The Table Podcast

Money and the Bible – Classic

In this classic episode, Dr. Darrell Bock and Bill Hendricks discuss money, focusing on what the Bible says about its use and why it matters.

Money, loyalty, and allegiance
Bartering, economics, and the history of money
Tensions the Bible raises on the topic of money
Money and stewardship
The use of resources and the cultural mandate
When does money become an idol?
Money and ethics in the Gospel of Luke
Examples of Gospel teaching on money
Generosity as an early Christian tradition
Money as a resource for creating human flourishing
The need for a robust theology of money
Bill Hendricks
Hi, I’m Bill Hendricks, executive director for Christian Leadership at the Hendricks Center and I want to welcome you to The Table podcast where we discuss issues of cultural engagement and you’re noticing that to my right is someone you see more often than I in this chair which is my colleague, Darrell Bock, who is the executive director for cultural engagement. And we’re switching roles today. Darrell’s going to be my subject expert and today we are going to talk about money.

We’re not going to ask for money, but we’re going to talk about what does the Bible tell us about money and let’s start with the fact that a very oft quoted, we might say misquoted passage is in 1 Timothy, which many people believe says money is the root of all evil. Tell us more.

Dr. Darrell Bock: Well, you better believe in love. Because love’s got a lot to do with it.

Bill Hendricks
All right.

Dr. Darrell Bock: The love of money is the root of all evil. So the point here is it’s not money in and of itself that’s bad but how we might handle it, might do things to us that aren’t to our spiritual benefit and aren’t to our personal benefit. So the warning is not about money per se, but about how we handle it and what it can do to us. Particularly as it drives us in the direction of being more independent of God and being less dependent on him. That’s the danger and Scripture has a lot to say about the love of money.

Bill Hendricks
Well then, let’s stick with that concept of love for just a second, because love has this idea of desire and affection to it. And what I’m hearing you sort of intimate is that our desires, our affections can be turned in any number of directions and money is one of the things that does that.

Dr. Darrell Bock: Yeah, you know it’s interesting. It used to be in the works that used to deal with spiritual formation what we might call discipleship or even our walk with God, many centuries ago that some of the top titles dealing with that theme would talk about our affections and our affection towards God. And it really is about our love and our loyalty and our allegiance. That’s part of what’s being talked about. So the question becomes where are my allegiances? Where are my core allegiances and core allegiances are very, very important. There are very famous texts that say, you know, one can’t serve two masters. One will love the other and hate the other and that’s a comparative use of those two terms. When push comes to shove you’re going to end up in the one column or the other. And so you know you can’t love God and mammon is the way the passage reads and of course mammon is one of those words we use in everyday English all the time.

Bill Hendricks
Right. What does it really mean?

Dr. Darrell Bock: Yeah, it’s about possessions. It’s about the variety of things that we can come in contact with of which money is a part and so the idea is am I excessively tied in my affections to the material world and what it provides to me with a sense of independence from God. So affections is a very important term. The idea of love and allegiance is a very important term when thinking about how we go through our lives and what we ally ourselves to.

Bill Hendricks
Well, I kinda like to always start at the beginning and if I go all the way back to Genesis, you know I see Adam and Eve there in the garden. I don’t see any money, so where does this thing come from?

Dr. Darrell Bock: That’s a good question. You know it used to be that people bartered on the basis of the resources that they had vis-à-vis the resources that someone else could give them and they’d negotiate out space. I think about this when I was a kid you know I might trade my candy for someone’s baseball card or something like that. And so, you know, that was the old bartering system and eventually it came to be a monetary system.

Now you need an economist here to talk about the history of the economy where that came from, but eventually this got transferred into monetized ways of dealing with wealth and resources, and that kind of thing. And the end you know money came from there, so by the time we’re in really the Old Testament as well as the New, we’re dealing with economies that even though they’re primarily agrarian into the way they are dealing with things, and there is still a lot of bartering going on, there also is a monetary support and coinage that comes with it.

So that if you for example travel to Europe today, and you, particularly in Germany I remember going to one of the museums in Berlin, and you walk in and the whole thing, the whole floor is dedicated to the history of coins. And you walk through and you go, you know, into the earliest coins that we dug up through the Roman coins, you can see the a demaris and some of the coins that we see mentioned in the Scripture, all the way through up to not just monetary coins but commemorative coins through recent events, and you can actually walk through the history of nations as a result of what’s on the coins that people have minted at one point or another.

