Show Me the Money!

(Part 1)

By Greg Quinn

September 19, 2013

“Show me the money!”  This was a famous quote from the movie, Jerry Maguire, of several years ago.  This became the most notable quote in that movie, and perhaps any movie that Tom Cruise ever did.  In fact, it became one of the most well-known quotes from any movie of the past decade or more.  “Show me the money!” became more than just words, but an expression of our generation.  Our priority has become one of money, of material possessions, so this quote, “Show me the money!” rings true.  Just like in the movie, it’s all about the money.

What does this say about our generation?  What does this say about our nation, and not just the US, but the entire world?  And, bringing it close to home, what does this say about our families, and our own personal testimony?  Has “Show me the money!” become the statement for our lives?

Like any issue facing us today, we can find the answers, and the real truth, in the Bible.  Jesus talked more about money than he did heaven, or hell, or resurrection, or sacrifice.  Jesus talked about money because he knew the mindset of people, our selfishness, our greed, and our attraction to material possessions.  Just as it was true in his generation, the same is true today.  Our attitude toward money affects our personal walk with God, our relationships, the way we conduct our business and our work, or priorities, and everything we do.  Since Jesus thought this so important to provide us so many answers about money and our attitudes toward it, let’s take a look at one of his most recognizable teachings on this subject.

In the book of Matthew, Chapter 6, versus 19-34, Jesus talked about the kingdom law of riches and what should be our attitude toward money.  Beyond that, Jesus understood that money in itself was not the major problem, but the way we looked at money.  Knowing this (Jesus is God and knows everything), Jesus additionally gave us a cure for our worry about money, and a relief from the hold that money may have upon our lives. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus says the following:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but instead lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Jesus was giving us a response to “Show me the money!”.  Jesus, knowing our attitudes toward riches, treasures, money, provides us the appropriate attitude toward money (in many cases what we consider our treasure).

Jesus was telling us instead of working our lives in the gain of worldly treasures (money, possessions, material things), our focus should be on building our lives on things of more value, treasures in heaven.

Treasures here on earth lose value.  Think about a purchase you made a long time ago, something you simply could not live without.  Something you sacrificed for.  Was it a new pair of shoes?  A new dress or suit?  A new car or truck?  A new boat?  A gun?  Was it a new house?  Was it your job or work or business?  Now, what’s the condition of that purchase or acquisition today?  Chances are the suit, shoes, or dress you couldn’t do without a few years back don’t even fit now, or is out of style or worn out.  Chances are the new car or truck has long lost its luster, and you’ve already traded it for another.  If you still have it, chances are you don’t like it anymore.  Most likely you no longer have the boat you couldn’t live without, and if you do still have it, look forward to getting rid of it.  The gun you had to have isn’t as important anymore.  Even the house you sacrificed so much to buy (time, family, friends) has most likely lost value, and certainly doesn’t mean as much to you now as it did back then.  And the job or business that took all of your time and energy might have resulted in a promotion for someone else, or the business success or failure viewed in the proper light doesn’t seem worth the sacrifice.  Our treasures here on earth lose value.  What was important at one time, after a while are not really that important anymore.

Jesus provided us insight as to the problem, which is our inordinate attitude toward money and material things.  He added, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.  In other words, the things that are most important to us, these are the things that get our attention, our time, our value, our heart.  Let me say that again.  The things in life upon which we place the most importance (our money, our jobs, our possessions) are the things in life which get our heart (our time, our attention, our value).

Looking at it in this manner, we don’t feel too good, do we?  You may say, “I value my family above my job”, or “I put more importance on my walk with God than I do my money or possessions”, or “My relationship with my family is more important than money”.  But is it?  Where do you put your time?  Where do you put your value?  Where do you place your priorities? It’s not what you say, my friend, it’s what you do.

If I’m pointing one finger at you, I have three pointing back at me.  I myself have been very guilty of this.  Being a businessman with a passion for achievement and success (as the world measures success), I too have fallen into the trap (or the deep well) of misaligned priorities.  I have sacrificed much for the material success that I have achieved, or seek to achieve.  Too much.  Too many days I spent too much time working and not enough time with my family.  Too many times I placed my priority upon things that I would gain and possess over “heavenly” things that cannot rust or decay.  I sacrificed time with my son to give to my job.  I sacrificed time with my wife to give to my work or business.  I missed opportunities for witness to others for God in order to work more to achieve more.  I missed time with my family (spouse, son, brothers, mom & dad, etc.) and friends that I cannot get back, and exchanged this time for the pursuit of money or things.  I put more emphasis on time at work than I did time with God.  I spent more time achieving and accomplishing and seeking to possess than I did in thankfulness and gratitude to the one (God) who allowed my achievements, accomplishments, or success. 

