Category Archives: Money

Serving two masters

23 February 2014

I have a strong tendency to compare myself with others. I do it quite instinctively and it often happens in subtle ways.

Before i know it, i am either jealous or envious of someone or i am frustrated at my life for not measuring up in a certain way. Either way, it leaves me quite unhappy and quite restless.

James warns specifically about this kind of worldliness. He said:

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions and pleasures are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions or pleasures.”

I think James hit the nail on its head. With each question he posed and each answer he gave, it almost hit the nail for my condition each time. Perhaps i do not go as far as to quarrel or fight with others but certainly there are passions and pleasures at war within me. i desire to have the comforts and pleasures of life along with all the other godly things – hoping that both will increase! Certainly, there is nothing wrong with being rich, it’s just a matter of how i use my resources when i am rich – i tell myself.

But then James really seals it tight and leaves me no room for selfish manoeuvre when he continues with this:

“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

i believe there are true godly Christians who are not friends of the world but are wealthy at the same time. But i think to be godly also means that they do not seek after this wealth. It is the seeking that we fall. James gives me both a warning but also a way out of unceasing striving and mental torture when i buy into the lies of the world and am tempted to seek after wealth. There is a sigh of relief when i am reminded by His Word that i am not to, and do not need to seek after all this wealth. i am not out to make friendship with the world but friendship with God. And the two do not co-exist. I cannot serve both God and Money. Either i will hate one and love the other.

When i am reminded that i cannot seek after both God and money, i am for some reason comforted and i am momentarily released from a burden and strain of serving two masters. Jesus said:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I much rather serve Jesus than serve money, for i know the burden of money is heavy and hard, and i will never find rest for my soul in serving money.

Father God, help me defeat the lies of the world with Your truth and Your Word. Praiase Your Name and Your Spirit of Truth. Your word cuts through all the lies and Your Spirit searches my heart and mind. Thank you for guiding me and telling me to leave the heavy and hard load behind and follow You.

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Money and courage

10 February 2014

In more than one place, Jesus gave examples and parables that i believe, speak into how we should view our life and the resources entrusted to us.

There was once a rich young man who asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. The young man exclaimed he had kept all the commandments that Jesus had listed, but when Jesus asked him to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor and follow Him, the young man could only decline the offer.  The scriptures say the young man went away “sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

In another place, Jesus gave parables about the Kingdom of God. He said “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.” “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”

I believe Jesus is not necessarily asking us to sell everything we own now to give to the poor (although there may be specific instances where He may do so), but He is illustrating something very profound about the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus repeated over and over again the same teachings about money and God in different ways because He knew this would be one of the hardest lessons to learn. That what we receive as a result of what we give up for the Kingdom of God is ultimately of far greater value – beyond compare.

I often wonder why Jesus repeated to his disciples three or even more times that He would be delivered into the hands of his accusers and ultimately be put to death. Why the repetition? I can think of one simple answer, because the disciples were not listening or wanting to understand or accept the reality that Jesus was speaking into. I noticed no one asked Jesus why or what that meant. One disciple did the opposite and dared to tell Jesus to stop saying it and that it should not happen – but that disciple was severely rebuked by Jesus. If only the disciples listened and even asked Jesus for more understanding about this hard saying, i believe understanding would have been given to them (and spared them the terror and fear when Jesus was arrested and crucified).

So i believe that when Jesus repeated teachings about resources, money and the giving up of things for the Kingdom of God – he was repeating it also because He knew it was going to be hard for us to hear such things. It is very very very hard for me. But Jesus also said that my return will be beyond anything i could imagine. Perhaps not in this life, but definitely in the life to come.  It is difficult though for me to imagine a life after this and i find it much more convenient and easier to just think about my life here and now – just in the same way the disciples didn’t want to think about Jesus dying – even when Jesus told them that He will be raised again. It’s a familiar habit to keep our eyes focused on life here and now, but Jesus asks us to focus on the life to come.

If it is difficult, at least i am comforted that Jesus expected it to be so, and had therefore repeated it so many times and allowed me to know there is a reward. But i also think that i need to ask Jesus for courage to embrace this simple but hard truth. Just as how i believe the disciples needed courage to accept the truth about what Jesus was telling them about His imminent death, i believe i need help here as well.  I believe Jesus is waiting for me to ask Him to give me this courage so that i can walk by it without fear.

Lord Jesus, I thank you for giving me the precious words of the Kingdom of Heaven, for revealing the secrets of the Kingdom and teaching me to walk in them. I hear and read about them so often, but i lack the courage sometimes to walk in it. I now ask for Your courage Lord, the courage it took you even when you were in the garden of Gethsemane. I need Your courage to embrace this truth and all the truth you speak to me through scripture. And with this courage Lord, I pray that i will walk boldly in You and shine for Your glory.

 

God and money

18 January 2014

One of my favourite teachings and words from Jesus was about the laying up of treasures in heaven and not being anxious about life. In this short but powerful teaching, Jesus summed up everything so beautifully and completely.

The verse is so simple and assuring and yet so challenging. In my life I swayed to and fro between storing up too much for myself and being generous in my giving. The two are never far from one another. It isn’t something I can master or something I can do whenever I feel like it. I realised without a definite plan and direction on how I use the money God has given me, I can never really trust myself to be doing the right thing.

Today I committed myself to a more defined action plan of how I would try to live out Matthew 6:19-34. I committed it to The Lord in prayer and asked for Him to direct my thoughts as I determined what I should be doing and how to allocate the money. I felt it was important to receive His will and then execute it according to what I believe I heard, otherwise I would end up relying on my feelings and circumstances every time and it didn’t seem like the best thing to do.

It may not be perfect but I believe Jesus calls us to walk and strive toward living this out one step at a time. As I practice this in my life I know He will reveal and walk more closely in directing it and aligning it with His will more and more. I’m less concerned with getting it perfect the first time, and more concerned with taking a step first and relying on Him to do the steering.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your words in Matthew 6:19-34. I can now walk in the assurance and protection of your Word so that I am free to do your good and perfect will. Steer me so that I serve You and not money. Steer me as I place You master over my possessions and money.