Our lifelong battlefields can sometimes seem hard to grasp. They aren’t always tactile, but the way we use our money is a very immediate and tangible thing. Money is important in our lives. We talk about it a lot in our daily conversations. We read and listen about money. We invest money. We stress about money. We pray about money. We use money to purchase things we see as important, valuable, or simply fun.
By the time we are seven, our spending habits are already formed. Proverbs 3:13 – 14, however, calls wisdom better than money, as does Romans 16:16. Proverbs 18:11 tells us that wealth is false defense. All of that value we place in money, all of that trust we put in our fiscal resources — it’s all wrong.
Putting too much focus on money can hurt our marriages. It can hurt our families. It can cause longterm problems, and it can ultimately take the place of God in our lives. We can say we trust in God while we believe that more money will solve our problems. That is where we place our practical trust, but God wants our complete and total trust to be in Him alone.
The Rich Young Ruler
A man comes to Jesus in Matthew 19:16. He has money, power, and youth on his side. He realizes something is missing, and he asks Jesus about it. This young man questions Jesus right after He talks about being more like the children crowding around. This simple message told the ruler that he was missing something in his life.
Jesus initially answers by quoting scripture, and the young man is familiar with these. He honors the law of Moses, but Jesus wants the man to do more. He wants the man to live it. This leads Jesus to help him see what it really means to have a relationship with God. This should speak to us as well. We might have religion without a relationship. Bridging that gap takes trust.
Trust is exactly what Jesus lovingly asks for when the man presses Him for more. Jesus knew exactly what this man lacked — trust in God that surpasses his trust in his wealth. Unfortunately, the young man sorrows at this. The cost was too much for him, so the gospels record him walking away from Christ.
Looking Past Our Possessions
We can be like this young man when we back down because of doing God’s work because:
- It doesn’t fit into my budget this month.
- It just seems too expensive right now.
- I have to think of my needs first.
Jesus asks us to give up everything for Him. We might talk a good game. When the price gets too high, however, we start to look for alternatives. We want to qualify what Jesus is asking for. We try to align His words with the values of our money-driven culture. But Matthew 6:19 – 24 tells us we can’t trust God while trusting money. Treasure on Earth and treasure in Heaven are mutually exclusive.
If we seek God and His kingdom first, then we will not be anxious for our possessions, our investments, or our savings accounts. The desires driven by those things can never be truly satisfied, but God can give us a contentment that surpasses all of that. He tells us to simply let go of our desires for worldly things and trust in Him instead.
So what do we do? We should be watching how much we spend — not because we’re saving up for anything but rather because we don’t want to become servants to debt. This means we may have to set limits in the form of a budget, and we should perhaps reduce the focus on money in our prayer lives. We should count the cost of how we’re livings, stop feeling we deserve physical rewards in our lives, and we should be OK with telling ourselves no.
We cannot conform to the focus our world puts on money. Generosity should be more important than providing for our own perceived needs. We should be cheerful givers. Proverbs 11:27 tells giving makes us richer. This isn’t a prosperity gospel, but rather it’s about growing spiritually richer through generosity. Proverbs 19:17 simply says that giving to the poor is as if you are giving directly to God.
There are so many distractions caused by money, but it is hard to worship money when we are giving it away. Let’s look at what Jesus asked of that rich young ruler and learn from it. Let’s put more value on trust in God than trust in our resources. This is one way we are different from the world, and it’s a tough one. But trust God first, and worry less about your portfolio. In the end, it’s the spiritual treasures that matter more than any earthly treasures we may desire.
lesson by Donn Koonce