September 2018

My family has just been to see Mama Mia; I can hear the singing and humming of Abba songs all the time in the vicarage, including “Money, money, money”. Jesus said and taught a lot on the topic of money. Many of us wish we had more. I know – think of all the good one would do if one had a bit more. The subject of money is common to all of us including vicars. One statement that Jesus made about money has had a deep impact on my life. When I first heard it I asked myself why did he say it the way he did? I personally would have said it differently! “ For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I thought he should have said: “Where your heart is there your treasure will be also.” However, he didn’t; about 35 years later, I am still astonished how true Jesus’ statement is, even today. I find that my heart can often deceive me and often be quite fickle. However, I do spend a lot of time thinking how I can improve my fortune – the very little I have. I guess one spends a lot of time figuring out the cheapest way to acquire services and purchase goods and there is nothing wrong with that. A working person spends more than eight hours a day earning a living. It is very easy to “live to earn” rather than “earn to live”. We need money, don’t get me wrong, and earning your own keep and saving is commended in the Bible overall. But what Jesus did was to warn us of the pitfall where our lives are consumed by our treasure – finance and wealth. Even those who don’t claim to be Christians, such as humanists like Bill Gates (not too long ago one of the richest people in the whole world) have realised that money isn’t everything. Bill Gates has publicly stated that the majority of his wealth will be donated to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to which he has already given $28 billion. What about his children? Should they not have it? One wouldn’t blame his children for being resentful. However, Bill Gates is leaving his children a legacy worth more than money. Gates said that instead of billion-dollar trust funds, his two daughters and son will be given a 'great education' to help kick-start their own careers. They’re learning the value of what wealth can do to enrich the world. Gates told This Morning presenters Holly Willoughby and Ben Shephard that his children are behind his decision. “This money is dedicated to helping the poorest. They know that, they are proud of that, they go on trips with us to see the work that's being done.” However, as a responsible father he hasn’t neglected his children, they do have some money put aside. When treasure is not the focus of life there is freedom to do more with one’s life. Unless one explores life beyond earning to live one is not living at all. Jesus went on to say: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” So, ask yourself the question: “Where is my treasure?” Do something different; give something away to a cause or to someone who can’t pay you back!