Bill Hendricks
Yeah, because all the rulers would put their inscription on the coins.

Dr. Darrell Bock: Exactly right. They put their face on the coins, they would put their inscription on the coins, on the back they would sometimes put propaganda to make a point. There’s a very famous coin involving Israel when Israel was overrun in A.D. 70 that has the picture of a Roman soldier standing over and lording over an image of a female that supposed to read represent Judah. And the inscription says Iuda Copta, which means Judea captured. And so it’s propaganda reminding people, we are in charge.

Bill Hendricks
And there’s of course that very well known passage where Jesus gets asked about whether they should pay the Romans taxes and he says well show me a coin.

Dr. Darrell Bock: That’s exactly right.

Bill Hendricks
And whose inscription is on, Caesar’s.

Dr. Darrell Bock: Exactly right. Yeah, Caesar’s inscription on a coin, and of course the reason he’s doing that is he’s showing you’re already committed to the monetary system that you’re asking about here, you’re already in this game. And then of course his reply is, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” and that passage has invoked all kinds of discussion. But that’s another podcast topic.

Bill Hendricks
Right. Well, help us sort of lay down a foundation here about the relative good or not of money itself. I mean should we think of it as a necessary evil? Should we think of it as a good category? Biblically speaking what are we sort of instructed to do with the category of money?

Dr. Darrell Bock: Well, you know when you think about money and scripture you not only have to think about the passages that talk about money but also talk about social status. So you’re thinking about the rich and the poor and what the Scripture has to say about that. And actually in the Old Testament there are many passages that affirm the blessedness of being rich, the value of having money, the way in which the rich are in a position to help serve other people. That kind of thing with the resources that they have.

In the Greco-Roman world there’s a whole structure of patronage that existed in which the wealthy actually served the benefit of the city, and gave of their resources to make the city a better place to live. Now that came oftentimes with a tagline attached to it of, you know if I pay in and make the city better then you better be sure you honor me back. It was almost a, you know, I’ll give a penny if you give a penny in praise back, that kind of thing. But it still showed that people recognized that the possession of resources is something that can be utilized in terms of stewardship in a way that helps people and that these opportunities are seen as a blessing from God. They are a responsibility on the one hand but they’re also a means of blessing.

So particularly in Proverbs there’s a lot that’s said that’s positive about the way the rich can handle their resources. But there also is the flip side which comes in a couple of forms. One is that the poor are especially vulnerable and so we could have a concern for them in the way we reach out and engage with them and we help them have a better standard of life than they might otherwise. There’s also warnings to the poor about being lazy and handling that responsibly. So what we see are tensions, common tensions of what we see living in a fallen world in which people can take resources that God has given in the world and we can utilize them well or we can utilize them poorly. And depending on how we handle the material is really how we evaluate the spiritual content and value of what’s taking place.

Bill Hendricks
So you’re suggesting that money is a bit like fire. It can be used for good or for ill and so that’s now we’re back to sort of where our affections lie and who’s the real god of our life?

Dr. Darrell Bock: That’s right and what we, and what and for whom we use the resources that we have. You know most people who gather money oftentimes will gather it for very self-focused reasons and some of them are well-intentioned. You know I want to take care of my family, I want to be sure I have enough money to live on when I don’t have a job anymore and I’m retired and can function responsibly after I move past the point of earning a regular wage. You know those are appropriate things to plan for.

But then sometimes the examples aren’t quite so positive. I love to talk about, I love what people can sometimes do with commercials. In 30 seconds you can tall a marvelous story that has all kinds of values wrapped up in it. And there’s this wonderful commercial, it’s probably now five, seven, eight years old, it’s been awhile. But it was for an insurance company and the first scene, 30 seconds divided up into three 10 second segments. I mean just think about the creativity of what goes into this. Anyway.

The first sentence is your child is born. You’ve got a newborn in your arms and you’re looking at the newborn and the next scene that you see and the intimation is about you need to plan ahead for this child. And then you know, I can’t even do it in 30 seconds. And then the second scene is a letter to the daughter who’s grown up who’s now about college age. She’s getting ready to go into college and she’s been informed that she’s won a scholarship so all this money that you put aside of the scholarship for this girl is now freed up to be utilized in whatever way you want.

