“Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”

— John 2:16

DO YOU USE GOD OR DOES GOD USE YOU?

Strive Masiyiwa is one of the leading African industrialists. In the 1980s, while still in his twenties, he started a telecom company in Zimbabwe with seventy-five dollars. Over time the company grew and became a force in his country, until the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, issued an order that would effectively bankrupt Strive’s company. He went on to fight the ruling and win, while at the brink of bankruptcy. In 1998 the company, now called Econet Wireless, had its first cellphone subscriber. Econet has gone on to operate in twenty countries and was a key driver in bringing cellphone service to Africa.

During the recent Ebola outbreak, he set up funding sources to help fight the deadly disease. Amid all of this he reads the Bible every day.

What we should know about Strive is that he is a born again Christian. Each year he funds the education of forty thousand orphans. He has provided one hundred thousand scholarships. Strive is one of the ten members of the African Progress Panel that advocates for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. He is a member of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s initiative called the “The Giving Pledge.” During the recent Ebola outbreak, he set up funding sources to help fight the deadly disease. Amid all of this he reads the Bible every day.

Beyond the ethics of using God to take advantage of people, there was a defilement of the sacred. A dangerous game of commerce.

Jesus said today’s words when he discovered that the local merchants were using the great temple of Jerusalem as an ancient shopping mall. Beyond that, the merchants were taking advantage of those worshipping in the temple, by overcharging on items they needed for worship. Travelers would need to convert their foreign coins into the local currency, but were charged inflated rates. People would need to buy doves for worship, but were charged above market prices. The merchants had a ready-made market. God’s market. Beyond the ethics of using God to take advantage of people, there was a defilement of the sacred. A dangerous game of commerce.  

Jesus wants us to make a living by having God in our lives, but cautions us not to make a living at God’s expense.

Jesus wasn’t angry because of the commerce, Jesus was angry because merchants were taking advantage of people who were living out their faith. Certainly, Jesus knew people had to make a living. In fact, over 80 percent of his parables relate to the marketplace in some manner. It was how they were earning their livelihood that Jesus was railing against. On one hand we have Strive Masiyiwa, who became wealthy and gives back to God’s people. On the other hand, we have merchants using God to make money and take advantage of God’s people. Jesus wants us to make a living by having God in our lives, but cautions us not to make a living at God’s expense.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

PARTING THOUGHTS

How do we make a living with God in our lives?

What is Jesus’s perspective on earning a living?

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