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Finance ...continued


The Bible wisely recognises the fact (and popularity) of ownership, and does not condemn it per se, but it does clearly set out the dangers of its abuse. Jesus certainly pulled no punches when He likened mammon ( a common Aramaic word for riches) to a god. He said, You can't serve God and mammon(2). This shows the subtle power that riches have on people, because millions worship at its shrine. The ethical approach to this phoney 'deity' is to relegate it to the status of a servant instead.

St. Paul, writing to his young charge Timothy declared that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil(3). It should be noted that the emphasis is on the love of money rather than on money itself. Paul also urged true priorities when he further counselled his readers not to put their trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God Who giveth us all things richly to enjoy(4).

On at least three occasions the Scripture gives riches the rather uncomplimentary name of filthy lucre, which is understood to refer to ill-gotten gains. This could include money made from lending at prohibitive interest rates, dodgy business deals and for some, winnings from gambling and games of chance.

Back to Jesus. He reminded us that a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things that he possesses(5), and again, to show true priorities He told the dramatic story of a rich farmer, who had been so successful he decided to build greater barns to stock his goods and then retire early, hoping to eat drink and be merry. His decision was rudely interrupted by the Almighty Who reminded him that he was a fool because this night your soul will be required of you and now who's getting the things you've provided?(6) Riches lose their value at death, and there's no pockets in a shroud!

Jesus also warned about the insecurity of earthly treasure. Where thieves break through and steal, and moth and rust can corrupt(7). An old prophet might have been anticipating inflation when he talked of Israel putting their wages into a bag with holes(8). We are always warned when considering stocks and shares that they are subject to the fluctuations of the Stock market.

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