Wednesday 16 May 2018


Four reasons why cash is not necessarily king

In our fallen world, it would seem to many that cash is king. Let’s examine to what extent this statement ‘cash is king’ is true.

Cash is not just the physical currency, a medium of exchange of goods and services. It also refers to purchasing power, financial security and affluence. Thus, to a large extent, most people in the world view cash as one of the measures of a person’s net worth.

In land-scarce Singapore, the city-state south of Peninsular Malaysia, it is the first status symbol among the "Five Cs of Singapore"namely, Cash, Car, Credit card, Condominium and Country club membership. This phrase is often used in Singapore to denote materialism and success. By and large, some (or rather many) Singaporeans aspire to get the five Cs in order to impress others, to show others that they have indeed arrived. So that is how the term “kiasu” (‘afraid to lose' in Hokkien) came about. Many want to be seen as being more successful than the person next door.

In Malaysia, cash is also used to buy votes or entice elected representatives to cross over to another party, especially when there is a hung state assembly. In the case of the latter, when there is no clear majority to form a state government, cash is used to lure elected representatives to jump ship so that a certain party commands a significant majority in the state assembly. As they say, money talks—more than principles and loyalty to friends or party.

Cash is needed when we travel overseas for our holidays as not every shop or outlet accepts credit card. Furthermore, in times of recession, when real estate prices dip, the one loaded with cash can easily snap up property at rock bottom prices from highly motivated sellers. In all the above instances, cash is king.

But cash has its limitations and the statement ‘cash is king’ needs qualification.

Firstly, cash is subject to the effects of inflation. Thus, cash and investments linked to cash (savings, fixed deposit, unit trusts) are all associated with diminishing returns or loss of purchasing power over time. Even if our fixed deposit gives us a reasonably good interest rate per annum, say 5%, our effective gain will just be 1%, if the prevailing rate of inflation is 4%. Thus, wisdom dictates that we should diversify our investments in other portfolios, like real estate which is a good hedge against inflation. Property or land in a good location usually appreciate in value over time.

Secondly, while cash is king in this temporal world, wealth is useless on the day of judgment (Proverbs 11:4). No matter how much cash we might have, it has no bearing on our eternal destiny, whether we end up in heaven or hell.

Riches will not provide security in the day of wrath and judgment, But righteousness rescues from death (Proverbs 11:4).

When it comes to salvation, cash is certainly not the determining factor. Only those who believe in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16) AND prove their faithfulness by persevering till the end (Matthew 24:13, Hebrews 10: 26, 27, 36, 39) will be able to inherit eternal life.

How we choose to use our cash can determine whether we receive great or paltry rewards in heaven. If we are generous to the poor, our eternal rewards might abound. Note that I use the word, “might”. If we have ulterior motives while helping others, we might not be rewarded at all (1 Corinthians 3: 14-15). 

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), the men with five and two talents put them to good use, multiplied them and was commended by their master. This account tells us that we must be good stewards of the time, talents and material resources (read cash) that God has given us. Thus having cash alone but not putting it to good use can spell disaster. The one-talent man who buried his talent was subsequently severely condemned by the master, “You wicked and slothful servant” (Matthew 25:26).

Thirdly, while ‘cash is king’ is true to a large extent today, we can’t say that this will be so in future. When Christ returns, He will be King—at His name, every knee will have to bow.

For this reason, God highly exalted Him
and gave Him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
of those who are in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11)

Fourthly, while cash is king to a large extent today, there will come a time in the future when no one can buy or sell except by subjecting themselves to the Mark of the Beast. Cash, then, is no longer legal tender. Cash or credit will not be useful then when the Antichrist imposes the dreaded mark as a condition for man’s survival during the Great Tribulation.

The antichrist will unleash his wrath on believers in the Great Tribulation. Many will have to choose between their allegiance to God or their survival. Why? Because no one can buy or sell unless they receive the antichrist’s ordained mark of the beast, a sign which when received would mean everlasting damnation for believers. Pushed to the brink for the sake of self-preservation, many believers will give up on God and allow the mark of the beast on themselves—never mind the eternal consequences (Revelation13:16-17, Revelation 14: 9-10).

If they choose God and refuse the mark, they might die of starvation or get killed by the antichrist. Conversely, if they choose survival by taking the mark, it will lead them down the path of everlasting damnation. But many whose faith is not strong enough will choose the latter. They would rather give up on God. That’s why there will be such a great falling away from the faith.

Abba’s catchy tune, “Money, money, money … it’s a rich man’s world”, rings true to a large extent in the world we live in. We are often judged and measured by the amount of cash we have or the symbols that cash can purchase for us, more so in a highly materialistic society such as Singapore or Hong Kong.     

But the statement ‘cash is king’ is not entirely true—both in this world and the hereafter—and hence must be qualified. 

To reiterate, cash is not necessarily king for the following reasons:

  • Cash and cash-linked investments lose its value over time due to inflation.

  • Cash cannot save us on judgment day.

  • Cash won’t be king when King Jesus returns.

  • Cash won’t be legal tender with the advent of the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation.


How biblical principles can help us attain financial freedom

What does Jesus actually mean when He says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10)?

Our worldview and values determine how we make financial decisions in life. A wise move from an earthly viewpoint may not necessarily be so from an eternal perspective.

The belief that Jesus was rich lends support to the prosperity gospel. But was Jesus truly rich when He walked upon the earth?

Facing hard times? An all-sufficient God is able to meet all our needs. How can we affirm and declare this truth?

Biblical insights on financial planning for retirement