Jesus had much to teach about money—how we use it and give it. He also left us a good example of how to handle funds. It is found in John’s account of the Last Supper. There the apostle makes a little aside that gives us vast insight into the priorities Jesus used for dispersing funds during His earthly ministry.
Judas, the treasurer, had finished his dialogue with Jesus and was about to leave the table to betray Him. The Lord makes a simple remark that is misunderstood by the other disciples. He says to Judas, “That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:27).
Now how did the others interpret that remark? They had been with Jesus for three-and-a-half years. They knew the job description of Judas—and they had carefully observed how Jesus spent money. So they thought Judas was going to go out and do what he always did. They figured the Lord was sending him out either to buy needed things or give aid to the poor. That was the way Jesus used money, to purchase immediate necessities and to help the poor. What an amazing insight into the mind of Christ and one that fits well into all the other teachings of our Lord about the proper use of earthly things.
Everything about Jesus and the apostles reinforces this strong impression. They were frugal men who had learned to master money and use it as a servant of the kingdom rather than as an end in itself.
Our problem today is that we believe all the money that comes to us belongs to us to spend as we please. We have the crazy idea that if God gives us a $100,000 annual income, He wants us to live a $100,000 lifestyle for ourselves.
May I dare you also to reverse your prayer-style when it comes to the way you spend your income?
How many Christians pray before they go into the supermarket? How many pray before they go to the mall or shopping center? Before they buy a book or a magazine or go to a movie? Before they go to a restaurant where the cost of the check would sponsor a national missionary for a month? How about you?
Yet the minute they are challenged to support the real work of God, things become very spiritual. Now they have to pray about sponsoring a national missionary, pray about responding to appeal letters for missions, pray about contributing to the offering!
I’m not saying we should be careless stewards in how we support missions, but I am saying that most of us apply a double standard that is not based on agape, sharing love. If the spending of our income is for our things and our pleasure, then the signal is “buy—buy—buy!”
But too often, when lost souls are at stake, we let greed and hoarding call the plays. Then we have to think about it and consider it.
And we don’t do this only in our personal lives. The same kind of thinking prevails when we make corporate decisions at church. When it comes to approving a ski trip for the youth group or new carpet for the sanctuary, the item passes through the budget committee without comment. But if it is Bibles for Myanmar or supporting a national missionary, then there needs to be debate. This is the opposite of how we should be thinking.