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  • Writer's pictureDean Moyer

My Work in Sacred Space (Part 3)

In our world of falsely created categories of sacred and secular, the acquisition of money is often relegated to the secular column and looked at with overly-spiritual stink eye. There is good evidence to suggest that somewhere along the way, the Church and culture believe "money is the root of all evil." But is it really? What if I were to suggest that money (or whatever is exchanged in commerce) is part of an original design and considered essential thus implying the acquisition of money is a good and right thing? Before you string me up as a heretic, take three minutes and read part three of "My Work as Sacred Space." 

In this third entry of "My Work as Sacred Space," I will suggest through the lenses of the story of Nehemiah that the gates he constructed during the post-exilic repairs were spaces of commerce, where people made money so that culture could thrive.  How can money be the root of evil if this is true? First, let's clear up a little theology. The bible does not teach that money is the root of all evil. This oft misquoted phrase is derived from the Apostle Paul when he writes to a young pastor named Timothy. What he actually writes is "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." (1 Timothy 6:10) Big difference. Paul's caution is not about money at all, but our deepest affections; what we love the most, whether money, position, image, etc. If it is money, then yes, that is a problem. But let's make sure we don't mishandle this and demonize what has been given as a source of good. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, in his book, Thou Shalt Prosper writes: “making a living, acquiring money is moral, noble and worthy…it is our means of contributing to the world." .

We find a living example of this in the book of Proverbs.

 "She makes coverings for her bed;

    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Her husband is respected at the city gate,

   where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them,

   and supplies the merchants with sashes." (Proverbs 31:22-24)

 What did she do? She made coverings. She sold them at the city gate. She made money. The exchange of something of value for money is not evil. It is a good, God-designed relationship to promote well-being, and goodness. Lapin calls money “a certificate of appreciate.” Another writer calls money “the grease of goodness.” Both are true. It is God's design for all humanity is to contribute good to God’s world. When you and I create or provide something of value for others, we contribute good to the world. For this to make sense we need to explore this idea of goodness a bit further.  

 As I have stated, In this middle-eastern world then and today, not only is money not the root of all evil, money is a source of goodness.  But you are probably asking what kind of goodness? This goodness is defined far beyond the making of profit. We are not talking capitalism here. Healthy commerce was and is a critical cog in the wheel of thriving at the gates. But it is not the only cog. The making of money is part of something far bigger – a far greater good. Money is not the root of evil but the means to good; good for those who purchased, good for who sold and good for the thriving of the whole community. The well-being of community and even the stranger was at the center of their honor and shame worldview. In the weeks to come we will see there is a lot of activity at the gates; lots of human connection and need.   Three additional exchanges can be found happening at the gates that demonstrate to us that making money can amount to something bigger than self and fundamentally good for the world.

 How about for you? What is your view of making money?

 In handling money is your decision making based on abundance or scarcity?

 What about those who make a lot of it? How much is too much?

 How does our culture of individualism war against the idea that money is our means to contributing to our world?

 Next time we will explore this a bit deeper as we discover the gates as a space where we live together in peace for the greater good of others.

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