Money: What place are we to give it?
As I address this question, the first passage of Scripture that comes to my mind is a statement our Lord made to His disciples during His earthly ministry.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. [Emphasis added]
Even though the context of this verse tells us this passage is addressed to Israel and not us today, it does present the general principle I’m speaking of. That principle is that our relationship with God should take priority over every other area of our lives. In the context, the long-prophesied kingdom was about to be offered to Israel. Had they responded with faith, accepting Jesus as their Messiah, Christ would have returned to Earth not long after His ascension and would have established His earthly kingdom. That is why Peter and the other apostles were presenting this message in the early Acts period.
19 Repent ye therefore [change your mind], and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when [HOPOS = so that] the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
This was the plea for Israel to change their mind about the identity of Jesus of Nazareth and to accept Him as their Messiah so that He would then return to the Earth and establish these “times of refreshing” which would be His prophesied earthly Kingdom.
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ [a reference to His Second Coming], which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. [Emphasis added]
But when Israel rejected Him, God interrupted the prophetic program. He then saved and commissioned the apostle Paul [Acts 9 & I Timothy 1:16] with a whole new program of which we are still a part today. The kingdom promised to Israel hasn’t been cancelled, but it has been put off to a future day. Meanwhile God is forming that which is called The Body of Christ church, being made up of Jews and Gentiles who have accepted Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection as the sole basis for their salvation.
I Corinthians 15:3-4
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]
This baptism that puts us in Christ is a dry baptism performed by the Holy Spirit the moment someone is saved.
I Corinthians 12:13
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. [Emphasis added]
This period of history of which we are a part today will end with what is called the Rapture. All members of this Body of Christ will then reside in Heaven forever in their new resurrection body.
20 For our conversation [POLITEUO = citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
This is a reference to what is called The Rapture, not The Second Coming of Christ.
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. [Emphasis added]
The general principles spoken of in the context of our initial Matthew 6:33 passage is also uttered by our apostle Paul in his first of two letters to his close associate, Timothy.
I Timothy 6:6-11
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will [BOULOMAI = resolving, expressing an intense desire to] be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root [literally A root] of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred [APOPLANAO = been caused to wander] from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. [Emphasis added]
In other words, material wealth is by no means the most important thing of life. We are, therefore, not to give it top priority in our decision-making. It is not what we say, but how we spend our money that speaks volumes about the priority we give it. As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
Verse seven of that same passage reminds us of something we’re all prone to forget—we can’t take it with us. Let’s look at that verse again and let it sink in.
Again, I Timothy 6:7
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. [Emphasis added]
As someone has said, “it all goes back into the box,” meaning money and things are ours to enjoy for a time, but not forever. When we depart from this Earth, we leave it all behind. We all know that, but, because there are so many distractions, we all need to be reminded of it often. Our Lord gave us a parable about this to remind us that it is most important for us all that we prepare for eternity, not just the here and now.
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. [Emphasis added]
Are you rich toward God? What priority are you giving God and His Word in your life? Talk is cheap, but what is the reality? Who or what is the master of your life?
13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [MAMONAS = a common Aramaic word for riches]. [Emphasis added]
As it is said, decisions determine our destiny. What are you focusing on that’ll determine yours? Is it the material or the eternal? You will determine all that by your choices. Your time will inevitably be dominated by things you see as priorities. The same may be said about how you spend your money. You’ll think nothing of spending money on things that you believe are truly important to you. Spending it on other things will often be drudgery. We are clearly warned about this kind of thing in our giving that supports some ministry.
II Corinthians 9:7
7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. [Emphasis added]
A sad thing about all this is that when your priorities are wrong, you’ll unknowingly make destructive choices that’ll involve you and others.
Again, I Timothy 6:9
9 But they that will [BOULOMAI = resolving, expressing an intense desire to] be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. [Emphasis added]
Many lives have been wasted because of wrong priorities. Don’t let yours be one of them! Only proactive, wise choices on your part will make the positive difference we should all want.
Again, I Timothy 6:10
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. [Emphasis added]
The first part of this verse is about what one adores most. The second part is talking about the self-induced misery people with such priorities create for themselves. They may spend a lifetime blaming others for their circumstances when the reality is that they themselves have had everything to do with how life has turned out for them. For most people the one who caused most of their problems can be seen in the nearest mirror. Decisions always have consequences of one kind or another.
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. [Emphasis added]
Sowing to the Spirit is all about focusing on the spiritual rather than only the temporal.
Life is full of people who think they can steal the wealth they need to be happy. But here, too, we are warned. It just doesn’t work that way.
28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. [Emphasis added]
It is by one’s own labors that material prosperity can be gained. Of course, the hardest work is by thinking, not back-breaking physical work. The last part of that verse tells us that our labors need to be motivated by a desire to meet the needs of others, not just oneself. That includes family, but others too. It is to be these “others” that motivate us most.
I Timothy 5:8
8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel [APISTOS = unbeliever]. [Emphasis added]
Here he’s talking about believers acting like unbelievers. Can believers do that? Of course! Even so-called “true” believers. Such was the case for the believers the apostle Paul worked with in the city of Corinth. So many of them thought and acted just like unbelievers.
I Corinthians 3:3
3 For ye are yet carnal [dominated by one’s sinful nature]: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men [functioning like unbelievers]? [Emphasis added]
Any believer can think and act just like an unbeliever at any time. If they couldn’t, what’s the point of Paul rebuking these believers who act this way? Yet that’s the subject-matter to some degree of all his epistles. All Scripture serves to point out our wrongs so we can learn to live a godly life.
II Timothy 3:16-17
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect [ARTIOS = complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works. [Emphasis added]
Only God’s Word in us equips us for the life He would have us live. The accumulation of this takes a lifetime. The most fundamental of all commands in Scripture are these.
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, [Emphasis added]
Then there are other similar commands.
II Peter 3:18
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. [Emphasis added] is this one.
II Timothy 2:15
15 Study [SPOUDAZO = be diligent] to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]
What priority are you giving these? Both WHERE you spend eternity and HOW you will spend eternity will be determined by how you respond to these. It is in how we spend our money that we provide evidence for our understanding of the proper role of money in our lives. Here next we see Paul’s comment about this to the church in Corinth. He’s exhorting them to prove their love for the things of God over money. He makes this comment in the midst of two whole chapters on the subject of giving.
II Corinthians 8:24
24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf. [Emphasis added]
Paul sets forth a general command about this in his letter to the Galatians.
6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate [KOINONIA = commune or share] unto him that teacheth in all good things. [Emphasis added]
The various “ministries” one supports will always serve to provide a clear indication of one’s priorities.
I Timothy 5:17-18
17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
18 For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. [Emphasis added]
Note what Paul says to the Corinthian believers about this.
I Corinthians 9:11
11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? [Emphasis added]
Concluding Principle: Money can be a great blessing, but only when man’s viewpoint concerning it is as God’s. To have that viewpoint, we must avail ourselves to the teachings of the Word of God. Otherwise, like so many other things in this world, it will become only a source of cursing with resultant suffering. We should pay special attention to the words of the man who had more money than anyone has ever had. His name was Solomon.
“…Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” –Ecclesiastes 12:13b, 14