Money, Sex and Discipleship

By Ward Shope

Chances are I got your attention by writing that title – or perhaps you are too embarrassed to be found reading a blog with that heading and will never get here.  But for those of you who have done away with all propriety and decided to read: relax.  Because the emphasis here is on discipleship.

The issue of sex is everywhere in the media today: sexual identity, sexual preferences, sexual orientation, and on and on.  The problem is that it has become an “issue”, which tends to be very loud, impersonal, and divisive, when God’s design was for sex to be very tender, relational and a sign of oneness between a husband and wife.  Everybody has an opinion; fewer know God’s rich blessing through it.

In some ways, the issue of money is very similar.  There’s a lot of loud talk in our society about making it, and what it can do for us. This objectifies money, and makes it its own goal when in reality money is all about relationship.

Debbie and I realized very quickly that my “down to the penny” bookkeeping in the first days – maybe months or years? – of our marriage produced less than satisfying relational results.  Having children only made the issue more relational.  How much do we spend on them, while seeking to be faithful to God, His Church, and his kingdom work around the world.

Soon we were discussing our children’s future, life insurance, and our future together after they were gone.  When does putting money into these things show a lack of faith in God’s providence for us as believers?  What about giving to secular organizations like the Red Cross or the local community ambulance squad?

And then there’s the housing questions. One rental or mortgage amount could help us move forward in our giving, but having a guest room in our home would help us entertain others more readily.  Is it even legitimate to buy a home?  (Yes, we own our home.)  The truth is, the money we decided to give to the church was an easier discussion compared to other financial considerations.

All financial questions are relational.  They have impact – on people – sometimes eternally.  We can’t look at our money as if we live in isolation from everyone else.  It’s fine for us to keep a budget and stay out of debt, but if that’s as far as we go, we’re not walking in relationship with the Lord, and maybe not walking in relationship with others.

At our staff meeting earlier today, one person asked, “Why don’t we intentionally disciple and mentor people regarding money?  We are willing to approach almost every other area, including sex, but we shy away from the personal financial discussion.”

I need that discussion.  I need the community to come around me and talk about my finances and relationships together.  When was the last time I discussed my personal finances with another believer who loves me and only wants my best?  My covenant community (New Life) should probably disciple me in an area that can make or break relationship with God and others.  And I need to be bold enough to disciple others in that way as well.  After all, everybody has an opinion about money, but fewer know God’s rich blessing through it.