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Money: a useful tool, a dangerous idol

January 24, 2024

Daily Scripture

Luke 16:10-15, Matthew 6:20-21, 24-25

Luke 16
10 “Whoever is faithful with little is also faithful with much, and the one who is dishonest with little is also dishonest with much. 11 If you haven’t been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 If you haven’t been faithful with someone else’s property, who will give you your own? 13 No household servant can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” 14 The Pharisees, who were money-lovers, heard all this and sneered at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves before other people, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued by people is deeply offensive to God.”

Matthew 6
20 Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. 21 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
25 “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes?

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Jesus’ teaching echoed the wisdom of ancient Hebrew sages in saying that obsessively amassing the “treasures” of this world does not produce a satisfying life (cf. Proverbs 11:4, 21:20). Sadly, many religious leaders in Jesus’ day overlooked or ignored that part of their tradition. But Jesus said treasure in heaven, treasure by God’s standards, is the most precious item we can “collect.” Our heart follows our treasure—and what we treasure shows where our heart’s loyalties really lie.

  • Jesus was clear. He didn’t say we “shouldn’t” serve both God and money. He said we “cannot” do that. (The Greek word translated “money” meant all types of material goods.) Our hearts have room for only one ultimate master. When you face ethical choices, or career or family decisions, what determines your course: God’s values, or the material and social payoffs you expect?
  • Jesus did not oppose wealth. He strongly opposed putting wealth above God in life’s priorities. The Message rendered Luke 16:14 this way: “When the Pharisees, a money-obsessed bunch, heard him say these things, they rolled their eyes, dismissing him as hopelessly out of touch.” * Does Jesus’ teaching about worldly wealth and true riches seem “out of touch” to you? Does it challenge you? Does it inspire you?

Heavenly Father, sometimes my priorities get out of order, in little things or even in big things. Help me prioritize you above all else in my life, to honor you as my true master. Amen.

GPS Insights

Elijah Herrell

Elijah Herrell

Elijah Herrell serves as the modern worship leader at Resurrection’s Downtown campus. A worship leader, musician and songwriter, he was originally based in Hickory, NC before moving to the Kansas City area in 2013. Over the last 10 years, he’s served with various churches and ministries all over KC as well as recorded multiple albums with his band “Familiar.” He loves most all things Dolly Parton, has strong feelings about cereal and looks forward to fostering a dog as soon as his landlord allows.

As a kid, I felt like the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” made perfect sense. Even though this wasn’t the story’s intended meaning, I remember finding comfort in the idea of having just the right balance of what I need. Too much and too little were both considered less than optimal to Goldilocks. There was a balance to be found and that balance was the best. As an adult, my fears and paranoia have made me uncomfortable with “just enough.” Conviction spills from these passages and pokes at my anxieties. What if I don’t have enough money in my emergency fund? What if my car breaks down for the last time and I can’t replace it soon enough? What if the “enough” God has given runs out and I’m found lacking?

Thankfully, the Lord has remained kind and graceful in my moments of hesitation. I often relate to the vulnerable (and surely anxious) children of Israel displaced in the wilderness. Yet God’s provision of manna always provided just enough for everyone to be fed and cared for. Any selfish or fearful hoarding was a waste. The only true consistency was the Lord’s promise to grant every single family exactly what they needed. It forced God’s people to release their own “control” over their survival and future and relinquish it back to the gentle and generous hands of their God. 

Each time I read these passages, they start to feel less like a condemnation and more like a twofold invitation. First, I hear a still, small voice asking me to think back. To recount every time that I’ve seen the Lord’s faithfulness when I needed and asked for help. Memories never fail to flood back and my faith is encouraged to re-choose dependence on Him. Secondly, I’m reminded that choosing dependence IS an investment. As helpful as extra cash and resources can be, every moment where I look to the Lord as my provider will be forever counted as eternal reward. That’s my kind of emergency fund!

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Peterson, Eugene H. The Message Numbered Edition Hardback. Navpress. Kindle Edition.