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John Bradshaw - Money, Money, Money


John Bradshaw - Money, Money, Money
John Bradshaw - Money, Money, Money
TOPICS: Money, Wisdom

This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me. Everybody wants it. I think the truth is most everybody needs it. And when people get it, it seems that what they want next is more. It seems as though we can never be satisfied with the amount of money that we have. And that might just be a problem. We read in the Bible that God is willing to bless His people, but sometimes it can be that those blessings are allowed to become curses. Let me read to you from Matthew chapter 19 where Jesus shared one of the most curious verses in all of the Bible. Matthew 19 and verse 24, He said, "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God". Now, that's a fascinating verse. To talk with me about that and other aspects of the subject, I'm glad to welcome my special guest from Queensland, Australia: Julian Archer. Julian, thanks for joining me.

Julian Archer: Thank you, John. Great to be here.

John Bradshaw: Julian, as an international speaker and as an author, you speak a lot about money. And one of the things that you've discovered in your studies and in your own experience is this: It seems that as people's prosperity increases, that person's commitment to God can decrease. Let's talk about that. Where would we begin?

Julian Archer: Yeah, it's a bit like a teeter-totter, or a see-saw, isn't it? One goes up; the other goes down. It doesn't have to. It'd be great if it didn't, but it, it often does.

John Bradshaw: So can we talk about cases, chapter and verse, empirical data? I, I recently read an article produced by a Canadian news agency that said as nations prosper, religion diminishes. So just how true is it? I think a lot of us have met rich people who, who feel like they have no needs and don't even need God. Of course, we're not going to say that that applies to all wealthy people.

Julian Archer: Sure.

John Bradshaw: But, but how real is this? How does it happen? And eventually we'll get around to talking about what a person can do about it.

Julian Archer: Yeah, look, it's very real. It's very real. The, the data has been coming out for many years. Uh, Credit Suisse, a very respected financial services agency out of Switzerland, has a lot of data on it. The Gallup poll, one of the most respected research agencies in the world, as they study around the world, they find that the richest nations, so, not necessarily the biggest or, or the highest GDPs or whatever, but those nations where the adults in those nations actually have the highest private wealth, those nations are the ones who are the least religious.

John Bradshaw: So what nations are they?

Julian Archer: We're looking at, Switzerland, uh, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the UK, even the US. They're the nations that are showing this teeter-totter issue. And those nations, interestingly enough, are primarily founded on Christian principles.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, historically we'd refer to those,

Julian Archer: That's right.

John Bradshaw: ...as Christian nations...

Julian Archer: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: ...whether that label is accurate or not, but these are places where Christianity has flourished.

Julian Archer: That's right.

John Bradshaw: So in the past there was a strong Christian ethic. Now there's a strong secular ethic, a strong emphasis on wealth, and you're saying that the data shows that these countries where adults are earning the most, that's where people are less or least committed to God.

Julian Archer: That's right. So, if you go to a nation like my home nation, and Gallup poll comes in with their survey, they're surveying 200 nations, they get to Australia and they say, one of the questions: "Is religion an important part of your daily life"? Okay, simple question, yes or no: "Is religion an important part of your daily life"? Two-thirds, 67 percent of Australians say, "No, religion is not important in my daily life". You go across to somewhere like Sweden or Norway, you're looking at over 80 percent of people saying, "No, religion's not important in my daily life". And so it's a, it's a significant teeter-totter situation. And those nations, those top 10 richest nations, were all founded on Christian laws, Christian principles; they used to be, as you say, Christian nations.

John Bradshaw: Are we calling this correlation or causation? Is this, is this just a coincidence?

Julian Archer: Yeah. Look, according to the data, no. If you get the statisticians on to the data, and they, they will say, you know, we'll take it down to a certain coefficient and all the rest of it, they say this is rock-solid. It's, this is a statistically solid analysis that, as a nation's wealth increases, it has a direct impact on the religiosity of the people in that nation.

John Bradshaw: So then, one would see this as a red flag, I think. Before we go any further, are we saying that it's wrong or bad to be wealthy?

Julian Archer: No, no, not at all.

John Bradshaw: So wealth is okay?

Julian Archer: Yes.

John Bradshaw: What if you're filthy rich? Is that okay?

Julian Archer: It's okay. There's no problem with that.

John Bradshaw: All right.

