We watch shows about money. We sing songs about money. We read book after book on money. But the one place we don’t like to talk about money is the church. The issues for me, as the preacher, is that if I am going to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus I have to talk about money. Jesus talked about money more than heaven and hell combined, twice as much! Sixteen out of Jesus’ thirty-eight parables deal with this subject.
So, in that light, I thought I would spend some time exploring on this blog why Jesus talked about money so much plus taking some time examining what he actually said about money. You might be surprised.
I believe Jesus talked about money because money, and the stuff, pressure, and pleasures it brings entangles our heart and our attention. You don’t have to live here in America for very long to understand that the more money you have the more options you have for your life and for the ones you love. We cherish the idea of being independent and we define that independence of being able to do what we want to do when we want to do it. That pursuit of independence often grabs our attention and focus and takes us away from focusing on God.
God desires your heart and attention above all else and he knows money is a huge competitor to that goal.
In that light God wants you to understand something up front- all the money and stuff in this world belongs to him. When you get through using the stuff of this world God is just going to give it to someone else. The stuff they buried with the Egyptian kings is still with them and we use it now to make our money through museum fees. You can’t take your stuff with you because it belongs to God.
This reality is your stuff doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to God and has given it to you and thus a proper Christian view of money requires three reactions.
One, as the owner God has entrusted you with his resources- be grateful. Ecclesiastes 5:15 says, “He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.” We don’t own our stuff, we get that, but we have a tendency to think that God owes us anyway. God doesn’t owe us anything and yet he chooses to bless us, be grateful.
Two, as the owner God is free to give as he chooses- be content. Once we go down the “It’s not fair path” we can have a tendency to shake our fists at God. That is a dangerous path to go down and it displays our selfish ways. God can do whatever he chooses. He is not accountable to us.
Three, as the owner God can direct how he wants his resources to be used- be obedient. God has said from the beginning that he desires for us to give a percentage of our income to him. In the Old Testament the standard was set at 10% but we live under the New Covenant of Christ and Christ has forgiven us completely. In 1 Corinthians Paul instructs each person should give to the local church in accordance with their income. This principle of giving is so relative because if you are making $40,000 you think someone making $120,000 should be giving more than 10%. The people making $120,000 look at the ones making $500,000 and think the same thing. However, statistics show that the more money you make the likelihood is you will give less. Why? More money brings more independence and your attention fades from God, and onto the temporary blessings money can afford.
In light of God’s grace 10% seems like a good place to start!
One of the most liberating acts you can do for your spiritual life is to act on these three principles. Remember, God has set us free. We are to use our freedom to enhance our life with Christ. After all, that’s where you are going to spend eternity.