The last scene that closes out the commercial is a sailboat sailing off into the sea and the name of the sailboat is “Our College Education”. And I’m sitting here going that probably isn’t quite what we have in mind in terms of the use of resources. But it communicates values that sometimes come with the way we earn our money.

So the issue is, long answer, but the issue is to say that what we do with our money does matter. The resources that God gives us, at least when we view them for their spiritual ends are resources to be utilized for how we can help steward the creation well, which does go back to Genesis 1, the original assignment we were given when were made in God’s image was to subdue the earth and to subdue it well. To take care of the garden would be the picture of the image. And money is a very important feature in how that happens.

Bill Hendricks
Well, money is a symbol, if you will, of value and you mentioned the Genesis passage and inherent in that creation mandate is the idea that we as humans are to add value to the earth. In other words the earth on its own is not fruitful at all. It simply provides raw resources and it takes human beings to then add value to those resources to turn them into good services.

Dr. Darrell Bock: And to handle the material creatively so that something – someone has used the illustration, I may have even gotten this from you that says you know what does it take to have a car? Well, that ore doesn’t mine itself and turn into that wonderful vehicle.

Dr. Darrell Bock: Exactly.

Bill Hendricks
Someone’s got to do something creatively with that material and mold and shape it to make it useful. And that’s part of what we’re looking at. So yes, the use of resources is very, very important and how we creatively do it is very important in thinking about how we serve other people.
Bill Hendricks
But it does seem, certainly here in the west and certainly here in the United States, you know that famous question you know, how much money is enough and the answer is just a little bit more.

Dr. Darrell Bock: Yeah, yeah.

Bill Hendricks
Why do we live that way? Why do we have that mindset?

Dr. Darrell Bock: You know I don’t know what pulls us in that direction, whether you know I’ve got to better than the Joneses and so the more I have the more status I have. Whether it’s a status element that’s tied to it, is it an affirmation? A way of being self-affirming about the value of what I do and so you know the higher up the ladder I go the better, that kind of thing? You know who knows the depths of the variety of motivations that can exist in the human heart. There are lots of different reasons, but maybe it’s to impress parents about you know, yeah I really have made a success out of my life.

Bill Hendricks
Right. Yeah.

Dr. Darrell Bock: You know there are lots of reasons why people do it and you watch what happens in our world, particularly in the west and especially the United States where you see the net worth of certain people in certain roles increasing percentage wise, exponentially against what’s going on with the way the rest of the people work, and you do wonder if our materialism tilt button has hit a certain level in terms of what’s proper and best.

But then flip side of that is if people use those resources well and pour that back into the economy and actually use it to serve people that doesn’t become a negative thing. It becomes a catalyst for other people to – and frees up other people to be able to do what they have to do and frees up opportunity for jobs and that kind of thing. So the entrepreneurial spirit is not a detrimental one necessarily.

Bill Hendricks
Oh, not at all. You know I’ve always the sort of core lie there in the garden that Satan used to deceive Eve was basically that God is not good. You know he’s holding out on you, there’s something more for you, but he’s not giving it to you. And it seems to me that that enters into this feeling that a lot of people have that you know I ought to have more than I have. And it’s like God’s holding out on me. You know he’s withholding some blessing from me that ought to be there. And somehow the money part says I can go get that which God is denying me.

Dr. Darrell Bock: Yeah. I think there’s another subtle thing that goes on here that the Scripture does spend a lot of time talking about that’s related to what you’re raising and that’s the idea of the more resources I have the more control I am of the environment that I live in. You know I get more control of my life. I have more freedom, I have more liberty. If I have a need I can spend the money to make that happen, those kinds of things and so what money can do, there are actually passages that address this very directly.

What money can do is almost make us into little gods and of course the other lie in the garden isn’t just whether God’s withholding something or not, but what is he actually withholding? What he’s withholding from you is the idea of you will become like him. And so, in that exchange is a very, if I can say it this way, delusional part of the control that we think we get when we have a wide array of resources and the kind of independence that it breeds. The kind of entitlement that it sometimes breeds, all of which cause us to think less about our neighbor and how we serve people next to us or it can, and gets us to be too self-focused.

The Scripture is literally loaded with texts that take us in that direction and I would say if it’s not the critique of this are that Scripture offers it’s certainly one of them and one of the big one.

