Griffin offers wealth of Bible knowledge on money
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
In his nearly 10 years at Grand Canyon University, Dr. Tim Griffin had never gotten the opportunity to focus on this biblical topic in a public forum on campus.
Yes, it’s a key part of the Bible – according to the Wealth with Purpose website, more than 2,300 verses address money, wealth and possessions, and Jesus referenced it in 15% of his teachings and 11 of his 39 parables.
So when Griffin, GCU’s Pastor and Dean of Students, was asked to give a talk titled “The Bible and Wealth” on Monday night as part of Money Week, it was as informative for him as it was for the students in attendance at a session hosted by the Finance and Economics Club.
“This is a good inventory session for me, personally, just to sit here and think through what God says about this,” said Griffin, who has been at GCU since 2010. “Scripture has a lot to say about this topic.”
And address it he did with a talk that commanded the attention of his audience in a Colangelo College of Business (CCOB) Building lecture hall. Several students told Griffin afterward that he gave them a lot to think about, but it also made him think. “You begin to realize how much of your life is impacted by the wisdom in these Scriptures if you listen to them,” he said.
The discussion was interesting right from the start, when Griffin asked students to name some money topics the Bible addresses. One of the first responses: Money is the root of all evil.
“No, the love of money is the root of all evil,” Griffin responded.
The hardest part of tackling this subject, he said later, “was not going down story road. I had a story for every Scripture but had to stay on point.”
But he felt compelled to share the story of when he was a young pastor in Southern California and his church struggled because he had to learn how to teach his congregation about money. He even had to do a newspaper route to provide enough income for his young family.
The money of Griffin’s talk was going through the various ways the Bible addresses wealth and attaching some of those 2,300-plus verses to each one. A rundown:
Putting your hope in wealth
Proverbs 11:28 says:
Those who trust in their riches will fall,
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
Griffin said 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 is “counter-intuitive” but perfectly describes how Christians should think:
For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
This was one of the key points of Griffin’s talk. Church-goers – and some churches – sometimes can become obsessed with giving. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul wrote this:
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Jesus addressed it in Matthew 6:2-4:
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Jesus also had a lot to say about this subject. Griffin told the story of a time he found his gaze affixing on a gleaming house atop a hill but learned that the man who lived there was miserable despite all his wealth. That made what Jesus told the crowd in Luke 12:15 all the more pointed:
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Working hard and laziness
Griffin spent more time on this than any other topic, and with good reason: “I’ve always been in a 24/7 mentality when it comes to work.”
He is extremely thankful for having a job he loves so dearly but chastises himself for checking his cellphone for work emails before he goes to sleep. He laughs about feeling compelled to pull weeds while waiting for his sons to join him in the backyard.
But he emphasized that our hard work should be for God, which Colossians 3:23 spells out:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
Griffin said this is particularly true if you have a job you don’t like.
Proverbs also had something to say about it in Chapter 12, Verse 22:
Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.
Again, Jesus had something to say about a wealth-and-prosperity topic, in Luke 14:28-30:
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’”
Proverbs 13:16 says:
All who are prudent act with knowledge,
but fools expose their folly.
“There’s an old saying: ‘It’s easier for God to steer a moving car,’” Griffin noted.
God expects us to save. Two passages in Proverbs that address it:
The wise store up choice food and olive oil,
but fools gulp theirs down. (Proverbs 21:20)
“Four things on earth are small,
yet they are extremely wise:
Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer. (Proverbs 30:24-25)
Jesus talked about this in the parable recounted in Matthew 25:14-30, about the man who entrusted his wealth to his servants while he went on a journey. The ones who invested it were rewarded.
“God will give you things that could lead to more,” Griffin said.
Seeking guidance and wisdom
Proverbs also has a lot to say about this, including:
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance (Proverbs 1:5)
The way of fools seems right to them,
but the wise listen to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)
Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it,
but whoever respects a command is rewarded. (Proverbs 13:13)
Trusting in God’s provision
Griffin said what Jesus said about this was one of the most important messages of his talk, along with the parable in Matthew 25:14-30 and Paul’s advice about giving in 2 Corinthians. Matthew 6:25-26 reads:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Afterward, Griffin thought back to the worst financial experience of his life: When he was in his 30s and moved to Colorado, the man who was managing his Southern California home filed for bankruptcy and Griffin’s home was dragged into foreclosure.
“I just got pummeled, and we tried to do everything the right way,” he said. “God was teaching me that you need to think about how you’re living your life and whether you’re taking care of your finances in the proper way.
“But it was a great chapter. I look back on it and I go, ‘Man, I learned SO many things.’”
One of the lessons came from Ann, the receptionist at his Colorado office. When she heard his story, she shared something her father told her when their family went through a financial crisis:
“Costly is the knowledge that comes by experience.”
Ann told him he probably would repeat it a thousand times. It feels more like a million to him. Monday’s talk brought back painful but valuable memories.
“That was as much for me as it was for anyone here,” he said.
And there figure to be more talks like it in the future. Dr. Randy Gibb, Dean of CCOB, said, “Every year we try different things to enhance the learning opportunities for our students during Money Week. Having Pastor Tim speak certainly hit an area we will continue to expand upon given the student interest.”
Griffin has plenty more Bible verses to choose from.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
GCU Today: Future teachers get in on Money Week lessons