Summary: Whether we are talking about spiritual status symbols or social status symbols, Christ destroys all tokenism and says it is substance—who we are underneath it all—that matters to God. Christ shatters all attempts at achieving status through wealth with t
Money, Relationships, and God: The Interface
An angel appeared at a faculty meeting and told the dean that in return for his unselfish service, he will be rewarded with his choice of wealth, wisdom, or beauty. Without hesitating, the dean selects wisdom. "It is done!" the angel said, and then disappeared into a cloud of smoke. All of the other members of the faculty stared at the dean with amazement. Finally one of them whispered, "Now that you have infinite wisdom, Dean, say something." The dean looked them and said, "I should have taken the money."
It’s a good joke, isn’t it? But I—and probably you-- disagree. Proverbs tells us that wisdom is more precious than gold. It is crucial that we Christians convince ourselves of this. But this joke does the job of getting us to think about the relationship of wealth to life in general, and to our relationship toward God in particular.
Let me ask you a question: In what ways does our culture pressure us to love money?
Let me ask another: Why is it so difficult to keep a proper perspective on money?
Many Pharisees at the time of Jesus thought that wealth meant God’s favor. They read the verses in Deut. 28 and made some wrong conclusions:
1 If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.
2 All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:
3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock--the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
7 The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.
8 The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
9 The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways.
10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you.
11 The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity--in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground--in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you.
12 The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.
These verses deal with Israel’s national blessing when they walked with Him in sincerity. You cannot take the general direction of a nation and apply it to each individual. But Israel was not walking so zealously with the Lord. Individuals were rich or poor, not necessarily based upon their own righteousness. Their spiritual condition would be clearly revealed by their indifference or rejection of Jesus as the Messiah.
Since many Pharisees thought that wealth evidenced God’s blessing, and since many Pharisees were concerned about their image, not their substance, they went through great pains to attain wealth. In our society, wealth has become a social status symbol. In ancient Israel, wealth was considered a spiritual status symbol.
MAIN IDEA: Whether we are talking about spiritual status symbols or social status symbols, Christ destroys all tokenism and says it is substance—who we are underneath it all—that matters to God.
TS------------- Christ shatters all attempts at achieving status through wealth with the hammer of truth. Let’s look at three truths Christ used to hammer away at the status-seeking.
I. Relationships Are More Valuable than Excessive Wealth (1-9)
1. Abraham Maslow came up with a pattern called, “Maslow’s Pyramid.” According to Maslow, human needs are arranged from the most urgent to the highest levels. At the bottom are physiological needs: air, food, water, etc.. Next come safety needs: security, freedom from anxiety/chaos, law and order); then come Belonging needs (acceptance, intimacy, affection), then Esteem needs (self-respect, recognition, independence, dignity), and then at his pinnacle he places “Self-Actualization” (reaching your potential).
---my simpler division is this: physical needs, relational needs, spiritual needs
(any of these can be pursued to an infinite level---a balanced person pursues all three)