Bill Hendricks
Well, you know and you get into who’s really in control whether you’re in control of the money or the money is in control of you. I had a man in Florida once who told me an amazing story. He was an entrepreneur and he was cashing out. He’d built his business up and he was selling it and he was going to make $20 million and he got a bunch of his buddies together for breakfast to tell them about this good fortune.

And of course they all were like, hey man that’s fantastic. And after they kind of got over that initial enthusiasm the table went quiet. And they were all like looking down you know at their food, and he looks around and he’s like, guys what’s wrong? What happened? One by one they went around and they each told their story. And of the four men that were sitting there they had all done that same thing. They’d built a business and then sold it and cashed out. And become as we would say, filthy rich.

Every single one of them said that shortly after selling the business they took their money and they’d blown a whole lot of money on a toy. All four of them were divorced and he said Bill, basically what they were articulating was that they were in a crisis of meaning. And he went out and did a study and I think when I met him he had interviewed something like 28 different men who had gone through that exact same, and of the 28 the same pattern persisted. Only two of them were still married and it made him think twice about whether he wanted to sell his business.

And his summary comment, I’ve never forgotten. He said, Bill, the kind of person you are before you make the money is the kind of person you’ll be after you make the money. All the money does is it gives you the ability to live that out at a higher more sophisticated level. So if you’re greedy and selfish and arrogant before you make the money, the money’s just going to give you the ability to be greedy, selfish and arrogant at a much higher level.

And I’ve seen that in my own experience of people and how that works.

Dr. Darrell Bock: You know there’s a text that does this very, very vividly in Luke 12 and it is the parable of the rich fool. And the interesting thing about the parable is, and I tell people if I mention the word grammar you’re going to get nervous because some of you remember junior high and it will make you very, very uncomfortable. But sometimes grammar does matter and there’s a first person singular pronoun that gets used or a variation of it gets used multiple times in the space of a few verses. I happen to have the text here. Just listen to how often this comes up. So this is the guy of course who gets the marvelous crop and he’s got more than he knows what to do with and so it says:

“Jesus –

This is Luke 12:16

“He then told him a parable of the land of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop. So he thought to himself.”

Now here we go.

“What should I do? I have nowhere to store my crops.” Then he said “I will do this. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones where I will store all my grain and my goods and I will say to myself, you …”

Still talking about himself.

“… have plenty of goods stored up for many years, relax, eat and celebrate.”

And so, you know 11 times in the space of basically 3 verses.

Bill Hendricks
Kinda tells you _____ [crosstalk]

Dr. Darrell Bock: Is I, I, me, me. You know if you had a passage that’s all about me, this is it. He’s self-focused it’s everything is his. He’s earned it the old fashioned way and no one’s going to take it from him and then of course the way the parable ends is, “But God said to him you fool this very night your life will be demanded back from you. Who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” That’s a good question and of course the answer is he’s not getting it. He can’t take it with him.

So it is for the one who stores up riches for himself and is not rich towards God. The person who stores up riches for himself ends up with nothing.

Bill Hendricks

Dr. Darrell Bock: And so, here’s this passage that talks about the danger of being of this false sense of self control. I now control my world. And when you do that it’s like building up a wall around yourself that isolates you from everything else is going on around you, and everyone else that is going around you if you’re not careful. And that’s the danger Scripture sees as being very prevalent in a love of money that’s dangerous.

Bill Hendricks
How is it that and Luke there seems to be more said about money than any of the other Gospels? I mean was Luke – I mean Luke was a doctor. What did he know about money?

Dr. Darrell Bock: Well, I think that what you see actually in the Luke, Luke tends to give us more teaching than any of the other Gospels do. About 50 percent of the Luke is unique to Luke and we don’t have it anywhere else in the Gospels. And a lot of that is the parabolic material, we have several parables that we wouldn’t even know about if we didn’t have Luke, and then within those several of them deal with issues of ethics. Not just a money, although money is a predominant thing that he does talk about, but really issues of ethics. How I live is a very, very important to Luke.

So, you’re seeing someone who’s asking how does this – what does this theology that I believe and hold, what does it actually look like in everyday life and he would have applied to the Hendrix Center if he could have, if he was alive today.

Bill Hendricks
I was going to say – so you’re implying that theology actually applies to everyday life?

