Money has a way of getting our immediate attention. If you doubt that, throw a handful of twenty dollar bills up in the air while walking down a busy sidewalk and see what happens. And that says a lot more about human nature than it does about money. Some folks quote the Bible as saying, “money is the root of all evil,” but God does not say money is the root of all evil. He says it is the love of money that is the source of trouble (1 Timothy 6:10). Money, in and of itself, is simply a tool and has no good or evil connotation whatsoever.
Jesus often taught about how money can be used to better the world, but he was also well aware of the stranglehold it can have on us and how easily we can confuse making a living with making a life.
It is difficult for us to learn that what we live for is much more important than what we live on.
When we lose sight of who we are in Christ and why we are here (our identity and purpose!) we become less and less productive. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 13:22, “the person who hears the message but allows the cares of this life and the longing for money to choke out God’s Word, does less and less for God.”
We push back against statements like that. We think, “Jesus is talking about someone else, not me!” We want to reason with God and remind Him of the very real threat of scarcity in our world and how, at any given moment, there are millions of people suffering because they are without resources.
That part we have no trouble believing; our own eyes and ears can verify that fact. The part we have trouble believing is the notion that in the kingdom of God there is no such thing as scarcity. There is only abundance. That sounds so foreign to us, so counterintuitive, that I would like to say it again: in the kingdom of God there is no such thing as scarcity. There is only abundance. That is Jesus’s promise: in Me there is life overflowing (John 10:10).
You and I have a choice: we can believe the promise of Jesus, or we can believe that “God helps those who help themselves,” or that we live in a dog-eat-dog world and we must meet the dogs on their level or be eaten. But when we choose that way of looking at the world, Jesus’ teaching becomes nothing more than pretty words. Why? Because at a very deep level in our soul we are doubting the goodness of God. We are saying, “I don’t know if God is good enough to put together a plan for my future that would be better than the one I can put together for myself.”
One of the surest ways I know I have left the kingdom of God is when I start becoming concerned about the scarcity of money in my bank account. Or I worry about the future potential for scarcity. And when I ask myself, “why do I go there?” an ugly, ugly answer comes back… I go there because my trust in God is wavering. I don’t usually say it that way. I may not even consciously think that way, but what I do with my money tells the truth of the matter.
Jesus, unlike many of us, understands that what is really being discussed when the topic of money is brought up is the issue of trust. God makes that plain to us in His Word, using language we can all understand. Take a few minutes to read what Jesus has to say about the subject in Matthew 6:19-34.
We will let Jesus have the last word on the subject. He spends a large portion of his most famous sermon talking about how our relationship to money impacts our relationship with God, and he lays out a deep truth about God and about us. In essence, he says that God is good and will take care of us as we allow Him to. The Message paraphrase captures Jesus’s teaching on this perfectly: “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow” (Matthew 6:33-34).