Jesus often deals with the real matter of how to handle money. Money in the hands of good men and rightly used can be of great blessing; but money in the hands of wicked men and wrongly used becomes a curse. Money has been spoken of as the “acid test” of a man’s character. It is well said, “If you know how a man deals with money, how he gets it, spends it, keeps it, shares it, you know one of the most important things about him”.
Jesus taught that where our treasure is, there our heart will also be (Matthew 6:21). Here Jesus was teaching us that we can test our focus regarding material possessions by what occupies our attitudes and actions. If we are constantly concerned about our possessions on earth – thinking about them, worrying about them, demonstrating jealousy and greed and mistreating others to gain more or keep what we have, then our treasures are upon earth. Conversely, if we are contently thinking in terms of how we can meet others’ needs, how we can further God’s work, how we can invest in eternal purposes – then our treasures are in heaven.
Jesus told his disciples not to lay up for themselves treasures on earth. What he is saying is that hoarding money merely for one’s own indulgence is wrong. When our possessions become treasures to us, they possess us rather than we possess them, and we are on dangerous ground. The miser heaps up treasures on earth for himself, and all he achieves is to make himself miserable.
On one occasion, Jesus told the story of a wealthy farmer whose land was very productive, so much so that he decided to tear down his granaries and build larger ones. He was satisfied with his material accumulations and concluded that he had enough resources to retire. Unfortunately, he did not realize that he was suddenly going to die. He had made preparation for this life but not for eternity. He did say, however, that men should “seek the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Jesus taught that first and foremost, it was the responsibility of every human being to seek the kingdom of God. That no man could serve two masters: “Ye cannot serve God and money”.
A positive guideline for avoiding a materialistic mind-set is to entrust our present and future needs to God. Jesus taught, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Matthew 6:34). Jesus was dealing with our human tendency to devote all our energies to worrying about our earthly existence: What we “will eat or drink”, or what we” will wear” (Matthew 6:25). He encouraged His listeners to “look at the birds of the air” and at “the lilies of the field” (Matthew 6:26, 28). If our Father in heaven takes care of the birds and the flowers, will He not take care of His own children? After all, Jesus said, “For all these things do the Gentiles seek: and your heavenly Father knoweth that ye need all of these things” (Matthew 6:32).
God did not condemn Joseph for advising Pharaoh to store up grain for future use. Nor was Solomon wrong in pointing to the ants as an example to store up food during the summer for the needs of winter. Paul did not make a mistake when he wrote to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:14) for parents to save for their children. The lesson is clear. Planning ahead is commended (Luke 14:28-30), and should not condemned as a lack of faith. In fact, a person who refuses to work and plan for their own needs and family is irresponsible.
God must be at the forefront in all our financial planning. That is what Jesus meant when He said that we are to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). If a man puts God first, then God will put him first. If a man truly seeks the kingdom of God, he needs not be anxious about the material things of life. God will meet his needs and give him an abundance of material blessings in due time.
We must realize that all that we have accomplished come from God. The more God blesses, the more we should praise and thank Him. When our accomplishments involve wealth, we should not focus on building a temporal kingdom for ourselves, but rather we should give generously to build the kingdom of God.
A Christian must be able to distinguish between the source and the channel of supply. When asked, “What is the source of your income?” Generally, the usual answer is, “My job, or the property I own, interests, stocks and bonds”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The company that you work for is not the source of your income, even though it writes your pay checks. It is only a channel. The real source of your income is from God. The difficulty occurs when the channel is mistaken for the source. We thank God for every blessing and He wants us to be a channel of blessings.
He who soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly. According to an oriental legend, some farmers decided they should keep only their small potatoes for planting so that they could enjoy the large ones for their meals. As the years passed, the farmers began to notice something unusual at harvest time. Although the small seed potatoes produced a crop, the new potatoes were gradually reduced to the size of marbles. These farmers had learned a costly lesson. They could not expect to grow a crop of large potatoes if they ate the best ones and used the small leftovers for seed.
This story vividly illustrates the sowing and reaping principle set forth in 2 Corinthians 9:6 – The fruitfulness of the Christian life to give of our best. These farmers had learned a costly lesson. They could not expect to grow a crop of large potatoes if they ate the best ones and used the small leftovers for seeds. If we invest only a little of ourselves in using these gifts and keep the rest for selfish reasons, our fruitfulness as believers will be meagre at best. What are we doing with God’s gifts? Let’s be sure we are planting the big potatoes.