Updated on January 6, 2014
sayings of Christ: Week 6, Danger of Riches–Perspective
- Matthew 22:21–And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
- John 4:13–Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again…”
- John 6:27–Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
Perspective is a powerful thing. As we learn more about riches, let’s take a step back and build a perspective from which we can view the riches we may or may not have.
RENDER TO CAESAR THE THINGS THAT ARE CAESAR’S; AND TO GOD THE THINGS THAT ARE GOD’S
What is God’s? It is the question that framed this aphrosim. There is beauty in this aphorism–for though it appears to be pitting one against another, it really is a beautiful partnership.
But to understand what belongs to whom, let’s start at the beginning.
Read John 1:1-3 (I know you may know it, but go read it again anyway). What stands out to you?
Everything came into being through God. Everything. Period Though in the Matthew passage Jesus spoke of the coin being Caesar’s, it first was His. And as the owner, He can set in place it’s proper usage.
Read Genesis 1:27-28. What stands out to you?
Like it or not, you have a Creator, an Owner. The One whose image is imprinted on you is the One who has the power and the right to determine your proper purpose. Just as Jesus used the image of Caesar on that coin to determine its owner, you are imprinted with the image of God–you are His.
What thoughts/feelings arise because of that reality?
What areas of your life does this reality impact? What is God asking you to do because of this reality?
We live the seemingly incongruent realities of living as humans with free will who are actually owned regardless of that free will. God is our Creator, our Master. It is in His own power and might that He has given us free will to choose whether we will take His family name and willingly come under His leadership.
Have you come under His leadership?
In what areas do you struggle with submitting to His leadership?
What is He asking you to do?
So what, exactly, does this have to do with riches? A lot.
Read 1 Peter 2:13-25. What stands out to you?
We are to submit to every human institution. That can be a hard pill to swallow. How often do we complain about taxes, about politics, about our bosses, or any other institution? We are His and He commands us to submit.
Further, in verse 18 we are commanded to “be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable” (NKJV).
You are God’s. He placed you where you are for a reason. Hate the income tax? Deal with it. Could you boss teach Hitler a thing or two about demoralizing people? Rub some dirt on it and move on. If you claim to be God’s and you are submitting to His will, that includes submitting to these masters.
You are His. And He has placed you here. He is asking you to do things–will you do them? Again, you may ask, what does this have to do with riches? Everything.
You are His. He has provided for you. And He has provided from His own storehouse. What is yours is not actually yours–it is His.
What does this mean in terms of your money?
How should this impact the decisions you make about money?
What is God asking you to do?
DO NOT WORK FOR THE FOOD WHICH PERISHES, BUT FOR THE FOOD WHICH ENDURES TO ETERNAL LIFE
Read John 6:27-29. What stands out to you?
“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (verse 29). What does it mean to believe in Jesus?
Find several verses where Jesus commands us to do something because of our belief in Him. For each verse/passage, identify the specific action being asked of us.
If Jesus is your Master, He has much to say about who you should be, how you should be in this world, and where you should be focused.
Now, using the concordance in the back of your Bible, or by using an online resource, look up “money” and/or “riches”. Read those verses and write out what you learn from them (including the verse reference will help you find those things again later.)
Here is the deal. Jesus has a lot to say about life in this world. His teachings should be the core of how we live in this world. The Bible is God’s word–and Jesus is the Word. It is important that you use it. It is important that you know how to use it. Relying on the words of others, the teachings of others, can set you up for some dangerous experiences when it comes to seeking the kingdom of God.
I grew up in church where the pastor routinely challenged the congregation. He would interrupt his sermon to ask if we ever went home and checked to see if what he said was actually true. He wondered aloud how often we actually cross-reference what he taught. He would acknowledge his desire to truthfully teach the word of God, and he would follow that the very obvious reality is that he is human and therefore could interpret things in a way inconsistent with the rest of the Bible. Or he could have one interpretation of something that we may not agree with, even if both sides have godly, biblical explanations.
I can only begin to describe how critical this single, repeated message was in my own spiritual development. No longer was I reliant on others–I could search out the Truth for myself. And I was encouraged to ask questions, encouraged to disagree if I thought something was off, and encouraged to keep seeking. More important than that, I was empowered to question the messages being taught–not disrespectfully–but to place God’s word as more important than the words of men. And that single thing has proven more and more important as the years pass.
This is what I hope to pass on to you. This section was dedicated to you finding answers by searching God’s word. Usually there is commentary between questions, but really, with something as important as what you should be doing, what you should be thinking, and how you should be living, you need tt be able to find and read those words for yourself.
This world is full of mixed messages. And the most misunderstood by non-believers and Christians alike are the very words of God. Know them. Investigate them for yourself. And be equipped to know whether a message being given you is actually biblical or not.
What is God asking you to do today?
