Sunday January 22, 2017 | Greg Boyd
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
God lovingly entrusts us with money, possessions, and resources. As followers of Christ we are called to surrender all our gifts to the Lordship of Christ. Because God is an other-oriented God who lovingly pours out blessings, and we are made in His image, then we too should be people who use our resources to bless others.
The average American lives paycheck-to-paycheck, only giving about 2.8% of their income to charities. The trend over the past few years has been to spend more than we make. More and more Americans borrow to be able to live the life they want. This has lead to finances becoming the major stressor in American life. Money, in a sense, is an extension of you, because it was an investment of the time and resources you took to earn it. How you spend your money tells you what you value most, because it is the place you are willing to put that investment of time and effort. The average American, who is three times as wealthy as the global average, uses 97.2% of their wealth on themselves.
Every good and perfect gift is from God. It all belongs to Him. Yes, we work to earn money, and should do that, but God gives us life, and the ability to work. Therefore God entrusts us with our resources. In Matthew 6:24-27, 31-33 Jesus tells us that money tends to come into competition with God. Jesus shows us what it looks like to serve God rather than money. It looks like not chasing after things, worrying about getting enough, and not believing you are the owner of your resources. Jesus is saying, “you know better than to that!” You know that this life is not your own, and that this life is not the only one. You know that your Father in Heaven is always with you and showering blessing down on you!
The punch line of what Jesus is saying is make God your highest priority and everything else will be given to you. In Hebrew the word righteousness means right relatedness. Righteousness is how God would have our relationships and life ordered. The promise of Jesus is that as you live under His reign than you can rest and relax! So the question is, are we rightly related to our money? Does the way that we spend our money shows that we are putting first the Kingdom of God? Image that today Jesus is at your doorstep and asks to do a heavenly audit. What does he say about your finances? Does He say that the kingdom is obviously your top priority?
This is not at all about shame, but rather about moving towards a more kingdom view of money. Remember that God gave Himself away and loves to give away His blessings. Because we are to be imitators of God we should strive to be like Him. Even our finances should reflect this.
One caveat, to put the Kingdom first is not to forget about your own needs or to feel guilty for any extra thing you have that others don’t have. If you are in America, it just so happens that you are in a part of the world where more blessings got through. We can’t fix that, but what we can do is never take anything for granted and submit everything to the Lord. The Lord will guide and direct you. Once you have submitted your finance to the Lord, listen to Him, obey Him, and then let it be. Remember to enjoy the blessings God gives you! In 1 Timothy 6:17-19 Paul doesn’t shame the rich for having money, rather he encourages them to put their hope in God and to not store it up for themselves, but to pour it out for people. Giving away is the only way you will be able to hold onto the blessing of money and store up a reward in eternity. Both the poor and rich have the same responsibility to give all to Christ.
Greg offered four steps to moving finances in the direction of the Kingdom.
1. Ask the Spirit to deepen your commitment to the Kingdom. (We need the Spirit’s help in this, and not just trying to will ourselves to).
2. Get informed and get honest.
3. Let Jesus do an audit.
4. Develop a plan.
The important thing is not where you are, but where you take steps to be. It is important to be intentional about this, and not give up. Also, get support behind you. If you are married involve your spouse and do an audit with Jesus. Involve the people in your life who are walking with Christ. Finally be open to the Spirit breaking in to do something radical. He may call you to step out of the boat, but remember that giving is a great blessing that echoes in eternity.