Dr. Darrell Bock: Exactly right. Yeah, we’re bringing theology and life together. We try and put those two things together and show that theology is relevant and certainly how we handle our money is one of the most relevant of values we can wrestle with in life. And that’s what you’re seeing in Luke, is a concern that the things that get in the way of discipleship the pointed out.

So, for example, if you go to the passage of the parable of the good soil, or the soils. What’s often called the parable of the seed, you get four obstacles to good – well three obstacles to good discipleship and one soil it’s in good shape. And those obstacles are Satan directly. He comes and picks the seed up before it even has a chance. Then, you’ve got persecution that steps in the way and third is what are called the worries and cares of life. And Luke roles money and concern of possessions into that world.

So that’s a theology that really he is articulating through the volumes as he’s preparing the disciples for what they’re going to face. They’re going to obviously face Satanic challenge; they are pushing against the ways of the world. They are obviously going to face persecution in the midst of that and they’re going to be rejected for that. And then because of that pressure, because of that isolation that he can create, they are going to have a sense of needing to at least potentially be concerned about how they are to survive in a world that is pushing back against them.

And so those three obstacles are a part of what that parable is designed to say. And of course the flipside is the good soil is the one that receives the Word of God with patience and endurance, trust and what it has to say, embraces the way of life that’s represented and then that’s the soil that yields the fruit. So you know it’s almost like baseball. You bat 250, and so in that sense it’s a challenge.

And the Luke stays focused on what can get in the way, but he also fortunately also provide some examples about people who have negotiated that space successfully.

Bill Hendricks
Well, beginning right at the beginning of the story, where you have the three I guess we don’t know if there’s three, but you have the wise men, the Magi, who come and bring what sounded like pretty expensive gifts to – obviously they were people of means, and they bring these gifts to the Christ child.

Dr. Darrell Bock: That’s right, in the beginning of Matthew and we’re dealing with these people. And not only have they brought expensive gifts, but they’ve come a long way. They have journeyed from what any effect is Babylon, the heart of the Middle East if you want to think of it that way. If you move further east from Israel and they’ve come, by camel, you don’t fly then. No Dubai Airlines.

And so one step at a time they make their way into the Holy Land and try and find the child and they lay these gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh in front of the child, which is a use of resources to honor God and to show their honor and respect for what it is that God has done. And that certainly is an initial example in Matthew of someone who is using their resources in a way that is praiseworthy and that attempts to lift up God.

Bill Hendricks
Well you’re correct that is from Matthew. In Luke, you know, we have interesting money ties in with the birth of Christ and it’s during the census, but that was really a taxation structure. Everybody goes to their home town and they get assessed their taxes based on their marital status and other factors.

Dr. Darrell Bock: That’s right. Yeah, in fact one of things that you’re seeing in the early part of Luke is that Jesus comes out of parents who are rooted in Jewish piety. You know you might think, well he’s a rebel; he must have had rebels as parents. No, what you’ve got is a rebel whose parents were very law abiding, very faithful. They took part in the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem which was three-day treck to get from where they were in Nazareth down to Jerusalem to at least once a year go down which was the common sign of piety at the time and participate in the Passover feast or feast like that. That’s the way his parents are portrayed, except in this particular case they go down because of course because of the census.

But they clearly were used to the journey. When we get later on in Jesus’ ministry we see them going down to celebrate the feast and the festivals and that kind of thing. And the expectation is that they make it. So you’ve got a very pious Jesus who’s living in the midst of the world. His parents are obeying the call of the census to go down to their homeland to register and Jesus is very much engaged as a common citizen, if I can say it that way in the life that he’s going to lead because his parents are being good citizens and lo and behold they show up at the temple after he’s born in conjunction with the law to offer the appropriate sacrifices for the firstborn and we’re off and running.

Bill Hendricks
In our last podcast you gave the parable of the rich fool.

Dr. Darrell Bock: Mm-hm.

Bill Hendricks
You know let me build up barns and store that I have created and so forth. Are there some positive stories in the Gospels of rich people?

Dr. Darrell Bock: Yeah, there are two particularly positive stories. One is Zacchaeus, if I can say it, of a wealthy tax collector, bad who goes good. In Chapter 19 of Luke we are – and of course this is the famous story of Jesus coming through and Zacchaeus being a wee little man. I think of that little song I used to learn when I was young. And so he climbs up in the tree and Jesus says I have to visit your house and then he says this, and this is something that someone might have a tendency to move past pretty quickly if they don’t know the background. And so in verse 5 it says:

“And when Jesus came to the place he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, come down quickly because I must stay at your house today. So he came down quickly and welcomed Jesus joyfully and when the people saw it they all complained.”

