The Christian Value Proposition

(Mark 8:34-38)

Yesterday I wrote about what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his life. Overnight I felt there was more that needed to be said, especially in relation to the second question Jesus posed. He said, “What can a man give in return for his life?” (Verse 37) Jesus actually answered that question in this section, and has also answered it elsewhere, so I would like to address this question further.

fair-valueBefore doing so we need to understand what he is talking about when speaking of profit. I touched on this yesterday, but overnight had more information and insight given to me by the Lord.

When man talks about profit he is talking about something of value. In this world every person spends their time whether they know it or not, seeking value. When we work we are seeking value, wages so we can buy things we need. When we buy something we are exchanging one thing of value, our work effort converted into money, for something else of value, the goods or services being purchased.

Money is only the medium of exchange. The real value in the transaction is in the work we perform and the time we put into working, in exchange for goods and services to satisfy our needs; food, shelter, clothing, entertainment or whatever.

In everything we do in life we are looking for a value proposition that is acceptable to us and the other party we are dealing with. Basically there are three types of value proposition. When we are satisfied with the exchange of value we have a “fair value” transaction. If we think we have paid too much for something we feel “ripped off.” On the other hand if we believe the value of the goods or services is greater than what we have paid, we believe we have a “bargain.”

Now when Jesus asked, “What can a man give in return for his life?” I have often thought of this as sort of a rhetorical question. As I considered this overnight I realised it isn’t. What the Lord asks of man to give in return for his life IS his life! That is, if we are to receive eternal life the Lord is seeking us to forsake the things of this life that would lead us astray and away from the Lord.

In a nutshell, the Lord is seeking our obedience to the word of life so that we can receive life eternal. He says as much in this same section. Verse 35 says, “For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” That is, whoever would seek the things of this life, wealth, riches, power, material possessions and so on, will lose the opportunity of eternal life. All the trappings of this world are of this world and not of God.

However the second half of this scripture says that anyone who will forgo all the trappings of this life and the world as we know it for the sake of Jesus Christ and the gospel will receive his eternal life. Is this consistent with other scriptures? Yes it is. For we see in the following scriptures from Matthew 13:44-46 this same sentiment expressed.

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,
46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

In both these parables the two men discovered something of great value that they desperately wanted to possess. In order to gain this thing of great value they went and sold everything they had so they could own it. The value of the treasure and the pearl were so enormous that they outshone the value of everything else they possessed and everything else was completely insignificant by comparison.

That is what entry to the kingdom of God is like. The opportunity of eternal life so exceeds anything on this earth that the value of it makes anything else seem worthless. So in answer to the question Jesus posed saying, “What can a man give in return for his life?” the answer is that we must be prepared to give up everything in this world and of this life to receive the far more valuable treasure of eternal life.

Coming back to the value proposition, is this a “rip-off,” or a “fair value trade” or is it a “bargain”? The truth is that there is one other value proposition that is better again and the gospel of Jesus fits into that category. The only thing better than a “bargain” is to also get a “bonus.” What we are trading our life in this world for is a life into eternity. By any measure that is a great bargain. We are trading a life of typically sixty to eighty years in a world full of sin, trouble, pressure, stress, suffering and anxiety for a life into eternity without any of those things. That has to be the greatest bargain of all time.

BonusBut it gets better because there is a bonus as well. By following the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of the truth we also get a better standard of life here and now. We get a great treasure in this world, not in a monetary sense, but in the things that really matter in this world. In Jesus we have peace, security, joy, love, happiness and the knowledge that any and every problem we may come up against we can hand over to Jesus for he cares about us. Now that’s what I call a bonus!

People chase money, wealth and power in the hope of have peace, happiness and security, but money and possessions can never provide these things. Money and possessions can be lost, stolen and destroyed as we have seen in the recent financial crises around the world. Money cannot be relied upon, but God can. If we want happiness, peace and security then we need to come to Jesus for these things do not exist in a reliable form anywhere else.

