Be Smarter Than Money

To be the master of money, you need to be smarter than it. Then money will do as it is told. It will obey you. Instead of being a slave to it, you will be the master of it. That is financial intelligence.”

– Robert Kiyosaki, RICH DAD, POOR DAD

In a previous post I offered a gentle critique of Kiyosaki’s idea of “little greed,” which he espouses in his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Today I’m going to do a turn-around and say “He’s right!” when he encourages us to be smarter than money. He explains, “Too often today, we focus on borrowing money to get the things we want instead of focusing on creating money. One is easier in the short term, but harder in the long term. It’s a bad habit that we as individuals, and as a nation, have gotten into. Remember, the easy road often becomes hard, and the hard road often becomes easy.” He goes on to say, “The earlier you can train yourself and those you love to be masters of money, the better. Money is a powerful force. Unfortunately, people use the power of money against themselves. If your financial intelligence is low, money will run all over you. It will be smarter than you. You will work for it all your life.”

Probably the most famous verse in the Bible regarding money is 1 Timothy 6:10, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Many people take this to mean that God is absolutely against money. Didn’t Jesus say, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one or love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”? But as many Bible commentators have pointed out, it is the love of money, rather than money per se, which is the root of all evil. And while it is true that one cannot serve God and money, Jesus also said, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:12)

As Kiyosaki pointed out, Money is a powerful force and there is the very real danger of being tempted to love it and being enslaved by it. But the right response to this danger is not to jettison money out of one’s life completely (as if that were possible!) but to use it to serve God. The fact is a lot of good is being done all over the world because of money. We provide for our families by means of money, we support churches and missionaries by means of money, we pay for our hospital bills by means of money, we build schools and hospitals and orphanages by means of money, we send our children to school by means of money, we help alleviate the plight of the poor and the needy by means of money, and so on and so forth. To be sure, Paul warns us about the dangers accompanying the desire to be rich (1 Timothy 6:9), and he reminds rich people not to trust in their riches but in God (1 Timothy 6:17). Also, the author of Hebrews tells us, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” But loving money is one thing, being trustworthy in handling worldly wealth (as Jesus said) is another thing. The Bible does not advocate greed, but it does advocate faithful stewardship, and that includes being smart enough to handle money well.

Leanness Into Their Soul

“As for me, I would choose being sick over living in luxury, for being sick only harms the body, whereas luxury destroys both the body and the soul, causing weakness and incapacity in the body, and lack of control and cowardice in the soul. What’s more, luxury breeds injustice because it also breeds greediness.”

(Musonius Rufus, LECTURES 20.95.14-17)

Sometime ago, I listened to Ryan Holiday’s audiobook, The Ego is the Enemy, and I liked much of what he had to say. So I also bought his The Obstacle is The Way (print version this time), as well as The Daily Stoic, from which the quote above is taken. It’s an interesting thought: preferring to be sick rather than to live in luxury, because sickness harms only the body, whereas luxury destroys both body and soul.

Of course, M. Rufus might be exaggerating somewhat, but he has a point worth considering. (Full disclosure: I prefer not to be sick as much as possible!) Adversity has a way of making you stronger; luxury has a way of making you soft.

M. Rufus also points out that “luxury breeds injustice because it also breeds greediness.” Interestingly, the apostle Paul says something similar, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9) And, regarding adversity, he says, in that famous “thorn in the flesh” passage, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Given the choice between sickness (or adversity in general) and luxury, the former is to be preferred for the sake of one’s soul. I am reminded of a lot of verses related to this point. For example, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” But one passage not many people are familiar with is Psalm 106:13-15. “They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (KJV) They got what they lusted for, but their souls suffered as a consequence.

Lesson of the story: Be careful what you ask for: you might get it and more besides!

The Righteous and The Wicked

In my morning devotions I make use of Timothy Keller’s God’s Wisdom in Navigating Life, a one-year devotional guide on the book of Proverbs. Last year I made use of his The Songs of Jesus, a devotional guide on the Psalms. In today’s devotional he mentions that when we meet the words “righteous” and “wicked” in the book of Proverbs, we think it means “moral” and “immoral.” They mean more than that. According to Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke, “The righteous are willing to disadvantage themselves to advantage the community; the wicked are willing to disadvantage the community to advantage themselves.” Jesus was righteous: he was willing to disadvantage himself to advantage all who would trust him as their Lord and Saviour. He came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life for many. Timothy Keller asks, “In what ways are you disadvantaging yourself, in time and money, for the good of the community in which you live?” That’s a good question.


“What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits toward me?”(Psalm 116:12)

Here is the right motivation for living a productive life: gratitude for the life we’ve been given and the blessings we’ve received. I remember reading somewhere that life is God’s gift to us, and what we make out of it is our gift back to God. Thus, I respectfully beg to disagree with Kiyosaki (see my previous post, A Little Greed) when he says that a little greed is the cure for laziness. Gratitude, not greed, is what should motivate us to better ourselves. Psalm 103 lists down some of these tremendous benefits which we have freely received from our Maker: “He forgives all my sins, he heals all my diseases, he redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion, he satisfies my desires with good things so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Interestingly, according to Emma Seppalla, Ph.D. (Science Director of Stanford’s Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education), in her book The Happiness Track, “Research supports the idea that gratitude has tremendous benefits; gratitude not only boosts your well-being but also significantly strengthen professional skills.” Some of these benefits are the following:

Greater psychological well-being and health:
– improved positive emotion
– longer-lasting positive emotion
– buffering against stress and negativity
– decreased anxiety and depression
– reduced materialism
– improved sleep quality and duration

Improved professional skills:
– higher social intelligence
– improved relationships
– likability
– strengthened willpower
– better long-term decision making
– increased positive influence on others

Gratitude for benefits received benefits us spiritually, psychologically, and professionally! This sheds new light on the verse which says, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) God has our well-being in mind when he commands us to be always thankful.

unsplash-logoSimon Maage

Abundant Life?

