Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.
This Series explores “business as calling” – what it means, barriers to seeing business as a calling and its implications for followers of Jesus who desire to live out their faith in God not only on the weekend but also in the marketplace.
“It’s nice to have an elephant in the room. There’s nothing more helpful than something everybody’s thinking about.” ~Seth Meyers, Comedian
“I am going to argue that many aspects of business activity are morally good in themselves, and that in themselves they bring glory to God – though they also have great potential for misuse and wrongdoing.” ~Dr. Wayne Grudem, “Business for the Glory of God”
IS MONEY MORALLY GOOD?
“The lack of money is the root of all evil.” ~Mark Twain, Author
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” ~Paul, the Apostle
A recent article in the National Post concerning food banks reminded me about the important role of money in any society. Indeed, the theme of this post is that money, as the lubricant of commerce, is fundamentally good. Why? Because the existence of money is a precondition for (efficient) commerce and commerce is critical to human flourishing. Thus, money in itself is neither evil nor even morally neutral but is instead a moral good.
Back to the article. While supportive of food drives as a means of helping food banks fulfill their mission, the author builds a formidable case for donating money, not food. Donating cash rather than food is Mary’s and my normal practice with our local food bank and, after reading this article, we will continue this practice.
Quoting from the article, advantages include:
- “The food bank is way better at buying food than you are…
- Money doesn’t have to be sorted and stored…
- You don’t know what the food bank needs…
- If your food bank is inefficient, throwing more inefficiency at them is a terrible plan…
- Food isn’t tax deductible.”
Prior to the invention of money as a medium of exchange, commerce took place through barter. My pigs for your potatoes. Because of obvious limitations like inadequate means of transportation and communication, the barter system was a huge barrier to human flourishing. Indeed, money is THE essential lubricant for commerce anytime, anywhere. Without it, the tens of thousands of goods and services available today would simply not exist.
So, while some look down on money, and by extension business, as cut from ethically inferior cloth, the central role it plays is a great gift. Given the essential nature of money, an important function of modern governments through central banks is protecting their currencies from the ravages of inflation let alone the hyperinflation now running rampant in Venezuela.
While money is morally good, the Bible (my personal reference manual) has much to say about our attitude toward money. As Paul told his student, Timothy, it is the love of money (not money itself) that is “a root of all kinds of evil.” Indeed, as Mark Twain implies, the lack of money can stimulate a love of money that manifests in evil conduct like theft and corruption.
As a follower of Jesus, I must constantly remind myself that I am a steward, not an owner. Since God the Creator owns everything (including money as represented by silver and gold), my role (and privilege) is to use the money entrusted to me for His purposes. These include not only meeting my needs (which have come to include what were likely “wants” at one time!) but also meeting the needs of others directly or indirectly by supporting good causes.
Lastly, while money is good, its function is limited. In their 1964 hit song “Can’t Buy Me Love,” The Beatles had it right: “I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love!”
Next week, I will address the (shocking to some) moral goodness of inequality of possessions.
Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.