Nowadays, it seems everyone wants to tell you what to do with your money.
“Spend lots of money, it’s good for the economy, but make sure you still save money so that you can send your kids to college.”
“Don’t take on debt, but do make wise investments.”
But what does Jesus think about all this?
The world He lived in didn’t have stocks and bonds or 401Ks.
Human nature was the same, however, and money was just as much a hot button issue as it is today.
Let’s delve into some principles Jesus gives us in thinking about money so we can apply them to our own situation as wisely as we are able.
Principle 1: Serve God, Not Money
To begin with, Jesus was clear that money ought to always be a means to an end, and not an end in itself.
Once making money becomes the main priority in our lives, we have lost sight of living for God.
In Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13, Jesus states boldly that: “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.”
This well-known verse is delivered at the end of a parable where Jesus tells us how we are to relate to others in our dealings with money.
He speaks of a shrewd manager who is about to lose his job and therefore lowers the amount of debt some of the borrowers owe to his master. He does this to ensure that he will have a place to go when he loses his job.
This leads into our next principle, as Jesus tells those listening to Him to use money in this world to gain friends, because they can’t take it with them to the next.
Principle 2: Be generous to others
Jesus tells His followers to be generous to others and forgive their debts to win their friendship, but he also emphasizes the importance to give to others based on their need.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs to, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42).
He gives this as a general principle (amongst others) for how Christians ought to interact with others who want something from us. He does not put conditions on it, but rather leaves it up to the believer to use discernment.
Later, in Matthew 6, Jesus talks about the manner in which one ought to give to the needy.
He instructs Christians not to announce it to others, but rather to give in secret. It is to be done out of devotion to God, not so others will think you are a nice person.
Lastly, in Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the goats and the sheep.
When Jesus comes again in glory, people will be separated.
The single factor which separates the sheep (those who follow Him and will share in His inheritance) from the goats (those who are cursed and will be condemned to an eternal fire) is whether or not they looked after “the least of these” by giving them shelter, food, clothing, or their company.
This passage has bearing on our giving because of the ample opportunities we have today to provide for those in need through trusted and well-established organizations.
Jesus poses this as an essential element in being recognized as a true believer on judgment day.
Principle 3: Give back to God
This brings us to our third principle. Not only should we give to others in this world, but we are to give back to God.
Does God need our money? No. He could produce whatever sum of money He chose.
So why does God want us to give to Him?
Jesus’ answer to this is found in Mark 12. He uses the widow as an example of how we are to give to God.
The poor widow gives out of faith. She gives all she has to live on. She gives out of gratitude and trust in God.
She is used as the example because she doesn’t give much at all, yet more sacrifice is required of her as she gives all she has.
Jesus doesn’t turn around and tell the disciples to do likewise (though he does tell them to go out without any money when they minister in Luke 9:3).
The principle is that giving signifies a gratitude to God and a trust in Him for future provision. This is the heart Jesus wants us to have.
In conclusion, it is important when Christians make decisions about money that we consider the principles Jesus gave us and examine our hearts before the Lord.
Are we using our money and resources to serve God?
Are we being generous to others, especially those in need?
Are we giving back to God in gratitude and for the furthering of His kingdom?
I encourage you to prayerfully consider these things today.