One of the most talked about subjects in the Bible is money. That’s not surprising since every society that I am aware of has some form of currency and everyone I know of, including myself, wants some. Hence, I can also understand why money is at the root of so much evil.
However, let’s be honest about it. We need money! And don’t tell me we don’t because money is how we buy food, clothing, gas, pay the mortgage or rent, pay for child care, and on and on it goes. Practically speaking, without money we’ll find ourselves neck deep in a world of trouble.
Yet Jesus tells us that we cannot serve both God and money (Matt 6:24). And that’s where the real problem lays. We want to serve God. After all, we’re Christians and we’ve given our allegiance to God by declaring our faith in Jesus Christ through confession and baptism. But we need money too. And so we find it difficult to serve God and not money.
Or at least I do sometimes. But my experience as a pastor has taught me that I’m not the only one who struggles from time to time with serving God rather than money. You see, it’s easy to serve God rather than money when we’re not pressed hard for any need. It’s easy to serve God until we’re faced with decisions in which doing the right thing, following Jesus, and so on appears from the front to jeopardize us, leaving us in some financially perilous situations.
Yet in Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus reminds us that just as God cares for the birds and flowers, so also will God—who knows our needs—care for us. Then Jesus says specifically in v. 33, “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (NRSV). In other words, we can trust God to provide for our needs, so stop worrying and simply live for God’s kingdom and righteousness. But that’s never so easy. The decisions we often make, some more than others, are based on money and cost first rather than God’s kingdom and righteousness. Churches do it as well. If you’ve ever been in a church meeting where the only concern is budget matters then you know what I’m talking about.
And then we wonder why it’s hard to cultivate discipleship in others.
Whom we serve—God or money—is a discipleship issue. If we want to make disciples, we must live as disciples ourselves. And Jesus is telling us that we must let go of our money concerns and put God’s kingdom and righteousness first if we want to live as a disciple. And we’ll never do that unless we think about it, pray about it, and seek it. So
And know that God is faithful!