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Dealing with the demons within

All of our most important struggles are spiritual, and the arena in which those battles are fought lies within us.

This is most certainly true in regard to the management of our financial resources.

The problems we have as Christians in relation to money (apart from feeling that we never have enough of it) are essentially spiritual problems.

In the final analysis, our giving in support of the work of God is a matter of faith and commitment, no more, no less!

In the Gospels, we have a number of stories about people who are demon-possessed. Exactly what that meant then, and what it might mean now, is a matter for serious study and reflection.

Without exception, these demons represent powerful and evil forces acting in opposition to the will of God as that will was expressed in the ministry of Jesus.

In some of these Gospel stories the demons speak and their words reflect their alienation from, and opposition to, the purpose of God.

We all have our share of demons who speak from inside us, always absolutely intent on persuading us to turn away from God’s will and purpose for our lives.

We hear these voices in many guises.

Sometimes their purpose is to undermine our faith in God and sow doubts about God’s love for us.

Sometimes they speak to create in us a sense of self-loathing and make us feel really bad about ourselves.

Sometimes they speak with the express intention of destroying our relationships and breaking down any desire we have to be trusting, compassionate, caring, generous and responsible.

And these voices are really loud and insistent whenever we engage in reflection about our money and how we use it.

Jesus was so aware of the existence and influence of these demon voices that he devoted a significant proportion of his teaching ministry to issues about money. For every demon voice, Jesus had a word from God.

When the demon voices in the rich young man said, “What’s yours is yours!” Jesus replied:  “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” But the rich young man succumbed to the tempting words of the demon within and went away sad and unfulfilled. (Matthew 19:21-22)

When the demon voices wooed people with the words, “The more you have, the more secure you’ll be!” Jesus responded, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

When the demon voices were seducing people with the words, “Whatever you have left over is good enough for God!”

Jesus pointed to a poor widow who was nearby in the Temple putting two small coins in the offering box, and said: “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)

When the demon voices were undermining the will of the people with the words, “All they want is your money!” Jesus went home with a rich tax-collector named Zaccheus, who was so changed by this encounter that he gave back, with interest, the money he had extorted from the citizens of Jericho and, in addition, made substantial donations to the poor and needy. (Luke 19:1-10)

And when the demon voices were luring people with the words, “It’s not your responsibility!” Jesus told the parable of the talents to remind everyone that we are responsible, whether we like it or not, not only to multiply the gifts that God has given us, but also to understand that all we have accumulated still belongs to God. (Matthew 25:14-30)

If we are to live within the will and purpose of God, we have no option but to deal with the demons within as Jesus did in the wilderness.

The demon voices are silenced by the word of God! When God speaks the demons have no answer!

They are always, without exception, subject to the authority of God and the word of light and truth that God speaks!

What we do with our money is first and foremost a matter of the heart.

In his book, Creating Congregations of Generous People, Michael Durall writes, “Two commonly held beliefs persist in many congregations. The first is that members don’t have much to give. The second is that people are already giving as much as they can. Both are myths.”

It’s time to deal with the demons within!

Once, by the grace of God, and with the word of God, we have dealt with the demons, anything is possible!