God or Money?
--A Bible Study
Jesus said we must become like little children to enter his kingdom. (Luke 18:16-17) We need the kind of faith that little children have in their parents to meet all their needs.
We have found that it works. Our heavenly Father is more than able to take care of our needs if we will spend our lives working for him.
Everyone in the world worries about how they're going to feed and clothe themselves. But Jesus said what makes his followers unique from all other religions is that we do not worry about these things. Instead, we work to build God's kingdom, and trust God to care for our material needs. (Matthew 6:19-34) Jesus commands his followers not to work for the food that perishes (John 6:27), but to take his yoke and work for him instead. (Matthew 11:29-30)
Jesus called some fishermen to follow him and their immediate response was to quit their business in order to do so. (Matthew 4:18-22) He called a tax collector to follow him and his immediate response was to leave his job to follow Christ. (Luke 5:27-28) A rich young ruler wanted to follow Jesus and Jesus said for him to sell everything that he owned and give the proceeds to the poor, and then come and follow him. (Luke 18:22-25) A multitude came to Jesus and he said to them that unless they forsook everything that they owned, they could not be his disciples. (Luke 14:25, 33) To all of his followers Jesus said, "Birds don't have jobs and flowers don't weave cloth, yet God feeds and clothes them. So stop working for money and start working for God. Sell what you have and give to the poor; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Luke 12:22-34) To the religious leaders of his day, Jesus said, "Give everything you have to the poor, and everything else will be clean for you." (Luke 11:41)
Jesus did not say that the choice was between working for God or working for the devil. He said it was between working for God or working for money. He says that, in our attempts to serve one "master" we are going to end up cheating the other. He says we will either learn to despise God or to despise money. (Luke 16:13-15) Which one do you despise?
Saint Paul said the love of money is the root of all evil. (I Timothy 6:10) He said we should stay away from people of "corrupt minds" who teach that wealth is a sign of God's blessing. (I Timothy 6:5)
Obviously God does bless some people with wealth. But we cannot say that our wealth is a gift from God if we have sold our souls (lives) to employers in order to obtain it. And when wealth truly comes to us as a gift from God, it comes for the express purpose of helping others... not so that we can spend it on luxuries for ourselves while much of the world goes to bed hungry each night.
Jesus said, "Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comforts! Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger!" (Luke 6:24-25) These are sobering words for those of us who are overweight while the rest of the world suffers from malnutrition.
Saint James said, "Hasn't God chosen the poor of this world, who are rich in faith, to inherit his kingdom? Yet you despise the poor. Don't the rich oppress true Christians and have them arrested for speaking the truth? Don't they blaspheme the name by which you have been called?" (James 2:5-7)
To the rich he says, "Weep and howl, you rich people, for the miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches rot in your fridges, rust in your garages, and collect moths in your closets while you exploit underpaid Third World labour to get it. It will all be a testimony against you in the last days." (James 5:1-6 paraphrased)
There was a dramatic difference between what Jesus taught about money and what the Old Testament taught. Jews gave 10% of their money and 1/7 of their time to God and more or less kept the rest for themselves. But Jesus taught 100% living by faith (i.e. forsaking all and living and witnessing together seven days a week), and that is what made the early church so powerful. (See Acts 2:44-45 and Acts 4:32-35.)
If you're going to follow Jesus at all, why not do it with your whole heart? Why not become like little children living in total dependence on God for your daily bread?