Jesus & {Your?} His Money: Part 2 - Money as Poison

September 1, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

This is the second in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic – more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined” (p. 9). How does Jesus want us to think about money? How does the Gospel affect our attitude toward and use of money? Join me on this multi-week exploration of what Jesus teaches about money.

Last week, we began our exploration of Jesus’ teaching on money by considering his understanding that money easily becomes a treasure of the heart. We will never understanding Jesus’ warnings and instructions about money unless we understand the power money holds as a satisfying treasure. This leads us to our second observation from Jesus’ teaching.

Money, as a treasure of the heart, is poison.

We see this most clearly in Matthew 19 where Jesus interacts with a rich young man. The young man is a seeker of eternal life (v. 16). With his understanding of the power of money as a treasure, and with his ability to discern the human heart, Jesus confronts the young man’s idolatry of money. “The young man went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (v. 22). This leads Jesus to make one of his most astonishing statements in all of the gospels about money and wealth:

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (v. 24)

Wow! Even the disciples were “greatly astonished” when they heard this and then exclaimed, “Who then can be saved?” (v. 25). Why is it so difficult for a rich person to enter into relationship with God? How does money become such an impenetrable roadblock for spiritual health with God?

Money, when it becomes the treasure of your heart, poisons your spiritual life and relationship with God in two ways: pride and lesser pleasure.

1. Money becomes poisonous when we believe it is our money. Jesus commanded the young man to sell all he possessed and give to the poor. He went away sorrowful. Why? Because he was afraid to lose all of his possessions. If he believed that his wealth was Jesus’ wealth, and he was only a steward of that wealth, he would not have been sorrowful over the prospect of losing it.

Jesus was testing this man to see if he knew and understood his Old Testament. In Psalm 50:10-11 God says, “Every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.” In the 10th century BC the currency was animals. God is saying in Psalm 50 that he owns everything. It’s all His! Our homes, our salaries, our cars, our savings accounts, our 401K plans, all of our possessions… they are God’s. He lends them for our use as we seek his kingdom and righteousness. If the young man understood that his money was not his, but God’s, his heart would not have been poisoned to turn sorrowful. His prideful assumption that he controlled his wealth kept him out of the kingdom of God.

2. Money becomes poisonous when we find it more pleasurable than God. The other reason the young man goes away sorrowful is because he believed his wealth was a means to pleasure and security in life. Money becomes the treasure of our hearts when we believe it secures the desires of our hearts. It becomes a pleasure. We saw last week in Matthew 6:19-20 that Jesus warns against this type of treasure because it is temporal and cannot truly satisfy. Jesus puts forward God as a superior pleasure. But this young man was not looking to God for satisfaction. He clung to his wealth. Losing his wealth meant losing his security and pleasure. A lesser pleasure, one that would fail, kept this man from enjoying the infinite pleasure available at the right hand of God in his kingdom.

If you have come to taste and see that the Lord is good and satisfying and pleasurable, praise God! He has helped you overcome the poisonous pride and pleasure of money in order to enter his kingdom. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). Don’t let yourself become sleepy regarding the poison of money. May you say with the Psalmist, “I have set the Lord always before me…therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure” (16:8-9).

More next week.


Filter Messages By: