The Christian and Money
Money. We work for it, we have it, we need it, and we use it for a lot of different things, some good and some bad. It is, at least according to the bible the root of so many evils. If you are reading this article, I do not believe I have to spend any time on how money is ‘the root’ of so many different evils. The amount of depravity sourced through money that traces itself back to hedonism, immorality, and every known imaginable wickedness is tremendous. This assertion alone is enough for those of us who are born again to ensure that we not only have a rock-solid philosophy on how we approach money but also a developed theological position on how to understand God’s purpose and intent for acquiring, keeping, and dissemination of it.
Let me put this out there earlier than later and I do not believe it will be a shocker for anyone who has spent some time in scripture: the entire bible is clear on money. The Scriptures, in the most profound manner, talk clearly about the beauty and blessing of money, and the potential for wickedness and evil when it is used or acquired incorrectly. King Solomon showed us both incredible stewardship and also the detriment of gain, excess, and overindulgence. Yes, beloved, the dialogue is an old one. Currency and natural resources used for transactions of trade or exchange, historically for goods or services rendered (now very product-oriented) are old. Very old. Currency has seen many forms throughout the centuries and that would be an article in and of itself.
In fact, there was an overwhelming amount of information for Jesus to consider upon the arrival of his earthly existence. He clearly taught over and over again, the best use of our time, energy, and resources to include money was best spent to directly support the Kingdom of God for Kingdom work (Matthew 23:23; Mark 12:41-44; Luke 8:1-3). This is self-evident even when reading the Old Testament. One author offers this helpful perspective, “in the Old Testament, it was the tabernacle and the temple; in Jesus' day, it was Herod's temple; in ours, it is the local church. The LORD's command to bring the tithes and offerings was not predicated on how holy the priests were (Malachi 2 and 3; Mark 11:15-18) or, in our day, whether or not we like the pastor. It was predicated on obedience and surrender to his Lordship over all we are and have. God knows how to deal with disobedient priests (1 Samuel 2:12-36; 3:13; 4:11-18).” Kingdom work is God’s work…despite the sin of man God can and will (which he has shown) use our money (His money) to further the Kingdom. That’s right: souls saved for eternity by Him, through Him, For Him, and for our highest joy and contentment.
Jesus was helpful in our understanding of government and civil magistrates as well and I personally believe this is why the Apostle Paul was so adept in his understanding of how we as Christians approach the government in general (see Romans 13). Our Lord offers this simple and rather plain mandate: “pay your taxes” (Matthew 17:24-27; 22:17-22). During His time on earth, He was referencing Caesar or any other leader propped up by God, to render what belonged to them through our taxes. Granted, many rulers or governors to include Caesar were not saved, nor were they usually empathetic towards Christians or the God of the bible (some were); in fact, he was the emperor of a wicked and oppressive rule. However, the church then and now are called to show deference to authorities that do not present a clear violation of our Christian life and ethics. Yes, there will be times when you will see taxes support programs that are not moral or ethical let alone Godly. (Acts 4:18-19 and Romans 13:1-8). But we trust in God’s all-knowing and sovereign hand to manage things. By faith, we know that consistently God orchestrates all things to His good purposes and the evidence for this in the bible is staggering.
Now charity (love) is a key component of ALL things in our walk with Christ. Jesus instructed His servants to be kind, loving, and to distribute resources to assist the oppressed and poor in meeting their physical (and spiritual) needs (Acts 2:41-47, Luke 10:29-37; 18:18-25; compare James 2:15-17). To this day, we joyfully and globally contribute to gospel missions and ministry support for thousands upon thousands of ministers so they can, in turn, meet the shared task of proclaiming the gospel while meeting the physical and spiritual needs of those assigned to them by God (Luke 8:1-3; 10:1-9, Ephesians 2:8-10). Jesus spoke on supporting our households as well (i.e. relatives, family) and modeled perfectly on how to understand the importance and significance of family life.
Obviously, our Lord taught the scriptures and lived the law of God perfectly because we could not. So as we have received grace in Christ and continuously embrace & share the gospel, we respond to it best by loving and serving others, and sometimes it is through the use of money. He instructed that our money and possessions are used and managed most effectively by meeting the needs of our others to include family members (Matthew 7:7-12; Mark 7:9-13; compare 1 Timothy 5:8 and 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10). These are members of your immediate family (household) and at least for the husbands, you are called to provide for your spouse and children without issue. This models the Spirit of God in our desire, the Father of God to consistently do it, and the heart of Christ to love others while we do. Jesus is not calling for us to get a degree in economics. It is much more simple that.
One pastor says this,
“Jesus taught that we should exercise careful money management and exercise shrewd wisdom prior to making any purchase (Luke 14:28-30).”
The Lord was indeed practical. Simple and practical. Wisdom is a crucial aspect of our approach. Caution allows us to guard our hearts against covetousness. We must be like Jesus, He didn’t desire possessions, or to live lavishly amongst the people. To the contrary he Himself was lowly and gentle; our approach to money should be one of stewardship and not ownership; as children of the Most High, we are convicted to believe all good things flow from God. All gifts we have are from God. God causes all things and blesses our vocation and work and its fruits. A fear of God informs of this knowledge (Proverbs 1:7) and applying it shows wisdom.
Lastly, Jesus was a masterful teacher and through his explanations (teachings) He would often warn and admonish that our hope should never depend on money or resources. Our hope is in God and God alone. We are to be solely dependent on God to meet our needs. That though we are actively searching, and pursuing God-honoring work that ultimately we are dependent upon God, as the source for all things to include our salvation. Trusting him to meet our essential family needs (Matthew 6:9-13, 19-34; Luke 12:22-34). God provides what we are given; we are to be productive & good stewards of His Kingdom, time, resources, and money. Our primary goal in this life is to invest promptly into the lives of other Christians, our local church, prisoners, widows, and orphans. Beloved, let us not build bigger barns so to speak, or acquire storage units full of things but instead share all things in love. (Matthew 25:34-40; Luke 6:30-38; 10:25-37; 12:15-21). Money is to be worked for, cared for, and used to meet our needs, the needs of others, and to further the Kingdom in a God-fearing and honoring way.
One writer says this, “Jesus taught that we should not use the power of money to lord it over others, either through arrogance or coercive manipulation (Matthew 18:23-34; Luke 7:40-43; 20:9-16). If we learn money biblically and commit ourselves to what our Lord so graciously laid out on this topic we stand to honor Him more consistently and thoughtfully. Through good stewardship, we can more efficiently advance missionary & gospel work, our families, and the Kingdom as a whole. Let’s meet the needs of others by adopting what God says about how we use our blessings, gifts, and money.
Daniel Barea is a servant of Jesus Christ and a faithful and passionate preacher of the Gospel. He is a graduate of Wayland Baptist University, a confessing reformed Baptist, father of five, and husband to Mrs. Esther Caroline Barea. He is also a contributor to the PMc blog.