DEALING WITH MONEY
APOSTOLIC INSIGHT What can the Apostles and Church Fathers tell us about our times? What advice do they have for our problems? Here are some of their thoughts…
What did the first Christians think about money and how we should handle our accumulation of wealth? Interestingly enough, the New Testament did not condemn wealth or private possessions. The concern of scripture was having the wrong priorities. Putting our ultimate trust in what we can accumulate was a dead end street. The Parable of the Rich Farmer expressed this mistake (Luke 12:16-21) This parable was telling the listeners that it was more important to be rich in the things of God than only to accumulate wealth. Those that have resources should be concerned about the poor.
Much of the concern of the Church Fathers was because they suspected that great wealth was probably obtained through questionable ways. The bottom line is not riches, but the misuse of money is condemned. The Didache said, “Do not turn away the poor and the needy, but share everything you own with your brothers and do not say that what you have belongs only to you.”
The earth was made in common for all. Why do you arrogate to yourselves, your rich, exclusive right to the soil? Nature, which begets all poor, does not know the rich. For we are neither born with raiment nor are we begotten with gold and silver. … Nature, therefore, knows not how to discriminate when we are born, it knows not how when we die.
Clement of Alexandria
As a further motivation to give, remember that Jesus gave his all to save us. For each of us he gave his life. Because he gave up his life for us, he demands we give our lives for each other. If we owe our very lives to our brothers, shall we hoard our wealth, and keep it away from them? …. If we do not love our brothers, we are children of the devil and heading for the flames ourselves. But the true Christian loves his brother!
He who holds possessions as the gifts of God … and knows that what he possesses is for the sake of others is blessed by God and poor in spirit.
St. Basil the Great
Is God unjust to distribute the necessities of life to us unequally? Why are you rich, why is that one poor? Is it not that you may receive the reward of beneficence and faithful distribution…?