Seven Questions on Money
- Written by Jody Vickery Jody Vickery
- Published: 07 July 2017 07 July 2017
Everybody knows that Jesus has something to say about how we treat other people. Same with forgiveness, honesty and authenticity. Everybody knows that how we live morally is a part of our commitment as disciples. We don’t always succeed in submitting to his authority in those areas, but we know we should.
When someone tells us that Jesus wants to talk about how we handle our money, though, we’re like, “Hold on there, Jesus. Stay in your lane.” But that IS his lane. Jesus warned about greed ten times more than he warned about sexual sin. Thinking back on all the sermons you’ve heard and the books you’ve read, which do you think the church talked about more?
Let me help you with an answer:
Number of preachers who have built an international following telling people they can do whatever they want sexually and still go to heaven? Zero.
Number of preachers who will tell you that God wants you to have tons of money – especially if you’ll share it generously with them? Lots.
It’s no wonder nobody ever thinks they miss the mark when it comes to money. Seriously, when was the last time you heard someone say, “Man, I’m really struggling with materialism. My perspective on possessions is just so out of step with Jesus.” Never! No one ever thinks they have a problem with greed. Other people, though . . . .
In his famous Sermon on the Mount Jesus preached about how we handle money. The relevant section is Matthew 6:19 – 24.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “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.
Here are seven questions that may help you clarify your perspective on your possessions.
Do I need numbers to define happiness? If my happiness is determined by my income; the price range, number of rooms or square footage of my house; the price tag on my clothes; how much I paid for my car – if I have to use a number to quantify happiness, I may need a new perspective.
What’s my spending to earnings ratio? You and I have three options about how we are going to live financially– spend more than we earn, spend all we earn, or spend less than we earn. If I’m spending more than I earn or all that I earn, my perspective, not to mention how I allocate my resources, needs to change.
Am I being financially honest? God calls us to live truthful, law-abiding lives. And that goes not just for paying taxes but for putting in an honest days’ work for an honest days’ pay. It means being honest in business. It means paying what I owe. If I am cheating anyone in any way, I have a perspective problem.
Do I wish my health insurance covered retail therapy? We’re a little backwards at my house. I like to shop. Lisa does not. So I totally get it when someone says they need a little retail therapy. But I have to ask myself, why is it that I need to buy a thing to feel better?
Do I buy to win? Years ago (early ’80’s), when stereo component systems were hot, I spent money I did not have on a system I did not need just so I could one up a friend who had just spent money he did not have on a system he did not need. I bought to win.
Have my credit cards become a necessary extension of my income? A terrifying number of Americans are borrowing from the future to pay for today. It’s so easy to slide that card into the little slot at the counter. But every time we use a credit card that we don’t pay off immediately, we are putting ourselves in a prison of debt. It may be a beautiful prison, but we are anything but free.
Am I failing to give? If your family is in a bind right now, the first thing you need to focus on is getting your financial house in order. You need to develop a plan to spend less than you earn, to get debt free, then work that plan faithfully. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to use your resources, as Paul said in Ephesians 4:28, to share with those in need. If your family is in good financial shape but giving is not a regular, spiritual discipline in your life, then you have a perspective problem.
Go back and read what Jesus said about possessions again. Can you think of other questions that might help all of us live more submissively with our money?