The Christian and Material Things
Mat 6:19 "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth consume, and where thieves break through and steal: Mat 6:20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: Mat 6:21 for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also. Mat 6:22 The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. Mat 6:23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness! Mat 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
In the above passage from the Sermon on the Mount, it might at first appear that Jesus left the topic about money (material things) and went somewhere else in verses 22 and 23. Verse 24 shows us that He never really left the discussion about His followers and material things. He merely amplified the topic. The Master Teacher was not one to "bird walk."
Take a dollar bill out of your pocket and look at it. This is a dollar that you, or someone, earned. The dollar represents some part of the earner's life, in terms of seconds, minutes, hours, or days. We can talk about being salaried workers on contract all we want to, but in the final analysis, all of us work by the hour. It tooks some amount of time to earn the dollar that you are looking at. YOUR MONEY IS YOUR LIFE. The money you have represents time that you spent doing something for someone, time that you can never get back. You cannot return the dollar to the person or business that paid it to you and say "I'd like to have 10 minutes of my life back" if it took you 10 minutes to earn that dollar.
What we do with our money, then, is a direct statement about what we are doing with our lives.
1. Did we come by that money honestly? Did we do something productive with the time that is behind that dollar? "Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as men–pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord: whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ. For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons," Colossians 3: 22 - 25. This is about giving an honest day's work for on honest day's pay. We may have come by that money honestly as retirement. Retirement is a delayed payment that we saved during our working years so that we would not be dependent upon others in our mature years. A retirement dollar still represents part of our life that it took to earn it.
There are those who do not come by their money honestly. Of them Paul said "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need," Ephesians 4: 28. For the person who obtained the money in his hands by stealing it, the money is not his life; it is the life of someone else that the thief has stolen. The thief has stolen seconds, minutes, hours, and days from someone else's life. All will be made even in the judgement. Stealing is not a way to get ahead.
2. Are we giving to the Lord as we should? No amount of money could pay for the salvation in Heaven that awaits us--This isn't an invitation for anyone to try to "buy his way into Heaven," because such a thing is not possible. But we are enjoined to participate in the grace of giving (2 Corinthians 8: 1-20). It's not that somebody else should get what we have, but rather that by giving some of it, we will be better off. We partake in the very giving nature of God when we give as we have been prospered (1 Corinthians 16: 1,2). Giving as we have been prospered buys up treasures in Heaven rather than simply on earth.
3. Are we saving as we should? There are no direct commandments in the Scriptures about how much a person should save. But the Proverbs of the Old Testament spend quite a bit of time extolling the virtues of those who work and save so that they can meet their own future needs and crises (Proverbs 6: 6-11; 10: 4, 5; 10: 15; 19:15; 22:7 "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.") See also the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25.
4. Are we spending as we should? Some investments are better than others. Pro 21:17 "He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich." The two talent and five talent men were praised because they invested their money (lives) in things that were worthwhile (Luke 19: 12 - 27).
Because our money represents our lives, we should show ourselves to be good stewards. God allowed us to have money to use for a little while, while we are upon this earth.
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Sid Womack, webmaster