There is an idea that floats around out there that God has little to say about how we use our money. The complementing discussion centers around the thought that the church has no business telling us how to use our money. One of the largest complaints non-churched folks have against the church is that the church is always talking about money. The sentiment that follows is that “money is a private issue”, and the church has no business meddling in private issues.
On the other hand, I love to talk about reality and issues that face modern Christians. In fact, only weak, ineffective churches refuse to deal with the real issues that we all face.
How many of you have never worked to gain more wealth, you have never received a single pay check, and you have lived your entire life with absolutely nothing? Everyone deals with money. Some deal with more than others, but we all deal with money.
The Bible does have a lot to say about money—in fact, the Bible says more about money and possessions then any other single issue that faces humanity. Jesus Christ himself said more about money than any other issue.
As we turn this corner, we ask: what in the world does money have to do with holiness?
If we are to love God with everything we’ve got, that would naturally include our wallets and checking accounts. If you say you love God, yet you don’t honor him with your spending habits, then you really don’t love God completely, do you?
Look at it this way: you can go to church every Sunday of the year—in fact, you can go more than once a week!—you can get involved in Bible studies and ministries; yet if your love for God never changes the way you spend your money, then your love for God has not impacted your life very much at all.
If we are going to be an effective church, we must deal with those things in our lives which are dearest and closest to our heart: money, sex, and relationships—because the way in which we view these things has a drastic impact on the reflection of God in our lives and a drastic impact on our personal holiness.
This message is part of a series called “Living the Uncomplicated Life.” I am sure every one of us would have to agree that the single biggest way that people complicate their own lives is through the use of their money. So, if we are striving towards simplicity so as to un-complicate life, we must deal with the economic issue. God knew that: that’s why He wrote so much about it in His word.
Let’s turn over to Jesus to see what he has to say, in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Why link money with holiness?
A treasure is anything that you hold near and dear to your heart. Treasures are those things that you highly value. So, with this simple statement, Jesus is saying: discover your treasurers and you will discover your heart. So how do we find our treasures?
Simple question: what do you spend the most money on? That will reveal what you value most. This is neither bad nor good at this point—it simply reveals your heart.
The problems with treasures on earth
Jesus puts the economic issue into two categories: treasures in heaven and treasures on earth. He then gives warning or blessings about each. The first category is treasures on earth. What does Jesus say can happen to these treasures?
The first danger of earthly treasures is that they can enslave us. Money, wealth, power—in and of themselves, these things are not bad. Don’t get the idea that having money is bad: it’s the enslavement or “love of money”, as Paul put it to Timothy, that is bad. Either we think that we don’t have enough, or we have more than enough but always need more.
Second, Jesus plainly states that “moth and rust” will destroy treasures on earth. Others can even steal them. When I was in high school, I spent a good chunk of hard-earned cash to purchase hockey equipment. About two weeks after buying my equipment, I left it in the car at school. Somebody popped my locks, got in and stole the whole thing, and I never saw it again.
The benefits of treasures in heaven
Jesus’ solution was to store up treasures in heaven. The treasure of a pure heart is the most important. Your personal holiness is a huge treasure, and that is a treasure stored up in heaven. Your godliness is a treasure no one can take away!
A balance between the two
Only a foolish person would say we should live completely without earthly treasures. We need certain things to live this life. Clothes, food, shelter, transportation—these are things we really can’t live without.
There are also some things I don’t think we should live without because God has blessed us with them—the beauty of nature, relationships, spouses, friends, and family. These are things God has given to us and expects us to learn to live with.
But then there is still one more category: things we don’t need, but things God has given to us—a nice house, a boat, leisure activities, pleasurable things, fun food, and the like. These are things that God desires for us to enjoy but expects us to be thankful that we have. But how do we balance this?
Things are neither inherently good nor bad. Being rich or poor is neither good nor bad. Having lots of money, wealth, power, riches, homes, and material possessions is not bad. There is a warning about these things because the desire and lust after these things is so easy to fall into.
So what is the balance point?
Simplicity is the challenge to allow God to be in charge of your wallet. That’s when we get ourselves into trouble: when we think we have a right to use our money the way we think we should.
The Bible tells us that we don’t have a right because it is not our money; we are simply enjoying it for a season. We are merely stewards—administrators of all that we have.
I want to challenge you in the area of your stewardship of God’s resources by taking a close look at what God says through His word: the fact that everything we really have is God’s, and God does care about how we use His stuff.