I can’t believe Jesus said THIS about money! OK, so I shouldn’t try to write clickbait headlines for a living. But with the stock market up 20% in 2016 (which could change before this sees ink) and home values on the rise, money is talking. Jesus didn’t hesitate to address topics as relevant today as 2000 years ago, including money. Here are five of his challenging comments on the subject.
- “Calculate the cost.” When I was in Haiti, a friend started building a mud-walled house without figuring the cost first. I reminded him of Jesus’ story about counting the cost before starting a building. The point was about the cost of following Jesus. “None of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions,” a very high cost. Authentic discipleship means submitting to Divine priorities as we steward God’s possessions entrusted to us. (Luk. 14:28-33)
- “Render to Caesar.” Which means pay your taxes. If you include all local, state, and federal taxes, Americans worked until May 10 this year just to render to Caesar. We pay more taxes than we spend on food, clothing, and housing combined. We could mount an argument about what is reasonable and elect leaders that lower our taxes, but defrauding the tax collector is not an option. (Mat. 22:15-22)
- “Give to the poor.” In the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Mr. Potter muttered to George Bailey that his mortgages to the poor just created “a discontented, lazy rabble instead of a thrifty working class.” That was not Jesus’ view of the poor. Sure, many suffer the consequences of poor choices, but finding appropriate ways to help is our calling as Christians. Jesus also said, “to the extent that you did it to one of the least, you did it to Me.” (Mat. 6:1-4, 25:34-46)
- “Do not worry about tomorrow.” But we do, and yes, this is about money. Worry about financial matters, or any worry actually, leaves no room for faith. Jesus noted that our heavenly Father knows what we need, so we should “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” We find freedom in letting tomorrow take care of itself. (Mat. 6:25-34)
- “Not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” In his story of the “Rich Fool,” Jesus warned about prioritizing wealth. Fortune magazine (Jan. 2016) reported that 44% of lottery winners were broke within five years, and nearly a third declared bankruptcy and ended up worse off than before they became rich. Be careful what you wish for. Be “rich toward God.” (Luk. 12:13-21)
Money is the object of the sin of greed. If you want to bend your heart Godward, invest in what matters to God. What you do with your money is what you do with your life. “You cannot serve God and money” – Jesus.