This is a word that sounds like what it is in Greek [makes noise] kind of has a feel to it.

“And he is gone in to be a guest of a man who is a sinner.”

And when you read that you’ve got to read it right, that sinner. You don’t just say sinner, that’s boring. And then.

“But Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord. Look half of my possessions I now give to the poor and if I’ve cheated anyone of anything I am paying back four times as much.”

And what you may not realize when Zacchaeus says that is that he has taken onto himself the maximum penalty of the law for defrauding someone. So when he says he’s going to pay back four times that’s the full fine. And so what it indicates is, is that in his encounter with Jesus his approach to his wealth which he has garnered. Tax collectors had a reputation for taking a large cut off the top if you will that wasn’t necessarily necessary.

It was an interesting system because you bid for the right to taxes which said that this is how much I’m going to collect and give back to the state, but then you could extract more than what you had signed on to give back and you could take a pretty healthy commission off of that in fact. And so that’s what he had done and he was a chief tax collector which means he was good at it. And in the midst of it then he turns around and he takes this completely different approach.

So Jesus turns around and says –

Bill Hendricks
It’s a true repentance.

Dr. Darrell Bock: See there. Absolute, it’s a true repentance. And so Jesus said to him:

“Today salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. For the son of man came to seek and save the lost.”

And so Zacchaeus becomes a example of the very type of person Jesus encounters and through the encounter of grace comes the change in the way their values operate et cetera and there’s a change. It’s depicted obviously very instantaneously here, but that’s kind of a parable of what the ministry of Jesus is about.

Bill Hendricks
Well, it reminds me of the passage in Ephesians where Paul says let him who steals steal no longer, but let him work with his hands that he may earn what he needs to earn so that he might have something to share with him who has need.

Dr. Darrell Bock: Yeah.

Bill Hendricks
And so somebody goes from being a thief, a crook, a fraud to actually you know an honest worker, but also then a philanthropist. It’s a complete 180.

Dr. Darrell Bock: It’s interesting that in Judaism there is a really high value that was placed and this comes out of the Old Testament, a real high value placed on giving alms. On caring for people who are vulnerable, on reaching out to people who struggle for one reason or another to be able to care for themselves. You know this is the orphan, the widow, that kind of thing. The poor. This is something that’s highlighted in the Old Testament. It has fed into a sociology in Judaism where Jewish people are actually known in many cases for having this impulse for alms giving and to take some of their wealth and give it to other people.

And so you’re seeing that reflected here. Now that’s the first example. The second example that we’re thinking of is Barnabas in Acts, who is known as s wealthy person but he gives of his resources to help the early church launch its’ ministry et cetera and he’s known for being the encourager. You know he’s known as someone who engaged on the outside. There’s another core ethical value that shows itself through Luke that’s actually pretty interesting in the way it works.

It actually goes back to a passage in Luke 1, where John the Baptist is described as someone who’s going to come and turn Israel back to her God. That’s Luke 1:16, but in Luke 1:17 it continues and it says:

“And he’s going to turn the fathers back to the children and the disobedient back in effect to the obedient.”

And the value that Luke is communicating is that with repentance, with a genuine response to God comes a different way of interacting with the people who you live next to. In fact in Luke 3, another passage unique to Luke where he’s giving unique teaching and he’s elaborating on the ministry of John the Baptist. People come forward and they say, you know John h as issued this call you brood of vipers who told you to fled the judgment that is to come. Work the fruit of repentance.

Literally if you were to translate it very literally out of Greek would be: “Make fruit of repentance.” And in English this doesn’t work. Because in English the response is, well then what should we do. But again if you were to literally, it’s the same verb in Greek so what shall we make? What should be our response? And there are three sets of questions. What do we have to do to do repentance? And normally when you think of repentance you think repentance has to do with my relationship to God.

Bill Hendricks

Dr. Darrell Bock: So what am I supposed to do, obviously I must have to worship different, or bring the right sacrifices. That’s what you might think the answer would be. But in every case, in all three cases the response has to do with how you treat other people. So repentance is now demonstrated –

Bill Hendricks
Which [crosstalk] by the way.

