When it comes to your conversations with money, do you do most of the talking or most of the listening?
Money loves to create the narrative for how we should approach all of life. It tells us stories – about what it can do for us, about how we should think about it, and it loves to make countless promises to us. Promises about what we must have to be okay. About where we should ultimately put our trust and our faith. And about where we should look for our security in life.
While money has been speaking since the beginning of time, this doesn’t have to be a one-way conversation. We don’t have to let money have the last word – about our joy or contentment or purpose. You can actually tell your money who’s in charge, you can send it where you want it to go instead of where it wants you to go, and you can limit how much power it has over your life.
Where should we begin this conversation about money? This might be surprising but the conversation about money doesn’t start with your salary or your bank account or with budgeting. It doesn’t even start with how much of it you need to give away.
Your relationship with money always starts in your heart.
That’s what I’m calling this first message – “It Starts in the Heart”. When the Bible uses the word “heart”, it means the center of you. It means the whole person. And here’s the good news: Jesus was constantly saying that if we get our hearts right, it will make everything else flow in the proper direction. But if our hearts are in the wrong place, it won’t really matter what else we appear to be doing. So whether we’re talking about money or your character or your relationships or how you do your job or how you raise your children – please prioritize your heart. Listen to this ancient wisdom:
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for EVERYTHING you do flows from it.
It all starts in your heart. This is why our vision at Epic is what it is: to orient our entire lives around Jesus. And the reason this is the vision is because we know we are meant to follow Jesus in every part of our lives. Think about our last 3 teaching series here at Epic: one on shame, one on the Holy Spirit, and this one on money. It’s easy to see the first two as being spiritual and to just think of this one on money as spiritual. But I believe this topic is intended to be every bit as spiritual as the other two.
Here’s the thing: You will orient your life around something or someone…and money, perhaps more than anything else, will be God’s top competitor for your heart. This is why Jesus said so much about wealth and possessions – not because He’s after your money…but because He’s after your heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that, “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
I want to begin this series by showing you how what’s first in your heart will determine what you value, who your master is, what you trust in most, and where you place your greatest hope.
Matthew 6:19-24 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
treasures on earth: anything that can lose its value, be taken from you, or that cannot go with you into the next life
This includes A LOT of things.
treasures in heaven: anything that never loses its value, cannot be taken from you, and goes with you into the next life
Anything you do to further God’s work in yourself and others…because God’s kingdom lasts forever.
When we hear these words from Jesus, we feel a little bit of pressure. And here’s the reason why – we don’t like making choices. We don’t want to choose between God and money. We want it all, don’t we? But here’s the thing: eventually push comes to shove and one thing in our lives is superior to everything else. And Jesus says that whatever that is, it is our Master. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Proverbs 18:10-11 The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.
Who or what do you trust most? To ask it another way, who or what are you counting on for your life to go well? What do you need to feel secure?
Wealth can do quite a bit for you, but it’s still limited. Wealth cannot calm every storm you face. In the psalms, there’s so much about God being our refuge. Do you find refuge (safety/security) in your bank account, retirement portfolio, your equity, your possessions, or in God?
1 Timothy 6:6-10 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Contentment is the Greek word “autarkaya”. This word originally meant “self-sufficient; independent of external circumstances”. Paul uses this word but he means “independent of external circumstances and dependent only on God.” Money loves to make us this promise:
When you have enough of me, you will have joy and peace.
But have you ever met a discontent rich person? Have you ever seen someone with a lot of money have paralyzing anxiety at the same time? We all have. The promise money makes us is actually a lie.
We brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it – what Jesus called earthly treasures.
What do you have to have to be content?
If we’re ultimately after wealth and we love money, Paul wants to warn us where that can take us:
-We fall into temptation and a trap
-We fall into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge us into ruin and destruction
-It leads us into all kinds of evil
-It could cause us to walk away from our faith in God
-It will pierce us with many griefs
But if you love God first and go after Him above everything else:
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Last question: What are you setting your hope on?
1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
You know who’s rich in this present world? Nearly every single one of us. You and I might be middle-class in San Francisco, but that still puts us in the top 10% of the world’s wealthiest people.
Don’t be arrogant. And don’t put your hope in wealth; it’s so uncertain. But put your hope in God who richly provides for us.
Is it time to change the conversation you’re having with money?
I hope you’ve seen how we have to make a choice between God and money, just like we have to choose between God and anything else. But Jesus said so much about money and possessions because he knew wealth would always be in competition for first place in our hearts.
If you treasure money most…
If you serve money most…
If money is your master…
If you trust money most…
If you hope in money most…
THEN money is your savior. And the saddest thing about that?
If money is your savior, then Jesus can’t be.
But I’ll simply ask you this: Do you want what only money can do for you or do you want to live out of what Jesus has already done for you and is committed to doing for you forever?
Christians: It’s so easy for all of us to get our hearts and, therefore, our lives out of order.
Is your current contentment and future confidence based on how much is in your hands or is it based on whose hands you are in?
My story about realizing, “I’m in His good hands.”
Rest: Give Jesus your life, all of it.