The problem with money

I’ll admit it. I was worrying again about money.

I think a lot about money. Too much. But then so do you. And so do all of us.

I’m not sure Jesus thought a lot about money. But he did talk about it, and he talked about it at great length.

Howard Dayton makes the following statement: “Jesus talked much about money. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, an amazing one out of ten verses (288 in all) deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions.”

Larry Burkett spent many years teaching the body of Christ about handling money God’s way. In one of his books, which I have, all he did was list Bible verses dealing with money. The book is 280 pages in length.

This week, we were visiting with my 97 year old mother. Her memory of recent events is very spotty, but she gave us a lecture on the various types and shapes of British coinage in 1930, when she was 10 years old, and I have no doubt her account was accurate.

As she was talking, it suddenly occurred to me that God had kept my grandparents and my parents financially, as well as in many other ways, just as he has kept Elaine and I for the past 34 years. Why would I doubt or fear because of any present circumstance?

Then I was reading Jesus’ comment about the grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying. He went on to tell us if we loved our life we would lose it, but if we hated it we would keep it.

So much of loving our life has to do with money. But this doesn’t just have to do with a sinful desire to possess luxuries or live the high life. It can just as well be about having enough for the necessities of life. What is wrong is not so much what we want money for, it’s wanting money, for whatever purpose, more than wanting God. If I want God, then I’ll be ready to throw my life overboard and trust that he’ll catch me. If I want God, I’ll refuse to have my emotional energies consumed with worry, fear or greed, so that they can be focussed instead on the advancement of his kingdom in and through my life.

In short, I’ll be willing to die, so that I can live.

I can worry about my finances. I can figure things out a thousand times. I can do everything I can to make more money. And it can all be a gigantic waste of time if I keep God out of it.

The best financial strategy of all time was laid down not by Warren Buffett, but by Jesus Christ. It’s this: seek God’s kingdom first, and he will look after every one of your legitimate financial needs.

Wow. Is it really as simple as that?

Well, yes it is. Jesus is talking about a heart attitude. We still have a responsibility to manage our finances in a Biblically-responsible way, but we are not to worry about them or try to control our financial outcomes.

People in the world spend a fortune trying to control those outcomes, and others make a fortune trying to help them.

But with Christians, it should be different. We should do all we prudently can, but then leave the results with the Lord. And Christian financial advisors should take the same approach.

A large part of what Jesus means when he talks about hating your life is letting God control what happens to your money.

Hudson Taylor, a man who knew how to trust God with money, put it this way: God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s provision.

That applies to your personal finances as much as it did to the China Inland Mission. And played a large part in releasing the greatest revival the church has ever known.

The sage of Omaha or the sage of Bethlehem? You make the choice.