Truly broke

Published 9:55 am Monday, May 1, 2017

by Andrew Book

Learning and studying to prepare a sermon or a new worship series is a joy for me. I love sitting down with Scripture, a stack of other books about life and faith from many fields of study, and a blank page of my journal to wrestle with truth, faith and how we can be shaped by God’s Word and God’s Spirit in meaningful ways today.

As I read, study and pray, God usually speaks to me. Sometimes it is about small things in life, other times God helps me to see the big picture dynamics that have the power to control us. This last week was a big picture kind of week.

We are beginning a new worship series at Courtland United Methodist Church titled, “Un-Broken,” which looks at how God heals our brokenness to create something more beautiful in us than we could have imagined. As I dived into my study, the first question on my mind was, “What are the areas of life where we experience brokenness?”

As I looked for the most common areas of brokenness in life, I began to notice a trend: money was showing up over and over again. Most people live as though money is the thing that can help to solve their brokenness, but the reality is that money is more often the cause of brokenness than the solution.

Among the areas where we feel most broken are relationships, attitudes, dreams, passions and faith. Often, in all of these areas, brokenness has come because another lover, dream, passion or object of faith has replaced the one which was precious to us. That competing lover is almost always money. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), and the more I have considered the causes of brokenness in our lives, the more convinced I am Paul was right.

Not only was he right, but most people in American society today are, at a very deep level, lovers of money.

This love has been deeply engrained in us out of the idea that money provides for our needs, money gives us security, power and pleasure, and money is the ultimate failsafe to ensure that nothing bad can happen to us.

The American psyche is obsessed with getting, spending and saving money. Loving money is the water that we swim in, and just as fish can’t recognize that they are underwater (they have not experienced anything els!), so we too struggle to see how much of a hold money has on most of our lives.

When Paul uses the word “evil” in the verse I quoted above, we often think in spiritual terms and assume Paul’s warning is not practical for life. Most people think that “evil” is something that God will be upset about, but seldom do we stop to wonder why God calls “evil” evil. Evil is evil because the ways it impacts our lives and the lives of the people around us. Jesus said the author of evil is the one who comes to, “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10), and that is exactly what evil does in our lives. It steals, it kills and it destroys.

Evil leaves us truly broken because breaking you is the goal of evil. Evil ruins our lives. It breaks us, and while God is in the business of un-breaking us, none of us need extra levels of brokenness — we have enough already. Maybe a better way to read 1 Timothy 6:10 is this: “Thinking money can meet all of your needs and desires while giving you security for the future will RUIN YOUR LIFE.”

The more we love money, the more broken we are, because all the pieces of life that truly matter become casualties to our love of money.

The more we hoard and save and cut costs, the more our friends don’t think we value them (because we won’t pick up the tab at dinner or help them out when they have a need), our dreams wither on the vine (because they won’t make us money), and our faith shrivels (because we refuse the idea that we could give money to others).

The love of money eventually lands us in Ebenezer Scrooge’s lonely, pitiful life (from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol) with our only hope being that God will send the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future to set us straight.

I am looking forward to the worship series on becoming Un-Broken, because brokenness is a reality in the life of every single human being. I am also hoping and praying that we might all be able to recognize just how entangled we are with our money, so that we might be able to avoid some of the life-ruining brokenness that is headed our way if we continue as those who live out of a love of money.

Here is an exercise for you this week. Do something generous that is unexpected. Buy someone’s lunch. Send someone a present you know someone will like even though it is not their birthday. My personal favorite is to send people books I think they will enjoy.

As you do this, pay attention to the part of you that protests against giving away money. Learn to recognize the growl because it is the growl of the love of money — and we need to kill it so we can truly become people who are Un-Broken.

We would love to have you join us this week at Courtland United Methodist Church as we begin our series on being Un-Broken. Family worship is at 11 a.m. Whether you worship with us, elsewhere, or nowhere at all, my prayer is that you would recognize the growl of the love of money in your heart and learn to live in a way where your finances are a tool you use to value what is truly important rather than letting money control you!

ANDREW BOOK is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or