Chances are that any of you reading this can share the same testimony that I just shared.  Chances are all of us have misaligned our priorities as it relates to our “treasure”, and where we put our time, heart and energies.

Neither I, nor Jesus, are saying that there is anything wrong with money or achievement or success.  I have been broke, and I have had money, and I can assure you that it’s much better having money than being broke.  Again, it’s not the “things” but the “attitude” towards the things.  Jesus is not saying that money is evil, only that our attitudes toward money can be wrong.  Material possessions are fine, as long as our attitudes toward these material possessions are correct.  In another passage, Jesus says, “The love of money (not money itself) is the root of all evil”.  It’s not that the bass boat or gun or house or job or savings account or business or new car is bad; it’s not.  They are just objects.  But if our priorities are misplaced, then our attitudes toward these things are wrong.  It’s not the “thing”, it’s what becomes our “treasure”.  If your treasure is your money, then you are wrong.  If your treasure is “heavenly things” instead of material possessions, then you are on the right track.

So what are these “treasures in heaven” that we are to “lay up for ourselves”?

We are to “lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, that cannot be corrupted or stolen”.  These treasures are not material possessions, but treasures of a heavenly benefit.  Investing into your family, your spouse, your girlfriend, your friends is more important than investing in your bank account.  Instead of exchanging all our time for the pursuit of money or things, which decay or can be stolen or lost, why not spend our time in the pursuit of things that cannot be stolen or lost or decayed?  When you invest time into another person’s life, to share with them your testimony about what God has done for you, then you have made a wise investment.  This time can help change another person’s life forever, which has eternal value for that person and for you.  The time you spend with your son throwing a baseball is of more value than those extra hours at the office.  The time you spend with your wife or girlfriend to share your life is of much greater value than putting together that special project or proposal.  The time you spend with your grandchild sharing your wisdom about life is of much more value than the overtime required to buy that new boat.  These rewards are greater than what Bank of America says you have in your savings account.  These are things of heavenly value, investments into people instead of things, things that have eternal rewards.

So are we to work?  Don’t we need to strive for achievement and success?  Cannot I be successful in business, make a lot of money, and still serve God?  Of course!  God gives each of us the abilities to accomplish what He puts us here to accomplish.  Nothing happens by accident that God didn’t plan, if we but follow God’s plan.  He knew the parents you would be born to, the country you’d be from, the family you’d be a part of.  God knew who you would date, who you would marry, who your children would be.  God knew the job or career you would have.  And God knew the pull of the world and the things of the world for your time and energies and wants to give us the proper perspective through His word, the Bible.  God wants each of us to be successful.  But God wants your heart more than he wants your money.  God prefers you to invest your time into things that “won’t rust” instead of you putting all your time into things that will.  Success and the attaining of material things and wealth by themselves are not bad.  It is our attitudes toward these things that determine whether it is bad or good.

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus follows up by saying the following.  “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money.”  Jesus was saying we must make a choice.  Do we place our priorities on God?  Or do we place our priorities on money?

I believe that if we put our priorities in the right order, on God first, people second, and then down the line material things, that the “things” that we often think are most important to us, God will give us anyway if we need them.

In Part 2 of this teaching, I will share with you the cure for our anxiety over money and things.  Don’t miss it.

So, what’s our take-away for today?  Let’s change our motto from “Show me the money!” to “Show me God”.  If we pursue God and his righteousness, then all these other things will come to us.  Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  It’s OK to work hard; we are commanded by God to do so. It’s OK for us to achieve; God wants us to be the best we can be at our profession, as long as it’s accomplishing His will for your lives.  It’s OK for us to have things, as long as our things don’t have us.  If we put God first, and the things second that are of the most important to God (our families, our friends, other people), then the things that we tend to stress over will not be such a treasure in our lives.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.  Let’s make sure that our treasure is in the right place, then our hearts, our talents, our time, our priorities will follow suit.

Greg Quinn