Which category of Christians do you belong to? The sceptics? Or the hopefuls?

I am a little of both.

I believe the kind of radical sharing described by the author of Acts is a near impossibility. But I also think I would die regretting it if I do not try to live like those amazing Christians!

The bondage of a demigod

I believe the radical generosity of the book of Acts is so difficult to achieve because we are fighting the greatest demigod the world has ever known – money.

Even Jesus himself cast God against money in the war for worshippers (Luke 16:13). This shows how irresistible money is. We would be delusional to think there are no money-worshippers in our churches!

The problem with the god of money is in its deceptions. It holds so many Christians in bondage through its lies.

Here are some of money’s seductive lies and how God has crushed them with His word:

Lie #1: “I’d better not give too much – in case I do not have enough”

Do not fret! In most cases, the Lord does not require you to empty your bank accounts – notwithstanding those times when God is putting you through a test! He does want you to provide for your family.

But our tendency is to over-provide for our own wants and under-contribute to the Kingdom’s needs. The reason is that we take it upon ourselves to secure our own future.

We have forgotten that the Lord is our security. Whenever we are tempted to hoard money, we need to remind ourselves of the Lord’s conditional promise spoken in the Sermon on the Mount: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Lie #2: “Since I earned it, I deserve it”

How deluded we are if we believe in this statement.

Every single cent we earn is a result of God’s grace.

Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God gave instructions to them through Moses regarding the way of life they ought to keep. God spoke clearly: “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth….” (Deuteronomy 8:18) This text tells us that even the strength we exert at work comes from God. Every single cent we earn is a result of God’s grace.

Deuteronomy teaches us that it is dangerous to live with a sense of entitlement to the money we have earned. Our money belongs wholly to God and should be at His disposal.

Lie #3: “There are so many poor people, I cannot save them all”

We even quote Jesus’ words in John 12:8 whenever we make this argument! Indeed Jesus does not require us to save the world – we can leave that to Him. Hence, we need not feel incapacitated by the overwhelming needs around us. Christian giving is Spirit-led.

If we walk closely with God, He will impress upon us the needs that we must help to meet, and we need only to respond to those. And He will certainly supply us with the necessary resources to help others according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

Lie #4: “Happiness can and must be purchased”

This is probably the greatest lie of the 21st century. This deception is known by the name of consumerism. Consumerism tells us that we can only be happy if we spend on ourselves.

Perhaps the best representation of the spirit of consumerism is the tagline used by MasterCard in their priceless advertising campaign: “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.”

God is sufficient for us. Live in such a way that will test and prove it.

The words of this advertisement in fact insinuate that there are very few things on earth that money cannot buy! But we can refute the lie of consumerism with a single word from God: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Those who have been generous towards the needy will readily testify that there is greater happiness in giving.

So, how can we become a community that shares sacrificially?

By removing money from the throne of our hearts with the truths of God. Our confidence in the Lord must be built up through His rich words of promises to us found throughout Scripture, just as the apostle Paul insisted: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:20a)

God is sufficient for us. Live in such a way that will test and prove it.

Extracted from Together Alive – Rediscovering Community Living in God’s Family (Copyright 2017 by Lam Kuo Yung) published by Discovery House. Used with permission of Discovery House. All rights reserved.

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Reflection and Discussion

  1. What kind of community would your church be if members shared sacrificially? How would that glorify God?
  2. Read Acts 4:32-35. Why do you think the believers were so generous with their possessions?
  3. What are some lies about money which you still feel trapped in? How can the Word of God help you break free from their bondage?
About the author

Rev Lam Kuo Yung

Kuo Yung is married to Lois Kwan and they have three children. They are homeschooling their children and are grateful for the benefits that it avails. Kuo Yung is author of the book "Together Alive". In his free time, he enjoys cycling, fishing and camping. He is serving as senior minister of Katong Presbyterian Church.