Crime has often made for the best capers in film. Who can forget Michael Caine in The Italian Job, and that bullion-filled bus hovering on the cliff edge? Well, here he and a couple of retired buddies find that, thanks to the crash of 2008 and its repercussions, they are going to lose their pensions. So what’s the solution? Easy. Steal it back from the bank that is taking it from them. First they get in a little practise trying to pinch a little decent food from the local store.
Watching this film you can’t help but root for these three likeable rascals, partly because it’s the corruption of the banks that has brought them to this dire situation. They can’t even afford pie now when they visit the coffee shop. And they go to great pains to assure us – they are not thieves. Not normally anyway. They decide they will only steal the amount they are owed for their pension. If they end up stealing more then they will give it away.
The Bible has a lot to say about money. And Jesus spoke about it a lot. No wonder really – it drives so much of our existence. We all need it to survive and, as writer and activist Shane Claiborne notes in his book The Irresistible Revolution, you could say we are all addicted to it.
The saying – ‘Money is the root of all evil’ is often quoted, though the actual line from Timothy’s letter is this – ‘The love of money is the root of all evil.’ 1 Timothy 6 v 10. Certainly so much of crime is driven by the desire to get more and more cash. You could say it’s about our attitude towards money and, if you are like me, that fluctuates. I remember being part of a discussion about how much we might give away if we won the lottery, and I said, ‘More in theory today, than I might well actually give away if I really did win the lottery.’
The writers of the Bible bring a very different take, as they do with so many things. The writer of the book of Proverbs, in chapter 19 verse 17, flips the whole thing upside down when he says: ‘Giving to the poor is like lending to the Lord, and the Lord will surely pay you back.’ In another verse from Proverbs 11 verse 28, the writer cautions us, ‘Trust in your money and down you go! But the godly flourish like leaves in spring.’ The suggestion here that being godly encourages a different attitude to money.
When Jesus and his friends were people-watching one day they spotted a poor widow putting two coins into the temple collection box. Jesus commented that she was giving far more than those who had plenty and were merely giving out of their surplus. It wasn’t the amount, it was the attitude. (See Luke 21 vv 1-4) Jesus and his disciples were supported by women who gave sacrificially and financially; they travelled with Jesus and paid for the group’s food and living expenses out of their own pockets. (Luke 8 vv 1-3) A contrasting story tells of the rich young man who, when challenged by Jesus about his love of money, was not ready to give up what he had. Perhaps he did so later. Certainly these and many other biblical stories remind us that there is no doubt that following Jesus has an effect on our hearts, minds, wallets and purses.