It is impossible these days to turn on the news without hearing reports about how poorly the nation’s economy is doing. If this wasn’t disheartening enough, the terminology used in the reports can make it difficult to decipher just how dire the situation really is. Case in point, it took a little searching on Google for me to figure out just what this “debt ceiling” thing is all about. Now, I wish I had simply taken Anderson Cooper’s word for it – the country is in trouble.
There is good news, though, for those who look to the Bible for answers. In the New Testament, Jesus offers more wisdom and has more to say about money than any other subject besides the “Kingdom of God.”
I remember when I first heard a pastor proclaim from the pulpit that Jesus said more about money than he did about love. To be honest, I was a little angry. There was no way that was true, I thought to myself. I’ve grown up hearing that “God is love,” but now I find out He may care more about my checkbook than my heart?
Sure enough, after doing a bit of research on this subject as well, I discovered that the pastor was right: Jesus talked more about money than he did Heaven and Hell combined. Eleven of the 39 parables He tells are about finances.
For months I found myself wondering what this new-found knowledge about Jesus really means. Does this information change the Jesus I thought I knew, or was there something more there I needed to learn?
What I have discovered recently is that there is definitely a reason why the Bible is full of scriptures about money – people desperately need wisdom when it comes to their personal finances. If I had to pick one word to describe Jesus it would still be “love,” but I think Jesus realized more of us would struggle with our spending habits than with loving those around us. I know many people who love everyone unconditionally but are either barely scraping by while living paycheck to paycheck or are in debt up to their eyeballs.
People in positions of power within our government seem to have spending problems as well, wouldn’t you say? The fact is people from all walks of life have the same problems, including not knowing how to handle money. There are certainly some people who have a much better handle on money than others. However, what I have learned is that even the guy driving the BMW may be bouncing checks.
In Mathew 6:19-20, Jesus says, "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.”
In other words, Jesus is saying that there is fragility to earthly investments, as we are finding out all too well. Today, there are high rates of depreciation, identity theft and an unstable stock market. With that in mind, some people put too much “stock” in our financial system and “store up” all their money in what is essentially a big game of chance.
Money is so important because it reveals who we are. The scripture I quoted earlier actually ends with Jesus saying, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” Those who I know that have had the most financial success are smart with their money but also generous. They don’t just put it all away waiting for disaster to strike, they also give. In other words, balance seems to be the key. Don’t spend it all, but don’t hoard it all away in a system that can fail you.
If there is one bright spot in all the bad economic news, it is that Christians are starting to wake up to the principles in the Bible. Churches all over are teaching these to their members, not just in sermons but in special classes and seminars. Chances are, a church near you is in the middle of a series of this type right now.
The core mission of Jesus was love, acceptance and forgiveness but now, more than ever, we can appreciate why He spent so much time talking about money. Thankfully, unlike the news, His words are clear. Winning principles are there to not only be read, but utilized as well.