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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"Jesus' Terrible Financial Advice" (John Thornton)

TITLE: Jesus' Terrible Financial Advice: Flipping the Tables on Peace, Prosperity, and the Pursuit of Happiness
AUTHOR: John Thornton
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2017, (128 pages).

Our society runs mainly for gains and for profits. From balancing the budget to increasing annual revenues, organizations are constantly looking at ways to stay in the black. Public listed companies would use monetary devices to measure the profitability of a company. The key financial advice is to make more money. This is the default mode. Even non-profits like churches are on a constant lookout for funding and for donations to run their organizations. Here's the shocker. What many churches teach about money are often at odds with what Jesus teaches. In fact, the teachings of Jesus would rip apart our thinking; expose our lack of faith; and reveals our deepest fears. For Jesus has called us to turn the other cheek; to let others take our shirt as well; and to give to all who asks. Many of us prefer to take exceptions rather than wholehearted acceptance of such teachings. There are many reasons why.

First, we tend to pay more attention to the idol of Money. In doing so, we become servants of Money. Second, many people had a mistaken assumption that God wants them to be materially rich.  Jesus, on the other hand, asks us to sell all we have and to give all the proceeds to the poor. Isn't that incredible advice? We rationalize Jesus' words instead of taking it whole. The rich especially can be so comfortable with their material riches that they are less likely to seek God more. For them, deceitfulness of riches, the greed of the heart, and the unwitting acceptance of the power of money have damaged our spiritual sensitivity to Jesus. Gradually, the chapters move toward the need for generosity and giving. God made us to bless others, and to deal with the real significance of Jesus' advice.

What's 'terrible' about Jesus' advice? It depends on which angle we look at. If we adopt the ways of the world, the advice would seem most counter-cultural and difficult to accept. After all, it is an every-man-for-himself world. Yet, Jesus is asking us to take the road less traveled, that we can protect our hearts from greed, from self-centeredness, and from giving of ourselves to the god of Money. Following Christ is not simply a series of holy disciplines we do in Church; like prayer; Bible study; or outreach ministries. It is also about warring against any impediment that prevents us from moving closer to the heart of God. Following Jesus simply means giving up ourselves that we may obtain Christ. In surrender, we gain much more than we can ever imagine. It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving. We can never out-give God. That does not mean we do not need to give. The beauty of giving is how our souls are nourished and polished with a deeper spirituality that can only come when we learn to deny ourselves. The author ends with ten truths to turn 'terrible advice' to 'terrific advice.'

  1. Be like Jesus, whose chief aim is to glorify God
  2. When we diligently obey Jesus' words, we become more like Him
  3. Remember that Money steals God's glory
  4. Anything that distracts us from God is leading us toward idolatry
  5. We can never outplan God
  6. Wisdom is more important than wealth
  7. Be rich toward God
  8. Getting Jesus is most profitable and priceless
  9. God is the true Giver of all things
  10. Practice hospitality; generosity; and forgiveness.

This is another good book about stewardship and how we can use our material resources for the furtherance of God's kingdom. First we acknowledge how we are often so easily taken in by the enticement of Money. Second, we boldly embrace the teachings of God to be intentional about not becoming a slave to such an idol. Third, the closer we move to God, the clearer we are to a reward that is far better and more satisfying that Money.

John Thornton is a CPA and also a professor with a PhD in Accounting. He has the credentials to teach about financial management and accounting advice. He also has the experience of charing the American Accounting Association's Public Interest Section and has spoken on accounting ethics and money matters. He shares about how despite taking an 80% pay cut, his life has proven to be richer and more profitable in other ways.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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