I don’t have a lot of money. I’m reminded of this fact fairly regularly. Maybe you know the kind of moments I’m talking about. Like when you realize you just missed the lunch special prices and you’re wondering, “How can I casually crawl out of this restaurant right now?” Or when Netflix hikes their prices up another dollar a month, and you want to write a letter to your congressman. Or when you see a trailer for an epic upcoming movie, and you think, “Man I can’t wait to see that — in two years, when it comes to Redbox!” Or when you actually choose to eat McDonald’s. I’m joking mostly. I would never choose to eat at McDonalds. (Editor’s note: The opinion expressed here by Mr. McDaniel does not necessarily reflect the views of Community Life Church or its leadership. Egg McMuffins are delicious.)
Maybe you can relate to the feeling that you’re not exactly flush with cash. So, when I read a passage in the Bible about not letting your money be a god in your life, I assume it’s not intended for me. I assume it’s for the people who have swimming pools full of gold coins and purchase VIP tickets to the Fyre Festival. But look carefully at Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Mathew:
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
— Matthew 5:24
Your initial response, like mine, may be, “No problem! How can I serve money if I don’t even have any of it?” But then I read the verses that immediately follow:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
— Matthew 5:25–26
Did you notice that little “therefore” that connects to the previous verse? It’s basically outlining what it really looks like for money to be your master. And it has nothing to do with a swimming pool full of gold. It’s describing something very common and very relatable: anxiety. Anxiety over having food to eat or clothes to wear. It’s worrying about making enough money to provide for your needs.
Yikes. Turns out this passage is speaking directly to me after all. The essence of what Jesus is reminding us is simple. What we worry about controls us. And if you are worrying about money rather than trusting God, then money is more like your master than God is. Whether you have any of it or not.
Instead, Jesus points to the birds, which have no money. He assures us that God takes care of them nonetheless. He feeds and sustains them, for they are valuable to him. It’s a welcome reminder that I need to reevaluate my relationship with money. Money is not what can sustain me. And the more I hoard it or worry about it, the more it has an unhealthy hold on me. Often it’s our generosity and faith with our finances that demonstrates God’s position in our lives. So let us listen to Jesus’ warning and serve the God who saves, rather than the money that can’t.