In 1993, my husband and I went to Paris. I was amazed at how the French view money. The first morning in the city, we went to a bakery (aka “boulangerie”) to purchase a baguette to take with us as we saw the sights, along with the cheese and Diet Coke (aka “Coca Cola Light”) we had purchased at the small grocery store around the corner. If I was to go to my local store in the U.S. at that time and buy a baguette, I could have expected to pay up to $3.00. You would think that the same baked good in Paris would cost similarly, but it didn’t. We stood in line that morning along with many Parisians, and perhaps some other tourists, to patiently wait our turn to buy a delicious, fresh, crusty bread to enjoy on our journey. Surprisingly, when it came time to pay, the cashier charged the equivalent of sixty cents. We smiled and thanked him, still in shock of how little we paid for the bread. What I learned that morning was that the French baker looked at money in much the same way he looked at his ingredients. He needed eggs, flour, butter, money, etc. to run his business. He did not charge more for a baguette, even though he could have, because he did not place a higher value on money than he placed on anything else. He saw it for what it was – a necessity for running a business. Clearly, money had not become an idol to him. How refreshing!
Jesus Christ, in the Gospel of Matthew, was asked about money by a group of religious people who were trying to trap Him. Like the baker, we see that Jesus didn’t place a higher value on money than it deserved. Recall this story:
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words.
16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
— Matthew 22:15-21
God does not need our money. In fact, everything belongs to Him anyway. We are reminded of this in Psalm 50, which reads in part:
9 I have no need of a bull from your stall
or of goats from your pens,
10 for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
— Psalm 50: 9, 1o, 12 (emphasis added)
Money is useful and helpful to have while we are here on this earth. The Bible tells us that a good man leaves an inheritance for his grandchildren, although it does not specify that this inheritance is monetary in nature. Proverbs 13:22 reads: “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.”
But how are we to gain wealth? The Bible tells us that there is an order of operations. We are to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” then, after we have done that “all these things shall be added unto you,” Matthew 6:33. The Bible also tells us that wealth is gained “little by little. Proverbs 13:11 reads as follows: “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.”
The Bible is instructive in telling us what not to do with our money. Many verses warn us not to take a bribe, for doing so comes with severe consequences. King David records in Psalm 15 the following:
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
— Psalm 15: 1-5 (emphasis added)
Ultimately, we will all be judged by God for how we viewed and stewarded the money He entrusted to us. Since it is all His anyway, we need to ask ourselves whether or not God would be pleased with how we gave, spent, saved, and invested His money. Moreover, we need to remember that what He really wants is our hearts. Give unto Caesar what is his, but give unto God your heart, and look forward to dwelling with Him on his holy mountain for eternity.
Article Written by: Carol Vermeer Neel