Money is to be a Servant Not a Master of Our Lives

Clement of RomeFriday is for Heart Songs

Our “stuff” (money, homes, books, cars, everything we call “ours”) is not to own us but we are to use it for the glory of God, the relief of the saints and compassion for the lost. An early Christian writer, Clement of Alexandria, wrote about the issue. Source: Kairos Journal.

Money Be Your Servant—Clement of Alexandria
(c. 153 – c. 215)

Though Clement of Alexandria was likely born to heathen parents in Athens, Greece, he was later attracted to Christianity by its evangelical doctrines and pure morals. A well read layman and prodigious writer, Clement not only engaged in philosophical discussions but also spent much of his energies on practical instruction for Christians. In Who Is the Rich Man that Shall Be Saved?, he explains that poverty is not always the blessing that some in the early Church considered it to be. Clement argues it is far better not to be anxious about money and to be able to give to others.

For if no one had anything, what room would be left among men for giving? . . . How could one give food to the hungry, and drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, and shelter the houseless . . .1

Money is a servant to be used for the benefit of others.

Riches, then, which benefit also our neighbours, are not to be thrown away  . . . Such an instrument is wealth. Are you able to make a right use of it? It is subservient to righteousness. Does one make a wrong use of it? It is, on the other hand, a minister of wrong. For its nature is to be subservient, not to rule. That then which of itself has neither good nor evil, being blameless, ought not to be blamed; but that which has the power of using it well and ill, by reason of its possessing voluntary choice . . . So let no man destroy wealth, rather than the passions of the soul, which are incompatible with the better use of wealth.2

  1.  Clement of Alexandria, “Who Is the Rich Man that Shall Be Saved?” in Ante-Nicene Fathers: Fathers of the Second Century, vol. 2 (New York: Charles and Scribner’s Sons, 1899) 594-595.
  2. Ibid., 595.


What might happen if Christians in the West truly grasped this concept? It is not bad to have wealthy and resources, but how are they used? Do we use our resources for ourselves or the advance of the gospel. Let’s pray for one another, that the gifts of hospitality and generosity would overflow to our neighbors in the use of our resources to reach them with the gospel. Perhaps the most selfish use of resource is how we use our time.

Challenge: What time can you free as a resource to care for, speak to, or love your neighbor?

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