It seems the church has fallen for the same trap as the world. Those ministers who preach a wealth ministry are basically telling their flock that they cannot find happiness and security in God. They are replacing the God of Creation and Jesus Christ with the false god of this world, money. There is no security in money as the value of currency is at the whim of the markets. Some years ago I travelled around the USA when the Australian dollar was worth around fifty US cents. Today the Aus dollar is worth around US$1-06 because of the financial crisis. This dramatic shift was caused by the greed of a few financiers who have brought the global economy to the brink of bankruptcy for their own gain.

Should you then rely on money as a saviour? Can you rely on the dollar for security when it can be so quickly devalued? No. And neither should it be preached as the will of God for us to be rich. These wealth ministers have fallen into the trap of the church at La-odice’a written about in Revelation.

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot!
16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.

Thinking they are rich they have missed the truth. The gold they need to buy from God is the knowledge of the truth so they can be truly rich, not in monetary terms, but in spiritual terms.

We must seek his kingdom first and then we will be in a position to receive the greatest bargain of all time and the bonus that goes with it. Eternal life in God’s kingdom and a life of peace, happiness and security now. That is the real value proposition of Christianity that is on offer to all of mankind. Who in their right mind would pass up on such a bargain? Nobody, but many still will and do for they are blinded by the trinkets of the here and now rather than the greater value that is on offer in the future.

(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu)

What Does It Profit to Gain the World and Forfeit Your Life?

(Mark 8:34-38)

What does it profit to gain the whole world and lose your life? This question was posed by Jesus to his disciples and the people along with another. What can a man give in return for his life?

Too often today we see people make the wrong decisions and forfeit their life for the wrong reasons. This world is driven by greed and the desire for money.

profit-moneyProfit is the driving force behind most decisions that are made for the sake of making money. The welfare of people comes a distant second or third for business after the all consuming greed for making money.

This lust for money has also found its way into the modern church. There are many in the church preaching a wealth ministry where it is supposedly God’s plan for his people to be wealthy. This is a false teaching that has no basis in scripture.

While there is great value to be had with godliness, as Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:8), nowhere in scripture does it promote that the people of God should seek after wealth.

Money is of this world, not of God. Jesus showed this when they brought him a coin to pay the tax to Caesar saying, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12 :17) He showed that money belonged to this world for it belongs to Caesar, not God.

Money is shown to be a hindrance, especially the lust for money, “For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10) So if the love of money causes some to wander away from the faith, why do some pastors and teachers today think it is God’s will that people should be wealthy? Why do they think that people should surround themselves with wealth, material possessions and riches, when all of these things are of this world, and will fail?

It is the devil who controls the wealth of this world. He offered all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus when he was in the wilderness saying, “And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.” (Luke 4:5-6) So if it is the devil who controls the wealth of this world, why do some preachers consider that to be wealthy is a promise of God?

What does it profit to gain the whole world and lose your life? It profits nothing. The only true profit is to seek God and his kingdom. Jesus said not to worry about what we will eat, drink or wear. He said not to worry about the things of this world for he knows we need to eat, be clothed and sheltered and he has promised to provide for our needs. But of much greater importance is to, “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Our priorities as Christians are not to be focussed on the riches, wealth and material possessions of this world. Our priority lies with focussing on the things of the Spirit and seeking God’s kingdom. That is where our true profit is to be found. That is where we will find our life rather than any and all gain that might be had in this world, which is doomed to destruction.

(Picture sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu Created by Svilen Milev http://efffective.com )

Woe to You Blind Guides

(Matthew 23:16-22)

Jesus condemns the priests, Pharisees and scribes for being blind guides saying, “Woe to you blind guides.” He calls them this because their focus is wrong. The things they consider important are not what God considers important.

Jesus said elsewhere, “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14) Again he was speaking of the Pharisees and it is clear that anyone who follows a blind man will stumble. If you cannot see where you are going you need guidance by someone who does see clearly. Think about a time when you have got up in the middle of the night and moved about the house without turning on a light. You bump into things, perhaps stub your toe or fall over. But these problems go away when you turn on the light.

