Jesus and Money
Jesus talked about money and possessions in 16 out of 38 parables and 1 out of every 10 verses in the gospels refer to this topic. He talked more about possessions and money than about heaven and hell combined. He did this because how we handle our money matters. In Luke 16:1-13, we have an example of some of Jesus’ teaching on money. There’s a difference of opinion as to what exactly Jesus is commending about the manager in the story but the application of the parable is very clear: (1) all of God’s people will be called to give an account of how we have served him and what we have done with our resources; (2) preparation for that day of account should involved wise use of our resources, especially in the area of finances; and (3) wise use of resources, demonstrating a life of true discipleship, will be rewarded with eternal life and joy.
Jesus then adds a few other lessons after he’s finished with the story: (1) How we handle small things is an indicator of how we will handle larger things (vs.10); (2) God looks at how we manage the financial resources (‘worldly wealth’) he puts in our hands to determine how much spiritual responsibility (‘true riches’) he will give us (vs.11). Money is a test of spiritual maturity. It reveals our heart and the quality of our character; (3) How we handle or manage other people’s things is a test of our character and maturity (vs.12). If we can’t do well with what belongs to another person, we won’t probably be given our own; (4) Finally, Jesus observes that you can’t serve God and money, in the sense of making an ultimate commitment to both at the same time. Obviously, Jesus is saying that a real test of our discipleship is our attitudes towards and our management of our finances. You can tell a lot about a person by how they spend their money. It’s more than just numbers. It reflects values. As part of another teaching on money, Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” In other words, your money follows the desires and values of your heart.Your Personal Money Makeover
We live in one of the richest countries in the world. Over half of the world’s population lives on just a few dollars a day. Every one of us is ‘rich’ in comparison. Yet despite that fact, many Australians, including many Christians, are under financial pressure. When we experience financial difficulties, every area of our life is affected. Thankfully, there are Biblical principles to help us achieve financial freedom and for living wisely on the resources we have.The Dangers of Wealth
A Financial Assessment
- On the negative side , the Bible teaches us that money can become like a monster that rules your life if you allow it to. Money can be addictive (Ecc.5:10. 1 Tim.6:9-11), deceptive (Mt.13:22) and destructive , and it’s only temporal (Ecc.5:15-16. Lk.12:16-21). Money can be difficult to master and that’s why the Bible says that the “love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim.6:10).” If you don’t control your money, it will control you and it has the potential to destroy you. Riches can be a threat to your relationship with God. That’s why the Bible has many warnings about the dangers of wealth. You don’t have to have money to love it. BOTH poor people and rich people can be lovers of money! So, should we all be poor? Not at all! God doesn’t mind you having money as long as your money doesn’t have you. Money is not the problem; it’s our attitude towards it. Money is essential for survival and the expansion of God’s kingdom. It depends on our motives, our priorities and our values.
- The Benefits of Wealth. On the positive side , the Bible teaches us that if we serve God, money can become a blessing in our life. The Bible shows us that God desires to bless his people. God prospers us for a purpose. Money can meet our basic needs (Dt.8:18), provide for our enjoyment (Ecc.5:19. Dt.8:10-13) and enable us to meet the needs of others (1 Tim. 6:17, 18) and resource God’s work on the earth.
Everyone’s into ‘makeovers’ today – whether the goal is to upgrade their garden, improve their house or lose weight. What about a ‘money makeover’? Let’s start with an ASSESSMENT of where you’re at right now. You need to do a very simple FINANCIAL CHECK UP . This is what you need to know about your finances:
- What you own – your assets . Assets are anything you own that has value - cash, house, car, furnishings, tools, investments, money owed to you, etc.
- What you owe – your liabilities or debts. Liabilities refer to what you owe to someone else – a personal loan, a bank loan or credit card debt.
- What you earn – your income . Income can include wages, investment returns, gifts, government support, royalties, etc.
- What you spend it on – your expenses . Expenses include all your living expenses, loan or debt repayments, etc.
#1 and 2 are referred to as your Balance Sheet . Hopefully, you have some ‘equity’ or a positive ‘net worth’. The percentages and proportions are more important than the actual amounts.
#3 and 4 are referred to as your Profit and Loss Statement . Hopefully, there is a ‘profit’, because you are spending less than you are earning. Again, the percentages and proportions are more important than the actual amounts.
Does doing an assessment such as this take time? Yes! Is it worth it? Yes! Get some help if you need to. Make use of a simple computer program if you want to and even doing a basic accounting course would benefit every person. Purchasing a basic book on financial management would be beneficial too. Remember Jesus said how we manage your financial resources is very important.
A Balance Sheet statement is very important as it is a snapshot of your current financial position. However, it is simply a result of what we do on a day-to-day basis with our finances, which is shown by our Profit and Loss Statement. If you’d like your assets to increase and your debts to decrease over time, then you need to ensure that your income is exceeding your expenses on a regular basis then apply the resulting profit to those goals. Today let’s talk about the ‘income’ and ‘expense’ side of your finances for a few minutes.Establish and live by a BUDGET
Let’s start with the basics. You have to have a budget . You must take control of your money or it will take control of you and your life. Money is a great servant but is a cruel taskmaster. A budget is the most important and effective tool for getting your finances under control. A budget is simply a plan for earning and spending money. It provides limits and boundaries, which give security. There are many Scriptures on planning (Ps.20:4. Prov.15:22; 16:3; 20:18; 21:5; 27:23-24. Jer.29:11. Lk.14:28-30)INCOME - How to Get Money
How do we get income or money? Human work or labour is the means by which we earn the money to stay alive. It is the key to the earning side of the financial equation. God is a worker! He worked for six days (on His creation project), then rested from his work on the seventh day (Gen.2:2-3). We were created to work (Gen. 2:5, 15). The primary means of getting income is through WORK! Work was not a result of The Fall. It is part of God’s plan for our lives. He works and he wants us to work too. We are created to make a contribution and to add value to the world we live in. In return we receive finances or reward for our efforts.Sample Discussion Questions
- The Bible talks a lot about money. How do you feel about it being talked about in church?
- Discuss both the dangers and the benefits of wealth.
- Read Jesus’ teaching in Luke 14:28-30 about considering the cost of discipleship and discuss what relevance it has to wise financial management.
- Read Paul’s comments on work in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 and discuss its application to the church today.
- In what situations is it appropriate not to be working and to be dependent on someone else for your income?
- What are some principles of promotion in the work place? How do Paul’s comments in Colossians 3:23-25 relate to this?
- Discuss the problem of gambling in Australia. What are some of its causes and consequences?
- What are the benefits of managing your resources wisely? What are the consequences of not doing so?
- How can the church community (including the LifeGroup) provide a place where each person is encouraged and helped to be blessed financially?
- Finish with prayer for any one with financial needs.