[24]   Wealth (1): Leisure & Amusement

Background:

·       Fact: lotteries are participated disproportionately by poorer people who do not have the spare money to gamble.

109.     What are the proper attitudes of Christians towards wealth?

a.   Importance in having a proper perspective on money:

·         Today’s affluent society is dominated by the materialistic culture. Wealth is worshipped.

·         Influence from TV and the Internet: schemes on making money; advertisement emphasizing wealth, luxury and good life; the gospel of prosperity preached in big churches and on TV

·         The major reason for most divorces is disagreement on financial matters.

·         Jesus spoke about money more frequently than any other subject except the kingdom of God.

·         How Christians use their wealth demonstrates their spiritual life (Mt 6:21; Lk 12:34).

b.   Distorted views about money:

(1)  Money is a sign of God’s blessing (or God’s blessing is usually in the form of money).

o        Modern gospel of prosperity: Love Jesus and get rich. This is contrary Jesus’ teaching (Lk 6:24).

(2)  Money is morally neutral.

o        Money is not just a neutral medium of exchange but a power with a life of its own, very often demonic in character.  Money inspires devotion; that is why “mammon” is described as a “master” (Mt 6:24).

o        Money can be a threat to our relationship with God (1Ti 6:10; Lk 16:13).

c.   Proper Christian attitudes towards wealth:

(1)  Stewardship

o        All wealth, including ours, ultimately belongs to God (Job 41:11, 1Ch 29:11,14).

o        Christians should regard themselves as stewards who are given the responsibility of managing the properties of our master (Ro 14:12, Heb 4:13, 1Pe 4:5; 1Co 4:1-2).

(2)  Contentment

o        We must be content with what God gives us (Php 4:11, Heb 13:5; Ecc 5:10).

o        The gain or loss of wealth should not be the major concern in life (Job 1:21; Ps 62:10).

o        Spending “excessive” time and energy to acquire earthly treasures is not profitable (Mt 6:19-21).

o        Wealth can become an idol. In the Bible, idolatry is equal to greed (Col 3:5; Eph 5:3).

(3)  Master over money—inner attitude

·         We need to master over money instead of being mastered by money: to dethrone money.

o        understand our own psychological perspective about money

o        ask God to help: (a) bind our greed and covetousness and (b) practise generosity

o        In making any decisions, we have to put human value above economic value.

(4)  Master over money—outer action

o        generous giving is the best way to free us from the tyranny of money (1Ti 6:17-18; Ac 20:35).

o        root out all favoured treatment of people based on money (particularly in church)

110.                         Can Christians acquire luxury cars and luxury homes?

a.   General principles:

(1)  Stewardship: we are entrusted by God to look after His money.

(2)  Simple life: Christians must avoid extravagance (1Ti 2:8-10; 1Pe 3:1-5; Lk12:15).

(3)  Witness: How we use money reflects our commitment to Christ and our witness in the world.

b.   Acquisition of luxury items:

(1)  We must not waste the property entrusted to us for selfish motives.

(2)  Buying luxury homes or luxury model cars are permissible but they should be based on:

o        need (e.g. needing a bigger home for business purposes), not just want

o        cost-benefit (e.g.  high-priced items may result in savings because of better quality and longer durability)

(3)  The acquisition should never be based on vain desires, such as public recognition or prestige.

111.    How should Christians view gambling? How about lottery or raffle tickets or a free raffle?

a.   Gambling or betting is incompatible with Christian life:

(1)  The motivation behind betting is greed or covetousness. Gambling itself is not sin but greed is.

o        Greed is idolatry (Col 3:5). Greed is sin (Ex 20:17; Ro 1:29; 1Co 5:11) and the root of all evil (1Ti 6:10).

(2)  Gambling is addictive (Gal 5:1).

(3)  Wealth should be acquired by honest labour (2Th 3:10-12).

(4)  Though gambling is not sin, it may cause others to stumble.

b.   Lottery or raffle: Even if the lottery or raffle may be for a good cause, its basic nature of encouraging greed. Christians should not participate.

c.   Free raffle: Free raffle may be permissible if it is genuinely free (without a prior condition of buying unintended items) and also does not arouse greed (if the prize is of low value).

112.    How should Christians view social dancing and rock music?

a.   Benefits of amusement

·         Amusement can serve a good purpose because it provides a temporary diversion (rest) from the burden of work and can renew physical and psychological strength leading to higher work efficiency. But we must not be enslaved by the love of pleasure (2Ti 3:1-4; Tit 3:3).

·         Some entertainment may not be suitable for Christians:

o        if it leads to vice, corruption (of character or values), or sin (1Pe 1:16).

o        if it is highly dangerous (e.g. boxing or car racing), cruel (e.g. bull fighting), or dehumanizing.

b.   Social Dancing:

·         In the OT, dancing was part of the worship or processions (2Sa 6:14-15). But nowhere in the ancient world was there dancing with the opposite sex. Modern social dancing is founded on physical and sexual attraction. It excites the senses and reduces inhibitions. Christians should avoid.

c.   Rock Music:

(1)  Popularity of rock music

o        80% of teenagers in North America and Britain have a steady diet of rock music.

o        The average teenager listens to over 10,000 hours of rock music between the 7th and 12th grades.

(2)  Origin of rock music:

o        Rock music was originated in jungle tribes and cults which practised voodooism and demon worship.

o        The term “Rock ‘n Roll” was originated from a description of sexual acts.

(3)  Characteristics of rock music

o        Rhythm: a steady, continuous wild pounding

o        Harmony: repetition of same (often dissonant) chords and frequent high pitches

o        Melody: seldom has inherent melody

o        Intensity: uncontrolled, wild loud sound to overcome the listener and create frenzied atmosphere

o        Lyrics: frequently anti-God; promoting drugs, suicide, sensuality and illicit sex, sadistic sex, violence, rebellion, eradication of tradition and morality, the occult

o        Back-tracking: The “back-tracking” technique is frequently used in many rock music albums. The effect of back-tracking has not been studied scientifically but it is possible that the subconscious mind is being affected. One piece of rock music, when played backwards, contains the clearly audible words “Satan is god.”

o        The people who produce rock music are mostly drug addicts, fornicators and adulterers, blasphemers. They promote anti-social views and denigrate traditional values and morality.

o        Rock music has been widely described as “the international anthem of the dark forces”. The people in the industry aim to destroy tradition, eradicate morality, and lure youth into depraved and enslaved culture of drugs, illicit sex, prostitution and revolution.

(4)  Effects of rock music

o        Physical impact: impairment or even loss of hearing, hysteria, heightened biological drives

o        Psychological impact: weakens inhibitions, excites desires, invites permissiveness, establishes sensual thought patterns, toys with mysticism and the occult, beautifies the use of drugs and sexual promiscuity