God and Riches

““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.”‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:24‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

This week in the message Turning the Tables Part 2 I talked about our financial priorities. One of the issues addressed in the message was the known tendency of African Americans to be influenced by name brands and luxury items. Simply put, sometimes our desire for luxury items and famous labels can lead us to make poor financial decisions more often than other races. 

Let me say something here. It’s not wrong to have the finer things in life. So don’t go sell your Mercedes and trade it in for a bicycle. Having nice things isn’t the problem. Jesus told the congregation at the sermon on the mount, they couldn’t serve God and mammon (wealth and riches). He says they will either love the one and hate the other. How does that apply to our financial decisions?

It all boils down to the decisions we make in critical moments and opportunities. 

Critical moments are the times when our finances are thin or have impeding obligations on them. Sometimes we’re enticed to make purchases in these lean financial times. If we’re ruled emotionally by our desires for luxury items, we will make ill-advised purchases. The end result is, we put ourselves in uncomfortable and unnecessary financial risk. 

Opportunities are the times when we can use money as a tool to put ourselves in a better financial position. These are times when we’re stable, our money isn’t obligated, and/or we’re blessed with an unexpected increase. When these moments come in our lives some of us immediately begin to imagine the things we can buy with the extra money. Then we spend it just as quickly as we received it. 

Both of these examples ended with decisions to serve our desire for riches. There is however another option; instead of serving riches, we could serve God with our riches. When we adopt a spiritual mentality that says “all that I am, and all that have belongs to God” our decisions are very different. 

In critical times, we would pray and make the choice to take care of our obligations. By doing so we relieve our financial stress and have a more abundant quality of life. From this position of stability we are free to minister to others instead of creating new financial problems in our lives so others need to minister to us. In times of opportunity we would pray for the Lord’s guidance. He could lead us to invest in ourselves by saving the extra money to carry us through the lean times. We could pay down debt, get ahead on mortgage or car payments, or invest it in ministry. 

We can’t serve God and riches, but putting God first and serving God with our riches can lead to an abundant life. Jesus said it best. 

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:33‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Focus on the Money

We’re in a series at GFMBC about personal finance entitled “Turning the Tables”. Yesterday I began with the story of Jesus turning over the tables of the money changers in Matthew 21:12-13. In that message I told our church to “focus on the money”. What does that mean? I’m going to explain but it may help to view the message to get deeper context. 

Turning the Tables Part 1

Focus on the money means: pay more attention to the true value of money instead of focusing our attention on the non-monetary values we attribute to the things money can buy. Non-monetary values can be powerful motivators that lead us to make poor money decisions. Here are some common non-monetary values. 
Emotional value: “If I buy this item, I’ll feel better.”

Social value: “If I buy this item, I’ll fit in.”

Esteem value: “If I buy this item, I’ll be perceived positively by others.”

Experience value: “If I make this purchase, I’ll have a special or unique experience.”

Physical value: “If I make this purchase my body will feel pleasure.”

Possession value: “If I purchase and possess this item, my life will be better.”

Adding these non-monetary values to our purchases can cause us to overvalue the things we buy. As a result, we may pay more for the items than they’re worth. “Time is money” but adding non-monetary values to the things we buy could cause us to make ill-advised purchases at the wrong times. We can be falsely motivated to make purchases while missing out on opportunities to make better use of our money for investments in our lives. 

We need to focus on the money, understanding it’s true value. In the long run, the money is more important than the things it can buy. When we focus on the money, we’re less likely to overspend. We’re less likely to be tricked by slick marketing or predatory sales practices. We’re actually more likely to save money and have money in excess. 

When we focus on the money, we are better able to reap the full benefits that money can provide. We’re better able to spend our money to take advantage of real opportunities. We are even better positioned to reward ourselves in ways that are meaningful and financially sound. We can even employ our money to make more money.