The Health and Wealth Gospel has been around for a long time now. Basically, it teaches that it is absolutely God’s will for us to be healthy and wealthy (both spiritually and materially). For obvious reasons, the health and wealth gospel attracts a lot of people. Who doesn’t want to be healthy and wealthy? But I don’t know if they’re aware that this teaching implies that If you aren’t healthy and wealthy something is wrong with you. Thus, according to this view, if you’re not healthy and wealthy, then you are outside God’s will, and that might be because of some unconfessed sin or lack of faith. To support their view, proponents of the Health and Wealth Gospel point to Old Testament promises of material blessing to the righteous and obedient (such as verses in Malachi on tithing), as well as to verses in the New Testament, such as Jesus’ statement in John 10:10. “I came that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.”

However, Leon Morris, in his Tyndale New Testament Commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians, seems to have a different take on what the abundant life is. Commenting on verse 1 of chapter 4 of 1 Thessalonians (“We ask and urge you to please God more and more,”), he says, “The purpose is that the Thessalonians should do this more and more, where the verb means ‘abound’ as in 3:12 (‘overflow’); there it is used of abounding in love, but here it is used absolutely, a use that brings out the thought that the Christian life is the more abundant life (cf., Jn. 10:10). It is the only life that really frees people.” And on verse 10 (“Love more and more,”) he comments, “But Paul would not have them rest on their oars. He urges them to do so more and more (perisseuein again, as in 3:12; 4:1). Paul comes back repeatedly to the thought of the abundant life. The primary meaning here is that of abounding love, but it is fair to comment that growth and freedom from constricting restraints are integral parts of the Christian life.”

Thus, the abundant life is primarily a life of pleasing God and loving people more and more. Material prosperity doesn’t seem to be an essential part of it. At least, that’s how I read Jesus’ words when he said, “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Also, the apostle Paul said, “If we have food and clothing, let us be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:8) This doesn’t mean that God is against material prosperity and good health for his children. (I think Leon Morris leaves room for health and wealth in the Christian life when he said, “… growth and freedom from constricting restraints are integral parts of the Christian life.”) After all, “The Lord delights in the prosperity of his servants.” (Psalm 35:27) The Lord in his goodness and wisdom may well bestow material prosperity on us, but material prosperity per se is not what makes life more abundant. What makes life more abundant is love and holiness in Christ, whatever our external circumstances might be. That’s why Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances … whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11, 12) His secret? Christ in his life. “I can do all things,” i.e. live in plenty or in want, “through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

A Little Greed?


“So how do you beat laziness? Once again, the answer is a little greed… Without that little greed, the desire to have something better, progress is not made… So whenever you find yourself avoiding something you know you should be doing, then the only thing to ask yourself is, “What’s in it for me?” Be a little greedy. It’s the best cure for laziness.”

(Robert T. Kiyosaki)

Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad is a bestseller – and for good reason. It offers a lot of common sense, practical advice on how to get rich, which many people find helpful. The quote above tells us what he thinks could motivate a person to overcome his or her laziness: a little greed. To be fair, he is not advocating excessive greed. But maybe his use of the word “greed” is ill-advised; what he probably means is simply the desire to improve one’s lot in life, which in and of itself isn’t wrong. Be that as it may, I still feel uneasy with his use of the word “greed,” little or otherwise.

Jesus, on the other hand, is unequivocal in his stand against greed. In Luke 12:15 he says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” It seems he doesn’t distinguish between little or much greed. Greed is greed! And if greed is what Kiyosaki is really advocating, then I’ll have to demur on this particular point. Having said that, I still think his book deserves to be the bestseller that it is.


Whale Sharks at Oslob

The sun is hot, the sea is calm,
the boats move in a circle.
The boatman feeds the sharks with shrimp;
they eat without a struggle.

The tourists swim beside the fish;
they’ve paid to get this close.
The children shriek: they feel the rush
when nearby a shark goes.

A toothless maw sucks in the tide;
they’re big but pose no danger.
There is no sign of a Great White;
of whale sharks I am fonder.

(Note: Feature Image taken from trip

What I’m Reading


“If a person has a contribution to make, he must make it in public. If learning is not made public, it is a waste.” (Potok’s THE CHOSEN)

One of things I’d like to do this 2018 is to share what I’ve learned from the books I’ve read. I’ve been encouraged to do this when I came across my friend Don Biadog’s Daily Devotions which he regularly posts on FB. Here is a list of the books I’m presently reading and I hope some of you will be encouraged to read them.

– Devotional: ESV Reader’s Bible; T. Keller’s God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life
– Kindle: Maurer’s One Small Step Can Change Your Life
– Theology: Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (Calvin’s Own Essential Edition)
– Fiction: Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
– Poetry: Penguin’s Poems by Heart
– History: Needham’s 2000 Years of Christ’s Power: The Middle Ages
– Biography: Auchincloss’ Woodrow Wilson
– Philosophy: Luc Ferry’s A Brief History of Thought
– Self-Help – Seppala’s The Happiness Track
– Financial Intelligence: Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad
– Non-fiction – T. L. Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late

Brotherly Love


Ikthus East
8:00 a.m. service
January 14, 2018
The Porch, Lopue’s East
Bacolod City, Philippines

1 Thessalonians 4:1–2

[1] Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. [2] For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. (ESV)

1 Thessalonians 4:9–10

[9] Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, [10] for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, (ESV) Read more