This Article was first published on my Church Website.
Yesterday, I showed how Jesus spoke a lot about three interrelated words: Money, Grace and Giving. Of his parables 42% are directly related to money and possessions and I’m convinced Jesus spoke so much about these subjects because he wanted us to see the powerful relationship between the heart’s affections and the purse strings.
Eternity needs to be our focus
Let’s now dive back into Matthew 6: 19-33 and see how we will never have a healthy relationship with money until we have a healthy perspective on eternity.
In verses 19 and 20 Jesus is totally clear about this! He says:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”
What does this mean? One of the greatest dangers for us is to live with an 80-90 year life plan. Unless we are able to see the vastness of eternity and more importantly, its greater significance, with the utter joy of living with Christ for all of eternity, not just for me but for as many people as possible, we will always make bad decisions about money, possessions and giving! He’s saying, if you and I are going to have a healthy relationship with money we must make sure that we make decisions and live with an eternal perspective.
So, Jesus’ first guidance here for handling money is to ask yourself the question: how much am I living for eternity? Does the beauty of Christ, living with him and drawing as many people into his family, factor in your decision-making process about how you spend, invest and give away your money?
Heart Issues Really Matter
The second big idea that Jesus reveals in this verse is that we will never have a healthy relationship with money if we think it doesn’t go any deeper than the latest iPhone or pair of designer jeans.
In verses 22 and 23 Jesus says “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness.”
Suddenly Jesus jumps from pointing people to look at eternity to looking into their own hearts. Here he uses the idea of the eye to represent the heart. The heart is the place or seat of affection and he is saying, that no amount of budgeting courses or books on how to invest your money well, or even the reverse psychology of the new ‘minimalist movement’ that is influencing the under-30’s, will actually make any difference unless heart issues are addressed. Let me say that again, this is not about whether to buy an iPhone or not or if you should buy a pair of designer jeans or not. No! Jesus is saying the issue is of a much greater magnitude, it’s an issue of the heart and it’s affections!
This is where self-help books and religion diverge from the message of grace. Self-help books may give you some new tools to think about money and wealth (which can be really helpful). religion might tell you how much money to use for yourself and how much to give away to the poor or helping run the religious community you are part of. However, Jesus wants to go much deeper than that. He wants to address heart issues. You see grace, that is God’s lavish and undeserved work of transformation, gets down into the heart and brings about such radical change because it starts to come from the heart and change the outward decisions that self-help books and religion are powerless to do in an enduring and radical way. Unless the heart is changed nothing really changes. Unless the grace of God is allowed to work upon you, nothing meaningful will change.
As a result, the subject of money, possessions and giving is such a brilliant area to allow God’s grace to get to work on, because it is one of the hardest areas for us to let go of!
In the next article, we’ll continue exploring Jesus’ provocative and challenging words on Money. Grace and Giving.