Having the right piece of plastic has surely changed our lives in the past quarter century. These lightweight, individualized, magnetically charged tokens are almost too conveniently linked to our identity and visibly associated with our social and economic status. No wonder we are reluctant to “leave home without them.”
But what if our money were harder to carry around and exchange? What if our money consisted of really heavy, hard to handle tokens of worth? Would this help change our out-of-control personal and national spending habits?
There have been times in history where carrying money required a small wheelbarrow. Citizens of the Han dynasty in China carried four-pound pieces of bronze around with them. They were called Pu, and resembled giant, badly formed tuning forks. You’d need to really want to buy something before you left home with a Pu.
Not all ancient money was so cumbersome. At the same time the Han Chinese were hauling their Pu around, Jesus turned tables on the money changers in the temple in Jerusalem. Any coins that scattered could be grasped in the palm of your hand.
It isn’t the size or weight of the money that messes with our minds, is it? It is how we view money, wealth, and financial security in general. More important than “What’s in your wallet?” should be our answer to the question, “How important is your wallet?”
The heaviest yoke many are burdened with daily is worry over their economic affairs. Fear of economic failure squeezes the life out of marriages and households and robs wage earners of the joy they should get from productive employment. To make matters worse, misguided televangelists plead with you to “Call now—don’t wait! The longer you wait to plant your seed money, the longer God waits to bless you with a harvest!” That is the formula for an ungodly guilt trip, and worse, a distorted understanding of God and the gospel.
Isn’t there a better, purer, lighter view of giving than trying to manipulate God into releasing what you need or resigning yourself to poverty and misfortune? Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). Let’s savor these words for a moment with respect to personal giving and Christian stewardship.
I don’t think the widow who dropped her mite into the collection boxes as Jesus watched then ran from the temple shouting, “Look out world! It’s beggar-to-billionaire day! Go claim your blessing now! If you put it in, God has to pay it out! My ship is comin’ in!” I don’t think that widow saw God as a winning lottery ticket in the sky. Neither do I see her moping along down the streets of Jerusalem with head hung in shame because her bank account doesn’t measure up to her neighbors.
Giving to God is a privilege and a joy. It isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, or a premium on heavenly insurance. Both of these views get really heavy—really fast. Let’s lighten up.
God loves the cheerful giver! How heavy is your wallet?
Steve Schantz, 2011