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Money: Good Tool, Bad God



When used well, money can lead to great joy and human flourishing. But when it becomes the greatest desire of our souls, it can cause devastating pain. Money can be a great tool, but it makes a bad god.

This week, Ben Stuart continues in our series through the Sermon on the Mount and shows us how Jesus challenges us to rethink how we view our finances.

Key Takeaway

As always, God cares about your heart and motivation towards the gifts that he gives. Money is to serve the Kingdom, not something for us to serve as a master. As people of God, we can rest in His Father's heart towards us through provision and not be anxious like those who have nothing other than possessions on earth.

Money can be the cause of great joy and human flourishing, or it can be the cause of great ruin and pain. It's like a knife. Is a knife good or bad? It depends on who's wielding it.

We need to talk about money. Financial stress causes us to be distracted and less productive at work, can induce physical effects, and can have a negative impact on our relationships with others. The Bible talks a lot about money because God cares about what concerns us, but even more about our hearts.

So far, we have learned that we need to admit that we need God and we shouldn't be fake. The world doesn't need more hypocritical religious people. Now, we focus on not living like a pagan either. We don't want the hypocrites of the religious but don't use that as justification to pursue the materialism of the irreligious.

There's a 3rd way. It's called being sincere, without cracks, having integrity. What you say and what you do match. What you profess, you actually do. What you believe, you actually live.

If we say that we believe there is a God in Heaven who rules this place and we call Him Lord, then we let Him shape what we do, what we think, what we care about, and what we chase. We follow him.

We can say whatever we want about being sincere, but if we want to see where our heart is at, we can check our financial statements. It's your own personal doctrinal statement. The part of the sermon where money comes in is right after the Lord's Prayer. It's wanting the glory of God and trusting He'll take care of your needs. You pursue Him, and He'll provide for you. Jesus explains this through three examples with dichotomies.

Matthew 6:19-21

Heaven and Earth. Wealth and saving are not evil. Proverbs 6: 7-11 commends saving. 1 Timothy celebrates making provision for your entire family. We are to enjoy what money can buy within the parameters that God has set. The Bible is not anti-saving; it's anti-hoarding. It says, "Do not store up for yourselves".

Jesus says don't store up treasures on earth: clothes that can be destroyed, valuables that can corrode, anything that can be stolen. None of these things are secure or lasting. The assumption behind this argument is that you have a heart and a soul that is valuable, so you don't take your valuable soul and aim it at something less valuable. Don't take your eternal soul and chase temporal things. Greed causes you to aim at the wrong things because living is more than having. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:22-23

Light and Dark. Our eyes are like lamps in the body. Focus on light, and we will be illuminated; focus on the darkness, and we will be filled with it. See Psalm 119: 36-37. The eye informs our heart. The focus of our eyes reveals the desires of our hearts. It's a loop. What we behold, we become. What holds our gaze molds our soul. So watch it; watch what you care about.

The only thing that will last forever is other souls. That should be our greatest concern.

What you value shapes your values. In the Old Testament, when the people were in the wilderness, God gave them manna, daily bread. He provided it, and they worked to gather it, but you only took what you needed for that day. If you had more, you gave it to others. Anything hoarded would mold. He made them do this every day so that way when they had excess in the Promised Land, they wouldn't be taken in by it. See 1 Corinthians 4:17.

  1. If you are pursuing wealth, you are playing the wrong game.
  2. You're doing that because you're trusting the wrong god.

Matthew 6:24

Money and God. Be careful not to serve money. We think that if we trust money, chase it, and hustle for it it will provide for us. However, money does not care about you. It's a mistress. See Proverbs 18:10-11. We want security and status. We go for looks and food so we can feel like we are successful, but instead, we should be going to God and trusting that He will provide, accept, love, and care about us. See 1 Timothy 6:7-10, 17.

Whatever you can't release possesses you.

Matthew 6:25-34

Root Cause. Three times Jesus says to not be anxious. It's not about the money; it's about our heart. Trust His Father's heart. The people who know God can rest. Seek His Kingdom, and He will provide for us. He has a purpose for our lives that is more than what we possess. Be free from the tyranny of money.


"Jesus forbids selfish accumulations of goods, extravagant, luxurious living, the hardheartedness which does not feel the colossal need of the world's underprivileged people, the foolish fantasy that a person's life consists in the abundance of their possessions and the materialism that tethers our hearts to the earth."

John Stott

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Scripture References

  • Matthew 6:19-21
  • Matthew 6:24
  • Proverbs 18:10-11
  • 1 Timothy 6:17
  • 1 Timothy 6:7-10
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.