In a spiritual sense it is the same. If you seek the light of knowledge that comes from the Lord you will see clearly to navigate the waters of life. But these blind guides, the Pharisees, were teaching wrongly. They focussed on the wrong things. When they said that a person is not bound by their oath if they swear by the temple, but only if they swear by the gold of the temple, they were quite wrong. The temple makes the gold sacred, not the other way around. Take the gold out of the temple and it is just gold. But the temple remained the house of God.

Furthermore, such teaching leads to loopholes in the law. They offer what is called “wriggle room” by lawyers today, which is anathema to God. They allow the people an “out” so they can renege on their vows, and in God’s sight this is wrong and comes from evil. In fact Jesus taught that a person should not even make oaths but let their yes be yes and their no be no. (Matthew 5:37, James 5:12) What he wants is that we should be a people who keep our word. He wants us to be trustworthy in what we say with no shades of grey or “wriggle room.”

But these Pharisees showed their lack of knowledge through what they were teaching. They were blind to the truth. As Jesus showed, because the temple is holy, so too is everything in it. Likewise, as the altar is holy, then so too is everything on it. There are no ifs, buts or maybes in God’s sight, but that is exactly what the Pharisees were preaching and were rightly condemned for it.

Is it any different today? Do teachers and preachers focus on the priorities of God or of men? Fortunately many teachers and preachers do focus on the right things, the things of God. But there are “Pharisees” still around today. When the preachers of today are focussed on the things of man, when they focus on money, works and power for themselves they are clearly blind. When they consider themselves as greater than others they show their blindness. As an example of the kind of church in this category look at what the Lord said to the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-18.

“15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot!
16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.”

They are blind but believed they had it all. By contrast the Lord says they are blind. They cannot see that they have gone astray and are chasing the things of the world rather than the things of God. They are seeking wealth, power and riches, but have ignored the truth. So the Lord counsels them to seek the truth and the righteousness that comes from God.

For us we need to look out for those who would take us into captivity with false teaching. We must be aware of what we are listening to and seek the light of the knowledge of truth. Place your focus on the things of God and not the things of men so that the Lord will not say to us, “Woe to you blind guides,” as he said to those Pharisees.

Paying Taxes to Caesar

(Matthew 22:15-22)

There are some interesting aspects to this teaching about paying taxes to Caesar. The Herodians sought to entangle Jesus in his talk. They sought to have him say it was wrong to pay taxes to Caesar so that they could accuse him of defying the ruling authorities. But Jesus was aware of their malice, and in his response he gave us some wonderful insights about money.

The Bible says, “For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10) Paul was speaking here not about the people of the world, but the church and the people of God. He makes the point that the love of money has caused some to wander away from the faith, thus his concern is about the church.

One of the biggest issues in the modern church is about money. It causes much angst between both those in leadership and the people attending church. There is a great deal of false doctrine and misuse of scripture used to justify what is essentially “fleecing the flock.” In this teaching about paying taxes to Caesar we Jesus put money into its correct perspective.

When asked if it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not Jesus asks to see the coin for the tax. He then asks, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” The Herodians answered, “Caesar’s.” Jesus then replies, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Verses 19-22)

In this statement Jesus shows that money is the invention of the government. It is not a thing of God but is of man’s invention. Jesus does not command the people to take the things of men and give them to God, but rather to give God what is of God. We are to give God praise, worship, obedience, prayer and thanksgiving. These are the things of God. We are to do the will of God, which is to believe and have faith in Jesus Christ. We are to learn the things that are pleasing to God so that we can do the will of God.

God is not interested in money and God does not want your money. God wants you. He does not command us to give money to the church. There are many who will disagree and say, “What about tithing?” To them I say, tithing is firstly not about giving money and secondly is not a part of the New Covenant or the New Testament church. Tithing in the church today is one of the misuses of scripture designed to “fleece the flock.” Tithing is an exaction. It is not a gift but is like a tax that was taught under the Old Covenant for the express purpose of the upkeep of the priesthood. Tithing was given as a perpetual due to the Levites. Any person who is not descended from Levi is not entitled to take the tithe, and this includes the modern ministers of the Christian churches. They have wrongfully applied the teachings of tithing for their own gain.