Dr. Darrell Bock: [crosstalk] through your work, through what you do. Through how you interact. So, you know one of them, you know if someone lacks a shirt you give them your tunic. For the soldier you don’t abuse your power and you’re content with your wage. And so the point is, and actually if you think about it it’s the ethical core of the Bible.

You think about the Ten Commandments. One table deals with your relationship with God. What does the second half deal with? How you relating to others. You know you’re not supposed to covet, you’re not supposed to steal et cetera. So and then boil it down even more. Okay, let’s get down to the sound bite level. The sound bite level is love God with all your heart, mind and soul. Love your neighbor as yourself. In this all the law is contained. It’s the same.

I call it the ethical triangle. The way in which I relate to God, then translates into the way I’m relating to others and I’ve got three sets of things that I’m dealing with. My relationship with God, me and how I’m relating to others they’re all three on the table when this is happening and that’s what you’re seeing with Barnabas. Barnabas is someone whose relationship with God has driven him to steward his resources in such a way that his neighbor is impacted positively. And flourishing as a result of the way he uses resources, not for himself but for others.

Bill Hendricks
Well, I think this is extremely instructive for people that live in our culture because one of the things you’re saying here is this is not a case of, oh so if I just write enough checks and give them to charity I’m in good with God. Right.

Dr. Darrell Bock: Mm-hm, mm-hm. No you’re right. we’re talking about how I actually engage with people so that I give not just of my resources, although that’s one way to do it, but also in some cases I may be giving of my time or the way in which I care. There’s a negative parable in Luke that actually walks into that space. It’s the rich man in Lazarus.

And there’s an element of the rich man in Lazarus parable that we miss. Most people think it’s about the punch line at the end which is you know, if someone goes to them from the dead then you know they’ll believe. And of course the response is well they have Moses and the Law, let them read him. No if someone goes from the dead they will believe in him. Say no if they don’t believe the Scripture then they won’t go.

So people think it’s about the afterlife. Now there is an afterlife dimension to this parable. It is part of the point. But what got the rich man into trouble? Why was the rich man, in that very warm uncomfortable place long term? Why did he go down?

Bill Hendricks

Dr. Darrell Bock: And the feature of this parable that’s really fascinating is it’s the only parable where a character is named. Okay, there’s no other parable where the character in the parable has a name and he has a name for a reason. When the little examination takes place between Abraham and the rich man, because the rich man has said send Lazarus so he can dip his finger in the water and cool off my tongue because I’m – it’s a little hot here and Carrier air conditioning apparently doesn’t work down here.

Bill Hendricks
The don’t deliver.

Dr. Darrell Bock: That’s right. I would retell this story. You know there’s a holy internet thing going on and the communication between heaven and hell and that doesn’t really happen. That’s part of what shows you it’s a parable. But anyway so you’ve got this exchange going on, and the very fact that he knows who Lazarus is, been sitting at his gate day after day while he was eating sumptuously, all he wanted was the crumbs off the table, and he never did anything for him.

Bill Hendricks
He knew enough about him to know his name.

Dr. Darrell Bock: He knew enough about him to know his name.

Bill Hendricks
That’s all he knew.

Dr. Darrell Bock: That’s all he knew. And he didn’t lift a finger to help him and it wasn’t going to be a stretch for him to be able to help the guy. And so all that is in play. When it says read Moses and the prophets it isn’t just reading Moses and the prophets for the Christology and the hope, but it had to do with the ethic of the way you’re relating to your neighbor that also was being – go tell my brothers. You know when he realizes he – go tell my brothers so they will avoid the fate that I found myself in.

Bill Hendricks

Dr. Darrell Bock: What is he going to tell them? You know he’s going to tell them show a little more concern and compassion for your neighbor. That is in a chapter, Chapter 16 of Luke that’s all about money. In the middle part of the chapter it says its’ about money.

Bill Hendricks
So what you’re getting at is a theme that we’ve surfaced several times in these podcasts on money, which is about the heart. It’s about a transformed heart. And that the money then becomes a means of expressing what you’re transformed heart is all about. It’s not what we’re not saying, is oh well, because money is such a problematic thing you should renounce it and take a vow of poverty and that will change everything.