Julian Archer: Even from a Christian, even from a biblical point of view, there is nothing wrong with that.

John Bradshaw: For example?

Julian Archer: Job, Abraham, you know, guys who had a lot.

John Bradshaw: Solomon.

Julian Archer: Solomon.

John Bradshaw: King David.

Julian Archer: Classic example. Yeah, that's right. But we must remember, though, that for Abraham, God said to him, He said, "I will bless you to be a blessing". Okay? So these guys didn't, they didn't have masses stored up for themselves; they had a lot of money going through them, and God was using them to bless other people. So there's, there are some provisos.

John Bradshaw: Okay, so it's okay to be wealthy?

Julian Archer: Yes.

John Bradshaw: But Jesus said, "It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into heaven". Now, I've heard people say that this is merely symbolic; Jesus was just making a point. What do you think?

Julian Archer: If He was just making a point, it's a point that is very solidly backed up today in the data. So, so it was a pretty good point. So, you know, you go to Hinduism, you've got Mahatma Gandhi, and he says that once financial stability is assured, spiritual bankruptcy is also assured. Okay, so this isn't just a Christian thing; this is, this is, this is human nature that, as our affluence goes up, we tend to become very self-reliant and think less of God or relying on God or needing God.

John Bradshaw: So why do you think that is?

Julian Archer: I think the, the blessings that God gives us, because He wants to, He wants to bless us, uh, they are there for us to, to share. If we put a dam, a wall on the dam and stop the, the flow, or even severely limit the flow, you know, still let some out, but, you know, I need to keep building mine bigger and bigger. Uh, then that's where it starts to mess with us. And what, what happens, to illustrate it, is the inside of my heart, for example, when, when I was going through this, this situation, the inside of my heart was being filled up with the material blessings. And I was so busy maintaining them, insuring them, trying to make them grow, trying to, trying to ensure that nobody stole them, or whatever it was. They took so much of my time and energy that I simply didn't have the time and energy for God anymore.

John Bradshaw: I think it's worth pointing out here you've alluded to the fact that you've been a very successful business person. Uh, and I'd like you to take a moment to talk about the deleterious effect that had on your spiritual walk, to the extent you wrote a book called "Help! I've Been Blessed"! Which is interesting because in Christian circles, again and again and again people are saying, "Got to do everything we can to get God's blessing," and they're measuring blessing by dollars and cents and possessions and cars and houses and jet aircraft and so forth. So you've been through this. Walk us through some of this, to, to the place where you had to write about this, calling the book "Help! I've Been Blessed"!

Julian Archer: Yeah. Yeah, there is a lot of material out there that says how to be blessed, "God wants you to be rich", you know, all this sort of stuff. And I have no question the Bible says that God wants to bless us, we're His children.

John Bradshaw: But does God want us to be rich?

Julian Archer: God doesn't mind whether we're rich or otherwise. From, from Scripture, God has very poor followers who love Him; God has very rich followers who love Him. The challenge is, and this is in my own experience, as I became more and more focused and distracted on those blessings, then I had less and less time, and ultimately less and less interest in spending time with God. Now, during that whole period, this was something going on in my heart. No one knew; no one could see this. I was still as religious as anybody else at church, you know, supporting all these different programs, speaking from the front, all this sort of stuff. But in my heart, and this is, this is where the battle was, in my heart I knew that I was lost. I knew that I was not in a saving relationship with Jesus, and I knew what the cause was.

John Bradshaw: The cause put a fine point on it. What was it?

Julian Archer: I could say it was His blessings, but it wasn't. It was my response to His blessings.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Julian Archer: And God had blessed me, and I had got distracted by those blessings, and I had to try and sort that out, and that's where the book came from. It wasn't meant to be a book. It was my own journaling of everything I could find in Scripture about my, my battle, this faith versus finance battle that I was, that I was in. And then it ended up becoming a book. But I had to work it out because it was messing with my head. It was, it was really messing with me. You know, Jesus says, "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and lose his soul"? Very few people will know that you're in that situation. But in your heart, where nobody else can see, you know, and you go, "You know what, yeah, I'm sort of gaining the whole world here, and I know I'm losing my soul. I've got to do something about this".

John Bradshaw: So you think there are many wealthy people today who are having this battle?

