Not Just For Us

Many people tend to have the idea that the gospel only effects spiritual life, such as what we do in church, but we give little thought to its impact on what we consider “secular.” But in reality, the gospel should impact all of life, down to the smallest details. This includes our own use of finances.

We need to recognize right off the bat that wealth itself is not a sin. However, it does present many challenges which could otherwise be avoided. “Jesus considered affluence to be the greatest obstacle to entering the Kingdom” (Hayes 804). Living in luxury and ease can indeed be a great hinderance to us in following Jesus.

The temptation is to find our value in what we have. This can be in a number on a bank statement, or it could be in the latest toy we bought, such as a car or boat. The specific thing is not really the issue, but the value we place on it. This attitude is not in line with living in the Kingdom. Jesus warned, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed” (Luke 12:15). He goes on to show in a parable that a person can amass great riches for himself, but in an instant, it can all be gone (Luke 12:16-21). Our possessions are too fleeting to live for.

On the other hand, Luke seems to point to the honor and future blessing of those who have little in this life. In his account of the beatitudes, he records Jesus as simply saying, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). Matthew records “poor in spirit” in his account, which has a different emphasis (Matthew 5:3). Yet here in Luke’s Gospel, there seems to be a blessing on those who have little, not just on the humble (Hayes 807).

This concept is further discussed and examined in the parable about the rich man and Lazarus. Strikingly, it is the wealthy individual who is sent to hell while the impoverished Lazarus “is being comforted” in paradise (Luke 16:23-25). We would expect the opposite, and the Jews of Jesus’ day certainly would have. Now let me point out again, “none of this amounts either to a direct critique of rich people … or to a characterization of the wealthy as generally unjust” (Hayes 804). What it should show us beyond any doubt, however, is that wealth is not the goal of life, nor is it the key to abundant blessing.

What we should use the resources God has given us for is the benefit of others. Instead of gathering wealth for ourselves, we should share it. This was the struggle with another rich man in Luke’s Gospel. When he claimed to have followed the Law perfectly, Jesus cuts right to his heart and tells him to give away all his possessions, and unfortunately, the man loved his money more than he loved Jesus (Luke 18:18-25). This was not an isolated incident, for earlier, Jesus had given a command to those around Him to “sell your possessions and give to charity,” thus storing up “treasure in heaven” (Luke 12:33). It is a radical call, but there is a great reason behind it.

Jesus says plainly that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). And that is what God is really after: our hearts. He wants a relationship with us, not merely outward obedience to His commands. Those who try to cling to things in this life will become distracted and will not produce fruit for God. We can see this in “the seed which fell among the thorns” in the parable of the sower (Luke 8:5-15). The thorny ground openly welcomed “the word,” but while it was growing, they became “choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:11, 14). Jesus calls us to undivided discipleship, and all too often, money and possessions hinder us from submitting to His call.

But is Jesus calling each of us today to sell everything we have? Not necessarily. Jesus was warning against amassing wealth for ourselves, yet simultaneously instructing us as to how we ought to use the money He has given. For example, some of the women who followed Him “were contributing to [Jesus and the disciples’[ support out of their private means” (Luke 8:1-3). Though they still had money, they were using it for the advance of the Kingdom, not their own pleasures. We do have a responsibility to “provide for [our] own” families, but we should also still be “ready to share” (1 Timothy 5:8; 6:17-19). We are simply stewards, and our priority needs to be God’s Kingdom, not ours.

This is what Jesus is calling us to. Instead of desperately clinging to what we own, we are to yield all to Him, and sometimes that literally means giving away some of it to others. Though we often forget it, our wealth is not for us alone. It is a gift from God to be faithfully used in His service. This is what Jesus calls us to in the Kingdom.


Hayes, C. M. “Rich And Poor” in Dictionary Of Jesus And The Gospels, 2nd Edition, Kindle Edition. Edited by Joel B. Green, Prof. Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. (Downers Grove:    InterVarsity Press, 2013) Kindle. 800-810.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s