When most people think about the story of the Bible, they often think about choosing sides between good and evil, or satan and God. But many forget that the other master is actually money.
Riches are a blessing from God
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”Luke 6:38
God giving us more wealth based on what we gave to Him, as Jesus mentioned is surely a blessing. This is echoed by Psalmists as well.
For [those] blessed by Him shall inherit the earth ..Ps 37:22
God never intended His disciples to be homeless. He actually blesses them, feed them and takes care of their needs. Some could go through trials like Job and persecutions like in case of Daniel. However, the end result is always a great blessing of wealth. Hence, wealth and riches are blessings from God. In this post, we will explore when this riches become a master.
Money becoming a master
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.Matt 6:24
A master is someone who is served. Anyone serving a master will love and be loyal to their master. Here, Jesus is comparing money to be the other master when God is to be served.
Jesus is very clearly saying, if anyone does not hate and despise money, they serve money and money is their master, not God. But, what does it mean by hating and despising money? To understand this, we first need to understand what love is.
Not loving God as intended
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is [the] first and great commandment. And [the] second [is] like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”Matt 22:37-40
Jesus is quoting the shema on the old testament. However, to understand what “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind ” means, we need to first understand what kind of love God is referring to here.
If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.Song 8:7b
The love God had, to save His children made Jesus despise the glory of all the kingdoms of the earth. Both the passage above and what Jesus did by giving His own life shows the true meaning and the extent of His love. However, here we will focus only on the context of money. In short, we are to despise all the wealth of our house before God. If we don’t hate or despise the wealth then we don’t love God. Still what does it mean by hating and despising money?
Hating and despising money
When you hate something,
- you don’t seek after it
- you avoid it
- you will be against it
- you want to get rid of it
When you despise something,
- you don’t care about it
This is exactly what God wants us to do towards money. If we do the above, we serve God. Many believe that Jesus is asking His disciples to become homeless. But that is not what Jesus is actually saying. It is the wealth, riches and treasures that sits at our homes and doing nothing – this is exactly what Jesus is targeting. It is not wrong to spend for our basic needs. But accumulating beyond what we need and not helping the poor becomes a sin and we begin to serve money.
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”Mark 10:21-23
Take a look at the rich man who kept the law properly, yet he lacked one thing. Can you guess what that one thing is? He never served God but money. This becomes apparent when he was asked to despise his wealth for the sake of God’s kingdom. He chose money rather than God and despised the kingdom of God.
When does being rich become a sin?
There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.Luke 16:19-25
Jesus explains this in the parable of the rich man. Being blessed with riches is a blessing from God. But what did the rich man do to deserve hades? He did not help the poor Lazarus.
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did [it] to one of the least of these My brethren, you did [it] to Me.’Matt 25:40
In an another parable, Jesus explains that helping one of the least of His brethren is doing it to Him.
“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.Deut 15:7-8
The rich man not only disobeyed the law but also despised the poor, thereby despising God and His commandments. This not only becomes a sin, but clearly shows that the rich man is serving money.
Teachings of Jesus to the rich
And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” … So [is] he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”Luke 12:15,21
It is very interesting to see how Jesus was replying the above to someone who was seeking to posses his own inheritance. Even seeking any riches beyond what we need, even if it legally belongs to us and even if it is our own inheritance, is declared as ‘covetousness’ by Jesus Christ.
Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Luke 12:33-34
If we sell our worldly treasures, we have treasures in heaven. If we don’t, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have treasures in heaven but rather, it means that we don’t even get to enter His kingdom, for we despised God for the sake of worldly treasures to serve money.
It is worth noting that Jesus is not asking us to become homeless but rather, He wants us to sell the treasures and abundance of things to help the poor and needy of His brethren.
Do you hate and despise money? Do you despise your own wealth? If we don’t, we serve the other master, money. Even if we are to seek our own inheritance from our forefather to have abundance of possessions, Jesus calls it as having covetousness. Who do you serve? God or money?