There is even a more sinister side to tithing in the Christian church, which causes the annulment of Christianity. Those modern churches that preach and take tithes in effect are setting up a false version of the Old Covenant practice. They set themselves up as descendants of Levi, which they are not, and take the tithe wrongfully as it was promised only to Levi. In effect they are stealing what belongs to Levi, and applying the teachings of tithing wrongfully to increase their gain. What is more, they have set up a false version of the temple worship, which was about teaching the law of God. Yet Jesus came to set us free from the law of sin and death and so these modern, tithe taking preachers are rejecting Jesus teaching by taking up the teachings of the Old Covenant.

Is it any wonder that some of the churches of today are in such a mess spiritually! There is a great deal that can be said about tithing in the modern church and I have written quite a lot on this subject over the years. Some may think that I am anti-tithing, but that is not true. However, I am anti the misuse of scripture to justify a false teaching in the Christian church. Tithing is not part of the New Covenant and not part of the Christian church, as you will see in other posts concerning this matter.

Suffice to say that money is not of God, which is what Jesus was showing in this section of Matthew 22. Certainly it can be given as a gift, and even in the Old Covenant temple, gifts of money were often given to the treasury, but it was not and is not a bible-based requirement. Do not let any man, preacher or not, say that you must give money to the church. There is no scriptural basis for such a teaching.

Marketing in the Church

(Matthew 21:12-13)

When Jesus entered Jerusalem the first place he visited was the temple. He was angered at what he saw there for we see him take action to set things right. What was it that upset him so? Marketing in the church! Jesus drove out the moneychangers and the sellers of pigeons from the temple. These people had set up business in the temple and were using the temple as a place of commerce to make money. Jesus took exception to this saying, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you make it a den of robbers.” (Verse 13)

Now Jesus was not upset about the fact that people were changing money or selling pigeons, but rather that they were doing it inside the temple. If they were doing this in a normal place of commerce and business, that would not be an issue. But it is wrong to do this in the temple for the temple was to be holy to God.

One of the fundamental principles of marketing is to provide your goods and services where the people gather. It would be pointless running a marketing campaign and setting up shop in a place where there are no people. This idea was clear to the money changers and pigeon sellers, for they knew the people came to the temple in great numbers and so they set up shop there too. So on entering the temple your first impressions would have been the noise and smell of birds and the clink of money. This is not consistent with a house of prayer but a marketplace.

Is the church any different today? Does this teaching about marketing in the church have application today? Yes it does. Although many churches today are houses of prayer as Jesus intended, there are many too who have fallen into the trap of become businesses, some of them very large businesses. The focus on making money in the church today runs rampant through many of the large churches. You walk into some of these and your first impressions are that you have entered a gift shop. There are mugs, CD’s, books, bracelets, badges, clothing and other paraphernalia for sale all brandishing the name of the particular church, their logo or some catchy marketing message.

Who has not seen the marketing hype and gifts offered such as “The Prayer of Jabez” or the “WWJD” items (What Would Jesus Do)? It would be interesting if Jesus were to enter these churches that use Christianity as a marketing method to sell trinkets. What would Jesus do? He would probably do as he did in the temple and drive them out!

Let’s look at what the Bible says about such things. 1 Timothy 6:1-10 talks of those false teachers in the church, who among other things believe, “…imagining that godliness is a means of gain. There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (Verses 5-8) These false teachers believe that Christianity and godliness is a means of gain. They use Christianity as a means of making money and are condemned for doing so.

This scripture continues on condemning those who do this saying, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.” (Verses 9-10) In their desires to make money and become rich they fall away from the faith. They are snared and trapped by the love of money, which is the root of all evils, especially evils in the church.

