Hi everyone, it’s Mick here and welcome to Wednesday’s Podcast in Vision week here at STC. Our vision for 2020 is ‘Join Us for the Better Life’ and on Monday we considered the promise of this Better Life by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. Yesterday, how we use our time each day so we can live out this Better Life. Today, we drill down on a subject that is so often a battle as we look to live out the Better Life – a reflection on money.
Money is such a key part of our lives today – we would find it very difficult to live without it. Here are some money facts.
Interestingly our money is increasingly changing its form, as recent surveys show that 28% of consumer payments are by cash, down from 60% five years ago. 5 million people do not use cash at all for any transaction. Online payments have grown to 2 billion(!) with debit cards being the most popular mode of payment. Which magazine reports that in the first three months of 2019 almost 1700 cash machines have disappeared from on our high streets. Contactless payments have risen 31% year on year. Change is here to stay! So; as Christians, how do we deal with money …
Jesus once spoke to a Rich Man about money – greatly challenging his perceptions. We see this story in Luke 18:18-34 MSG:
One day one of the local officials asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good—only God. You know the commandments, don’t you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honour your father and mother.” He said, “I’ve kept them all for as long as I can remember.” When Jesus heard that, he said, “Then there’s only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.” This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go.
Seeing his reaction, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God’s kingdom? I’d say it’s easier to thread a camel through a needle’s eye than get a rich person into God’s kingdom.” “Then who has any chance at all?” the others asked. “No chance at all,” Jesus said, “if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” Peter tried to regain some initiative: “We left everything we owned and followed you, didn’t we?” “Yes,” said Jesus, “and you won’t regret it. No one who has sacrificed home, spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children—whatever—will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime.
It’s not wrong to be rich; it’s certainly not right to be poor – people often mis-quote the Bible when they say that money is the root of all evil. It isn’t what the Bible verse actually says; 1Timothy6:10 says “the love of money is the root of all evil”. Love here = avarice/greed. It’s the only time this word is used in the New Testament.
Money in itself is not a bad thing – the issue is when acquiring and keeping it becomes the focus of our life. Jesus recognised the hold money had over this rich man and challenged him as he challenges us today on this same issue. Scholars estimate that 25% of Jesus’ teaching in the gospels is about money! It’s not the amount of money we have that really matters, it’s how we view it.
Two things to consider
Firstly, be generous – again, a simple truth from St Paul
Acts 20:35 ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Generosity releases more generosity – we give & the Lord gives us more so we can give more and so more are blessed – a great heavenly financial plan! The word here for ‘blessed’ in the original means ‘overwhelmingly happy’. Jesus says when you ‘give’ – and this includes money – heavenly joy is released in you. You begin to understand the heart of the ‘Better Life’.
Secondly, be content. St Paul has challenging words for us in Philippians 4:11-13 MSG:
Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
The word for ‘content’ here means ‘fully satisfied’ because of God’s power and provision in your life. Again, it’s the only time this word is used.
Generosity and Contentment are heavenly values – the growth of these God given values has certainly been the experience of Tricia and I over these many years of following Jesus. The Lord has always provided enough for us as a family enabling us to experience the great joy of being generous with our money in giving to the church for it’s Kingdom mission. We give money to other good causes but our first priority, our ‘tithe’, is to the church of Jesus.
The culture of today says ‘take’ – you can’t trust anyone, including God, to provide for you; it’s down to you to make money and keep it, after all you worked for it, it’s yours. God always says ‘give’ – as Christians, we believe he gave us this world, those we love, the homes we live in, the jobs we work at, the money we spend … he gave us Jesus. He will always provide what we need – trust him!
Lord Jesus, thank you for the money you provide – it’s one of many blessings you pour into our lives as individuals, families and as a church. Show us how to be generous with our finances and let us be content with what we have. Let this Vision Sunday be the beginning of a new season of generous giving as we journey with you. Amen