I recently came across this story about a Chicago radio station, WKOX, that several years ago created a promotion promising $10,000 to the person who could contrive the most outlandish way to win the money.
Jay Gwaltney, an Indiana State Sophomore, won by consuming an 11-foot birch sapling. Yes, he ate a tree. Leaves, roots, and bark. He staged the event by wearing a tux and eating from fine china, using sterling silverware from a candle-lit table.
With pruning shears, the Zionsville native began chomping from the top of the tree and worked his way down, branch by branch. He did use some French dressing to flavor his birch-leaf salad.
The stunt took 18 hours over a period of three days. The Indianapolis Star reported that when he was finished, Gwaltney complained of an upset stomach.
Some people will do anything for money. Lie. Steal. Beg. Cheat. And apparently even eat a tree.
God provides for us some Biblical advice and a proper balance when it comes to dealing with monetary matters. Consider this text in 1 Timothy 6:6-19.
(1) Don’t fall in love with money. Paul says it is “the root of all kinds of evil.” Not the money. But the love of it. An inordinate desire to be rich can lead to all kinds of “foolish and harmful lusts.” Some have been destroyed by their greed for gain. Pride. Selfishness. Sinful activities. And dishonesty. Just a few bad things that can occur when money becomes our “god.”
(2) If you are wealthy, use your resources wisely. The Bible never says it’s a sin to be rich. But, if God has blessed you with earthly gain, be thankful. Be humble. Trust in God, not your money.
Through the years I’ve known a number of Christians who had reaped the benefits of hard work and were financially successful. They helped the needy. Shared with the less fortunate. Contributed to worthy causes. Supported the Lord’s work. Set up foundations to make a difference. Sent money to preachers in difficult areas, or who were underpaid. Provided a rent-free house to help a sister get on her feet. And even gave a car to someone without transportation.
These brethren have not allowed money to master them, but have made their money a wonderful servant for God and good works.
(3) Learn to be content. At whatever stage of life, you are in, be content. Sometimes this is equated with laziness or lack of ambition. This conflicts with the Biblical exhortation to work, provide for your family and be industrious. In doing so, one may become well off, or even very rich. Yet, along the journey it is possible to be happy, satisfied and content.
This delicate balance is possible for the Christian by keeping your priorities in order. Staying focused on spiritual matters. And always putting the Lord first.
I once heard a wealthy businessman who was a Christian relate the story of their success. He said that he and his wife were happy when they were just scraping by as a young married couple with no money. And they were still happy (and still together, serving God) now that they were wealthy.
It is possible to enjoy some of the material blessings of this life and not be corrupted by them. It requires a commitment to Christ above all else. And a proper understanding of Biblical stewardship.
Money is only a tool. It can take you many places. But don’t let it replace you as the driver. And God as the navigator.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman