We are living in a time of global recession, debt and anxiety about personal finances. It is good to read what the Bible teaches about the Christian attitude to money.
Almost every news bulletin in the last two years has made mention of financial crisis. The head of the American Federal Reserve making a statement at the beginning of the present crisis said that he wasn’t sure if this was Armageddon! There is a lot of fear and uncertainty! What do we say about this situation as followers of Jesus?
The Gospel of Matthew places a lot of emphasis on God’s Kingdom. Matthew mentions God’s Kingdom 54 times. Many of the parables of Jesus recorded in Matthew’s Gospel were about the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is literally “where God reigns and where His rule is acknowledged.” That is why we pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” [see Matthew 6:10] but Jesus also said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” [Luke 17:21]
A person becomes a part of God’s Kingdom when their life comes under the rule of God and Jesus becomes their Lord!
In Matthew Chapter 6 we can find four attitudes of a person who will successfully survive every financial crisis
GOD’S APPROVAL IS MORE IMPORTANT TO THEM THAN MEN’S APPROVAL [Matthew 6:1-18]
In Matthew 6:1-18 Jesus emphasizes three aspects of the Christian life: Giving [verses 1-4]; Praying [verses 5-15]; Fasting [verses 16-18].
Jesus uses one phrase three times when speaking about these three matters: “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you [openly]” [see verses 4,6,18]
The issue is not so much the secrecy – but the motive of our heart.
The motive of the Pharisees was that they liked to be seen [see verses 2,5,16]. They are literally seeking men’s approval! [and find security in that approval!].
Paul also makes it clear that it is impossible to please both God and men [Galatians 1:10]
Jim Elliott, the missionary martyr in Ecuador said that there was one degree above all others that he sought. He called it the AUG! It stood for "Approved unto God." The most important thing in life is that our lives are pleasing to God.
MATERIAL POSSESSIONS ARE NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THEIR LIFE [Matthew 6:19-21]
Jesus states a principal of the kingdom, “Don’t store on earth…but in heaven.” What Jesus forbids the selfish accumulation of goods [Note: “for yourselves” in verse 19]
The Bible is full of stories of people who were eaten up by the love of things and money! Remember the successful farmer who pulled down his barns and built bigger barns, but neglected his soul that God would require of him that very night. Jesus called him a fool! The rich young ruler is another. His possessions meant more to him than following Jesus, and became the idol that caused him not to follow Jesus! Then there was Ananias & Sapphira,
The opposite of selfish accumulation is to “lay up treasures in heaven.” Brother Andrew, of God’s Smuggler fame, said “There are two ways to get things from God – “Ask” and “Give” and I prefer the latter!” “Jesus teaches us to “Give and it will be given unto you”
God wants to prosper us. The “Isaac anointing” was investment that God blessed! [see Genesis 26:12]. God always pays His debts – “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done [Proverbs 19:17]. Consider also Proverbs 11:24-26; and Proverbs 3:9-10. When we honour God with our finances He meets all our needs in abundance!
All sowing into the kingdom begins with giving away your life and then everything else!!!
Personally I have discovered that when I begin to feel that I like money too much I have learned to give it away before it becomes an idol!
Material possessions are not the most important thing in life – knowing, honouring, and walking with God and using what God gives us to bless others should take precedent over the lives of those who are members of His Kingdom.
THEY TRUST GOD AND DO NOT WORRY OR FEAR [Matthew 6:25-34]
The phrase, “Do not worry” occurs three times [Matthew 6 verses 25,31,34]. cp “Do not worry about anything” [Phil. 4:6]. Jesus says five things about worry in Matthew chapter six:
We tend to worry unnecessarily [verse 25] How often do we say after the event, “Why on earth did I worry?”
Worrying doesn’t solve our problems [v27] It may create some problems – “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression.” [see Proverbs 12:25]
Worrying is for pagans [v32]
When we worry we are not trusting God [v32]
“Faith came singing into my room and other guests took flight.
Fear anxiety, doubt and gloom sped out into the night
I wondered that such peace could be, but faith said simply,
Don’t you see, These other guests can’t live with me.”
Why worry about tomorrow when you have to live today? [verse 34] This is not an encouragement to laziness – LIVE RIGHT; WORK HARD; TRUST GOD! John Wesley said, “Gain all you can, Save all you can, Give all you can!”
“The Lord promises that our heavenly Father can be trusted to feed and clothe us. Yet even faithful believers are not exempt from the following: First, believers are not exempt from earning their own living. We cannot sit back in the armchair, twiddle our thumbs, mutter ‘my heavenly Father will provide’ and do nothing. We have to work. As Paul put it later: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat’ [2 Thess. 3:10]. Second, believers are not exempt from responsibility for others. It seems significant that in this same Gospel of Matthew the Jesus who says that our heavenly Father feeds and clothes His children later says that we must ourselves feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and will be judged accordingly [Matt. 25:31-36] Third, believers are not exempt from experiencing trouble. Jesus forbids His people to worry. But freedom from worry and freedom from trouble are not the same thing. At the end of this paragraph the reason Jesus gives why we are not to worry about tomorrow is: ‘Each day has enough trouble of its own’ [Matt. 6:34]. So then, God’s people are promised freedom neither from work, not responsibility, nor from trouble, but only from worry. Worry is incompatible with Christian faith.” [John Stott]
God’s promise is clear in Matthew 6:33 – “When we seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness first He will add everything else that we need! When we take care of business He takes care of ours!
SEEKING GOD’S GLORY ABOVE ALL ELSE IS MOST IMPORTANT
FOR A FOLLOWER OF JESUS [Matthew 6:22-24,33]
Three times this is emphasized:
A single eye [Matthew 6 verses 22-23] - Singleness of vision and purpose!
A single master [Matthew 6 verse 24] – James Hudson of the China Inland Mission said, “If Jesus is not Lord of all, then He isn’t Lord at all”
A single kingdom [Matthew 6 verse 33] – “The single most important thing in life for the Christian is to seek God’s Kingdom before all else – this is an infallible mark of a follower of Jesus [Henry Martyn]