5 Things Jesus Said About Money and Wealth
Money, wealth, and possessions is one of the most talked about topics in the Bible. From start to finish, the Scriptures tell us about making money, generosity, poverty, riches, and stewardship. This is done through stories of people’s lives, Proverbial wisdom, parables, and more. The Bible can teach us a lot about God’s view of money.
God understands that people have used money and possessions to trade and live. Long before paper money or coins were exchanged, people were trading their time, their crops, animals, and valuables like gold and silver as currency. When Jesus walked the earth, society was trading coins in a similar way to us today. Instead of dollars and cents, you’ll hear things like denarius or talent mentioned when Jesus talked about money.
Because money and wealth is important to our survival on earth, we should know what Jesus had to say about it.
During the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, Jesus preaches a foundational message about how we should live. Part of that message is about generosity, wealth, and riches. Here are 5 things Jesus said about money and wealth—4 of them are from Matthew 6.
God sees and understands our needs
"Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!"
Matthew 6:8 NLT
This scripture is about prayer, but we need to have this understanding. God understands what we need, even before we ask in prayer.
Does that mean we don’t need to pray and ask God for things? No. James tells us that if we don’t ask, God won’t answer. This verse is a reassurance that God isn’t blind or stupid. He understands that we need money to live, to have a place to live, to buy food, and cover our basic needs.
Jesus tells us not to pray like the pagans. who keep repeating their prayers over and over and over again. People like this don’t believe that God hears their prayer, or is unaware of their needs, so they need to repeat it again and again. Instead, we can pray in faith that God sees and understands all of our needs.
Even though the U.S. is one of the most prosperous nations, finances is the top cause of stress. I believe that when you understand that God sees and understands your financial needs, you will experience less stress.
We can’t serve God and money
“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." Matthew 6:24 NIV
God’s intention is for people to use money as a tool. Most people let their money rule over them, instead of ruling over their money.
Unfortunately, many Christians with a skewed view of God and money do the opposite. They want to use God as a tool and love money. God wants us to use money and love Him. We should have full control over where our money goes, and what we spend it on.
I’ve often heard that if you can’t give something away then it has ownership of you, and you don’t own it.
Does that mean you need to give away all of the money in your bank account? Probably not. But, if you were unable to do that, then you are serving money and not God. We see this example play out differently in two scenarios:
When Jesus calls Peter to follow Him, Peter and his brother Andrew are fishing. They’re not fishing because it’s their favorite hobby, they’re at work. They’re fishing and that’s how they earn an income to live and buy food. When Jesus calls them to follow Him, the Bible says they immediately left their fishing net to follow Jesus.
Peter and Andrew immediatly left their primary source of income to follow Jesus. They chose to serve God, not money.
In Mark 10, we’re told about a rich young ruler. Him and Jesus have a conversation, and Jesus invites the young man to follow Him. This time, the young man declines the invitation. We’re told that he had great riches and went away disappointed. He made the decision to follow and serve money instead of God.
Our spending habits reveal our priorities
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:21 NKJV
There are two things that reveal your priorities in life:
- Your bank statements
- Your daily schedule
Where you spend your money and your time will tell you what’s a priority in your life and what doesn’t matter. If you spent every Saturday golfing and had $10,000 golf clubs, it’s obvious that golfing is important to you. If you spend an hour every day reading and have a full bookshelf, reading is a priority. If health is a priority, you spend your time exercising and spend money on healthy food and a gym membership.
It’s easy for us to say something is a priority for us, but it’s not always true. If I told you that reading was a priority, but I didn’t own any books or spend any time reading, I’d be lying.
We can say that our faith in Jesus is a priority, but our calendar and our wallets reveal the truth. If you don’t spend your time and money on the things of God, then it’s not something you care about. We can also use money to move our hearts. If you start giving to a church, you’ll find that your heart becomes more attached to it because that’s where your treasure is.
We shouldn’t flaunt our generosity
"When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."
Matthew 6:2-4 NLT
We don’t need to make an announcement every time we’re generous. Jesus calls these people hypocrites because they’re giving with selfish motives. They don’t want to be generous because they’re helping someone else, they want to further elevate themselves. And that’s the reward they receive—applause and recognition from other people.
When we’re generous, it should be because we have a desire to help someone else.
God says that He will reward us for that, which is always better than a reward from other people.
Generosity is sacrificial
"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, 'Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.'”
Mark 12:41-44 NIV
We often think that if we can’t give a certain amount of money, then we shouldn’t bother at all. Jesus defined generosity much differently than we do. He tells us that generosity isn’t about the number of 0’s on the check we write, it’s about the sacrifice that we make.
According to Jesus generosity isn’t about equal giving, it’s about equal sacrifice. Jesus ignores the rich people that were putting $10,000 or $50,000 into the offering, but He recognizes a widow that put a few pennies in.
The Bible says that the streets of Heaven are paved with gold, and that God owns the entire earth If God truly owns everything, then He doesn’t need our money. He isn’t hoping that rich people will fund the church and reach more people. Instead, His priority is to have people that are willing to sacrifice. God’s desire is to have people who are willing to give Him everything.
God can accomplish more in the earth with people who are fully devoted to Him.