In ________ we trust
What does it mean to be poor? Is it a blessing? What does it mean to be rich? Is this a blessing? Throughout church history the view of money, or lack of it, has been seen in a few different ways. Some believers in Christ have been convinced that those who are poor are the faithful ones. Saint Francis stated, “poverty is a heavenly virtue that frees the soul of the worthy and transitory things so that it may freely enter into union with the eternal Lord.” And some believers have been convinced that those who are poor are that way because they are cursed. So how do we healthily, and biblically view and interact with money?
Money is a major issue in the Bible, like huge. Howard Dayton Jr. put it this way, “Jesus talked much about money. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, an amazing one out of ten verses (288 in all) deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions.” I think the first step in dealing correctly with money is to acknowledge that it is a big deal. Money is not a neutral subject, it is not inert, because ultimately where we put our money shows where we put our trust. So our second step in interacting with money is to realize money is not a money issue, it is a trust issue.
During the sermon on the mount Jesus makes a bold statement about how we should interact with money. Jesus is teaching about treasures in heaven, or on earth and he says, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The implication of this statement, along with his other teaching about money and following Jesus, show that there are really only two options as to who is your master- EITHER money or God. In other words, money is not a neutral party, a third participator. It is either ruling over you or God is ruling over you. You cannot be master of your money. While we may think that we can have mastery of our money without God, that very statement shows that it isn’t true. “Without God” means that we have removed him from the equation and removing Him means that we are not allowing His mastery of our lives, giving ourselves to be mastered by our money. So the question is: Is God master over your money, or money master over you? If you are a Christ follower these are the only two option.
In another parable Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a treasure; a treasure so valuable that a man sells everything he has to purchase it. The point He is making is that God’s work is the greatest value there is, and that our mentality to money is that it is worthless compared to God’s kingdom. This idea is enhanced with an interaction He has with a rich young man later on. In this account a religiously obedient man approaches Jesus, letting him know that he has followed all the religious laws all of his life, and asks, “What must I do to have eternal life.” Jesus says, “If you want to be perfect go and sell all of your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven, then, come follow me.” The account tells us that the rich man walks away discouraged and then the disciples ask, “Then who in the world can be saved?” Jesus “looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
I think there are two things that can be drawn out of this story as other steps to correctly approaching money. I believe the reaction of the rich man was probably more disappointing and discouraging to Jesus than it was to the rich man. This is not because Jesus was like, “Shoot, I didn’t get another convert,” but I’m guessing His heart broke because the rich man didn’t realize the overwhelming value of what he was giving up. I believe the response Jesus was hoping for from him and from us is, “Is that all? All you want me to give up is everything? That’s nothing compared to God’s kingdom.” The other thing that we should learn from this is that God’s gift of His kingdom is just that- a gift. There is no way to bargain, purchase or negotiate for His kingdom. It is his work, his will, and only through his grace that we are saved.
So may we see that money isn’t neutral, and grow to an overwhelming understanding of the immense value of God’s kingdom. May we trust Him, and allow Him to be master of our money. May we give absurdly, and may we see that the absolute greatest investment we can make is in His work.