As a Christian, what am I supposed to think about money? Do I need to give all my money away to the poor? Can I take a vacation? How much should I give to the church? I know money can buy a lot of useful things, such as food, shelter, Bibles, church buildings, etc., but how hard should I work to earn money? How much money do I need? Can I put a steak on the grill when I know there are so many people starving? These questions were gnawing at me because I wanted to do the right thing, but I wasn’t sure what the proper Christian perspective regarding money was. Therefore, several years ago I set out to find as many answers as I could in the Bible. I thought of every money term I could think of and looked up every verse I could find with those words. I found a lot of answers that I would like to share with you this week.
I think many Christians are ultra-concerned about money. They want to be good stewards with what God has given them. They know they can do a lot of good with their money, so it becomes very important to them. I used to think the same way, but my mindset shifted after I completed my study, and I no longer think money is that important. Don’t get me wrong, we need money to survive, and we can do God’s work with the money we have, but our focus just shouldn’t be on money. I find it weird to talk a whole week about something I don’t think is very important, but I think it is very important to get our thoughts about money right.
Money is a salvation issue. Luke 16:13-15 says we can’t serve both God and money. You must choose one or the other. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 warns that money is the root of all kinds of evil. I think we have all seen and probably experienced how money can lead to sin. Have you ever stolen something? Have you ever cheated on your taxes by increasing a charitable deduction or not even paying taxes on money you have earned? Have you ever spent your money foolishly on worldly things? Are you so driven to make money because there is so much pleasure to buy in this world? These verses tell us that our salvation is lost if money becomes too important to us.
Proverbs 23:1-8 was very confusing to me at first, but once my eyes were opened, it really helped me form my view about money. The story is about dining with a ruler who provides all sorts of great food and dining with a stingy man who cuts corners with the meal to save money. The verses say that both situations should be avoided. It was easy to understand why eating with the rich man and giving in to gluttony was wrong, but why would it be so wrong to try to be prudent with your money and not overspend on a meal for your guests? I had to read this several times before it hit me that the problem with the begrudging host was that he thought money was too important, even though he may not have had much of it. Today we call this person “cheap”. It might seem like you are being a good steward with your money by buying cheaper things, looking for all the deals, cutting coupons, etc., but it may also be a sign that money is too important to you. I’m not saying you should never use a coupon or look for a great deal, but the point is that you want to be sure that money is not your master.
Psalm 49:5-20 points out the obvious, you can’t take it with you when you die. Money is quite meaningless when you consider the big picture, living in a Kingdom for eternity. You can work hard to make a lot of money and buy a lot of stuff, but it is all quite useless to you when you die. Jesus was asked in Matthew 22:17-22 about paying taxes to Caesar. He pointed out that it was Caesar’s image on the coin and told them to give back to Caesar what is his and give to God what is his. It doesn’t sound like Jesus thought money was very important.
Hopefully you are realizing that money is not important, but you still might be thinking, “Hey, everyone needs some money to live in this world.” That is true, and I think Proverbs 30:7-9 sums it up very well where our mindset should be. Agur, son of Jakeh, asked the Lord to neither make him rich or poor, but just to give him his daily bread. He didn’t want to make so much that he would disown God, and he didn’t want to be too poor and steal. That seems like a pretty good place to be; you have what you need to live comfortably so your focus is not on money.
While our devotions this week will be following the important topic of not focusing on money – and having a proper attitude toward and use of our finances, if you’ve been using the Bible reading plan, keep it up! What important lessons are you finding? Today’s Bible reading plan passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Isaiah 47-48 and 1 Timothy 5