We heard an interesting fact in yesterday’s sermon. It’s probably no surprise to learn that Jesus talked about both prayer and money. But did you know that in Scripture, Jesus talks about money five times more than he talks about prayer? Jesus must really hate money! In fact, he seems to draw a line in the sand:
““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.” (Matt 6:24 NLT)
But is it a line in the sand? What does Jesus really say about our relationship with money?
God vs. Money
I get the feeling most people are conflicted by Jesus’ words. They seem to set up a “God vs. Money” relationship, causing us to choose one or the other.
Where this perception exists, you see some interesting dilemmas. Some feel that they must be poor in order to serve God (for more, see Should All Christians Be Poor?). In fact, some wear their low salary (or no salary) as a badge of honor. The less they make, the more holy they are, because after all, if you have to choose between these two then obviously the poor are much closer to God. Another dilemma in this perception is those who feel guilty for being financially successful. Usually this happens in one of two ways:
- An awakening; they’ve read the Bible and now have this perception, or…
- The preacher is starting a campaign drive at the church and needs to get their money… and what better motivator than holy guilt? 😉
There’s just one problem with all of the above: it’s not a healthy, Biblical view of the relationship between God and money. So what is?
God and Money
Notice in the verse above, Jesus is not telling us to choose one or the other (God or money). What he’s telling us is to choose which one we will serve. When it comes to God and money, one makes an excellent master and one is an excellent tool. For the record…. God is not a tool (and there were many snickers from the youth section).
When we keep a proper perspective, we see a different picture. If we have chosen to serve God (as Jesus said above), we can see money in its proper role. Everything we have comes from God. And when we “offer” it back to God, in essence we’re simply returning it. (As my good friend Steve once said about giving 10% to God: “Cool, God lets me keep 90%”)! This is a picture of stewardship: the act of managing someone else’s property. In this context, money is not evil, it is to be managed in accordance with the Master’s goals.
(NOTE: A common misquote of Scripture regarding money is that money is evil. The actual Scripture says, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Tim 6:10 NLT). Loving money more than God would flip the picture and cause a distorted view of the relationship. We would become a servant of money. Perhaps this is yet another reason God says, “You must not have any other god but me.” (Ex 20:3 NLT)).
If you’re still not convinced, read the parable of the talents (See Matthew 25:14-30) and ponder these questions:
- What was the expectation of the master?
- Who did the master reward? Why?
- Who did the master punish? Why?
- What is the ultimate relationship between what we’ve been given and what God expects of us?
Perhaps you could ponder some further questions with friends who are seeking to be good stewards of God’s gifts:
- If we know we can’t take any of this with us, why do we accumulate so much? (What’s the motive(s) behind accumulation?)
- Why do we tend to think of money as “mine?”
- What would it take for us to think of all money as God’s?
- How would the world change if everyone approached money from the standpoint of a steward?
- What one change can you make this week to move from owner to steward of your money? Ask someone to help you do that!
At the end of the day, money is neither good nor evil. What we do with it… well that’s a different story. What story will “your” money tell?