by Andrew Cromwell
Everyone knows that money is a big deal. There are songs about working for it. Movies about stealing it. Books about making it. Magazines that show pictures of incredible ways to spend it. You can go to seminars on how to manage it, invest it, grow it and multiply it. Entire businesses are built on giving money advice and figuring out ways to help people save what they have and grow it for the future.
Some people who have money, pretend they don’t. And some people who have none, act like they have a lot. Some spend their whole lives saving it and others, blowing it.
Yeah, it’s a big deal.
It’s a funny thing though, because as soon as you start talking about it, people get weird. No one likes to get told what to do with their money. This is particularly challenging when you’re a pastor like I am because people don’t like you to bring up money in church. The moment the subject comes up, people get mad.
But here’s the problem.
Jesus actually talked about money quite a lot. Like a lot a lot. Like more than heaven and hell combined. The only thing He talked more about was the Kingdom of God.
And here’s what it comes down to. Either God controls your money or your money controls you.
Jesus said it pretty bluntly when He said, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Apparently money is the kind of thing that is so corrosive on our hearts that the question of who is in control of it is critical. You just can’t have it both ways. And yet, that’s often exactly what we try to do. We want to love God and walk in the right way, but our attention keeps getting pulled in other directions. We feel bad because we know we are supposed to be putting God first, but we really, really want the new car, house, boat (or whatever you’re in to) and so we throw a few dollars God’s way to help alleviate our guilt and we spend the money without taking the time to ask Him what is best.
The only way that I know of to keep the green eyed money monster from taking control of your heart, is to put God first in this area. And the only way to do that is to treat your money like it is God’s and not yours. If it’s God’s money then you don’t get to spend it any which way you like. You don’t spend first and ask later. And you don’t decide how much to give based on how much is left in your bank account after you’ve bought what you want.
You have to flip all of that on it’s head. Because the truth is most of us treat Citibank or Chase like our God rather than God Himself. How? Well, we pay the bank first and put God second, third, fourth or last. But what if we set aside money from each and every paycheck to give as an offering to God first, rather than last. (There’s actually some guidance in Scripture as to how much we should set aside, but I don’t want to get too real here.) Wouldn’t that say something about our priorities? Only people who are serious about putting God first do that kind of craziness.
But people who live this way don’t live their lives driven by debt and out of control desires. They have killed the greed monster because they have decided that God is going to be first in their money rather than their money being first in their lives.
Who’s in control of your money? And how’s that working for you?