Get free email updates as I write new articles:

Mary Poppins Theology: Enough Is As Good As a Feast

Enough, Mary PoppinsThe Disney classic Mary Poppins turned 20 and came out of the vault when I was seven years old and going through a phase of life in which I was convinced I should be allowed to have a pet penguin… in Kentucky. When it was re-released from the vault again on its 40th anniversary, I bought a DVD copy so my two-year-old Ella could enjoy it the way I did. And one of my favorite lines from Mary, whom I consider to be a pretty decent theologian, was offered in response to a request for “more” from Jane and Michael. She taught them that “enough is as good as a feast.”

That truth was good for England in 1910. It was good for America in ’64, ’84, and ’04. And we need it now more than ever. It’s not a new truth. And in relation to money King Solomon, who possessed (and was in a sense possessed by) wealth and pleasure most of his life exclaimed, Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!” (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NLT)

If you don’t think you struggle with that tendency, just complete this sentence. When I have enough money, I will _____. Perhaps we can all finish that thought with some basic or frivolous things like boats, bigger houses, and cooler toys. But if we dig deep and get really honest, there are some values we would add to the end of the line too.

When I have enough money, I will finally matter.
When I have enough money, I will become generous.
When I have enough money, I won’t worry anymore.
When I have enough money, I’ll attract a mate.
When I have enough money, I’ll make a difference.

Some of us – and in America, many of us are trapped in the never enough phase of life. Here’s the reality. If you earn $30k or more in annual family income, you’re in the top 1% of earners in the world. And earning just $80k, not outlandishly rich by American standards, you’re in the top 0.1%. Most of the people reading this devotional have enough. That doesn’t mean things aren’t tight at the end of the month, but we eat, we sleep on something elevated off the floor, and we get around somehow.

Back to Poppins 101. Having enough, we have a feast. Having enough, we should be able to find some contentment and satisfaction – not that we have to stop achieving, but that we can stop pretending we live in want of essentials.

When I have enough money, I’ll thank the Giver… Just think that one through.

The Two Big Lies Money Tells

RansomIf “money talks,” then money most certainly lies. Jesus, who never had much money and never depended on having any warned in the parable of the sower that “the deceitful pleasures of riches choke the word so that it can’t produce anything.” (Matthew 13:22 GW)

Can money really be deceptive? It’s it morally neutral? The truth is, the origin of money’s deception is actually within us – the broken, sinful, side of us that refuses to be satisfied. When we listen to the wrong voice on the inside of ourselves about money, there are two false promises money seems to make.

First, money promises us significance. It says, “if you can just get enough of me, you’ll mean something and your life will matter in this world.” Whether we long for pleasure, power, or prestige, money promises it all… if we can just get enough of it. And enough is just never enough for human beings.

Second, money promises us security. We believe that if we can just set enough aside, put enough in savings, or get out of debt then we’ll be safe. The Bible certainly encourages the wisdom of saving and being debt-free, but the fact is, money is never safe. The economy can change on a whim and our money can’t possibly last beyond the grave with us.

These two promises are based on two of the most prominent and legitimate needs human beings have, but God has always intended that we find our significance and our security in our relationship with Him. We matter because God declared our worth in His eyes with the cross on which His Son died as our ransom. And our eternity is secure as well as the inheritance He lays aside for us because of His protective, keeping power.

Is Money the Root of All Evil?

Love of MoneyIs money really the root of all evil? I mean, it seems like there’s a lot of evil out there and to blame it all on money seems unfair. Actually, the Bible doesn’t say money is the root of all evil, but that’s how 1 Timothy 6:10 gets misquoted quite often. It actually says that “The LOVE of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” The problem isn’t money, it’s us. And while the love of money is one root of evil, it’s not the only one.

What Paul was trying to get across is that the sinful human heart tends to seek fulfillment in pursuits other than Him, which bring counterfeit happiness. Pursuing happiness in money leaves us empty every time. It corrupts our moral capacities and tempts us to make decisions that don’t line up with the character of a child of God.

Money isn’t evil. Humans are. And when we abuse or misuse money, it gives rise to all kinds of evil. It’s okay to have money, to seek to earn money, and to spend money meaningfully. But when money sneaks up onto the throne of our lives, it’s time to knock it off.

Acknowledging the Ultimate Gift Giver

GiverJames, the brother of Jesus, once said, Every good present and every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father…” (James 1:17 GW) All the stuff we possess is a gift from God, and failing to recognize Him as the Giver is to miss the opportunity to glorify Him in our lives and in the world.

Acknowledging and thanking God as the Giver does two things for us. First, it helps us worship. That is, it elevates Him in our minds, causes us to feel dependent upon Him, and provokes us to speak well of Him to others.

And second, thanking God as the Giver keeps us humble. There is something humbling about receiving a gift. We’re never quite sure what to say, and that’s often a good thing as we stand before the Creator and King. In our silence, we become submissive to a God who loves us and cares for us by providing for our needs graciously.

Why Talk About Money at Church?

Talking About MoneyAs a Pastor, I’m well aware of how many people have the assumption that “all Pastors want to talk about is money.” The funny thing is, after twenty years in ministry and communicating regularly with thousands of pastors, I can firmly assert that talking about money is one of our least favorite things to do, especially in our culture where personal finances are very… personal.

But the Apostle Paul wrote to a younger Pastor in Ephesus named Timothy once and told him to “Teach and urge these things… there is great gain in godliness with contentment… but those who desire to be rich fall into temptation… for the love of money is the root of all evil… As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches.” (1 Timothy 5:2-17 ESV)

In other words, good doctrine (which literally means “teaching”) demands that we address the issue of money. Here are several reasons why the church NEEDS to talk about finances…

  • Money is a gift from God to be managed for a season, not an earned commodity to be consumed for pleasure alone.
  • How we use money is a matter of worship – it demonstrates our values and what is important to us.
  • It’s pretty obvious people NEED help in this area – we’re strapped and stressed because of terrible management.
  • Generosity is a key value of the Christian life, for the church and for the individual Christian.
  • Money needs to serve the needs of man and the causes of justice, rather than man serving under the tyranny of money.
  • Money makes missions happen, which is God’s chief business and area of concern – the spread of the gospel deserves to be resourced.

If you don’t want the church to teach about money because it’s “none of their business,” you should change the way you see it. Nobody in the church (at least not my church) wants to see your budget or bank statements. We simply want to help people get healthy financially and become generous with our resources so that everyone experiences God’s blessings. In other words, my church doesn’t want something from you, we want something for you.