Money Matters: I Heart Treasure

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus said these words in what we usually call His “Sermon on the Mount” because He preached to the crowd while sitting on the side of a mountain. He’s talking about money here, but He makes a bigger point about this life: It’s not the one we’re built for.

money_350I know you know that. And you know I know that. But neither of us really gets it, I don’t think. We can’t quite talk our hearts out of the idea that a “good life” is all about getting what we want and not having bad things happen to us. That’s why we pull out those three little words whenever an evil person gets away with murder or a good person’s house gets flooded: “That’s not fair.”

Jesus’ teaching says, “You’ve got the wrong score card. Nothing in this life could be good enough to make up for living with all this pain. Nothing here could be bad enough to compare to the mind-shocking glory of the next life. Don’t play to win this sin-shortened existence; play for the one that matters.”

Think: What treasure matters most to you — what you might get in this life or what you could experience in heaven forever? Why do you think that is?

Pray: Ask God to help you to begin to care more about the riches of heaven than the dreams of earth.

Do: Make a short list of some of the earthly treasures (stuff, experiences, relationships, etc.) that your heart loves to hope for.

Money Matters: Money Blind

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23)

Right in the middle of talking about money, Jesus drops in two sentences about light and darkness. Then He goes right back to talking about worrying about money. No, He didn’t lose His train of thought. He’s making a huge point about how money-love blinds us spiritually.

money_350When its dark inside my house, I turn the lights on. If the power goes out, I find a candle. My eyes are fine; I just need more light. But when my eyes go dark, I can’t fix that. All the light in the world can’t break through blind eyes to help your mind see the truth.

When I just can’t stop believing that more and better stuff will make me happy, I’m blinded by money-love. My spiritual eyes go dark. I can’t see all the good things God has given me — I can’t trust Him to provide what I need next — because all I care about is the money (or stuff) I don’t have, yet.

Think: Have you ever felt like you were so fixated on something you wanted that you couldn’t “see” anything else? Why is the want for money so powerful for some of us?

Pray: Ask God to help you have a healthy attitude toward money and material possessions. Ask Him to help you not to be blinded by greed.

Do: Make a short list of five good things God has given you today.

Money Matters: Can You Have It All?

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)

When I was in high school, the adults in my life had a habit of telling me (and every other student), “You can be anything you want to be.” They said this as if it were a good thing. Because I lived in a free, prosperous country and had a good education, my life menu had endless options on it.

money_350Here’s what they didn’t tell me: “You cannot be everything you want to be.” We live in a “have it all” culture and “anything we want to be” easily translates itself in our ears to collecting the whole set. We want to use our lives up for God and have a comfortable lifestyle. We want to die to ourselves and look hot. We want to look hot and be pure. We want to change the world and to hang out with the pretty, funny people. We want an iPad. No, the new one.

Here’s what Jesus told me: “You can’t have it all.” Oh. “For starters, will you serve God or money?” Yes! “Nope. Gotta pick one.” But I can be anything I want to be! “True. So which will you pick?” All of the above? “Not an option. One or the other.”


Think: What do you risk by choosing to serve God instead of money? What do you risk by choosing to serve money instead of God? What are other things you can “serve” besides God or money?

Pray: Ask God to free you from the illusion that you can serve Him and money at the same time.

Do: Make a short list of things Money tells its servants to do.

Money Matters: No Worries

“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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)

People become preoccupied with money in two different directions. Jesus already addressed the first — our want for more money, our desire to store up treasures for ourselves, to get all we can out of life. Now he deals with the other.

money_350Sometimes, people can’t stop thinking about money because they don’t have any. At all. They don’t know what they’ll eat tomorrow. They don’t know how they’ll replace their kids’ clothes that are two sizes too small. They don’t know how long they’ll make it.

Jesus wants them — us — not to worry. What? When would be a better time to worry? We’ll see that Jesus’ point is that money doesn’t provide for us. God does. The Father that created life and made our bodies still loves us. Money can only buy food and clothes. The Father takes care of His kids.

Think: Are you tempted to think it’s realistic for Jesus to tell people not to worry about money? Do you ever think of your need for money as on opportunity to trust your Father more?

Pray: Ask God to help you to trust Him enough not to worry about money.

Do: Know anyone in financial trouble who might be worrying about where they’ll get money for food and clothes? Ask God to provide for them — and to help them not to worry.

Money Matters: Worry Doesn’t Work

“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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:26-27)

When talking about money, Jesus is both spiritual and practical here. Don’t worry about money, He said, because your Father is the God of the universe and He likes you. Then the practical: Worry doesn’t work. It’s not an effective response to being broke. It’s wasted effort.

money_350So why do we still worry? Partly because we want control. Worry becomes an idol we serve instead of giving up our illusion of running our own life. So we trade peace of mind for a worthless effort to “do” something by feeling bad about what we cannot change. We sabotage the day in front of us rather than surrender our circumstances to God.

Corrie ten Boom, the Nazi concentration camp survivor and a Christian, put it this way: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of it’s strength.”

Think: Do you ever think of worry as a lack of faith in your Father? As serving a false god instead of letting go of what we can’t control? As a waste of time?

Pray: Ask God to help you to let go of worrying today, especially about money.

Do: Make a quick list of five things you might be tempted to worry about this week. Write in big letters at the top of the list, “God likes me.”

Money Matters: Dress Like Flowers

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30)

Here’s Jesus’ logic when it comes to worrying about not being able to buy clothes for yourself or your family: God clothes the flowers. They look nice. God likes you more than flowers. God will clothe you. Trust God.

money_350The logic is air tight. The problem in our culture is that very few of us are worried we might get so poor we’ll have to walk around naked. Some of the first hearers of Jesus’ words did worry about that. We’re more likely to worry that we might be so poor, we’ll have to walk around looking like we’re poor. We might not be able to buy the “right” shoes, shirts, pants, etc.

Two things about that: A) God does care about how we look. He created the beauty of lillies. He’s got good taste. B) However, God cares a lot more about our gratitude for and contentment with what He provides for us today — even if it’s not the clothes we wish we could buy — than He cares about us looking good in our own eyes. If you’re not grateful for what you have now, you’re not likely to be grateful for long when you get what you think you really want.

Think: Do you ever worry about money for clothes? Do you believe God cares that you worry about that? Why or why not?

Pray: Thank God for all the clothes you have right now. Ask Him to help you learn to be content with what He provides for you.

Do: Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

Money Matters: First, Look

“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.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

What’s the difference between a child of God and a pagan (someone who does not serve the one true God)? One difference, according to Jesus in this passage, is that pagans are consumed with worry about what they will eat, drink, and wear. God’s kids, on the other hand, assume that because He loves them and is powerful enough to care for them He will provide what they need when they need it.

money_350What practical difference would that make? For one thing, it should free up God’s kids to do other things with their mental and emotional energy — like spending their inner lives in a continual treasure hunt for evidence of God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

According to Jesus, God’s only birth Son, all of us who make our first job in life to discover the realm and rightness of our Father will see Him provide for all of our needs time after time after time. In other words, while we’re always on the lookout for what He’s doing in our world, He never loses track of what we need.

Think: What do you do in your life to actively “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness”?

Pray: Ask God to help you to never make your to-do list more important than seeking Him.

Do: Tell someone this week about one way in which God has provided for your most basic needs.