Living through the Economic Crisis: How to See Money


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By Brother B

Scripture teaches us what kind of attitude we are to have toward money. If we can see money in the proper light, God will provide for us through this present economic crisis. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches us:

Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

At no other moment in the lives of most people living today are these Scriptures more relevant. As of late February 2009, the Dow Jones Index had fallen to one half of what it was just a few months earlier. Untold wealth consisting of people’s investments and retirement funds evaporated. Moths, rust, and thieves had done their work. Because of this, Jesus taught us to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven.

Let’s look at the meaning of the word “treasure” in Greek according to the scholar Thayer.

Thayer Definition:

1) the place in which good and precious things are collected and laid up
1a) a casket, coffer, or other receptacle, in which valuables are kept
1b) a treasury
1c) storehouse, repository, magazine
2) the things laid up in a treasury, collected treasures

Wisdom tells us that we should be good stewards of what we earn from our livelihood, including supporting ourselves and our families. “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (2 Thess 3:10) However, when we come to put our trust, our hope, our peace and contentment in what we have saved up from our labors, it may be displeasing to the Lord. Jesus once related to his disciples a parable regarding a rich fool.

Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 
21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

This is what the world, especially through the influence of western culture, has instilled in us. We have tried to store up things for ourselves, but we might not be rich toward God. It is not wrong to store up things for future needs and for retirement. But if we are not rich toward God, we are foolish and unwise.

What is your attitude toward money?

The problem is our attitude toward money—how we see it. Let’s return to Jesus’ teaching from Matthew about treasure. He continues and goes on to instruct us:

Matthew 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 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!

In the context of the teaching about treasure, Jesus immediately refers us to our eyes. They are the lamp of our body. If our eyes are good—if we can see clearly—our whole body will be full of light. But if our eyes are bad—if we cannot see clearly—our whole body will be full of great darkness. What is it that we are “seeing”? The context dictates that Jesus is talking about how we “see” money. How we see it will affect us profoundly. According to Strong, the Greek word for “body” carries the connotation of being a sound whole. Our whole body will be affected by how we view money. While the meaning is not entirely clear, it is clear that our lives on earth can be deeply impacted by how we see or view money.

24 “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.

“Hating” God

If we have stored up our treasures on earth because we look at money as the world does, then it has become our master and we are its servant. Jesus says that if you serve money, you cannot serve God; in effect you hate and despise God. This is indeed a hard saying, but this is what God is saying to His people during these very difficult times.

25 “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? 26 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? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

What should we then do? Jesus teaches us: do not worry about your life and how you will be able to support yourself. Your heavenly Father will provide for you. Do we really believe the word of God?

Jesus taught that if we do not view money properly, our whole body will be full of darkness. Could this mean that even our physical and mental health can be affected by how we see money? It has long been suspected that worry—for example, over money and finances—can invite debilitating disease. Not only that, it was reported in the news that some people even took their own lives in the aftermath of the financial crisis beginning in 2008.

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Again, Jesus teaches us not to worry about our physical needs. Our heavenly Father will provide them for us. Therefore we know what we should not do—we are commanded not to worry. So if we are not to worry, what should we be doing?

Serve God and obey His commands

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

We must allow God to rule in our lives. If we do not serve money, than we must serve God. He is our King, and we must obey His commands. We will proclaim His kingdom on earth through the preaching of the gospel to the lost. We will seek His righteousness by putting our faith in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. We will seek His righteousness by living righteously and living a holy life. If we do these things, God’s absolute promise is that He will provide for our earthly needs.

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

It begins with looking at money as Jesus commands us. Its purpose is to serve us as we serve and obey God. It is to be used for God’s purposes. We do not depend or rely on it—we do not set our hearts on it—for our earthly needs. It is not our god. Therefore we do not worry about not having enough money for our physical needs. We will reject fear during these fearful times for the world.

We acknowledge God as our Master and Provider. We serve Him and obey His commands. We seek to bring His kingdom on earth. We put our faith in Christ’s work of redemption on the cross. We seek to walk in holiness as God is holy. We do not know the fear and uncertainty which are gripping the world. Our hearts are filled with God’s peace because our hearts are in heaven.

Matthew 6:20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


Our personal testimony

As servants of God who have chosen to live by faith in the Lord and in His promises, we have no health insurance, no savings, and little pension or retirement funds set aside to speak of at this time. We have chosen not to raise funds for ourselves and for “ministry” as some servants of God do nowadays by making claims to God’s people that cannot be fulfilled. This is how we personally have chosen to store our treasure in heaven. (By no means are we saying that every believer must do what we have done; we are simply doing what God has called us to do.)

But God has fulfilled His word to us. Even though we are not that far from “retirement age,” we look and feel far younger than we actually are. The Lord has given us the grace and wisdom to preserve our health and youth. He is gracious to us and continuing to open up more and more doors for us around the world and in the United States to teach The Elijah Challenge. It may be that 2009 will be the most fruitful year for us yet.

We are trusting the Lord that we will never slow down and “retire” from active ministry. Rather we are confident that we will be flourishing and bearing fruit for Him until the day that we leave this world for heaven, where we have chosen to store our treasure.

Psalm 92:13 …planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, 15 proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

 

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