Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted from The Tough Sayings of Jesus II by Michael Kelley. The excerpted portion is part of the discussion of the parable of the shrewd manager in Luke 16:1-13.
We might wonder why Jesus cares so much about our money. It seems like it’s all about the Benjamins (or Jacksons, as the case may be), and our relationship to them. Apparently Jesus is incredibly concerned about money, and as this passage concludes you see why: “No household slave can be the slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t be slaves to both God and money” (Luke 16:13).
Why, Jesus? Why do you care so much about my salary? Why do you concern yourself so much with this area of my life? It’s because our wallets, maybe more than anything else, are a great indicator of our hearts. Our bank accounts reveal more truly than our words ever will what we really value. They show what we really care about. It’s not that you can buy your way into the good graces of God; it is, however, that if you really do care about Jesus and His kingdom then your finances will show it. So you could say that there are two kinds of people in the world—those who are mastered by their money and those who have mastered their money and can therefore use it as a tool for good.
Don’t be mastered by your money. It sounds simple doesn’t it? Master your money, and in that mastery use it as a tool for eternity. But it’s more complicated than just willing ourselves to do more good with our money. It’s more complex than just deciding to not be ruled by money anymore. To get out from under its thumb and to start shrewdly using money as a tool, we have to ask why so many of us are under its rule in the first place. I know that in my own life, I’m not so much under the rule of cash itself but with the things that it can get me. Consequently, though, I still live enslaved by the means that get me that stuff I think I “need.”
Logic tells me that if I didn’t need all that stuff, then I wouldn’t need money to get it. And if I didn’t need money, then I’d be able to use it in the way it was intended. So the key question at the end of that trail is this:
Why do I need all that stuff? Why do I need new clothes and a nice car? Why do I need a case of DVDs and a high-definition TV? Surely the answers are as many as the pieces of unworn clothing that hang in my closet, but in essence they all add up to this: Each thing I use money to buy is an effort to meet a perceived need. I have all these needs swirling around in my mind and heart—the need to be loved, to be liked, to be valued, to be important—and I spend my money on things that ultimately broaden those holes in my soul rather than filling them. The result is always moving from one material item to another, and never having the peace that would surely come if those holes were filled. We are experts at trying to use stuff, self-destructive actions, and relationships to try and “complete” ourselves.