Summary: Now here’s a passage that many Christians use to say that we ought to live in poverty and give away everything we own to the poor. Or the watered down version says that we should never be rich, only just earn enough money to live.
Matthew 6 – Part 6 - SO ARE YOU SAYING GOD WANTS ME TO BE POOR?
I’ve never had all that much money in my life. Still don’t. But I’ve never lived in poverty either. I remember being down to I think $10 in our account. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be rich, but mostly all I want is to have a meaningful and fruitful life for God.
Jesus says in the Leadership Course 101 that He is running on the mountain, that Disciples “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.”
Now here’s a passage that Christians use to say that we ought to live in poverty and give away everything we own to the poor. Or the watered down version says that we should never be rich, only just earn enough money to live.
At first glance the passage seems to be saying “Don’t have a savings account (“Don’t store up treasures here on earth,) Don’t plan for the future. Don’t rely on Super funds. Don’t invest any money. Just continually get rid of it and you’ll be rich in heaven.” Do what Jesus asked the rich young ruler to do – “Give away everything you have to the poor and come and follow Me.”
So what is He talking about? If the idea of storing riches in heaven is to be translated as “Give away your money to charities and do good deeds in order to earn rewards in heaven.” that still seems like a selfish motivation for doing good deeds, and contradicts everything else Jesus has been teaching me up to this point.
If on the one hand I am to believe that as a Christian I should not be rich, then why am I investing in a Superfund and why am I not in India right now caring for the poor, or even better - in Haiti? Why have a job at all because it only earns money that I am not supposed to store on earth? I’ll be continually guilty.
And if you I do become a missionary, I won’t be able to accept any money from people who store up treasures on earth! That would be hypocritical, wouldn’t it? Can’t have double standards. After all I am to “live by faith”, not by those who accumulate wealth in an unbiblical way, who don’t live by faith but call themselves Christians, storing it up on earth. It seems to me that those who say they are “living by faith” are sometimes those who accept money to live on from those they accuse of NOT living by faith. What is that all about?
WHAT DO YOU MEAN, LORD?
If it is OK to superspiritualise this passage and take it to mean that I am to live in poverty as a Christian and that every good deed I do stores riches in heaven and my goal on earth is to earn a lot of money in heaven while giving away everything I have on earth, then I think I am reading things into this passage that aren’t there. So let me look at it a little more closely and in context.
Jesus has been speaking about attitudes and motivations – ie Don’t have the wrong motivation for doing good deeds – to gain approval of people. Don’t have the wrong motivation for prayer and for fasting – to show people how spiritual you are. Now He says don’t have the wrong motivation about money. What I think He is saying is don’t regard it from a human point of view, not don’t have it at all.