Thanks to everyone for your email, prayers, and advice regarding my situation in PNG. On Wednesday afternoon I got a call saying that I was approved to leave the country. Within two hours, I was on a flight out of the country. I love PNG and the people of that wonderful country, but I was happy to leave! I was at home by noon on Thursday (Valentine’s Day) so it was an extra special blessing for myself and my family.
In a recent conversation with someone, he mentioned his lack of interest in financial topics. He went on to explain that he preferred to focus on more spiritual topics. Yes, he did know what I do for a career, and I think his statement was intentionally a challenge for me to consider a more noble Christian service.
The statement indicated a prevalent yet false assumption about Christian life – that things like money and our treatment of money are lower on the spiritual totem pole than other topics. Of course, there are a lot of passages and facts to which one could point to challenge this assumption. We could note, for example, that Jesus talked about money more than he did any other topic.
However, the other day during my morning devotional I was once again convinced about the spiritual importance of money while reading about the ministry of John the Baptist.
John, as we well know, stands outside the camp of the status quo. From the outskirts he calls for repentance. He demands those who surround him to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Lk 3:8). After his call and challenge, the people ask, “What should we do then?” (Luke 3:10).
- To the crowd he says that those with two tunics should share. The one with food should do the same.
- To the tax collectors he says, “Do not collect more than you are required.”
- To the soldiers he says, “Don’t exhort money, don’t accuse people falsely, and be content with your pay.”
The fruit of our repentance should be revealed through our decisions regarding our money.
Notice that to each of these three groups John calls for some form of reform that involved financial justice. What we do with our money is a fruit – either good or bad – that reveals the true nature of our heart.
Back during the crusades when knights were baptized, they would take their swords down to the waters of baptism. However, as they were immersed they would hold the sword out of the water. Through this action, they conveyed their willingness to submit to God in all things, but not in the area of their military service.
I wonder how many Christians there are today who consider their wallets or purses outside of the scope of God’s sovereignty? They are happy to discuss theology, talk about prayer and Bible reading, but they think topics of money should be kept outside of the Christian conversation. I wonder how many people seek to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind, but don’t think that their paycheck has anything to do with serving God?
Remember when Jesus visited the house of Zacchaeus? Remember what Jesus observed that caused him to say that salvation had come to this house?
What was the catalyst for Jesus’s statement?
Did Zacchaeus share some deep theological statement about the trinity? Did Zacchaeus make a deep confession of belief and faith? Did Zacchaeus spend a season in worship?
He gave away a portion of his money.
Through the act of giving away what was most important to him (his money), Zacchaeus showed the fruit of a decision he had made – that Jesus would be supreme and sovereign in his life. The old love had died. A new passion and a new love was born. A love for Christ and a passion for his will. Zacchaeus knew that following Jesus demanded everything.
I teach about money on this blog because I think money is a deeply spiritual topic. It was a topic spiritually addressed in the gospels and in almost every letter in the New Testament.
So, what does money have to do with Christianity?