“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:11-13) Money is a thought-provoking thing. Jesus talked about it a lot. In a third of His parables, He addresses the concept of wealth. Most of us are well acquainted with the accounts of the rich young ruler, or of Zacchaeus, the tax collector from Jericho. Jesus talked to people about money not because all He wanted was their money. The reason he talked about money so much is because He was interested in dealing with the internal condition of people. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34) Any preacher who does not speak about money does not have an interest in the hearts of people.
Some of us might not be convinced of this. We may still think that all that Christian ministries want of us is their money and all of this kind of talk is deceitful – it will all come down to the same thing. So, let us have an honest conversation about money. For Paul, in his partnership with the Philippian church to bring the gospel into the heart of the Roman world, money was required. When we read about this church, we see how generous they were. In fact, this church gave well beyond their means. (see Philippians 4:14-16) While it is true that the church and other Christian ministries cannot function without the generous donations of those who give, I also know that God could rain down money from heaven – and so bypass the need for any donors at all.
So why is Paul so pleased with the Philippians’ giving record? In Philippians 4:17, Paul says, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” Paul rejoices in the fact that they have used their money to support ministry and have seen the gospel move forward. Their giving has shown him what their hearts hold as valuable! You see, the fundamental point that Jesus stressed about money is that how we use it is an accurate diagnostic tool of the state of our hearts. Want to diagnose your own spiritual condition? Today, you can look at your bank account and your use of money as it relates to how you give. What are your finances saying about where your “treasure” is? As we look at the apostle Paul and his attitude, I believe we can learn another lesson about living with joy as it relates to our money. Paul knows that an unhealthy lust after money is altogether destructive to the soul. Money can, like sex, be the cause of fidelity, faithfulness and love – or it can destroy every last moral and spiritual impulse in your being.
In Philippians 4:13, Paul says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Now, some people have made this well known verse their “life verse.” But what concerns me is how we tend to abuse it. So what does it really mean? Well, in this context, what Paul is saying is this: when I am poverty stricken, have nothing, and all men speak ill of me, I can live through even that experience with joy and contentment – knowing that Christ and the reward He promises is more than enough. I can live through any difficult experience, whether broke or well supplied, and never take my eyes off of Jesus. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me! Nothing can steal my joy, and nothing can steal my confidence in my hope. Even money or lack of it cannot do that.
APPLICATION: Are you living with joy? Can you echo the words of Paul, or are you always lacking in joy because there are some things you still want? Let us learn to say, “were it not for what Christ offers, I would be of all men and women most to be pitied!” Let us be fully content in Him!
“FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE WILL YOUR HEART BE ALSO.” (LUKE 12:34)
Dr. John Neufeld