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March 07, 2024

Navigating Jesus’ Teachings on Money

In a world vying for our attention at every turn, Jesus challenges us to examine what truly has priority in our lives. You can’t serve God and money, so which will it be?

In this episode, Whit and Casey break down Matthew 6:19-34. They talk about spiritual practices to de-center money from our lives, learning dependence on God, and more!

Check Out the Episode:

There are a lot of well-known verses in Matthew 6. Verses like, “where your treasure is your heart will be also”, “the eye is the lamp of the body”, and “do not be anxious…” But what do these verses even mean and how do they relate to each other?

What Jesus is saying throughout the entire Sermon on the Mount is that your inner life is the most important thing. Your actions matter, but Jesus is going after your heart.

Let’s take a deeper look at these famous verses from Matthew 6:19-34 to understand what Jesus is teaching us about our devotion and priorities.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

In a world overflowing with possessions, where self-indulgence and materialism often reign supreme, it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters. We’ve become adept at accumulating stuff, filling our homes, garages, and storage units to the brim with things we believe we need.

Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-21 are not an injunction against treasure itself, but a call to examine the priorities that govern our lives. Jesus isn’t advocating for a monk-like, detached existence, but urging us to consider where we’re investing our time, our energy, our passion—what we truly value and prioritize above all else.

The concept of treasure extends beyond mere material wealth; it encompasses our aspirations, ambitions, and allegiances. What consumes our thoughts and drives our actions? He reminds us that anything other than the Kingdom of Heaven won’t last.

We’re called to live an integrated life.

We tend to compartmentalize things. We become a different person depending on the kingdom we’re in: the kingdom of our job, our church, our family, etc. Yet, Jesus calls us to an integrated way of living, where our commitment to Him transcends every sphere of our life.

In the Sermon on Mount, Jesus is giving us a picture of a new reality. In light of that reality, we see what’s worth prioritizing.

The eye is the lamp of the body…

Where are you aiming yourself? In Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus is calling us to single-minded devotion.

Think of the concept of target fixation – when riding a motorcycle, a bike, skateboard, or even driving a car, it’s easy to focus on the thing we don’t want hit.

When we perceive something as dangerous, we can become so focused on avoiding it that we actually steer into it. It’s much more helpful to instead focus on where we want to go.

You will become like what you look at. What you give your focus to will then influence the rest of you.

 No one can serve two masters.

Jesus then confronts the idea of divided loyalties in Matthew 6:24.  A “master” is someone you deeply want to please and belong to.

Have you ever tried to talk to someone who is doing something on their phone? It can feel frustrating because their attention is divided. When we live with a divided attention, we’re only giving people a part of us.

Nothing can make us feel like a god quite like money––it gets to the heart of both our desires and our needs. It gives us a feeling of self-sufficiency and allows us to build our own kingdom: “My will be done, my kingdom come.”

The simple truth is you cannot serve God and money.

Therefore, do not be anxious…

The word “therefore” connects Matthew 6:25-34 to the preceding passages. Jesus has an awareness and empathy of how the people He is preaching to might respond to His teachings. He’s anticipating their questions, reservations, and fears.

After hearing about how we cannot serve God and money, the natural question is,  but what about my needs?

Jesus reminds us that our relationship with God is not as some distant, uninvolved King who wants our money. Its as a Father to His children.

Our journey with God is relational. Jesus emphasizes that our Father knows our needs. We’re called to trust Him and let him provide.

How do we de-center money from our lives?

A practice that’s helpful for de-centering money is tithing, or bringing 10 percent to God. Money is a tangible expression of our desires and need for security. Therefore, when we tithe, we’re prioritizing God with something that’s tied to our desires, our dreams, and our security

To bring a sacrifice is to bring something valuable to the Lord as an expression of honor and worship. This is what we all want in relationship. We want someone willing to sacrifice for us.

Tithing is a regular, willful sacrifice that God’s people bring. When we tithe, we’re saying, “Lord, this belongs to you.”

Maybe you look at 10 percent of your income and think, I can’t imagine giving that much right now.

Whether you have a lot or a little to give, the practice is not about the amount but the heart behind the giving. The act of offering a humble sacrifice is a step towards de-centering money from our lives.

When we sacrifice in this way, we learn a dependency on God that we didn’t have before, and we invest in a Kingdom that lasts.

 

Show Notes:

Watch the Message: Navigating Jesus’ Teachings: Money, Attention, & Your Needs

In this episode, Whit mentions the book East of Eden by John Steinbeck

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