Do you really know what Jesus says about money?

I have heard it said often:  Jesus talked about money more than any other topic, with the exception of the kingdom of God.  The preachers in pulpit ministry, the teachers of discipleship curriculum, and the writers all make the statement, usually in hopes the listener(s) will have some sort of spiritual awakening and foster healthier, personal giving patterns.  Every time I hear this or read this, I am glad for it.  The reminder is good for all of us.  The subject of stewardship, the spiritual practice of personal, prayerful care of all God has entrusted to us, is our mission.  God gave Adam and Eve this mission in the garden, and the second Adam, Jesus, taught this mission to us as well through his preaching and storytelling.

But what did Jesus actually say?  If we preach, teach, and write with scholarly confidence that Jesus indeed did give primary air time to the subject of money/possessions/giving/stewardship, that beckons the following question:  What did He actually say?  What did he teach about the subject?  What were his stories on the matter?

By telling people Jesus talked a great deal about money, yet not telling them what he actually said, we are really not teaching people anything at all.  Here’s a question for consideration:  If someone were to approach you on the street and ask you to summarize Jesus’ teachings on this subject, and to give a scriptural point of reference, how would you respond?  Let’s think about this question and process some thoughtful answers.

Churches across the country, and across denominational lines, are in discernment as to how to create yearly financial stewardship ministries which help people deepen their financial discipleship.  If you are a pastor, a newly commissioned leader of a church financial stewardship ministry, or are otherwise involved in this capacity, I would invite you to consider the following steps to help you as you formulate your yearly ministry:

  1.  Re-read the gospels.  All four of them.  Read them with a group of people who are also involved in the rebuilding of financial stewardship ministry.
  2. Note Jesus’ thought patterns and main themes on the subject of money and possessions.  In other words, what did He actually say and teach?  How did He challenge us to live with our possessions?  On a scale of 1-10, with ten representing “perfect alignment” and 1 meaning “complete misalignment”, how are you and those in your group doing in terms of aligning your lifestyles with the teachings of Jesus.
  3. Invite your church leaders to go through the same process.
  4. Allow what you learn in your intentional study of Jesus’ teachings and your group reflections to inform the new pattern of your stewardship ministry with the congregation.  Open your sermons, class teachings, and small groups to Jesus’ stories and conversations regarding money.

Jesus did teach on money a lot.  He did it because he knows our humanity, our struggles, and our temptations to be greedy and overly consumptive.  His stories and invitations to live simpler, contented, generous lives are challenging, yet refreshing.  Let’s learn them and share them.

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