Julian Archer: You know, when it was happening, I thought I was the only one. I seriously thought I was the only one, because we don't discuss it. It's, it's a conversation that is just under the table. Because we like to, like the disciples, you know, when the rich young ruler came along, and Jesus basically said, "Look, buddy, you're not going to get into heaven unless you sort a few of these things out". The disciple says, "Whoa, if he can't be saved, who can be saved"? You know, because he was rich; he was respected; he was blessed; he was a leader, you know, all these different things. And they're like, "Well, if they're not gonna get into heaven, who can get into heaven"? And so we just don't discuss it because the fact is, as I've learnt over the years as I've traveled the world, talking to people in a whole lot of different places and a whole lot of different lounge rooms, I might say, very wealthy lounge rooms, uh, a lot of people struggle with it. They, they're sitting there, wondering, how can I be saved when I have such a focus on wealth that I'm not really letting anybody see?

John Bradshaw: Isn't it interesting that many, many, many average people, and I guess I mean average financially people, really believe that if they only had a ton of money, life would be great, and all their problems would be gone? You're gonna say, "Not necessarily the case". It sounds like you're saying. "Be careful what you wish for".

Julian Archer: Yeah. Yeah, it was Oscar Wilde, the great Irish playwright, who said, "There's only two great tragedies in life: one of them is not getting what you want, and the other is getting what you want". And that was where I didn't realize, I thought that if I got what I wanted, everything would be sorted; everything would be okay. But then God gave me everything I wanted, and more and more, and things weren't okay.

John Bradshaw: Studies, repeated studies have shown there's a certain point of income, of earnings, beyond which more money does not increase your happiness. It varies in the United States from state to state, I'm certain, as the cost of living varies. But it's not very high. Washington, D.C., about $100,000. Most states in the United States, 65. You can have 66 or 66 million; it won't make you any happier. Do you see that as odd, or can you listen to that and go, "Yep, I know what that means"?

Julian Archer: Yeah, absolutely. Uh, you know, we were talking before about the wealthiest adults on the planet and how Australians are right up there in second place after Switzerland. So, basically as, as individual adults, so just, just our families, we are basically wealthier than most average adults, most adults around the world. We are also the second-highest consumers of antidepressant medications on the planet. So does money buy happiness? Not at all. You know, why would we be, are we the second-highest consumers because we can afford the pills? It's not just because we can afford the pills; it's because there's something, we've crossed that $65,000 limit or that $100,000 limit, thinking, "Now I'm gonna be happy". And we're not. And we're going, "Oh, I'm gonna have to medicate". You know, as strangely sad as that sounds, that's reality. And I've got nothing against antidepressant medication. I believe if somebody needs it, they need it. But it's just ironic that the second-richest adults on the planet are also the second-highest consumers.

John Bradshaw: Now, I sense that there's somebody watching us right now who's saying, "Man, that's easy for you to say. You've had it all. You've had all you wanted with excess, but here I am struggling away, barely making ends meet. It's easy for you to say". Well, it is easy to say, but in a moment when we come back, let's talk about why it's easy to believe. We'll be right back with more in just a moment. Don't go away.

John Bradshaw: Thanks for joining me today on It Is Written. My guest is Julian Archer, international speaker and author on the subject of money and personal finance. It was Jesus who said that it's easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven. Clearly, having wealth brings some challenges, and wealth can be the cause of challenges to a person's spiritual life. Now, Julian, as we've discussed this, I sense that somebody's saying, "Well, man, that's easy for you to say. You've had it, you've been through it, and maybe you're in the place where you can just choose to turn your back on chasing money". Why is it that really it can be difficult for a person to maintain a relationship with Jesus when financial blessings increase?

Julian Archer: Yeah, look, I, I have, uh, I encourage young people to go out and do really well in life, whether that be financially or career-wise or whatever it is; I encourage them to do that. I did the same in my life. However, the challenge that I faced was that I was losing my spirituality; I was losing my relationship with Jesus. The higher my wealth went, it seemed the less and less time I had to spend with Jesus. And so I say to the young people, look, go for it. Put everything you've got into it. But hang in there with Jesus right the way through because you're, otherwise you're gonna get to the other end and it's gonna be, "Hey, look, I've gained the whole world, and I've got nothing; I've lost my soul".

John Bradshaw: So this emphasis that you see in some Christian circles about get more, get more, get more, "You can have all you want," "God wants you to be rich," and so forth, uh, would you see, let me just ask you how you would see that. Healthy, unhealthy, somewhere in the middle?