EVERYONE WHO DRINKS OF THIS WATER WILL THIRST AGAIN
The life of faith can be difficult. Laboring for the gifts that are eternal takes a conscious, consistent perspective of the things of God–which are often made up of the higher thoughts and ways of God. This adventure in mental gymnastics creates longing in us. Longing to reach the eternal so we no longer battle our temporal bodies. Longing to know God better so that these mental gymnastics are less arduous. And longing to understand better the ways of God so the confusion and frustrations of life can be set aside.
It is no wonder, then, that this searching for eternal priorities comes with an oh-so-temporary span of sufficiency in understanding. We are trying to understand the eternal through a mortal mindset. And as mortals, we can glimpse the eternal, but it takes going back to the well time and time and time again to replenish the supplies, rehydrate the soul, and refresh our minds.
And so often, we beat ourselves up for needing that refreshment. Rather than this beating, we should instead recognize the eternality of our cause, the mortality of our human existence and the clash of those two realities. The need for refreshment is not a failing, it is simply the only way to stay strong and persist in this race.
So set aside your thoughts of failure. Understand that God has called you to a task you cannot possibly do alone. And appreciate that He has given you the resources to maintain refreshment. And thank Him for giving you thirst for Him, that you may know when that refreshment is needed.
With that, read John, chapter 4. What stands out to you?
There are three things I want to highlight in this section. Jesus talks about thirst, He talks about food, and He talks about results. These three combined create a powerful picture of the spiritual life.
First, let’s explore the issue of thirst.
Review John 4:13-14. What comparison is Jesus making about physical water and spiritual water?
If one relies on physical water, he will thirst again. But spiritual water quenches the soul in a way that no other thing can.
Review verses 15-24. What stands out to you about the progression of events in this passage?
Jesus first identifies the issue in the woman’s life. he moves from telling her about thirst and how to quench it, then asks her about her husband. In verses 17-18, He commends her for telling the truth. Then He moves on to talk about worship.
In verses 23-24, identify the two things required for true worshipers to truly worship.
These two things must be present for thirst to be quenched. Jesus’ answer to the thirsty soul is Spirit and Truth. If the soul has the truth, then it will never thirst again. This woman needed Truth, so Jesus provided it.
With thirst quenched, there is more to surviving the life of faith. We must also have food. Review John 4:31-40. What does Jesus say about food?
If the all-flowing thirst-quenching water is Spirit and Truth, what is the food?
Can we have food without water? Why or why not?
We can debate the answer to that last question, but one thing is clear both in the physical and the spiritual life, if one only consumes food with no water, there will be consequences. In the physical realm, the body will slowly not be able to ingest food because the lack of water will eventually create a shortage of the saliva necessary for proper digestion. In the spiritual world, trying to do the will of the Father and to accomplish His work without Spirit and Tr4uth results in stilted work, over-tired workers, and a significant slowing of the work.
In what areas are you trying to fulfill the will of God and accomplish His work outside of the soul-quenching water of Spirit and Truth? Be honest–where are you relying on yourself rather than on the Spirit of God?
Read verse 35 again. What is the state of the food source mentioned in this verse?
The water is plenty. The food is ready. If we are on track with both of those things, what can we expect as results?
In the verses describing the interaction with the Samaritan woman (verses 1-30 and verses 41-42), what are the results of her receiving Spirit and Truth?
in the verses describing the interaction with the disciples (verses 31-42), what were the results?
And the story of the royal official (verses 43-54), what were the results of the royal official believing the Truth and coming to Jesus with faith for the healing of his son?
The Samaritan woman couldn’t effectively do the will of the Father and accomplish his work until her soul was quenched with Spirit and Truth. The disciples didn’t need their thirsty souls quenched, they already had Spirit and Truth. They needed food–to do the will of the Father and accomplish His work. And the royal official acted based on the Truth he knew and the work of the Father he also had known.
Jesus came to each as they needed. And each received and/or saw similar rewards. It doesn’t matter where you are in the chain of need, there are rewards for seeking the Father. you may be early or late in your walk with Christ, you may be mature or lacking maturity–regardless of your location, there are rewards to be had for seeking the Truth, doing the will of God, and working in both those beliefs.
When you find yourself lacking, ask yourself these three questions:
- What is the Truth regarding this thing/issue/concern? How is the Spirit guiding?
- What is the will of the Father in this? How can it accomplish His work (or what is His work in this)?
- What should I do because of the answers to these questions?
Now that we have a foundation, let’s ask these questions about money. Answer them truthfully and honestly–you cannot fully accomplish the will of the Father if you are not functioning in the Truth.
What is the Truth about money?
Where is the Spirit guiding?
What is the will of the Father with regard to money? What is His work? How can money accomplish His work?
What is God asking you to do because of these answers?
No matter where you are on the spectrum, each step toward Jesus will bring results. Use this as a tool for drawing closer to Him. Do not let the enemy steal your victory or berate you. Every single step is victory. Every single step is closer to Jesus. And every single step is worth the struggle to accomplish.