What does Jesus teach us about money? Many people have attempted to tackle this subject, perhaps since the beginning of Christianity. We celebrate the Christmas season as the time when Jesus made His physical debut in our world, so I thought this would be an opportune time for me to make my first attempt to explain some of Jesus’ teachings about money.
I say first attempt because there will probably be many as Christianity is a life-long journey for all of us. There will always be something to learn as we try to be like Jesus and we can’t know everything until He returns. Remember faith is about believing, not always understanding. As we dig in to Jesus’ teachings about money, I think it’s important to maintain perspective.
What the Bible says about money.
First, let’s talk about money itself. Many people believe the Bible says that money is the root of all evil, which it does, but that is not the entire verse. Actually, in 1 Timothy 6:10 it says “the LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” The money itself is not a bad thing. Also, look at Matthew 6:24 where Jesus says:
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Here Jesus is teaching more about idolatry than about the actual cash we see today.
What does the Bible say about money?
God has to always be our top priority. When we start to worship any other person or thing, even unintentionally, we are bound to start having problems because we are creating false idols. These can be anything from money, celebrities, politicians, statues, or other material things. False idols are a problem because of course it angers God, but it also distorts our priorities. If we’re running toward these idols, we’re running away from God. Maybe that’s why “In God We Trust” is on our money? Not to force religion on us (as some believe), but as a reminder to avoid false idols.
Money is a tool and nothing more. Unfortunately, in our fallen world money has become a symbol of power and success. We believe the multi-millionaire is more powerful and successful than the “average worker,” so making more money becomes our goal. I’ve fallen into this trap just like everyone else.
We all know it would take a ton of money for me to have around-the-clock healthcare, but that independence will always be my goal. In the past, I wrongfully aspired to invest, beat the market, and make my fortune. Then I thought I would have the money I needed to achieve all of my goals. See the problem? The money and myself were my main concern…I was drifting into idolatry. While I was frustrated that I couldn’t find a job, I’ve realized it was a blessing. I really needed the time to develop some maturity before entering the financial services industry. Now I know that financial planning is the best way for me to reach my goals while helping others pursue their goals. I’ve been able to make the transition from ME to WE!
Christ teaches us to put money in its proper place.
Furthermore, instead of focusing only on investment performance, I’ve learned there are so many more factors. Our world is all about beating competitors and quick results, so a financial planner’s main job is to be a guide and manage clients’ expectations.
In the accumulation phase of your financial journey underperformance can be a good thing because it’s possible to get more “bang for your buck” out of your investment contributions. We always say buy low and sell high, right? We have to ride those up and down waves while focusing on our end goals. Of course, it may not work out as we hoped, but that’s what we call risk.
In order to take power away from money, I think we must reach a level of contentment. Please understand this does not mean you should settle and accept your current situation instead of pursuing your goals. Contentment means you understand that where you are today is only one part of God’s plan for your life.
My community has about 700 residents. Children grow up hoping to leave for the big cities and are disappointed when life keeps them here. With population growth exploding in cities, communities like mine may the go-to places in the future. COVID-19 has already triggered a shift from cities to suburbs as more people are working from home. You never know. One day Pikeville (my town) could develop into North Carolina’s most populous city. Sometimes we find that we are right where we were meant to be.
One of the most often quoted verses in the Bible is Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” However, people forget the circumstances under which this verse was written. Look at Philippians 4:11-12, the verses before the one we all know –
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
Does this sound like something a star football player or celebrity would be writing? Not to me. Paul wrote the book of Philippians and most of the New Testament from prison. We must realize how horrible prisons were in this time. Prisons of today would be considered luxury hotels compared to the prison where Paul was held. Now, if Paul could find contentment in his situation, then perhaps we can take a hard look at ourselves and re-evaluate our own situation.
Staying true to your Christian purpose through goal-oriented financial planning.
After we loosen money’s grip on our life, we can really begin pursuing our goals. I’m not only talking about financial goals, such as retirement, paying off student loans, etc. Those goals are very important, but we cannot forget the other goals that are deep in our soul. These are the God given desires we have to make the world a better place. You may call this your mission or purpose. How often do we say we wish we could afford to give more to our church, help the homeless, support refugees, care for the disabled, or feed the hungry? Sure, we give $25 here and there to the millions of non-profits serving worthy causes throughout the world each day. So, why do we still have the desire to make that huge gift of money or time to a cause close to our heart? Because it pleases God and He commands us to do these things.
You may ask, “How could I ever afford to make such a contribution to the world?” Again, we must remind ourselves that money is not power; it is another one of God’s resources that we manage for His greater purpose. If you’re like me, you believe God has a grand plan for our lives. If we’re following His plan, then it would make sense for our lives to have different seasons where we steward the resources He provides. I think of our education, our career, and our retirement as different seasons in our life.
Finding a healthy relationship with money in retirement.
Before you ask, YES, we are supposed to enjoy our lives and you’re welcome to have nice things. However, I do believe there is a balance. I tell my clients that my job is to help find the balance between enjoying today and preparing for tomorrow. This balance is different for everyone, especially if you believe we all have our own role in God’s plan. You may realize your role in God’s plan is to make a large financial contribution to a cause or maybe retirement gives you the free time allowing you to volunteer.
When I played wheelchair hockey and founded our organization as a nonprofit, I realized that both gifts are greatly appreciated. Volunteers are always needed and our society rarely has the time to help. Families of the population being served by the organization get burned out by having to volunteer all of the time. Plus, outside volunteers bring a new perspective to the organization. You could be the mentor that gives a child the confidence needed to grow up and solve world hunger or cure cancer. That would be a huge contribution to the world and it didn’t cost you anything! All you had to do was have a retirement account (thanks to proper financial planning over your career) to cover your living expenses while you volunteered.
Of course, all financial contributions are appreciated, but imagine what could be accomplished when organizations didn’t have to spend most of their time fundraising. Let’s say you give enough to a church where the money could earn an annual return high enough to where the utility bills were covered. Imagine what your pastor and leadership team could do if they had no worry at all about the lights being turned off in the church. I think every nonprofit organization wishes for this level of comfort.
We don’t know what the future holds, but we’ll never be able to reach our potential (or help others reach theirs) if we are slaves to our paycheck. This is why goal-oriented financial planning is not only important, but necessary. When we aren’t as stressed about our financial situation, we can then put more focus on our greater purpose.
A summary of Jesus’ teachings about money.
If you thought I was going to give you an exact percentage to give or a magic formula for how Jesus wants us to manage our money, then I’m sorry. Everyone’s answer will be different. My main objective here was to make sure we don’t turn money into a false idol. A goal-oriented financial plan can help us manage this potential problem by not allowing money to control our lives. Then we can use our new found peace of mind to help us start to see our purpose.
One of the great things about Jesus is that He shows us that we all matter. When Jesus was born, who were the first to hear the news? Was it kings, emperors, celebrities, high priests, or politicians? No! It was the shepherds. During this time period, shepherds would have been among the lowest of the classes. Yet, they were the first to know our Savior was born. How beautiful is that?
It doesn’t matter if you’re the most famous person in the world or nobody knows your name, Jesus was born and died for you because you matter to Him. Remember this each day! You will face struggles in life, but I hope you find reassurance in knowing that you are a part of a much larger plan. I also pray this knowledge helps you manage the resources you have been given, including time and money.
Are you ready to start the search for your purpose? Contact me!