Use and Abuse
In our lives we are surrounded by tools. I don’t just mean a hammer… a bank account is a tool, medicine is a tool, cars, programs, sports, school, email, our voice and our presence, social networking, authority, power, … this list goes on and on. We are surrounded by tools.
Every tool can be used, and it can be abused. Its a matter of creating and living into the discipline to ensure that we use tools without abusing them. The discipline challenge becomes even greater once we have abused a tool (particularly in a communal/corporate setting). Out of fear of that abuse the temptation is to deny the use of the tool. This, in many cases, is another kind of abuse as problematic as the first (and sometimes even worse).
To say this another way, “once down the dark path you have tread, forever will it dominate your destiny.” But we don’t have to choose to live into such fatalism (sorry Yoda). We can reclaim disciplined use of once abused tools – if we are willing to try and to trust.
Biblically I think money is the ultimate example of a complicated tool. Outside of love, the Bible talks about money more than just about anything else. (Strange then that its an almost taboo subject in churches, but that’s not our topic here.) Does the Bible dislike money? There are a lot of passage that speak ill of wealth, that’s certain. But to say that writers of scripture dislike money would be forget about use and abuse. Paul, for instance, talks a lot about raising money to use to help struggling communities. Clearly he has no problem with money. There are just landowners, and clever servants who use money in ways that get lifted up. Money is a tool, and the Bible doesn’t have a problem with tools. It has a problem with the abuse of tools, particularly when that tool has become more important than people (or when people are turned into tools).
This is but one example. We shouldn’t fear money, we should be disciplined about how we use it, speak of it, and what we allow it to do us and our relationships. This is true of all tools. Politics, sex, religion – talk about a list of taboo subjects. The problem is not with those things, the problem is when their use becomes abuse. And when we reflect on this we must remember that to deny them altogether is just another kind of abuse (one born more of fear than lack of discipline).
We are surrounded by tools, and we are constanttly using them – and abusing them
What tools are you abusing out of a lack of disciplined use?
What tools are you abusing by not being willing to use them at all?
How do we restore use, in the wake of abuse?