There is no place for marketing and commercialism in the church. To preserve the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ marketing must be shunned so that no one has the opportunity to fall into the snare of greed for money. Jesus gave the Gospel to man for free, so why should anyone charge a fee for it and use it as a marketing tool? There is nothing wrong with a person receiving an income from teaching and preaching the word, but when it becomes a marketing circus and a money making juggernaut as it is in some churches, then that goes too far. Their focus is on money, not on preaching the Gospel of Jesus. The message from the platform is often about buying paraphernalia and shelling out money to the church, not on teaching the people how to live upright and godly lives. This is highly evident in many of the tele-evangelists presentations.

Look also at what the Lord said about Churches who sought wealth and money. He spoke of the church in La-odice’a in Revelation 3 by saying they were neither cold nor hot and that he would spew them out of his mouth. Not a pretty picture when you consider he is talking of a type of church. He says in verses 17-19:

17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent.

This church believed they had it all. Money, wealth, power and they believed they needed nothing more. Jesus said they were naked, blind, poor and pitiable. They were naked in spirit and blind for the greed for money had blinded their eyes from seeking the truth. They sought the things of this world rather than the things of God. They were the great Church marketers who used Christianity to make a buck.

This is not where Jesus wants his church to be. Jesus wants his church to be a place of fellowship, a place to worship God in prayer and to praise him for his wonderful works. It is to be a place of refuge from the world where we come to learn God’s will and learn godliness so that we can get the real gain of godliness that Paul wrote to Timothy about…contentment.

There is no place for marketing in the church and as Jesus drove the marketers from the temple, so too the marketers should be driven from the church. Take this teaching as a warning. If your church is focussed on marketing, would Jesus have approved of it or not? Would he have come in and been pleased or would he have driven out the marketers? And if you are in such a church, is it providing the food of godliness or focussing on making itself wealthy.

Labourers in the Vineyard

(Matthew 20:1-16)

The labourers in the vineyard parable is interesting as it divides our thoughts between matters of the flesh and the spirit. When we look at it through eyes of flesh it is not fair. But when we look at it through God’s eyes and consider the promise of God it is perfectly fair and reasonable and perhaps even adds an “unknown” blessing.

If we look at the parable of the labourers in the vineyard for a moment is can be summarised this way. The vineyard owner needs labourers to go out into the vineyard to work. He goes to the marketplace and hires a bunch of people offering them a denarius for the day’s work, which they accept. But there are not enough labourers so he goes back to the marketplace a few hours later and hires more, again offering to pay them what is right. This repeats at around lunchtime, mid-afternoon and then finally when there is only an hour of the working day left he hires a few more people to labour in his vineyard.

The analogy here is that God is the vineyard owner, the vineyard is the world in which we live and the work these labourers are doing is the work of the Lord in spreading the gospel.

At the end of the day the householder calls in the labourers to give them their pay. Starting with the group whom he hired last he pays them a denarius each. When the earliest group sees this they think they might receive more since they toiled all day through the heat and took on a greater burden of work. But when it is their turn to be paid they too receive a denarius each.

At this point we see the labourers looking at this through the eyes of the flesh. The early employees grumbled amongst themselves and complained that they had not got more than the rest given the amount of work they did. Although it does not say it, I am sure too that the last group employed could not believe their fortune for they received a full days pay but only worked for an hour. One group considered the vineyard owner to be miserly and unfair, but the other thought him exceptionally generous. This is the way people of the world would naturally think in such a situation.

But when we look at this through the eyes of the spirit we see that both perceptions are wrong. The vineyard owner agreed with the labourers to pay them a denarius for their work. He did not specify a time period that they should work. He just said they should come and work in his vineyard and he would pay them a denarius. In essence he created a contract with the workers and all he was doing was honouring that contract. They all had agreed to the contract and so had no right to grumble.

