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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

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  In the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:14-20, Matt. 13:1-23), Jesus describes the one who casts seed, the types of ground upon which the seed falls, and the amount of production the seed yields. The parable is followed by an interpretation of the key elements. In comparing the seed to the word, the people are the ground receiving the word, and the yield depends on the attitude the people have toward the word sown into their hearts. Threats to the word include Satan (Mark 4:15), trouble (4:17), and persecution (4:17). In verse 19 Jesus bluntly warns that worries of this life, desires for other things, and the deceitfulness of wealth have the potential of choking off the word of God from growing in a disciple’s heart and life.

 

  The main thought is not the sower but the condition of the ground. The context of the ancient Israelite farmer allows for the possibility of the practice of casting seed prior to plowing the field[21].This would explain the apparent carelessness of the sower sowing seed indiscriminately on unproductive grounds. Jesus, as sower, sows the word to all without favoritism. According to the parable then, the person must decide whether or not the ground of their heart will be fruitful (vs. 20).

 

  Luke’s account adds “as they go on their way” and “they do not mature” (8:14) signifying an ongoing struggle with the seduction of wealth[22].Jesus is adamant that there is a very real danger of gradually allowing the worry and desire for material possessions and pleasures to choke a person’s devotion to the kingdom of God. However, if a disciple maintains his reordered priorities and continues to seek first the kingdom, wealth acquisition ceases to be a distraction.

 

  One other warning Jesus gave was against covetousness and elitism. In outward appearance, it doesn’t seem that the Rich Fool of Luke 12:16-21 did much to deserve his label. The parable explains how foolish the decision was for the man to build bigger barns on the tail of a bumper crop. The foolishness was not in providing for the excess but in making the decision completely without regard to God’s will or other people in need.

 

  The man was most likely an elite landowner that lived off other people’s labor and could possibly have intended to store his excess in view of a future drought in which he would charge much more than what the crop was worth[23].Jesus considered this as covetousness and warned that a man’s life does not consist of his possessions (12:15). Covetousness in this sense, from the Greek word pleonexias, means to take advantage of another[24].In satisfying his own greed, the man totally neglected eternal realities of the impending kingdom of God. Jesus’ teaching directly confronts human arrogance and self-centeredness and challenges listeners to keep kingdom concerns first place in the use of their wealth (12:21).

 

Conclusion

This has not been an exhaustive consideration of all that Jesus taught about wealth. It is, however, a sampling of His major thoughts in regard to the acquisition and use of material goods. Jesus taught from a mind-set that was generally positive toward wealth due to His roots in historic Israel and the teachings of the Old Testament scripture. His coming began the fulfillment of the promised hope of a reversal of fortunes between the wicked rich and the righteous poor. The coming of the kingdom of God demanded are reordering of spiritual, relational, and financial priorities.

 

  Followers of Christ are expected to put kingdom interests and the needs of others ahead of their own. They are to arrange their lives in such a way as to be able to maintain primary relationships and – with their righteously gained wealth – expand the kingdom of God and minister to the basic needs of the poor. Thus, Jesus does not negate the importance of ethically acquiring wealth, but He does insist on reasonable boundaries in its pursuit. Jesus warns of the seductiveness of riches, covetousness, and arrogance associated with material possessions. According to Jesus, temporal and material matters find ultimate value when linked to the higher and eternal purposes of the kingdom of God.

 

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

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