During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He said a lot of things about the kingdom of God, the love of the Father, and the way of salvation. But He also said a lot about money.
Jesus wasn’t an economist or a financial services rep. His understanding of money goes deeper than anyone else’s, because, well, He’s the Son of God. So, if we want to know the truth, we’d better pay attention.
Here are 7 things Jesus said on the subject of money, and what they mean for us today:
1. “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42).
Most of us think that our giving and lending is a matter of personal preference. We’re under no obligation to give our money away at all, right? And we should only lend to those who can pay us back (with interest). That’s just good financial sense.
But Jesus has a different perspective. How we handle our money is a reflection of our heart. Therefore, since we are to love our neighbors, we should hold our money loosely, giving to those in need and lending to those who ask. Money, for the follower of Jesus, is a tool for the kingdom.
2. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:2).
If it doesn’t go viral, is it even worth doing? This is how we’re tempted to approach life these days. A good deed isn’t an end in itself. It’s an opportunity to grow our platform, to virtue signal to the crowd. But giving isn’t about us.
Jesus wants our giving to be in secret. Why? Because it protects our heart. We can’t be generous for all the wrong reasons if we eliminate the possibility. Giving, then, becomes a matter between the giver, the recipient (whose dignity is guarded), and the Lord Himself.
3. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25).
This one goes against everything we are taught. Of course, we ought to worry about the basic essentials of life. If we don’t take care of ourselves, who will?
Well, Jesus has the answer: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them Are you not much more valuable than they” (v. 26).
Jesus’ point is not that we shouldn’t work to provide for ourselves and our loved ones. The New Testament makes that abundantly clear later on; see 2 Thessalonians 3:10 and 1 Timothy 5:8. Once again, Jesus is concerned about the hearts of His followers. He wants us to stop worrying and trust God, no matter what comes our way.
The birds don’t worry, and neither should we.
4. “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21).
These words of Jesus were not given as a general command to all His followers. Rather, they were spoken to a certain rich young ruler who wanted to inherit eternal life. But that doesn’t mean they don’t apply to us today.
Jesus’ concern had to do with the grip the man’s wealth had on His heart. If He couldn’t let it go, then He could never really surrender everything to God. What about you? If Jesus asked you to give up everything, would you be able to do so?
5. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).
We don’t often think like this. We are a people who like to compartmentalize life. Many of us have no problem chasing after money or climbing the corporate ladder Monday through Friday and then giving God our praise on Sunday morning, with Saturday reserved for our golf game.
But Jesus says this shouldn’t be. God wants our full, undivided allegiance—all the time, no exceptions, no ifs, ands or buts. That’s because if we love money, we won’t really be able to love the Lord. We’re just fooling ourselves if we try to have two masters.
6. “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9).
Jesus once told a story about a manager who was about to get fired. So, thinking quickly, he went around and settled debts with everyone who owed him money, slashing the amounts owed as he went.
On the natural level, the servant was dishonest, essentially giving away someone else’s money. But the spiritual lesson is that money is just a resource, and in the hands of a believer, it’s a tool to help build the kingdom.
Money should never be our end goal. Instead, it should be seen as a means to draw others to Jesus, so hold it loosely and use it for the kingdom.
7. “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
These words of Jesus come from the book of Revelation and they were part of a letter to the Christians in Laodicea. This was a church that was “neither cold nor hot” (v. 15), and it was because of their wealth.
They had forgotten that the things that matter most in life—grace, faith, salvation, and walking with the Lord—cannot be bought with money. They come free of charge from the hand of the Father.
However, we can easily delude ourselves into thinking that our prosperity makes us secure. No matter how much wealth we have, we all must come to the Lord with open hands and an acknowledgement of our great need.
Over to you
What did you find most unsettling about Jesus’ perspective on money? Talk to God and ask Him to help you view your finances the way He does.