We learn about gifts pretty early in life. One sure way to get a child’s attention is simply to say the word Christmas. Kids immediately associate the concept with presents, that is, cool free stuff that various people give you.
Giving and receiving gifts expresses and strengthens relationships. Gifts send messages: “I love you.” “You are important to me.” “I appreciate what you do for me.” “Thank you for everything.”
Giving and receiving gifts also can symbolize strong mutual obligations.... Read More
Making money is a fine thing. Taking money is not. It is amazing how fertile the human brain can be in devising schemes to separate other people from their money. Have you gotten e-mails from Africa claiming that you are a trustee of a fortune? Or gotten e-mails from a “bank” that just needs your own checking account’s routing numbers to fix something?
Some people define morality as whatever they can get away with. If there is no one in... Read More
“Kids today have a terrible work ethic.” A friend of mine who is a small business owner said that as he was groaning about the terrible time he was having getting his new hires to show up on time and do a job right. What’s been your experience? Was my friend right?
“My Father works, and I work,” Jesus said once. Work is essential to the essence of our God. The first thing God did upon creating the first man... Read More
Loving money more than God is indeed a sickness. St. Paul warned in 1 Timothy 6:9-11 that some who had been eager to get rich had fallen into traps, temptations, and many foolish and harmful desires that plunged them into ruin and destruction. Some had wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
However—the fact that money is abused does not mean that it is evil in and of itself. Money is not intrinsically evil. Money is like... Read More
When you read the gospels, it certainly seems that Jesus is pretty hard on wealthy people and kind to the poor. He said that it was easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than to get a rich man into heaven. He even told a rich young man to give away all his money. Is poverty God’s preferred state of existence? Does money corrode our values so badly that we are best to get rid of... Read More
It is a hard lesson to learn that all my money isn’t mine and that even my wage-earning skills are a gift from someone else. We all need repeated retraining in that radical concept. Wait—there’s more. The Giver of all seems to think that the resources he gives should be used for his agenda.
Jesus told a parable in which he was the star. “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and... Read More
It’s hard to keep life in balance, isn’t it? Work and play, spouse and kids, me and others.
Here’s where some balanced thought is especially needed—what is the source of my income? Isn’t it me? I need to get a job. I need to show up and work. The payroll checks have my name on them, don’t they?
Of course they do. A problem arises, however, when we overdo that self-reliance to the point where we forget that God is... Read More
If you ever find work in a bakery, try to work in the retail end if you want normal hours. If you work as a baker, you are tending the ovens in the middle of the night so that there will be fresh product at 6:00 a.m.
Your God has promised to provide material support for you and for your family. He doesn’t drop it from the sky the way he used to send manna to the Israelites. But he... Read More
A bank teller looks at her cash drawer at the end of the day and says, “Mine.” Foolish. A heavy equipment operator plans on driving home in the road grader he’s been in all day. “Mine,” he says. Foolish. The youthful jewelry store clerk looks at the gems in the glass case and says, “Mine.” Utterly foolish. They are laying claim to things that didn’t originate with them and don’t belong to them.
One of the reasons that the theory... Read More