4 Truths About Money
There are 300,000 items in the average American house. The average size of the American home has nearly tripled over the past 50 years, yet 1 out of every 10 Americans rent off-site storage – the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry. So surely, with all of this wealth, our country’s happiness, contentment, and emotional health are on the rise.
Right? Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount help explain why.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…
“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.”Matthew 6
Jesus’ words, aligned with the entire Bible, point us towards four truths about money.
More stuff = More stress
You’ll make a few purchases that can actually reduce stress, but usually our purchases (especially when we overspend) produce stress.
When you buy that new think-a-ma-jig that works as a phone, onion slicer, and tear-reducer, you think your life will improve (cutting onions while talking to friends without crying sounds great, right?). But what happens when:
-You have to set-up a payment plan?
-You have to register it online?
-The updates take longer than you think?
-It breaks after 3 days and you spend the next 4 days talking to customer-support.
-You have to mail it in for a new one?
-Regret sets in?
My example is ridiculous…except for all of the parts that reminded you of an eerily similar purchase you made last month.
One of the many reasons God warns us about wealth is that he knew how much it would complicate our lives. Jesus invites you to rest, to contentment, and to peace. Stuff threatens all of that.
Your heart follows your money
If you give your time, money, and energy to anything (sports, hobbies, jobs, friends, church, family), you’ll love it/them. It’s the way you were designed. Our hearts follow the things in which we invest.
Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor. Jesus did not make that same demand of everyone, but he knew the pursuit of this man’s heart. His money was his god. The man proved this to be true when he walked away from Jesus, “surrounded by grief.”
If you want to avoid the depressing fate of the Rich Young Ruler, invest your resources in eternity. When you give to causes that advance God’s Kingdom, your heart will follow the money. God, afterall, is not after your money, he’s after your heart.
God doesn’t need something FROM you; he wants something FOR you. Money can’t buy peace or contentment. Only God can give those things. He wants to protect you from chasing the lies of our culture. He wants to save you from the meaningless pursuit of more.
“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.”Ecclesiastes 5:10
Instead of chasing the wind, God invites you to walk with him in true happiness. When we invest in things that can’t perish, joy is found.
Reducing God’s favor to health and wealth is unbiblical and destructive
I live in a city that has perpetuated a dangerous, unbiblical deception: “If God approves of you, you’ll always experience financial and physical comfort.”
A middle-age lady once shuffled into my office. She walked as if chains were attached to her hands and feet. She’d just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and her lifelong instruction from a nearby church had taught her one thing: “God’s favor was no longer upon her.” We were able to help this lady – a simple reading of Job unshackled her shame.
I get angry when I think about those who taught her that God’s favor is only measured by physical and financial blessings. They claim they preach the Bible, but they have to avoid huge chunks of it.
Daniel was shown God’s favor, but he spent his life in exile.
Joseph was shown God’s favor, but he had a terrible childhood, was trafficked as a human slave, ripped from family, falsely accused, and imprisoned in the midst of saving his people.
Esther was shown God’s favor, but she was married to a creepy king and was just about killed for doing what was right.
Mary was “highly favored,” but she had to endure the scandal and uncertainty of an unplanned pregnancy.
This list could go on and on, but let me just add a few questions:
Was Stephen favored by God, even as large, hurled rocks ended his life?
Were the Apostles favored by God, even as they experienced poverty, persecution, and martyrdom?
Was Jesus favored by God when he hung on the cross?
God’s blessings often include physical and financial help. We can read about God’s provision in Scriptures and we can experience it still today. Praise God. But we dare not reduce God’s favor to only being a temporal, finite reward. God’s greatest blessings are eternal.
I’m so thankful that God loves us enough to teach us how to have a healthy relationship with money. The Bible has a lot more to say about money, but I’m curious: Which of the four truths do you most need to believe today?