Jesus and Money; Who do You Trust and Worship
Should a member of a local church be expected to give to their local church? Should they tithe? Is it disobedience to God if they don’t? What does biblical giving and sharing and stewardship look like? Are there legitimate circumstances for not giving regularly? What does the Bible teach about the church and money?
These are all questions that I am currently pondering and hope to drill down on and see if I can achieve some clarity. The biblical authors speak about money often so there certainly has to be some answers we can latch on to and live by.
Money is Necessary
Money is simply necessary in this life – at least if you want to live for long. Food costs money and so does medical care and clothes and a plethora of other items that are needs. The church needs money too. I am leading a church that employs staff, including myself, and we meet in a building that has utilities and needs to be cleaned. We have ministries that use resources. We park at the building on asphalt that requires maintenance. We have people who need financial assistance. We believe that God has called us to send people all over the world on the mission of gospel witness. We support other ministries and cooperate with other churches to share the gospel. All of these things require money. In this life money is almost always necessary, whether we like it or not. I suppose I could simply say that the church family needs to give because if we don’t then there are many things we simply could not do. But I don’t want to be godlessly practical, though I might make an almost unassailable pragmatic argument when it comes to money and the church. Money, however, is ultimately about God and others (Matthew 22:36-40) and unless we start with God then we will inevitably run into some godless ditch.
“My” Money Belongs to God
I belong to God, therefore my money belongs to God. If I don’t even belong to myself then how can the stuff I posses belong to me. I am simply a steward of God’s stuff and all that I have been given by God is to be used for God’s purposes. You belong to God too. Even if you are reading this and you haven’t trusted in God through Christ by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, you belong to God. Why? He created you. He owns you like a child belongs to a parent. If you have trusted in Christ then he doubly owns you because you have been bought from slavery in sin to be a Son and steward of God. What you do with your money is first and foremost about obedience to God. Money is not just a pragmatic issue, it is a devotion and worship issue.
Jesus Will Demand Your Money and Your Response Will Reveal Your Devotion
A very wealthy young man came to Jesus because he rightly recognized that Jesus could give him eternal life. The young man asked Jesus how he might obtain what he was after (Obtain is an interesting word – sounds like what happens when you buy something). Jesus told him to obey all the commandments. The young man responded that he had done what was necessary but wondered what else he could do. (If that were the case it makes you wonder why he asked Jesus in the first place.) Jesus tells him that to be perfect he must sell everything and give it to the poor and follow Jesus. Another sidebar: Jesus doesn’t say sell it and give it to me, he says sell it and give it to others. Matthew records that the young man went away grieving. Why? He had a bunch of stuff and he didn’t want Jesus or the poor to have it (Matthew 19:16-22).
Oh the applications we could make from this story. But let’s be clear about what this story is about. It’s about our allegiance and about who we worship. Jesus is Lord and He doesn’t even flinch when he asks you and I to be willing to give it all. And why is that? Because to have Jesus is to have everything that matters for eternity (Matthew 19:28-30). By the way, Jesus gave it all for you and to ask you to give it all is nothing less than He himself gave. Jesus is no hypocrite, He is humble and authentic to the core.
Jesus demands your allegiance because He is Lord and because He can. Your money and stuff say more about your loyalties than perhaps anything else you have, or do. It also says everything about who you trust. This rich young guy simply did not trust Jesus and because he did not trust Him he wasn’t about to replace his allegiance to his stuff with the Man who could give him riches forever. Bottom line: The rich young ruler trusted and worshiped his stuff (maybe himself since he could own his stuff) more than Jesus, and his stuff was his lord. Jesus didn’t hesitate to let the rich young ruler walk because if Jesus doesn’t have a person’s stuff then He doesn’t have the person. Our money and possessions are a reliable indicator about who has our devotion and worship.
I suppose the proper question is this: Does Jesus have you or does your stuff and money have you? You cannot serve God and wealth (Matthew 6:24).
Because money is necessary, it touches every part of our lives.
But this is not my life.
My life belongs to Jesus and so does my stuff.
Jesus has every right to ask me to give up everything, including my money.
Whether or not I am willing to give it all away for Him strikingly reveals who I trust and who I worship.