Put Your Money Where Your Mission Is

Paul Winch | Oct 18th, 2011

According to numerous sociologists and historians, those of us reading this - middle class westerners - are among the top five to ten percent well-off people of all time.  On any criteria, we are definitely amongst those whom Jesus would have called “rich”, and he had a number of choice words for the wealthy.  Here are three of them.

  1. Rich disciples are told the same as all disciples - not to trust or serve mammon but only God.  However, for us - the rich - we especially need to reckon with the fact that God has entrusted massive financial stewardship to us.  Stewards must not turn their energies into serving what has been entrusted to them, but remain committed to serving God, the true owner of the wealth.  The danger lies in deception, and riches can be powerfully illusory.  They rarely seem like an alternative master, but they always have that potential. In Jesus’ parable, the farmer who built bigger barns transgressed no law or moral code – he did nothing wrong with his property!  He was however a fool, deluded by his wealth and success, thinking that his life consisted of an abundance of possessions instead of being found in God.  He loved the things he was entrusted with, rather that the one who gave him stewardship of them.
  1. Rich disciples are to invest (make more of) rather than squander (use for themselves) what has been entrusted to them for the sake of the master’s priorities. To do otherwise is “dishonest” (Luke 16:1-14), and “wicked” (Matt 25:14-30) since it is not theirs but His.  Jesus laments the “sons of light” not knowing how to shrewdly handle mammon for kingdom priorities.  Investment then is for the purpose of divestment.
  1. Rich Christians are to divest (give away) wealth.  Such divestment can be in the form of prodigal generosity or even outright renunciation of all worldly goods.  This divestment can be taken for quite a number of differing reasons, including; through a realisation that the wealth was gained dishonestly or unjustly and reparation is being sought (eg. Zacchaeus in Luke 19); or because the allure of wealth is starting to entice and deceive, and therefore greed is usurped through divestment (eg. Luke 11:39-41) or because needs and circumstances, especially but not exclusively of fellow believers, dictate that it is time to stop investing and start divesting for the sake of the kingdom (eg. Acts 4:32-37).   These are amongst the many compelling reasons for periodic (if not regular) significant, even ‘capital harming’ contributions for kingdom priorities. “Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33)

How is this heart of worship, and this radical behaviour sustained?  A life of habitual but intentional sharing (eg. tithing, which Jesus says not to neglect – Matt 23:23; hospitality – Luke 14:12ff; etc.) will no doubt help fuel a massive vision for what our stewardship could entail.  But of course, the main motivation comes from a deepening knowledge of God himself, which will lead to such a way of life with a glad and joyous heart.  “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  (Luke 12:32-34)   Is God really this generous, this reliable, this precious?  Pursue true joy, cherish God above all, put your money where your mission is!