But there is still more to this parable. What is it that the labourers are grumbling about? Money and inequity. One group were grumbling that God had made all of them equal by giving the same reward to each. But that is the truth of the New Covenant. God shows no partiality in anything, including how much we may have worked in his kingdom or not. The person who attends church, sits in the back pews and just listens and applies the words of Jesus to their life will receive the same reward as the preacher, evangelist, and prophet or miracle worker. The lowliest person in God’s kingdom receives the same reward as the Apostle Paul. There is no partiality. Just because a person has not done a great ministry does not mean they will receive only a little bit of life in God’s kingdom. We all have the same reward on offer and all of us agree with God that we will accept the same reward regardless of the work we might be called to do in his vineyard.

We must understand that the reward we receive in truth is not like the wage given to the labourers in the vineyard. They earned a wage, but we receive life as a gift. And a gift is given according to the whim of the giver, not the receiver. Jesus showed this in the parable too saying, “I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” (Verses 14-15) What we are given is a gift by the grace of God so we must not grumble.

Besides, I read elsewhere another interesting twist on this too. The labourers who began early actually had a greater blessing than those who entered at the end. The early starters actually had the care and protection of the master of the vineyard throughout the day with the knowledge they would be rewarded at day’s end. The late starters for most of the day were wandering aimlessly not knowing if they would have work and get payment to buy food or provisions or whatever. So actually the first group were much more blessed for they had an assurance of something better to come that the late starters did not have for most of the day.

We must apply this thinking to ourselves and learn to look at things through the eyes of the spirit rather than the eyes of flesh. Then we will see clearly the glory and promises of God.

Hard for a Rich Man to Enter the Kingdom of Heaven

(Matthew 19:23-26)

The Lord says that it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact he says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Why is that so? What is it about being rich that is such a great stumbling block?

We see in some churches there is a prosperity ministry. This ministry teaches in principle that God blesses his people so that they will prosper and that this will be seen in material gain. There is no question that God blesses his people, but wealth may or may not be part of that blessing. A greater blessing than any financial gain is for the Lord to say to us, “Well done good and faithful servant.” This is greater than all of the riches of this world.

Money is a trap. Wealth can lead a person to stray from the truth. Money can cause a person’s interests and attention to be divided. As Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and mammon,” Mammon being a Semitic word for money. (Matthew 6:24) No person can be devoted to money and devoted to the Lord. Money is of this world it is not of God. Jesus showed this when the Pharisees questioned him as to whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. He said, “Show me the money for the tax.” And they brought him a coin. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:19-21)

In this statement he shows that money is the invention of the government, it is not of God. You cannot worship God with the things of man. If we are to worship God we must come to him on his terms and the way that he wants us to worship him. Jesus said in John 4:23-24, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” We do not worship the Father through money or wealth. We do not worship the Father by expanding our financial or material possessions. We worship him by following Jesus Christ and being transformed into his likeness.

Think about it for a moment. If we were called to worship with money, only the rich would go to heaven. Where would the poor sit in the total scheme of things? It’s the same if any other aspect of life in this world were the mechanism of worship. Only those who could do or achieve those things of the world could worship God. But as it is God has said we must worship him in spirit and truth. Every person is capable of learning the truth and worshipping in spirit through faith in Jesus Christ. Thus the word and worship is open to all of mankind in Christ Jesus and not just a fortunate few.

Money will not commend us to God. Nor will works of law, nor acts of denial, nor the taking or abstinence of food or physical acts or anything else of mans making. Only seeking the truth through faith in Jesus Christ and worshipping the Father in spirit and truth will commend us to him.

This is why prosperity ministry is so far off the mark. It teaches that if you have money you can do more for the Lord. While a rich person may be able to help others more, it will not commend them to God any more than a poor person. Look at Jesus comments while watching the people put gifts into the treasury. The rich put many great and extravagant amounts of money in, but it was a poor widow who contributed just a few copper pennies who won Jesus’ approval. The rich contributed from their abundance, but the poor widow in her poverty gave all of her living. This was a far greater sacrifice and she was blessed in her giving.

So it is not in the abundance of money that a person is blessed but in their attitude and faith. Without the right heart towards God, no amount of money will help. And having great wealth means that you will spend time looking after that wealth. A rich man’s attention is divided and his thoughts diverted from Christ. That is why it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.