This article was first published on my church website
In the last article we started to explore the provocative words of Jesus found in Matthew 6:19-33. We saw how:
- We will never have a healthy relationship with money until we have a healthy perspective on eternity.
- We will never have a healthy relationship with money if we think it doesn’t get any deeper than the latest iPhone or pair of designer jeans.
Let’s keep digging into these words of Jesus because there is much more we can learn about money, grace and giving…
SMASH THE IDOL OF MONEY
In verse 24 Jesus says “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Jesus’ next approach is to take us to the core of the issue and show that although money in itself is not evil, the love of money is just as much an idol as some primitive stone carving where children are sacrificed. You see, an idol is anything that “becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity” (Tim Keller). To reinforce the point, Jesus uses two of the key ‘markers’ of how people identify themselves with an idol. Firstly, they love the idol and secondly, they serve it. Jesus takes both and says you cannot love and serve money whilst at the same time saying you want to love and serve me. No this is an ink and water issue. They don’t mix, they are incompatible! Jesus is gunning for total and absolute love and devotion from his people! Now that might sound narrow and parochial but remember, Jesus is the fountain of life, Jesus is the good shepherd, Jesus is the lamb that was slain for us, Jesus is the light of the world, Jesus is the true spiritual food that cannot be found anywhere else, Jesus is the reason that worship exists! We will only find true fulfilment when we have settled the issue of moving off the throne of our own hearts and toppling any idols we’ve erected and truly allow Jesus to be King.
“You cannot serve both God and Money” I suspect that there are some reading this article who need to hear those words from Jesus again … and again… and maybe again! Jesus would patiently but clearly confront you and say, “you cannot serve both God and money” … what will you do?
MONEY IS A RELATIONAL ISSUE
The final big idea which I would like us to look at is that constant worry about material things is probably a clear indication that you don’t have a healthy relationship, not just with money but also with God (ouch!)
Notice what Jesus says in verses 25 to the end of the chapter. It starts like this:
“Therefore [or in light of what I’ve just said] I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”
Persistent worry and fretting about material things is a clear sign that you have an unhealthy relationship, not just with money but also with God. Why do I say that? Persistent worry, and what I mean by that is the gnawing worry that goes on and on and on, is a sign that we’ve never really addressed one or more of the three principles Jesus spoke about in those earlier verses. For example, living for eternity is going to mean living in a very different way to those who store up and stockpile resources here on earth. The motivation for believers is to use as much of this wealth God has given us to make as much of an impact for eternity. Secondly, a heart that does not understand that we are children of grace will always be viewing God as a cold and distant figure who may or may not look after us, but we can’t be sure. But those of us who have truly drunk from the river of grace, know that we are children of a loving and lavish father! He will take care of us. He will provide for us. He will watch out for us. It may not always be in the way we want or anticipate, but he is always loving and faithful. Finally, if we’ve not resolved the ‘Who will be God’ question, the functional god of money is a tyrant and shouts at us to get more, and ‘what if it disappears and how can God really look after you like I do?’ and on and on it goes. Persistent worry and fretting is normally a good indication that at least one of the previous issues is not fully resolved in our hearts.
So, here are some questions to help you evaulate where you are in relation to Money, Grace and Giving:
- Are you living and spending your life and money for and in light of eternity?
- Has your eye or heart been saturated by the grace of God so you can see God’s provision for you as coming from a loving and heavenly father?
- Have you dealt with the idol of money and greed in your life once and for all?