Are we receiving comfort through our wealth?
Jesus lays out the principles of the Kingdom of God. This excerpt is from what is known as the Sermon on the Plain. It is similar but slightly different than the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, he also has a series of “woe to you” statements.
Then Jesus looked up at his disciples and said: “Happy are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Happy are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Happy are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”
“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.” Source: Luke 6:20-21, 24
There is a lot of confusion among followers of Jesus about money, wealth, poverty, riches and what God wants for us. This isn’t intended to be an indictment about prosperity ministries but it is intended to offer caution both from King Solomon and most importantly, Jesus.
Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money,
and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.” ~King Solomon
Source: Proverbs 8:10-11 (The Message)
What is most important? King Solomon makes it clear that wisdom is more important than money. This from a man who was one of the wealthiest of his time. King Solomon suggest spending our time focused on wisdom and not so much on money, careers and wealth.
The Jesus Manifest continues (Matthew 5-7). This is a critical teaching of Jesus. What should we think about money and wealth? We need to get clear on this. Jesus is! Jesus is very clear on this.
Whom will I serve? It is a stunning question. Jesus now explains that behind the choice between two treasures (where I lay them up) and two visions (where I fix my eyes) there lies the still more basic choice between two masters (whom I am going to serve).
It is a choice between God and wealth, that is between the living Creator himself and any object of our my creation I term ‘money’ (‘mammon’ being the transliteration of an Aramaic word for wealth). For I cannot serve both.
This is very common. I don’t think of it that way naturally but it is when you start looking below the covers. The first thing the Apostle Paul suggests is that there are some religious leaders in it for the money.
My reaction is … Really? Yes, really. Paul warns us in Romans 16:18
“For such people are not serving our Master the Messiah, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”
I know I am naive. I like to believe the best about people.
“Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in the Messiah we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” | 2 Corinthians 2:17 (NIV)
For more, see here.
The backdrop to this is the feeding of the five thousand. It is a truly stunning miracle. Jesus was moved not to allow the crowd to go hungry. Jesus took care of their physical needs since they couldn’t afford to take them out for a meal. They were very impressed.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” ~Jesus | John 6:26-27
Jesus is very clear and straightforward about giving to the poor. I don’t know why it stumps so many “Christians”, the government and homeless nonprofits, but it does.
I get lots of pushback from disciples of Jesus on giving money directly to the poor. They might spend it on booze or drugs we are told.
What do you do if walking down the street or driving your car and someone asks you for money? Do you give? If not, why not?
What am I working for?
Jesus wants to know. Jesus has some commands for me on this.
I must act on what Jesus wants me to do. The Jesus Manifesto continues!
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” | Matthew 6:19-21
Material goods can turn our hearts away from God. The pursuit of possessions and wealth and a preoccupation with physical things is futile and dissatisfying. Materialism is defined as “the preoccupation with material things rather than intellectual or spiritual things.”
If we are preoccupied with material things, it is definitely wrong. That is not to say we cannot have material things, but the obsession with acquiring and caring for “stuff” is a dangerous thing for us as slaves of Jesus.
In both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s desire for His children to show compassion to the poor and needy. Jesus said that the poor would always be with us (Matthew 26:11; Mark 14:7).
I need to care for the poor. There is no other conclusion I can come to. This isn’t something I can delegate.
Everything Jesus had to say about the homeless, wealth, prosperity, poverty, riches, the poor, the needy and giving
Jesus had a lot to say about the homeless, wealth, prosperity, poverty, riches, the poor, the needy and giving. Here is a compilation of everything I have found. It is worth reading this to get a sense of what Jesus thinks and what he requires of us.
There is a lot of confusion among the followers of Jesus about much of this. When you read it all, you will get a sense of the mind of Jesus.
My suggestion is to read through this more than once. You may want to read it once a week for a while.
What Jesus tells us needs to be thoroughly absorbed. This is foundational to the radical world Jesus wants us to be a part of.
One question to seriously ask is “Did Jesus really mean all of this?”
The second question that follows is “Knowing what I now know, what should I do?”
Am I content with what I have? Do I have enough to eat and clothes? Is there a good roof over my head?
When I panic over something I have lost, I have stared greed in the face. Panic shows that I am not content with what I have.
God’s goal for us is clear. His desire for us is godliness. That is what matters for eternity. What “we have” in terms of riches is of no value to God.
Godliness is the mission. All else pales in comparison. What will I leave this world with? Not money. Only my love of God matters.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:6-10
May I love God and be content.
May I understand the value of godliness.
One of the big lessons that we strive to instill in people as they come to CTCI is the value of sound financial living. It goes almost without saying that falling into monetary pitfalls is an all-too-common occurrence. And the most troubling thing is that there is so much potential for financial stability and growth in this area, given the right tools. The problem, though, is that we often don’t know where to find those tools, or even what to do with them once we acquire them. This is especially true with the young people we encounter.