If we thoroughly examine the Gospels, what does our Lord himself actually say about material possessions? In various passages and within different pericopes, Jesus sets forth his theology of money. He warns his disciples to be wary of greed, show generous spirits, and acknowledge God as the giver of all good gifts. He makes perfectly clear that money issues are spiritual issues—our hearts and treasures are traveling companions. Personally looking at all of our Lord’s teachings, I have developed a summary which sets forth everything Jesus taught about money and material possessions. Perhaps this outline will provide pastors (myself included!) with a working outline for a future sermon series on money matters.
1. Inherit real riches by having spiritual attributes.
Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:5-6
2. Share generously with those in need.
Matthew 5:42; cf. Luke 6:34; Matthew 15:32; cf. Mark 8:2-3; similar in feeding the 5,000, cf. Matthew 14:16; Mark 6:37; Luke 9:13; John 6:5; Matthew 25:40; Luke 6:38; Luke 10:35.
3. Give without seeking the applause of men.
4. Seek a safe place for your treasures.
Matthew 6:19-20; cf. Luke 12:33
5. Reveal your true identity by the location of your riches.
Matthew 6:21; cf. Luke 12:21; 12:34).
6. Worship not both God and gold.
Matthew 6:24; cf. Luke 16:13.
7. Trust providence for your daily provision.
Matthew 6:11; cf. Luke 11:3; Matthew 6:31-32; Matthew 7:8-11; cf. Luke 11:11-13; Matthew 10:9-10; cf. Luke 9:3-5; 10:4-8
8. Suffer scarcity for the sake of the Kingdom.
Matthew 8:20; cf. Luke 9:58; Matthew 19:27
9. Give to God’s servants in order to receive a righteous reward.
Matthew 10:41-42; cf. Mark 9:41
10. Do not be deceived by wealth that chokes out the word of God.
Matthew 13:22; cf. Mark 4:18-19; Luke 8:14
11. Gain the Kingdom of God by giving up everything you own.
Matthew 13:44-46; cf. Mark 10:28;
12. Take hope in God’s gracious gifts of restoration.
Matthew 19:29; cf. Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; John 14:1-3, 18)
13. Plan for family needs in your finances.
Matthew 15:5-6; cf. Mark 7:10-11
14. Honor private property.
Matthew 15:19; cf. Mark 7:21; 10:19; John 10:8-10; Matthew 19:18; cf. Luke 18:20; Luke 19:8-9
15. Beware of paying the ultimate price for worldly gain.
Matthew 16:26; cf. Mark 8:36-37; Luke 9:25
16. Pay your taxes.
Matthew 17:27; Matthew 22:21; cf. Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25
17. Get a right perspective on your purse or eternal life will escape you.
Matthew 19:21-22; cf. Mark 10:21-22; Luke 18:22-23
18. Let God give you a proper perspective of material possessions.
Matthew 19:23-26; cf. Mark 10:23-27; Luke 18:24-27
19. Do not resent God’s gifts to others.
20. Never turn God’s house into a profit center.
Matthew 21:12-13; cf. Mark 11:17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:16
21. Never take financial advantage of others, especially the weak.
Matthew 23:14; cf. Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47
22. Never substitute tithing for obedience.
Matthew 23:23; cf. Luke 11:42
23. Invest wisely with small things to be entrusted with great things.
Matthew 24:46-47; Matthew 25:21; cf. Luke 19:22-27
24. Prepare for future needs.
25. Do not let money sit idle without earning interest.
Matthew 25:27; cf. Luke 19:23
26. Worship extravagantly.
Matthew 26:9-10; cf. Mark 14:6-9; John 12:5-8
27. Measure your generosity by what you have left, not by what you give.
Mark 12:41-44; cf. Luke 21:1-4
28. Do not be wasteful or lose that which God entrusted to you.
John 6:12; John 6:39
29. Distinguish between the material and the spiritual.
John 4:13-14; John 6:27; John 6:50-51a
30. Realize Jesus has a special place in his heart for the poor.
Luke 4:18; cf. Luke 7:22; Luke 6:20; Luke 14:13-14
31. Honor God with offerings that recognize God’s goodness.
32. Realize the rich already have their reward in the here and now.
Luke 6:24; cf. Luke 6:25; Luke 16:25
33. Show gratitude when forgiven debt.
34. Guard yourself against greed.
35. Acknowledge you are a steward and not an owner.
Luke 12:20; cf. Luke 12:35-44; Luke 16:11-12
Having surveyed all of Jesus’ words about wealth and materialism, I have formed some core conclusions. First, Jesus cares deeply about how we steward the material possessions entrusted to our management. Second, Jesus perceives that the way that we handle our purse is intimately connected to our spiritual formation. Third, Jesus gives guidance on our spiritual use of material possessions, covering almost every angle available—saving, sharing, investing, hoarding, planning, prioritizing, trusting, scarcity, abundance, boundaries, tithing, and taxes. Oddly, while we, as pastors, remember and teach most of what Jesus says on all other topics, we often neglect to embrace our Lord’s wisdom on wealth.