Far from celebrating wealth as some are prone to do in our culture, Jesus warned us about the dangers of the love of money. He personified wealth as idol called Mammon, and warned those who are rich that they were in danger of possibly going to hell.
Wealth, while it can be used for a lot of good things, is something that must be handled carefully. In a prior podcast, I talked about the dangers of wealth, and how “getting rich” is not something we should chase. Please be sure to check out that episode.
If the love of money is the root of all evil as the Bible says, then consider the following signs that could indicate you might be in love with money.
1. You Make Moral Judgments About Others Over Their Financial Status
If you are disparaging the poor because they are poor, and assume they must be lazy, then you have an unhealthy relationship with money. Conversely, the same could be said if you are poor, making moral judgments about others because they are rich.
While it is true that you might be rich or you might be poor because you’ve made some bad ethical choices in life, the fact is, the issues surrounding poverty and wealth are far more complicated than simple issues of morality and work ethic. Virtues and vices can be found among the rich and the poor alike. So, let us refrain from demonizing the poor or the rich. Neither group is probably as bad as you imagine.
2. You Love Bling
While there is certainly nothing wrong in and of itself in having nice things by big brands that make you look good, our obsession with having the latest in fashion, high end technology, and cars is ungodly.
Christ has called us to live a modest life. “Work hard, play harder” might be the motto of our culture, but it isn’t in keeping with the teachings of Jesus. Yes, we can enjoy the fruit of our labor and have nice things, but when we become obsessed over those things, and they start to become part of who we are in our identity, something in us is broken. If you really properly value money and wealth, you shouldn’t be living large.
3. Money Keeps You From Making Major Life Decisions
While I think we should always be responsible with our money, make a budget, and do our best to plan for present and future needs, our budget shouldn’t handicap us. There are many people out there (especially my fellow “millennials”) who delay having marriage and kids because they just don’t feel their finances are in order yet. But the truth is for most people, you’ll never be rich enough for marriage or kids by needlessly delaying these decisions. If most of our forefathers delayed like we do today, you and I wouldn’t even exist. Don’t be afraid to live life.
4. You Don’t Make A Budget And Are Deeply In Debt
You should track your monthly income and expenses. As the old saying goes, “Give every dollar a name.” While life is full of unexpected expenses that can come out of nowhere, most people who have crushing levels of debt do not have such because life threw them a knuckleball. It’s because they usually live high off the hog relative to their income. Make a budget, and as best you can, live below your means (not merely within your means).
As a general rule of thumb, try to keep your monthly “Debt-to-income” ratios below 30%. If your monthly mortgage/rent, auto, and credit card debts add up to more than 30% of your monthly gross pay (the money before taxes/insurance/401k), there is a good chance (depending on where you live in this country) that you are probably starting to live beyond your means.
5. You Aren’t Generous
As Christians I believe generosity should mark our lives. We should live with our hands open instead of with clenched fists. And by being generous, I don’t just mean regularly giving a certain percentage of your income to your church, local school, and some other non-profit charity you like.
But being generous also means doing little things like tipping servers at restaurants at least 20% on a regular basis, buying someone lunch, surprising someone with a gift “just because,” and not asking others to pay you back when they owe you some money.
And for the love of everything holy, if you are generous towards someone, don’t turn it into an Instagram story. Jesus hates when we blow our trumpets in the marketplace to announce our good deeds.