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David Hagni

This paper was written by David Hagni.

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Dave graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center and Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. He holds master's degrees in both divinity and business administration from Regent University.

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Articles > Charismatic Theology > Wealth according to Jesus

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Footnotes

  In Christ came a totally new order spiritually, relationally, and economically – all three being interdependent. The new order is not utopian or idealistic but has very practical application. First, Jesus disclosed God as Father (John 14:9). This new spiritual order has direct bearing on one’s attitude toward the accumulation and use of wealth. Jesus taught a radical reordering of priorities in order to live in the will of God, and Matthew 6 records premier teaching of Jesus concerning wealth and its relationship with the spiritual life of faith.

 

  The word “mammon” (King James) or “money” (NIV) in Matthew 6:24 means something ungodly that entangles[13].Mammon is a transliteration of the common Aramaic word for riches and is close to another Hebrew word meaning to be firm and steadfast[14].Jesus personifies mammon in verse 24 in order to contrast devotion to it with devotion to God. A fundamental shift in allegiance must take place in order to follow the decrees of God’s kingdom. A reordering along relational and economic lines must occur for one to experience the power of the kingdom of God. Before looking closer at Matthew 6, here is one example in Jesus’ experience of a man who would not reorder his life to align with kingdom principle.

 

  It is seen in the case of the rich young man (Matt. 19:16-30) how intricately intertwined are relational and economical issues. Jesus connects economic reordering with spiritual devotion to righteousness in his challenge to the rich young man. He requires the man to sell all, give it to the poor, and follow Him. The young man’s refusal to sell his possessions exposed the kind of value he placed on God’s spiritual kingdom. Apparently, the man did not see Jesus as better than his temporal possessions – else he would have gladly sold all in order to inherit something better. On the surface this looks like an economic issue. However, as Jesus demonstrated, it contained a much deeper spiritual and relational issue.

 

  The disciples were perplexed with Jesus’ teaching at this point. They were surprised to hear that it would be hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God (19:23,25). They were perplexed partly because they had only seen the surface issue. They were puzzled because they functioned in the Old Testament Jewish mind-set that wealth, rightfully gained, was a desirable blessing from God. They were well aware that many in their scriptures had great wealth including Abraham, David, Solomon, Joseph, Job, and others. “Who then can be saved?” (19:25).

 

  Jesus calmed their fears first by saying that with God all things are possible (19:26). He then points to the central issue of the attitude of the heart. To “leave everything for His sake” (19:27) demonstrate that new priority – economic and relational reordering – has been given place in a person. The “leaving everything” is not nearly as important as the reordering of inward attitudes. In fact, the total surrender of possessions found in the gospels (Luke 5:11, 28; 14:33; 18:18-23; Mark 10:21) was a temporary demand given only to those personally asked by Jesus for the specific purposes of His earthly ministry[15].

 

  Jesus quite possibly was calling the rich young man into an earthy ministry partnership much like that which He had previously called the other disciples. They had willingly forsaken all to follow, but the rich young man was unwilling to reprioritize his life and lost the opportunity for ministry with the Master. The fact that God is good to multiply and return any possessions sacrificed for His service in this life (Mark 10:30) illustrates again that God is not interested in our permanent abandonment of wealth but rather in our total and continued obedience from the heart. Returning to Matthew 6 will give a more conclusive view of the spiritual aspect of Jesus’ teaching on wealth.

One of Matthew’s purposes in writing his gospel may have been to challenge the prosperous house churches of his day to apply Jesus’ priorities to their lives[16].The coming of Jesus brought a reordering of spiritual authorities with Satan’s defeat and the coming of the kingdom of God. The authority of Jesus Christ is to permeate every aspect of His follower’s lives. This is emphasized in Matthew 6 as Jesus contrasts the life of faith versus the life filled with anxiety.

 

  After Jesus instructs on the futility of worry in verses 25 through 31, he gives a key statement concerning God’s will in our pursuit of wealth. Denoted by the word “but” in verse 33, Jesus contrasts the difference between pagans and believers in their behavior toward material possessions. Jesus said that the pagans “seek” (King James) and “run after” (NIV) all of these material things. This “running after” speaks of addictions to cultural appetites. Michael Crosby in his House of Disciples calls social attitudes that control thinking patterns and behavior “cultural addictions.”[17]He suggests that the same steps used to break any addiction are necessary to break the addiction of consumerism. One important step in any recovery is for the addict to realize he has “bottomed out” and is in need of a higher power. Jesus taught the same concept.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Footnotes

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