There are a lot of competing ideas out there about how we should use it. Conversations about it make us tense and uncomfortable. We throw around loaded terms like stewardship and tithe without stopping to ask what they really mean.
We often criticize our church’s budget but then get defensive when our church addresses our own! I’ve even known Christians (myself included) who have avoided church on the one Sunday a year when the pastor is brave enough to preach on money. Talking about money makes people uncomfortable; no one likes to hear about how they should use “their” stuff or feel guilty about their spending.
Does the Bible have anything to say about money that’s freeing and life-giving? How would Jesus spend money? What would Jesus do with, say, $40,000?
Jesus talked a lot about money.
When you read the gospels it seems like almost every time you turn the page he’s challenging someone’s allegiance to their belongings or exposing the hypocrisy in the ways they used their money. In fact, almost half of Jesus’ parables involve money or possessions!
Jesus wasn’t talking about money.
Jesus focused on money because how we view and spend money are such clear indicators of the deeper realities of our hearts—our loyalties, values, and securities. When you look at someone’s bank statement you see what it is they really value.
Also, saving money can be our way of securing our own personal safety and security rather than believing God’s promise of “do not worry” (Matthew 6:25-34) or Jesus’ warning that “you cannot serve God and money!”
Jesus was talking about the kingdom of God!
As Christians, we are called to use our money in ways that show our allegiance to King Jesus and his kingdom. We’re like investment bankers making decisions with God’s capital and he wants us to invest his money in line with his values.
It’s astounding how many practical ways there are to do this:
donate to the relief of human poverty and suffering
become a careful and informed consumer of products which are produced and distributed justly
help members of the Christian community in times of need
give to local and global churches or communities of faith
Faithfulness as God’s investors leads to increasing obedience on our part and increasing praise of God from those who see our obedience and generosity. This is the inexpressible gift that Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 9. Our acts of financial obedience multiply God’s glory rather than money’s power.