I was recently thinking about Jesus’ admonition, ““No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) His pointed final statement reminds the follower of Jesus that he must choose to put money or God first in his life. This choice will determine if money is a blessing or a curse.
The last several weeks I have been looking at the six most important areas of our lives. My focus each week has been to encourage Jesus’ followers to take steps grow. (You can listen to the messages here.) While each message contains practical helps, the primary challenge is to go deeper in our relationship with Jesus. This week’s emphasis, as one of the guys in my men’s study put it, “It is really a matter of obedience.” It is easy to focus on the practical aspects of handling money, but what the Christian needs to grasps is that money, or love of money is really a heart issue. How we utilize the financial resources entrusted to us is determined by our relationship or lack of relationship with Jesus.
Jesus’ statement reminds us that our relationship with money is really the product of the condition of our heart. The parallel account in the Gospel of Luke records the Pharisees response to Jesus’ teaching on money. “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:14–15) The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were offended by Jesus teaching. I have found the same to be true in my experience. The people that are striving to be like Jesus embrace Biblical teaching on money. Notice also how the Pharisees attempted to justify their use of money. It is easy for us to rationalize the things that we want to do. The problem is when you have to rationalize something, “You are telling yourself rational lies!” Last, I want you to notice that God is not fooled.
What breaks my heart is that many have squander God’s blessing for their lives because of a wrong perspective on money. Jesus taught, “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” ( Luke 6:38) The Apostle Paul put it this way, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6–7)
So, if you are struggling with spending, debt or any other financial struggle I encourage you to check out my practical suggestions in the message or utilize Biblically based online resources (here and here). But my real concern is, “Where is your heart?” I hope that you will put God first in your life. When you begin there, the money piece works itself out.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson