Verses about money are often consulted when we are trying to answer questions about money. Those verses, however, are not the most important. Having a heart to handle money the way we should will only make sense if we believe the foundation on which those verses stand. In fact, if our foundation is reliable many of the answers to our money questions become self-evident. So, here are five principals and foundation-verses that can help us think about money.
Live for Jesus, not self
…[Jesus] died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. – 2 Cor 5:15
For all believers, Jesus’ victory at the cross was and is our victory. In his death we have died to the penalty and power of sin (in significant part, sin is the focus on self) and can now live for Jesus. Through him we have been forgiven and have been put on a new, everything-for-the-King, path.
The Money Application – We all live with purpose. The question is, what is my purpose? Our money-decisions must move away from a focus on self to a focus on Jesus and his glory. It’s been my experience that this is one of the most difficult aspects of the Christian life – thinking about money-decisions with God’s glory as primary.
- So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Cor 10:31,
- …everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. – Isaiah 43:7
- …so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; – Colossians 1:10
Love your neighbor
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Matt 22:39
As we move our focus away from ourselves and onto Jesus, we will also find a call to love others sacrificially – like Jesus loved us. While we must care for believers (Jn 13:35; 1 Jn 3:4, 5:2-3), it’s clear that we should also love those who don’t believe (Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27; Rm 13:9).
This was the big lesson for the religious leaders of Jesus’ day in his parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-38). The Samaritan made a real and ongoing commitment – money included – to someone in need. And then, Jesus told the religious leaders to go and do likewise. This call to generosity is a massive change. This is what Jesus did, and this is what his disciples do.
The Money Application – Loving others as we love ourselves will have an impact on our wealth. If we live as disciples, caring for others will be tied to our purpose and not be a burdensome obligation. Greed should vanish because life is about God and others, and not about hoarding for ourselves.
- …give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. – Luke 6:38
- They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, – 1 Timothy 6:18
- But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? – 1 John 3:17
(Also see Ps 112:5, 112:9; Prov 19:17, 21:13, 22:9, 28:27; Luke 12:33; Acts 20:35; Heb 12:16; 2 Cor 9:11)
Don’t be distracted
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. – 2 Timothy 2:4
Our salvation means a complete reorientation. This is difficult because we are immersed in a broken world with a life-system that is addicting and leads to death. Through the leading and power of the Holy Spirit, our call is to turn around, focus, and not be distracted. We are to live as Jesus lived.
It’s easy to fill up our lives with so many things that we’re distracted from the mission. And all those things have a massive ongoing cost – time, emotional reserve, money, etc. In a very real way, our need/desire toward materialism displays our priorities and our spiritual condition.
The Money Application – Materialism is a central component of the great deception and money connects to most of this worlds temptations that are so attractive. Sex, status, power, pleasure, toys, and more can either be acquired with money or enhanced by money.
- Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. – 1 John 2:15
- Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. – Col 3:5
- Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Col 3:2
(Also see Matt 6:25; Mark 4:19; Ps 119:37)
Grow the Kingdom
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19–20
Being rescued by King Jesus naturally leads to the important work of sharing the good news with others. While we should always be looking to share the gospel personally, there are many important ways to do this. We need to translate the Bible into many languages so everyone can read it, train church leaders, support missionaries, etc.
The Money Application – If we are to take Kingdom-growing seriously, it will take more than verses about money. Global evangelism and equipping leaders must be our heartbeat. And, if we believe we’re called to spread the truth of the gospel, we’ll invest there.
- Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly TO the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:37–38
- For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” – Acts 13:47
- And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” – Mark 16:15
(Also see Psalm 105:1; Isaiah 12:4; Ezekiel 38:23; Malachi 1:11; John 15:8)
Live by faith
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
Paul said that the life he lives he lives by faith in Jesus. That’s something easily said but difficult to do. Living by faith means that we continually trust in and act on all that Jesus promised and accomplished for us. This means we take every thought captive in order to make it obey Christ (2 Cor 10:5).
On the cross, Jesus made you a child of God. In that he gave Jesus to absorb the judgment that we deserve, will he not be everything for you (Rom 8:32)? Of course he will. You can trust him. Set aside earthly ambition and dedicate yourself to King and Kingdom.
The Money Application – Those who live by faith will not be living the ordinary life. It will be a life of fellowship with God, fighting sin, and pursuing Kingdom work. How we view money will be different for us as well. We will see our money as a gift to be aligned with God’s vision.
- …for we walk by faith, not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:7
- For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. – 1 John 5:4
- For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:17
(also see Mark 10:52; Phil 4:19; 1 Tim 6:12; Heb 11:8)
So, there are many core and vital principals that will guide us as we think about money:
- Live for Jesus, not for self
- Love your neighbor
- Don’t be distracted
- Grow the Kingdom
- Live by faith