Saturday, November 28, 2015

Three Popular MISCONCEPTIONS regarding JESUS and Money....

"and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
Revelation 22:19

We understand that people will take scripture out of context to suit their agenda, but that doesn't lead to a productive discussion.  Nowhere is this more true than with Jesus' discussion of money in the Gospels.  Consider the following:
  • People LOVE to talk about how, at times, Jesus didn't have a lot of money (Matthew 8:20), but they neglect to mention that He had A LOT of rich friends:

    Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.  Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.  And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.  So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.  And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him,[a] and said to him, Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”

    Luke 19:1-5
  • Speaking of tax collectors, it's certainly true that Jesus teaches us to pay LEGITIMATELY OWED taxes (Mark 12:17), but Jesus ALSO teaches government officials and tax collectors NOT to abuse citizens or collect more than they are owed:

    Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
    And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”

    Luke 3:12-13
  • Finally, while Jesus condemns wealth gained through cronyism and political connections (John 2:13-21), He COMMANDS His followers to engage in productive economic activity:

    “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, whocalled his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.  Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.  After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
    “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’  He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
    “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
    “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
    ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

    Matthew 25:14-31
Bottom Line: While Jesus ABSOLUTELY condemns wealth gained through cronyism, deceit, and force, He doesn't just PRAISE honest economic activity, He COMMANDS His followers to engage in it to the best of their abilities.


Author's Note: Elsewhere in the Gospels, there's discussion of those who attempt to use money as a substitute for a personal relationship with the Lord (Matthew 6:19-21, Matthew 19:16-24), but that's a separate discussion for another day.

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