with His insistence that a person cannot serve two masters (Matt.
6:24), Jesus brought the kingdom to bear on his follower’s
values. Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his
righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as
well.” The rule and reign of God over a believer’s
life can break any cultural addiction. Jesus taught that it is
essential to maintain cooperation with God’s reign
within in order to avoid or break the deadly trap of anxiety
caused by cultural addiction to materialism.
The only way
to accomplish this is to continue to “hunger and
thirst” (Matt. 5:6) for God’s order in our lives.
Seeking God’s kingdom replaces anxiety and fear with faith
and trust that God will provide all that is needed and desired.
Jesus’ own life example and teachings affirm the ethical
acquisition of wealth and teach the right use of possessions for
personal enjoyment and the enhancement of the kingdom of God.
Jesus knew and operated from a positive Old Testament viewpoint
of wealth. The gospel of Matthew never portrays Jesus or His
disciples as unable to access resources.He probably owned a house
(Matt. 8:5,14; 4:13; 9:1, 10, 28; 13:1, 36; 17:24, 25)and did not classify
Himself as financially poor (Matt. 26:11). His disciples were
socio-economic backgrounds but, at worst, came from lower middle
class. Neither did Jesus’ ministry suffer poverty as boats
(Matt. 13:1), lodging (Luke 19:1-10), food (John 6:1-15) and
other needs were continually provided. He considered his ministry
on earth a time of festivity and enjoyed things only money can
buy (Matt. 26:6-13). Judas even stole from the ministry treasury
without being noticed, suggesting that there were substantial
funds from which to steal (John 12:6).
teachings left little doubt of his attitude toward the positive
value that wealth can have if used correctly. In Luke 16 Jesus
used the parable of the shrewd manager to show the potential in
worldly wealth to attract people’s favor. The manager used
his wealth to win the favor of debtors and thus provide for
himself in his time of crisis. In commending the manager’s
wise decisions (vs. 8), Jesus was calling for the right use of
wealth, not the abandonment of possessions.Jesus taught that the wise
use of wealth is found in being faithful and honest with small
amounts (vs. 10), using wealth in service to humanity (vs. 9),
and serving God’s purposes undistracted (vs. 14, 15). The
person who uses money wisely can literally win friends for
eternity and receive heavenly rewards (vs. 9).
to meet needs and win people for eternity is an important theme
in Jesus’ teaching. Jesus encouraged his followers to give
freely even to people from whom there is little hope of any
return (Luke 6:35). On the other hand, He also encouraged giving
with expectation that even more would be given back in return
(Luke 6:37,38). These are not contradictory statements.
statements again emphasize the motive and attitude that giving
should assume. Giving is to be done out of a motive of love with
no strings attached (“without expecting to get anything
back”). And, giving is to be done with strong faith in God
that He will orchestrate an even greater return on our giving
(“give and it will be given to you . . . running
over”). Jesus taught that as we acquire wealth we should
look for needs to meet as an investment in His kingdom. God will
then handle the return on these investments!
The parable of
the Good Samaritan is one other example Jesus used to teach of
the correct use of the power of wealth. Love is the summation of
the Law according to Jesus (Luke 10:26-28). The Samaritan used at
least two days wages to provide medicine and lodging for the
beaten victim. He became the supreme example of taking advantage
of an opportunity for using wealth to compassionately minister to
examples of the life and teachings of Jesus, it is clear that He
is not opposed to the ethical gain of wealth and its enjoyment,
especially in light of its rightful use to minister to
people’s needs. However, an understanding concerning His
teaching about money would not be complete without seeing how He
framed them within the parameters of sober warnings and