Discover the Book - May 23, 2013


Jesus, Money, and the Believer

"So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
-Luke 12:21, Emphasis added

While I was pastoring in the South, I heard this story about a new pastor. His first sermon had three points. The first was: "Make all the money you can make." The people said, "Amen." The second was: "Save all the money you can save." And the people then said, "Amen!" The last point was: "Give all you can to God." It suddenly got very quiet in the church. After the sermon, the elderly head of the deacons commented: "That was a great sermon till you ruined it on the last point." In other words, we like to make all we can make, and save all we can save, but as soon as people start talking about our money and giving, we get offended--and call that "meddling."

Why talk about money at all? One out of every seven words Christ spoke was about money and possessions. If you do the math, the emphasis is there, no matter how you analyze Christ's words. Sixteen of His thirty-eight parables focus upon the handling of money. Of the nearly 2,800 verses in the four Gospels, 288 direct our use and possession of money. Fifteen percent of the teachings of Christ are about proper and improper handling of our stewardship: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).

There are over 500 references to prayer in the New Testament, just under 500 references to faith, but over 1,000 references to money and possessions, and where God fits in all that. That amounts to twice as many references to money as there are to prayer. Isn't that interesting? The conclusion: Christ accorded to money an astounding prominence in His teaching.

Why did He give it such prominence? Money is one of the central realities of life, and it affects us all from the cradle to the grave. Jesus would have been unrealistic had He not given it due prominence. So what place does money have in your daily plans for your life?

Money is an acid test of character. Whether a person is rich or poor, if you discover his attitude about money, you will gain a deep insight into his character. One cannot be neutral where money is concerned. Do you love money or God most? 

Money has potential for good or evil. This fact is obvious, and thus needs no elaboration. Are your money-making and spending choices causing you to be more godly-or less?

Jesus teaches that some people hold on to things with grasping, clenched fists, and end up losing them. He advises that the way to keep things longer is to open our hands, hold those treasures in upturned palms, and say: "You are the Giver of all that I have. You alone are the Owner of all things. I am Your servant forever. I will be a steward for You of all these possessions. When You want anything back, just tell me, and it is Yours!"

The Jews used to do this. If you could be transported back in time to the tabernacle or the temple, you would see Jewish people walking in. The father would be at the head of the family procession, and he would hand their wave offering to the priest. They were saying to Him: "It is in my hands and it belongs to You. Everything I have comes from You. Everything I have belongs to You." It was a visible representation of God's ownership.

Such an attitude changes us from thinking "How much of my money should I give?" to "How much of God's money should I keep?" So then, stewardship is giving of ourselves, without reservation, to the Lord.

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Originally published May 23, 2021.