If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks. 19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything. 20 Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say. Eccl 10:18-20 NIV
Money is the answer for everything – Most believers would not make this phrase the center of their theology. Let’s just say that providing value to others is the answer for everything – and when you do provide value, people are very happy to pay you money in exchange for that value. I also want to connect the dots on the spirituality of capitalism. When we provide people with something of value to benefit their lives, that value has some spiritual content (ministry). As Kings, we don’t have a line between secular and spiritual. When we serve people with value and they pay for it, ministry is still occurring and a spiritual transaction occurs that we call capitalism. I paid Bill Gates for the software to write this newsletter – that was a valuable transaction, spiritually valuable to you and me.
From church to Kingdom – Right now there is a megatrend occurring. Believers are getting out of the pew and taking their place in the Kingdom. That transition from sitting passively into another mountain finds most of us dragging some church baggage into our culture, and something gets lost in the translation. Our church heritage is to place a high value on being Christ-like. That usually translates to loving other people, being sermonic or operating spiritual gifts… healing, being prophetic, etc. In exchange for doing those things well, we expect an offering, the blessing of God on our marketplace initiative.
The problem is that the formula we see demonstrated in church doesn’t work in the marketplace at several levels:
- People will receive your love, but they would never dream of paying for it. Likewise with sermons. People are not paying for information-based products. You can get it on the internet for free now.
- Promises of miraculous transformation just sound like hype. Every commercial we’ve ever seen has the same testimony, “This will change your life.” People are numb to over-promising and under-delivering.
- Lastly, people don’t want to be sold; they want to shop. That means that the starting place for any marketing conversation doesn’t begin with what I have; it starts with “what to you want or need.”
What people “buy” – People will buy or invest in something that has a return… more clearly stated, “a financial return.” In other words, you and I are most prone to part with some of our money or time or talent in exchange for more money; it has to multiply. A “value” transaction has to make more money for both of us. That’s the spiritual principle behind capitalism. Something of value is created that didn’t exist before, and money was exchanged. The interesting phenomenon in capitalism is that the money supply continues to increase and so does the standard of living for everyone who participates. That is the dynamic behind God’s Kingdom. It (the Kingdom) started a couple of thousand years ago with Jesus, and it has continued to increase… historically we expect to see the living standard, the money supply and the spiritual health of the culture improve. That’s exactly what has happened. What is the will of God for the future? Exactly the same thing: more ministry and more blessing.
The impact on me – Stop trying to sell sermons, and provide value. What kind of value? Instead starting with what I have or want, start with what’s needed in the lives of others. The world economy is perceived to be tight right now (I’m not sure it really is). People want to: 1) learn how to create wealth, and 2) satisfy the desires of their heart. Please hear this carefully, “those two things are not what Christians have for sale.” Our message has been “money is evil” and it’s spiritual to “choose obedience and sacrifice.” This message just doesn’t have any buyers in the Kingdom and it’s not true! God isn’t buying it, either.
Wealth creation is spiritual and it is the source of ministry. We don’t love money directly, but we do love the value / ministry created by it for people. It’s a tool of blessing. It can be exchanged for eternal blessing. It’s good! Things like cash flow are equally important and spiritual and practical.
Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. Gen 26:12-15 NIV
Desires of your heart – Obedience does not define spiritual or Biblical maturity. God is not looking for robots; He wants a relationship, and His question to you is, “What would you like to do in the Kingdom?”
If you insist that God answer that question for you, your prayer life will degenerate to the dial tone. God values initiative and creativity. He’s looking for people who share the desires of His heart. The lie behind “obedience” is that you have to set aside your own evil desires in exchange for God’s. That does define the early stages of discipleship, but we just can’t live there. God has written His desires on our hearts, and we find His will already written there. Maturity is a permission slip to look into the desires of your heart and answer God’s question, “What role do you want to play in the Kingdom?”
What Kingdom feels like – have fun, make money, and love people. It’s the freedom of doing what you love and feeling the wind in your sails knowing that God loves it, too. We’re doing what the Father is doing. We’re also making money at an overflow level that allows us to bless others. We’re not ashamed to create wealth and convert money into ministry. We’re not ashamed to provide value to others and show them how to create wealth and manage cash flow. We’re in touch with our own heart. It’s fun! It sets us free to help others get in touch with their heart so they can join the party in this jail break from “religion” to Jesus.