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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Don't Love Money and Don't Worry

Don’t Love Money and Don’t Worry

Jesus had so many teachings to leave his followers. He told them that He knew they couldn’t understand all of what He wanted to share with them at that time. But He promised to leave them (and us) His Holy Spirit who would guide them (and us) into all truths and would also help us to understand.

Jesus talked about money and what our relationship to money should be.  Let’s listen to His words.  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  The eye is the lamp of the body.  If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

No one can serve two masters.  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 both God and Money.”  (Matthew 6:19-24)

Jesus is warning His followers against running after the wealth of the world.  If they do, it will take them away from putting Christ first. And Christ wants first place in our lives. Christ’s disciples had left everything (the world) to follow Him.  But when Judas, one of Jesus ‘disciples, betrayed Christ for money - thirty pieces of silver, he threw away his Savior. The love of money can do terrible things to the human soul. Jesus is telling His followers that they are to work for spiritual treasures and not for earthly treasures. We sometimes think we can work for both – have it both ways - but Jesus teaches us that that is not possible. “We cannot serve both God and Money.”  (Matthew 6:24) We must choose one over the other. And Jesus is asking us to choose Him over money.  With His Spirit to guide us we can joyfully obey His command concerning money.

Worldly riches have in themselves a principle of corruption and decay.  They do not last. Of course we are to work to earn enough money to pay our bills, give to the poor and take care of our families.  But we are not to burden ourselves striving after wealth. Christ counsels us to make the joys and glories of the other world our best things. To place our happiness in them.   Jesus says: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20) It is the things not seen that are eternal and that won’t be taken away from us.  In Jesus we have an inheritance that is incorruptible!    

And then Jesus also has another lesson for His followers.  He tells them not to worry about their life and the problems that come with living. (and there are so many!)   Here is part of His teaching. “therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink: or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?   Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these other things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:25-26, 33)  

I do not believe that Jesus was telling us not to work to make our lives and those around us better.  But He was telling us not to worry while we work and not to have concerns that disturb our joy in God.  He says that He came to give us a more abundant life. (John 10:10)   Jesus also promises to give His peace and joy and we cannot have peace or joy in this world if we are worrying.  He is our Comforter and Helper and our joy.  He wants to free us to have a more abundant life in Him.  Doesn’t that sound good?    

Along with telling us not to worry about our lives, Jesus went on to tell his followers that our Father in heaven would give us what we asked for if it is in His good will.  Then Jesus encourages us to ask and not worry.  Let’s listen: “Ask and it will be given to you: seek and you will find: knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives: and he who seeks finds: and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you sin, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-12a)

Isn’t this a wonderful promise?  And this promise is made to all of Christ’s followers.  We are encouraged to ask God for whatever we want and need.  If we would be rich in grace, we must bring our needs to God, our heavenly Father.  And being told to seek and knock seems to imply that we should go further than casually asking and praying.  Sometimes the answer takes time to arrive and we must wait and wait some more and trust God. But it will arrive, if it is in His will.  Christ allows us to knock at His door, because Christ knocks at our door. (Revelations 3:20)  He knocks and desires to enter our lives.

The curtain is drawn back here and Jesus gives us a picture of our loving Father waiting for us to come to Him with our needs. Our heavenly Father desires to give us good gifts, just like good fathers and mothers here on earth desire to give good gifts to their children.  Our loving Father has us in His hand.  He has us covered.  That is why we can relax and let go of our worries and let Him take care of us.    

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