- I value all things only by the price they shall gain in eternity (John Wesley).
- I place no value on anything I possess, except in relation to the kingdom of God (David Livingstone).
- We cannot expect lost people to adopt biblical morality in light of judgment by a God they ignore (Jim Denison)
- He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose (Jim Elliot)
- Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of (Jonathan Edwards).
TEXT; Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
The changes that are taking place in our world should guide us to ask “What do I want more than anything else in the world? While Covid -19 has disorganized the world we knew few months ago, it may be providing Christians with an opportunity to ‘read’ the heart, listen to the fears and examine whether it is God’s presence or His presents that tilt the heartbeat. Peter’s response to Simon’s offer of money so as to purchase the ability to use the Holy Spirit (Acts 8) made me realize there is something about love of money that is counter to the kingdom of God. “Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” (Acts 8:20-22). The thinking that God can be used as a tool for trade in whatever form should be a scare and is a revelation that one has no part or share in what God is doing. The problem is not money, but how the attitude to money reveals one’s attitude to God. “Simon himself believed and was baptized”.(Acts 8:13 and may therefore have been among those who had apostle Peter and John lay hand on him to receive the Holy Spirit and was still captive to sin. It is dangerous to be a Christian and still be thinking like everybody else even though living in similar circumstances and environment. We need to pray “ that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”. (Ephesians 1:18). There is need to inculcate an eternal perspective.
ATTITUDE TO MONEY THAT REVEALS NO DEATH TO SELF
To be a Christian is to accept that there is a God in heaven who created human beings in His image and likeness to subdue the earth (Genesis 1:26-28) but the relationship that was to enable realization of that mission was severed because of failing to obey the instructions as given. Jesus Christ came to restore that relationship. Some examples of a people that failed to understand God’s position in relation to money/wealth:
Achan – Having seen the miraculous Hand of God through the wilderness, in crossing river Jordan and capturing Jericho, he still thought about acting in ways that could insure the future he had in mind. “ Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia,[c] two hundred shekels[d] of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels,[e] I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”(Joshua 7:20-21) It was a time of war not of seeking self-security. Achan must not have trusted God to be able to provide such valuables as he saw. That led to his losing not just what he gained illegally but all his possessions and family. That was in addition death of 36 men and deep frustration of his army (Joshau7:5). Might the thinking of those who take advantage and monetary gain from Covid-19 be similar to Achan? One can be so preoccupied with the needs of later times, that while the fight is on, they are digging holes for hiding what they have corruptly gained. Is not the God who is supplying your needs today able to do it tomorrow?
Gehazi – This was a prophet in training who had no doubt about God’s power. Greed led him to desire what belonged to another. “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”(2 kings 5: 20). That hunger for what did not belong to him led to his lying to Namaan and to Elisha and reducing the impact of the lesson Prophet Elijah wanted to communicate that God’s healing was not for trade. What he got: “Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? 27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” (2 Kings 5:26-27). To be a Christian and get involved in dubious money gain can attract that which one thought of avoiding.
Ananias and a Sapphira– Disciples who were part of the body of Christ. They did not realize that the presence of the Holy Spirit was not drama. This was the kind of couple that evidence unity given in marriage seminars for that they had shared fears of the future and the need to be accepted. The test of whether God can be trusted means He is either in charge or He is not God at all. That lesson the good couple had to learn the hard way just like Achan. They never lived to see the goodness of the Lord in this land of the living. “Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”(Acts 5: 3-4). You cannot name Christ as Lord and continue to be Lord of your life.
THE CHOICE IS BETWEEN GOD’S PRESENCE AND GOD’S PRESENTS
The key issue is how one handles the ever present temptation of being desirous of the better life of God’s blessings and the better hope of God’s presence. In living out the mission God has assigned each one of us, the issue of money, material wealth, or any entity that promises wealth, and is associated with the greedy pursuit of gain must be clearly thought through.
Set your priorities – Jesus Christ taught that to get life’s priorities right one has to determine to pursue the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) first. That is not an easy matter for a normal human being tends to pursue what one can see, touch, taste, and possess, instead one is giving every strength to pursue Someone who is not visible. The reason the heart search for what one’s deepest longing is so important is that it separates the worshippers of money and all other idols it enables one to purchase from those who have an intimate relationship with God.
Avoid company of the greedy – It is easy to use the cover of the generally accepted norms in a community. The desire to ascend to positions of power so as to make some adjustments for self-gain may seem innocent. Be careful of using religious titles to conceal the greed motive. “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people” (1 Corinthians 5:11). Some of the items called ‘blessings’ could be manifestations of greed. Another house that is comfortable to retire of a man of your class may be just feeding materialistic desires that are mammon. That may create covetousness and so mislead others. The reason to keep off such a company is that the person is destined for a different destination. “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a person is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5). It should be of concern when one who knows what the grace of God is gets fixated by the same things that concern those t who are yet to know about God’s grace. “Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.” (Francis Chan).
Understand the relationship between your treasure and your heart– Jesus Christ made it clear that the heart follows the treasure. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). A. W. Tozer on answering the question “What is our treasure?” says it is important to ask:
- What do we value most?
- What would we most hate to lose?
- What do our thoughts turn to most frequently when we are free to think of whatever we will?
- What affords us the greatest pleasure?”
Jesus’ teaching that you cannot serve God and money should be taken seriously. When a love of money, fame, and wealth take hold of a life, that person’s desire for money will eventually take precedence over one’s love for God. When a Christian starts to become fixated by what money can buy, one becomes increasingly devoted to it, which leads to an increasing contempt for God. In the same way fear of not having that which money gives can cause a person to fail to see God because their heart is obsessed by their treasure. It is contempt to use the name of God to build one’s kingdom and in so doing misrepresent God. While the dangers of being shackled in poverty are horrible, the desire to be free outside a relationship with God can be far worse. It is a great bondage to imagine that one can rival God with materialistic ambitions. Many have tried to serve both, but all fail in the end. “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today” (Deuteronomy 8:18). When wealth is given by God, it becomes a source of joy and greater increase. The creator of the universe cannot fail to know how to take care of you and that is why our attitude to money should be aligned to our knowledge of God. God is honored when we put our faith, and fears to Him and allow Him to act. Increase in money and wealth have a tendency to make people have self-sufficiency instead of depending on God. Is your attitude to money revealing your desire for God’s presents or God’s presence?
“If you try to become original, you’ll never be original.” The only path to true originality is to merge the uniqueness of your God-given design together with the uniqueness of God’s very presence in you. The by-product is an idiosyncratic reflection of the image of God” (C.S. Lewis).