Show Me the Money!
You may remember the movie Jerry McGuire, where the football player coaxes his manager to “Show me the money!” That line has been used a lot since then, in the world of politics and the world of crime (which are sometimes the same), to say “If you follow the money trail it will lead you to the heart of the matter.”
Did you know that there are over 2,300 verses in the Bible that talk about money, compared to about 500 on the topic of prayer? And there are even fewer that talk about faith. About 10% of the verses in the gospel accounts of Jesus life are about money, directly or indirectly. Maybe you’ve heard preachers say that Jesus talked more about monetary things than any other topic. Why is that? “Show me the money!”
In other words, there is a direct correlation between our financial management and our faith development. It’s been said that if you follow the money trail of a person’s budget and spending, you’ll discover what they truly have faith in. “No one can serve two masters,” Jesus said, “for either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24).
“But,” some will say, “God wants my heart, not my money.” True, kind of. And yet we fool ourselves if we think one is not connected to the other. Listen again to the words of Jesus, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).
Some say that our money follows our heart, but in truth it’s probably more accurate to say our heart follows our money. That matches what Jesus said above, and experience proves it out. Often, we tend to think of money as a secular thing, not sacred. Money belongs with bills and groceries and gas and things that aren’t spiritual, right? Not like church and prayer and reading the Bible, the “spiritual” things. But close examination of the Bible, of the teaching of Jesus, tells us this is not God’s perspective. Money and how we use it impacts our spiritual life, big time. It can either promote or replace worship. It can drive us to church or keep us away. It can blind us to many of God’s truths or it can lead us in true wisdom as we put our money where our mouth is.
On one occasion Jesus met with a rich young ruler. The young man asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. A very good question. Jesus said, “Keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:17). The young ruler came back with, “Which ones must I keep?” Jesus listed those that deal with a person’s relationship with other people: don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, do not bear false witness, honor your parents, love your neighbor as yourself. The young ruler was able to proudly say, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I lack?” Jesus had him where he wanted him, because it was the other commandments that dealt with his relationship to God that needed some work. “Go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me,” Jesus told him. His money was what separated him from God, what took priority over God. Jesus, who was God in the flesh, knew this. “Come, follow me,” called him to give up the god of money for Yahweh.
So, when it comes to your personal life, what does your checkbook tell about your Christian faith? Will it point to what really matters in life to you? It might be a good exercise to set down and categorize your spending and see what it tells you. And then take account, because you know it to be true: where your treasure is, so is your heart. Don’t tell me you’ve given your heart to Christ, if what you truly treasure points elsewhere.
Cross Point: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse…Test me in this, says the Lord of Hosts, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Malachi 3:10. It was true in Malachi’s day & the principle is still true. Trust God with your tithe and he’ll bless you.