It is nearly startling, how much Jesus talks about money. He spoke about money more frequently than He spoke about faith and prayer together. Jesus spoke in parables most of the time, and 11 of His 40 parables were about money or used money to convey spiritual lessons.
The parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl, for example, compared the kingdom of heaven to riches. The parable of the talents, on the other hand, depicts the tale of a master who entrusts his servants with money in order to demonstrate the importance of being productive. He draws attention to a great eternal reversal in the rich man and Lazarus parable, where those who are the most comfortable on earth find themselves bringing up the rear.
So, why does Jesus appear to care much about our finances?
Money reveals the truth
One of the most perplexing traits of fallen humanity is our proclivity to separate what we do from what we believe. Jesus addressed this divide between what we say and what we actually do by saying “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matthew 15:8).
Jesus utilizes money as a tool to show our true priorities all through the Gospels. When you think about it, our bank statement shows the reality of what matters to us the most. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus hammers this point home when He says:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).
His point is that if we sincerely believe life is everlasting, we won’t waste our time and money on things that will go away. Instead, we’ll invest our time, effort, and resources in behaviours and deeds that will last eternally.
Money, in Jesus’ view, acts almost like a rival god, challenging our devotion (Matthew 6:24). The truth is that the god money leads us to worship is ourselves, as we seek and give in to our comfort and pleasure.
Salvation and Money
Two Gospel accounts show the complex relationship between faith and wealth. We encounter Zacchaeus in Luke 19, a tax collector who has gained his wealth by defrauding his fellow Jews.
Zacchaeus makes the following pledge after a brief encounter with Jesus. “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8b). And to this Jesus responded “Today salvation has come to this house …” (Luke 19:9a).
Compare this approach to Jesus’ response to a young man seeking guidance. He prostrates himself at Jesus’ feet, asking what he needs to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds by advising him to follow the law’s commandments. And the man assures Jesus that he has done so.
Jesus tells him, “One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21) we’re told he left sad because he had a lot of money.
Zacchaeus’ commitment after his encounter with Jesus has an immediate financial impact. He promises to give half of all he owns to the poor and to repay quadruple what he has cheated others with the remaining half. But, when the wealthy man comes to Jesus seeking eternal life, he realizes that money has become a barrier between him and God.
So, why is Jesus is concerned about my money?
The premise that God created everything and that it ultimately belongs to Him is at the foundation of Christianity. Humans are stewards (or caretakers) of the resources given to us by God, and our money is not exempted. Stewardship is more than just a part of the Christian life; it is the entire Christian existence.
For many of us, the battle to align ourselves with God’s will takes place in the financial realm. For many, this is where the actual struggle takes place. Martin Luther once said,
“There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, the conversion of the mind, and the conversion of the purse.”
When we properly understand our position as stewards, money becomes a tool we can employ to invest in the growth of His kingdom, and this is why Jesus talked about money.