Julian Archer: Yeah... Gut feeling, single word, I would say unhealthy. Uh, but I need to, need to explain that. Biblically, there certainly are passages and stories where Jesus says, and, and God says, you know, "Obey me and I will bless you". Uh, God wants to bless us. However, there's also story after story after story of individuals and entire nations who turned away from God when they were blessed. And if we are going to buy in to a scenario of "God wants me to be rich," then you've really got to have in your chest pocket, right near your heart, a ticket that says, "I'm not gonna let go of You, Jesus," through that process. And that's what Jesus was talking about; He was talking about the camel... having to go through the eye of a needle like a rich man getting into heaven. It's not easy. It may sound easy. You may think, "Well, if I had money, then I wouldn't have any problems, and that would be easy". It, it may, may seem to be easy, if you don't have God. But if you want to hold on to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ during those years, it's, I was gonna say it's hard work, but that sounds legalistic. But it's, it's a daily battle. You know, Paul says, "I die daily". And if we go into the, the Greek of that, uh, the word for "I" in his, where he says, "I die daily," is epsilon gamma omega, E-G-O: Ego dies daily. And when you're being blessed, when you're saying, "Yeah, God wants me to be rich, and here I am, look, I am being rich now," ego just rises up because you get proud. You become a Pharisee; you become self-sufficient. But your ego has to die daily. And I, I, I can tell you, killing your ego daily is not easy. It's a battle.

John Bradshaw: Let's look at this passage, the story where Jesus addressed someone who is doing really well financially. He came to Jesus. I'm gonna read in Matthew chapter 19. It says, starting in verse 16, "Now behold, one came and said to Him, 'Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?'" And Jesus said, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, [and] that is God. But if [you'll]...enter into life, keep [my] commandments". The young man said to Jesus, "Which ones"? And so Jesus enumerated a number of the commandments. The young man then said, "I've done that ever since I was a kid. What do I still lack"? And Jesus said in Matthew 19 and 21, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, [and] follow me". And what's really interesting, what's tragic is verse 22 says, "The young man heard that saying, [and] went away sorrowful, [because] he had great possessions". He was a wealthy young fellow.

Julian Archer: Hmm.

John Bradshaw: What was Jesus really getting at here? Did He really mean "sell everything," or is this allegorical? Why did he say that to the rich young ruler?

Julian Archer: Well, it's interesting that Jesus right up said five commandments. He said don't do this; don't do this; don't do this. And the guys says, "Well, I've done that since my youth". And then Jesus says, "One thing you lack". Well, what was the one thing? Well, it happened to be the sixth commandment that He hadn't quoted out of the last ten.

John Bradshaw: "Thou shalt not covet".

Julian Archer: Exactly. "One thing you lack". And, He was speaking the truth. I mean, Jesus knows, knows this guy's heart. But then He comes along and He says, "Sell it all. Give it away and come and follow me, and you'll have treasure in heaven". You know, when I, when I was in business, and I was still very actively involved in church, this story was the worst story in Scripture for me. As, as a rich young ruler, you know, as an affluent young businessman, I just hated it because I kept thinking that God was telling me that I've got to give away everything in order to be a disciple. And at first reading, you could say, "Yeah, well, it does". I then said, "No, no, it's just for him. One guy, one point in time". And it was like, whew, that was close, you know? I nearly had to sell everything. And then I went across to Luke 12:33, and here's Jesus saying it again. He's saying if, you know, unless you sell everything, "You can't be my disciple," and this time He's talking to the disciples, the twelve disciples. Two chapters later, Luke 14:33, Jesus is at it again. But this time He's talking to an entire multitude and He says, "You've got to sell everything you've got to come and follow me". And I'm like, "Yeah, this is, nah, this is really heavy". So, I got in and I studied the Greek on it, at that, where He was talking to the rich young ruler. And I found that where He says, "Sell all that you own and come and follow me," can also be translated, "Sell all that owns you and come and follow me". And I believe that's what Jesus was saying. And we know, I, you know, I knew in my heart the things that owned me. And I think what Jesus was saying was, "Take everything out of your life that is getting between you and me, that is distracting you from this eternal saving relationship. Whatever owns you, get rid of that and then come and follow me".

John Bradshaw: This is gonna, this is gonna differ from person to person, obviously.

Julian Archer: Exactly. And that's the thing. Isn't that the beautiful thing about salvation? Salvation, that relationship with Jesus is different for every person. I don't believe Jesus is telling every Christian to sell everything so that we can follow Him. It, it would just be a whole crazy different religion that we're involved in. But I do believe He's telling us to get everything out of our lives that's getting between us and Him.

John Bradshaw: So the fact of the matter is the guy who has the Lamborghini parked in his garage, that might be just perfectly fine for one guy, destructive for another.

Julian Archer: Absolutely.

John Bradshaw: The person who's got the magnificent holiday home wherever he has it, or the homes, or he or she, wherever, that might be okay for one person. And we mustn't judge people, right? Because somebody may have an expensive car that ultimately is an investment, or properties that they're gonna liquidate and give to the Lord. It's not for us to judge anybody. So it differs from person to person. Couldn't that be just giving a person an escape hatch where that person now says, "I heard what Julian said, but, you know, my fleet of fancy cars doesn't own me. Everything's okay".

Julian Archer: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Could be an escape hatch, right?

Julian Archer: It could be. And it is individual, person to person, very true, but what is not individual, person to person, is when Jesus says that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into heaven. So, the person might have the Lamborghini and all the homes and all the rest of it. If they do, it will be extremely difficult for them to get into heaven. Jesus said that; I'm not saying that. That's, that's what Jesus said. He said that's the fact, and then He had period at the end of it. He didn't say, "But if..." or anything. He just said, hey, look, if, if you're rich, if, you know, even if God's blessed you with your riches, it's gonna be really difficult for you to get into heaven. Because riches have this little thing that they do on your heart, and you tend to get distracted by them, and you, you lose that saving relationship.

John Bradshaw: Two questions, we don't have a lot of time. Two questions. Uh, let's make this as practical as we can. Somebody's wealthy, and wealth varies, you know, somebody's doing well, and they know that their stuff's starting to own them and that they're struggling in their relationship with Jesus; focus is in the wrong place. What's your advice what to do?

Julian Archer: work out some way of, and it will depend on what, on what situation they're in, if they're owning a business, then they may have an opportunity to give half of the business to God, or 90 percent, 95, 99. I've seen people give 100 percent of the business to God and just be paid a wage out of it. So there, there are things that you can do along, along those lines that is sort of the practical accounting nuts-and-bolts sides of things. Uh, but ultimately, it's get down on your knees. It's get down on your knees more and more and more. That's, that's the solution to trying to sort this out. Because ultimately, the riches are somewhat irrelevant. You can, as we've already discussed, you can be affluent and still have a really strong daily relationship with Christ, but they do tend to get in the way, so we've got to get back to that relationship, that "first love," as Jesus called it.

John Bradshaw: Second question for you: Why does God give wealth? What's the purpose? Just to bless us for our faithfulness, or is there a greater purpose?

Julian Archer: Yeah. He loves us, and He wants to bless others through us, and at the same time we are blessed. "It's more blessed to give than to receive". So He's giving us a privilege, an opportunity to feel those blessings of giving to others in need.

John Bradshaw: Some people don't want to give away what they've got. What would you say to them?

Julian Archer: Go down on your knees. It's really, yeah, it's really, it's God's. It's God's, and He wants you to give it. And you will be so blessed when you do.

John Bradshaw: So wealth is okay?

Julian Archer: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Being rich is okay?

Julian Archer: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: You can be a successful Christian and be wealthy?

Julian Archer: Yes.

John Bradshaw: But at the end of the day, we have to remember it all belongs to...?

Julian Archer: God.

John Bradshaw: It all belongs to God. And if we keep that in mind, then we might see some camels squeezing their way through the eye of a needle.

John Bradshaw: Julian, thank you. It's really been a blessing. Thanks for joining me.

Julian Archer: Thank you, it's been great to be here.

John Bradshaw: Let's pray together now.

Our Father in heaven, we are grateful for Your many blessings. They come in so many different ways. Frequently, You bless us financially, but we see the danger of allowing our blessings to be anything but a blessing. So grant that we will keep things in focus, that however we do financially, materially, we will remember that everything belongs to You, that we are Yours, and Jesus is ours. Grant us the opportunity and the desire to allow our blessings to be a blessing to others. Work through us, both to will and to do, for Your good pleasure. We thank You, and we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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