What Does the Bible Teach About Money? Top Ten Bible Verses on Money and Wealth. #62
Today’s Bible passages include Exodus 13 (the aftermath of the Passover), Job 31 (a fascinating and powerful meditation on holiness for worshippers of Yahweh), 2nd Corinthians 1 (the comfort of Christ to those who are suffering.) and Luke 16 – our focus passage of the day. In this passage, Jesus is focused on issues related to money and possessions, and perhaps the most difficult to understand parable of Jesus is present -the Parable of the Dishonest Manager. Is Jesus praising a manager who behaves dishonestly and unethically in this passage? It’s very confusing, and caused some raised eyebrows at our family devotional reading for tonight. Here is Dr. Darrell Bock’s take on this particular parable:
Luke 16:1–8 contains probably the most difficult parable in Luke. It clearly teaches about the use of money and the responsibility attached to its presence, but how precisely is that point made? Two options stand out. The manager was dishonest in reducing the bills of the master’s creditors but was thinking ahead; so Jesus commends his crafty, forward-looking use of resources. The manager may have been dishonest earlier, but in reducing the bills, he is simply cutting out some of his own hefty commission in hope of goodwill later. If so, Jesus commends him for his creative use of foresight that provides for his care later.Darrell L. Bock, Luke, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 418–419.
The choice between the options is one of those cases where the interpretive decision is difficult. Either option can be correct. Jesus may be using a negative example of an unethical action to make the point about the use of resources in a negative way. But I prefer the option that argues the manager acted with foresight in this situation by cutting himself out of the bill short term, so that people he knows will have compassion on him later. Thus Jesus’ point is not built on an example of dishonesty. It illustrates precisely Jesus’ point, namely, to use the resources God gives us wisely and generously.
Dr. Bock may well be correct here, but I believe the major point that Jesus is making is not – you should be dishonest like the dishonest manager. Rather, it would appear that the major point He is making is that you should use your money for something other than buying super-nice things and constantly treating yourself, etc – but instead use your money on things that can make an eternal difference – like making friends, building relationships and taking care of people. That sort of an investment is an ETERNAL investment, because it will pay dividends, so to speak, in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven but buying mansions, expensive cars and the most elite designer clothing will not make a jot of difference in the Kingdom of Heaven. This seems to comport with another powerful teaching of Jesus:
19 “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:19-20
So – let’s talk about money. This is one of those areas where people have strong opinions, and they hold tightly to their opinions. I’ll go ahead and say it again – I believe that followers of Jesus are under the authority of the Word of God. One of the two or three most fundamental questions of Christianity is this: Must you obey what God says to you through His Word? If the answer to that question is yes – absolutely – we obey all that the Word of God commands us to do, then I believe that to be one of the distinguishing marks of being a disciple – a saved follower of Jesus. If your answer to the question is something other than an unequivocal yes, then it is likely that you aren’t following Jesus as Lord, but you merely regard Him as a good teacher, or something like that. When we pick and choose our theology – rejecting some of the New Testament commands of the Bible as dated, or not applicable to us, then WE are Lord. We decide what we want to follow or not. The trouble with US being Lord is that we can’t save ourselves.
So – how we obey the New Testament commands about money – and how we handle the New Testament teachings about money – says a lot about WHO our Lord is. I say all of that because what the Bible teaches about money is usually not compatible with the ‘American Dream.’ The Bible is consistently against the pursuit of wealth when that wealth is to be spent on oneself. The Bible consistently warns against the heart-changing dangers of wealth also. It is not a sin to be rich, and I praise God and am eternally grateful for the Kingdom-minded, giving-focused people I know who have skill at earning money, but yet pursue the Kingdom of God. Indeed, being well-off isn’t a sin (see 1 Timothy 6:17-19, +Joseph of Arimathea, Zaccheus, etc) but it is a sin to be self-centered and to spend your life in the pursuit of mammon/worldly wealth rather than in the pursuit of the Kingdom of God. As Jesus warns us here in Luke 16 – we can’t pursue both kingdoms – wealth and God’s Kingdom at the same time. We can pursue one or the other, but not both. Let’s read the passage, and then talk about the Bible’s teaching on money.
Ten Bible Passages That Teach About Money And Riches:
5 Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.Hebrews 13:5
10 The one who loves silver is never satisfied with silver, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income. This too is futile. 11 When good things increase, the ones who consume them multiply; what, then, is the profit to the owner, except to gaze at them with his eyes? 12 The sleep of the worker is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich permits him no sleep.Ecclesiastes 5:10-12
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. 8 If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.1 Timothy 6:6-10
15 He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.”Luke 12:15
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.1 Timothy 6:17-19
A good name is to be chosen over great wealth;Proverbs 22:1
favor is better than silver and gold.
Some soldiers also questioned him, “What should we do?” He said to them, “Don’t take money from anyone by force or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”Luke 3:14
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?Mark 8:36
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.Proverbs 11:4
Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.Proverbs 30:8-9