Dr. Darrell Bock: No. We’re actually saying it’s a resource. The question is how are you going to use the resource? Are you going to use it for yourself? Is it a self-focused resource or is it a resource that I give, I like to say the resources that God gives us are ours to steward. If they’re ours to steward we hold them with open hands. You know we don’t hold them to say this is mine. I earned it. This is what I have to have and you know the more the merrier. No, it’s a resource that I use that is one of the ways God can call me to serve as I am an example to the people around me of what it is God has done with my own life. God’s been generous with his resources on our behalf, and we should be generous with the resources that God gives us on behalf of others as well.

Bill Hendricks
Well, as I have mentioned we, you and I, live in a culture here in the United States that’s a democratic, capitalist society. I just, I couldn’t even begin to think how many millions of people in our economy on a daily basis, they work with money; in finance, in investment, in accounting, in banking. How is it that we have so little of what we might call a theology of finance and accounting?

I don’t think most people who work in those fields have ever heard any, certainly not a robust presentation on here’s what God has to say about money.

Dr. Darrell Bock: It’s a good question and it’s a neglected area just like the area of work often is neglected. And I think it – you know –

Bill Hendricks
Because the main message that they have from the church seems to be you know, what you’re into is kind of a necessary evil but it is an evil. And you’re kind of at the low end of the pecking order because you have to work in banking, finance, accounting et cetera.

Dr. Darrell Bock: Right and of course the point is that it’s a resource that can be used for positive or negative, depending on how it’s utilized. You know there’s a wonderful text, in fact I tell people if there’s one text that you need to know about on money it’s in 1 Timothy 6. It comes in two separate parts. One early on in the chapter and one later and there’s no better advice to give for this text than what this passage has to offer us. So let me just take a shot at reading this. And it says.

“Now Godliness combined with contentment brings great profit, for we’ve brought nothing into this world, so we cannot take a single thing out either.”

That’s 1 Timothy 6:7.

“But if we have food and shelter we will be satisfied with that.”

How many people like that as their standard of living. And then it goes;

“But those who long to be rich however stumble into temptation, a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction for the love of money is the root of all evils.”

That’s of course where we started.

“Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains.”

That’s kind of an echo of the parable that Jesus told. And then later it says this. Okay, so that’s the negative part. Well what do you say to the rich person? This is 6:17

“Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or set their hope on riches which are uncertain, but on God who richly provides us with all things for your enjoyment.”

Okay, what am I supposed to do? Verse 18.

“Tell them to do good, but to be rich in good deeds. To be generous givers sharing with others. In this way they will save up a treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the future and so lay hold of what is truly life.”

That life is defined when I actually live out what God has called me to do and to be, which is to subdue the earth and to care for my neighbor and when I use my resources that way I’m actually connecting with the way God designed me to live and that’s a very, that can be a very, very satisfying part of life. I know lots of wealthy people who have a lot of money who give a lot of money regularly and they say, I love doing this. This is what it was made for. my ability to be able to impact people’s lives in a positive way by the way I use my resources, I think God is in the middle of all that and I couldn’t do anything that’s more joyful.

Bill Hendricks
Well, when and I should say if, you know, in God’s providence he blesses us with resources and that’s most of us listening to this podcast, whether it’s a whole lot of resources or just a little bit of resources –

Dr. Darrell Bock: On a global standard most of us are rich who live in the west.

Bill Hendricks
But it’s saying we have a responsibility with that, the wealth the riches that God has put in our control and the responsibility begins, what I’m hearing Scriptures teaching us is it begins in our hearts. We have a responsibility first and foremost to get ourselves aligned in love with God. Because we do that then when we use those resources and the way we steward those resources we have an opportunity to do real good in the world by his providence

Dr. Darrell Bock: That’s true and we don’t have to give a lot of money for that to be true. You know the little widow who gave her –

Bill Hendricks
I was going to say, right.

Dr. Darrell Bock: You know she gave more than all. And so it wasn’t the amount of money that she gave it was the heart she gave it with that really counted.

Bill Hendricks
So where your heart is, there will your treasure be also. Thank you for being with us.
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Bill Hendricks
Bill Hendricks is Executive Director for Christian Leadership at the Center and President of The Giftedness Center, where he serves individuals making key life and career decisions. A graduate of Harvard, Boston University, and DTS, Bill has authored or co-authored twenty-two books, including “The Person Called YOU: Why You’re Here, Why You Matter & What You Should Do With Your Life.” He sits on the Steering Committee for The Theology of Work Project.
Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than forty books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
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