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A crucial aspect of Jesus’ teaching was His disciples’ stewardship of their financial resources. We know the verse well, and quote it often. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). But look carefully at the context. That verse concludes a section of teaching in which Jesus taught His disciples how to steward their financial resources. Right in the centre of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs His disciples how to manage their money.

We tend to focus on the promise that God will provide! But that promise rests on the all-important condition that we pursue God’s Kingdom above all else. That condition, in fact, is the ultimate Kingdom secret to financial freedom and abundance. When we fulfil that condition, we make Jesus Lord of our wealth and attract God’s powerful blessing.

What then does it mean? How do we seek God’s Kingdom “first”? Does this mean we pray and read the Bible first thing in the morning, before our coffee and the newspaper? Or does it simply mean that we tithe before spending our income on other things? These are indeed good ways to prioritise God’s Kingdom. But Jesus was saying something on a much deeper level. In the broader context of this chapter, Jesus taught a whole way of life that put God’s Kingdom first by the way we steward our resources.

This section began with a teaching about money – specifically, about giving to the poor (Matt 6:1-4). Jesus told His disciples that they should do so “in secret,” not for religious display. Giving offerings simply to look pious might impress people, but it surely does not impress God. He will offer no reward for such vain sacrifices. God desires the secret sacrifices that only He can see. That is true giving, a genuine act of love and worship. It’s done from the heart, rather than out of obligation or pretence.

But Jesus was not merely teaching us how to give with integrity. He was teaching us how to steward our resources for supernatural results. Secret giving purifies our character, but it also maximises our investment. Take a closer look at Jesus’ words. “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:3-4 NASB). Did you catch that last phrase? The Father “will reward you.” He does not only see what we give in secret; He rewards what we give in secret.

The Greek word for “reward” can also mean, “to give back, pay back, or fulfil an obligation.” Jesus used it here to say, “When you make investments into God’s Kingdom out of pure compassion, faith and sincerity, He will return eternal increase to your account.” Christians often read this passage and walk away with only one part of the lesson: that we should give with integrity. Yet Jesus gives us at least two points here. First, our giving should be in secret. And second: God will reward us.

Jesus goes on to teach on prayer and fasting in the exact same way. All three spiritual disciplines – giving to the poor, praying and fasting – are ways we invest in God’s Kingdom. All three receive rewards. The way we manage our finances is just as important as the way we manage prayer and fasting! In fact, out of the three, Jesus taught about giving first. Stewarding our money the Kingdom way is just as important as the other disciplines – the ones we usually deem more “spiritual.” But our financial life is not in a separate category. It is an integral part of our one devotional life. It is an integral part of living in God’s Kingdom, under Jesus’ lordship.

The “Kingdom” Mindset

The Church must adopt this integrated, “Kingdom” mindset if we want God to liberate us from debt and bless us with abundance. That is why Jesus returned to the topic of financial stewardship right after He taught on fasting. In reality, He never left the subject of stewardship. Finances just reveal our faithful management the most clearly. So He went on to say, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21 NASB).

These are powerful words about financial stewardship, foundational to everything else the Bible teaches about wealth. I believe Christians often read these words through the wrong lens and miss their vast implications. But let’s try to take Jesus at His Word. Read those verses again. Notice how Jesus did not teach His disciples to avoid money. The issue of wealth will always be a part of life in God’s Kingdom. So Jesus taught His disciples how to master it, by making wise investments versus foolish ones.

Jesus even played on our desire for wealth. He never said, “If you are truly spiritual and desire my Kingdom, you will not desire treasure.” No, He said, “Where your treasure is, there your hearts will be also.” It is therefore not sinful to desire wealth. Rather it is sinful to desire the wrong kind of wealth, or to desire it for the wrong reasons. Otherwise, Jesus could not have commanded us to store up treasures for ourselves. Remember, money is more than a necessary tool. It is also God’s wonderful gift for us to use for His purposes. When we pursue wealth for ourselves, we make it an idol and stop serving God. “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). But when we make Jesus Lord of our finances, managing our physical resources according to Kingdom principles, we become wealthy in the truest sense of that term. God will provide for our needs and bless us with abundance for others. That blessing enables us to help people in need, live free from debt and anxiety, and store up wealth in an eternal storeroom.

This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “Seek first God’s Kingdom.” Our Lord was instructing us to manage all of our resources – our finances, energy, time and bodies – in ways that advanced His cause rather than ours. If we adopt that lifestyle, then Jesus promised that God would touch our finances – and our whole lives – with abundance. Or as He put it, “All these things will be added to you.” One day we will discover that all along we have been investing in an eternally secure depository. Our treasures will be great in the age to come. It’s the perfect retirement plan.


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