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Money, Money, Money
1 Tim. 6:10 

 

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 

What is the leading cause of divorce in America. During Senate debate, on Nov 4, 1999, Senator Jeff Sessons from Alabama said, "One of the main reasons for divorce in America today is financial difficulty. That is a known fact. As a matter of fact, it is the main reason." (http://www.abiworld.org/legis/bills/s625/11-4-99sessionss625.html) Steven Pybrum, author ofMoney and Marriage: Making it Work Togther, promotes the sale of his book on a website by saying, "The majority of marriages end today because of financial reasons." (Http://www.silcom.com/~ricky/1pybrum.htm)And in an article for Marriage Partnership, a publication of Christianity Today, Int., Annette LaPlaca wrote, "Research indicates that it's more common for spouses to fight about money that about sex or in-laws." (http://www.christianitytoday.com/mp/8m2/8m2028.html)

All three of these citations have something in common, they all state a common perception that money is a major source of discord in marriages and that the problems ultimately lead to divorce. The second thing these citations have in common is none of them have a specific study to back up the generalization. 

I searched the Internet and couldn't find that statistic with a reference. I asked Susan Jones, our resident research expert for help. She found several helpful documents, but none of them substantiated the claim of the three people I quoted. Here's what we found:.

In their book, The Day America Told the Truth What People Really Believe About Everything That Really Matters,Patterson & Kim, say the top 10 reasons for divorce in America: include money problems as reason #7, after communication problems, infidelity, constant fighting, emotional abuse, falling out of love, and unsatisfactory sexual relationship. (http://www.coastal.edu/wcb/schools/LRN/de/khilgenk/3/modules/page17.html)

In their book, Should I Stay or Go? How Controlled Separation Can Save Your Marriage Lee Raffel and Jean Houston give eight common reasons for divorce: Chronic abuse--sexual and physical, Chronic substance abuse, Sexual infidelity, Trust betrayed by deception, lies, and emotional and/or sexual abandonment, Verbal brainwashing, which impairs self-worth, Falling in love with another, An intent to remarry, Personal safety and protection of children (pp. 243, 245 - 246) Finances didn't make their list.

Carron & Fink, attorneys in Connecticut say, Drug abuse, Alcohol abuse, Violence, Criminal Behavior, Sexual infidelity, Neuroses/Psychoses, and Incompatibility are the major reasons for divorce. (http://home.earthlink.net/~eplight/divorcefamxt.html) Finances didn't make their list either.

Over a ten-year span from 1988 to 1997, according to the National Statistical Office, the highest percentage of couples that divorced because of economic problems was 4.2% (http://healthguide.kihasa.re.kr/eng/statistics/sts020205.html)

In their study, "Towards understanding the reasons for divorce," Ilene Wolcott and Jody Hughes wrote: "Only 5 per cent of respondents claimed financial problems were the main cause of their marriage ending." (Http://www.aifs.org.au/institute/pubs/WP20.html)

So which is it? Are finances a major problem in family relationships or not? Certainly it was to the five percent that claimed it was the main cause of their divorce. And certainly they can be in your home if:

MONEY IS MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU THAN PEOPLE.

Some people value profits over people. Philip. 2:20-21 says, "For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. [21] For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus." 

This one is a tightrope. You can fall off on either side. The frugal person that hordes instead of providing can fall prey to overvaluing money and undervaluing people, as can the spendthrift who tries to buy people's affection.

Where's the balance? The Good Samaritan found it. Let me read you the story from Luke 10:30-35: "A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went off leaving him half dead. [31] And by chance a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. [32] And likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. [33] But a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, [34] and came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. [35] "And on the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.'" 

The Samaritan used money and loved people instead of loving money and using people. The balance is learning that money is a tool, not a goal or a status.

You are also in peril: IF MONEY IS MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU THAN GOD.

Jesus stated it plainly in Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Some people use God and serve money, but Jesus taught us to use money and serve God.

The Rich Young Ruler lived the tragedy of loving money more than he loved God. In Mark 10:21-22, the scripture says, "Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'One thing you lack,' he said. 'Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' [22] At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth."

He wanted to hold on to his money more than he wanted God in his life. Jesus explained the dilemma like this: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Mark 10:25 

How do you know if money is more important to you than God? Perhaps these questions will help you clarify the issue in your life:

What comes first in your life, worship or work? There was a time when people refused to work if it conflicted with a time of worship. Today, more times than not, people will work worship around their jobs instead of their jobs around their worship.

How do you respond to the offering plate when it passes in front of you? Do you give God the first tenth of your income, or do you give Him what is leftover after you pay everything else?

Do you depend upon God for your support? Jesus had a rather casual attitude about money. When asked about how He would pay His taxes, He said,"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." Matthew 17:27 NIV

You also are in peril: IF MONEY IS MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU THAN LIFE ITSELF.

Suze Orman was only 13 years old when fire consumed her family's business. She watched her father escape the perils of the flames only to see him dash back into the chicken restaurant to recover something of great value to him.

He tried to pry it open, but couldn't. Finally he grabbed it with both arms, ripped it off the counter and carried the scorching hot cash register outside. As soon as he cleared the building and was safely outside, he threw the medal box to the ground, and when he did, the skin from his arms and chest came with it.

"That was when I learned," Orman recalls, "that money is obviously more important than life itself." (Biography, April 2001, p. 62)

Orman, of course was speaking figuratively, but the rich fool actually traded his life for wealth. In Luke 12:20 NIV "God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' 

In the end, what is really important are the people we love, the God we serve, and the life we live. Don't waste what is important on what is unimportant. Or as Paul put it,"...we beg you, please don't squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us." - 2 Cor. 6:1 (The Message)

The love of money, is the root of all sorts of evil. Yes, it can destroy your relationship with your family, God and can even cost you your life if you fall in love with it.

Don't squander your life perusing money and ignoring your family, your God and your life. Use money as it was meant to be used, as a tool to support your family, serve your God and sustain your life, don't let it become an end in itself.

Impact Preaching: A Case for the
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