This Easter, as we think about the gift of God’s Son to free us from the power of sin and death, I can’t help but think the love that drove Christ to the cross. A love for you and me that is so deep, so potent, He was willing to be brutally tortured and murdered for our sake.
So how do we respond? What does God want from us?
Our whole heart. All of it.
This is so important to God that He made it the first and foremost commandment. You’ll recall the question Jesus was asked by the Pharisee… what is the greatest of all the commandments? Jesus made it simple and clear:
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
But there’s one very powerful enemy to this deep desire of God’s.
You may think I’m mistaken, but money is so powerful that Jesus spoke more about it than heaven and hell combined. And that’s simply because our relationship to money is at the core of our relationship with God.
In fact, money is the only thing Jesus ever connects to our heart.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks directly to this issue. He says,
“Stop storing up for yourselves treasure on earth, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19). Then he adds, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 21).
And that’s the issue. Your heart will be given to either God… or money. It truly is a binary choice. As Jesus reiterates in verse 34,
“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.”
And there you have it. Your heart will be given to God or money. You will either trust the stuff of this world for your security or you will trust God. There’s no middle ground (even though we like to think there is).
The issue, however, is that our natural inclination is to trust our money more than God.
And when we do, we cannot be a fully committed follower of Jesus Christ.
The Laodiceans were this kind of Christian. You may recognize this passage from Revelation 3:15,16:
“I know your deeds, that you’re neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you were lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
The verb ‘spit’ used here actually means to ‘vomit.’ What Jesus is saying is that your lukewarm-ness really makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me want to throw up!
Were they lacking spiritual fervor? Not reading their Bibles enough? Uninterested in mission or evangelism?
This is what Jesus said was wrong:
“Because you say ‘I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing.’ You do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” (v 17)
They had given their heart to money, instead of God.
Notice their wealth had become their identity, “I am rich and have become wealthy.” And because they were so rich, they didn’t need anything… implication being, not even Jesus. But Jesus calls them out that they are actually poor and destitute.
A destitution of the heart.
He then says in verse 18,
“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”
In other words, put wealth in its rightful place and invest it effectively in the things of righteousness. Then give me your heart, which is what the next verse, Revelation 3:20, is all about:
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
It’s all about the relationship. He’s saying, “I want to come and sup with you, but your wealth has created this barrier between me and you. It owns your heart.”
This is why challenging, inspiring and motivating fellow-believers to invest in God’s Kingdom work is so critical. Because as they do… as they invest in the stuff of righteousness… God will get what He wants, and that’s their heart.
This Easter, let’s commit to trust God more than our stuff and inspire and motivate others to do the same as they are challenged to support God’s work through your ministry. As we do, Jesus will get what He paid such a high price for on that first Easter, the whole heart of His children.
More Insights from Dunham+Company: “If God Will Provide, Why Do We Have to Ask for Money?“