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Jesus' Teachings About Money

This book is a guide to biblical stewardship and, more particularly, to Jesus' teachings. Jesus used money in a variety of ways to make the Gospel known.

Golv begins with the beginning of Matthew and carefully sifts through the texts finding the various ways in which a reference is made to money. Texts not found in Matthew but in Luke and John are added.

The author reflects on these texts incorporating insights from biblical studies, raising questions and discovering new insights. The result is 27 chapters of engaging insights for Bible studies, discussion groups and sermon development.

Jesus' Teachings About Money

When money is talked about in church, it is often because the church needs money and is hoping to encourage people to be more generous.  To do so is not inappropriate.  However to only do so when the church is asking for money is a huge disservice and is not faithful to scripture.  Jesus talked a lot of about money.  At no time did Jesus ever appear to be asking people for money to support a local synagogue or the Temple in Jerusalem or taking up an offering for people in need.  The Gospels indicate that Jesus however connected money with life and with faith.  Jesus was concerned about how possessions possessed people.  

Loyal Golv gifts the church by giving us a book that focuses on Jesus' Teachings About Money.  This book is an excellent resource for anyone who desires to bridge the gap.    

Golv was a parish pastor for 28 years.  Stewardship was a significant part of his ministry.  For ten years the ministry of stewardship became a full-time opportunity.  He often shared the simple fact that Jesus spoke more often about money than about any other topic except for His central theme, Kingdom of God.

He decided that when he retired he would take the time to discover what Jesus taught us about money.  This book is the fruit of his efforts.

In the introduction, accurately describes the outline of the book.

"The text for each chapter was selected simply by beginning at the beginning of the New  Testament moving through the Gospel of  Matthew, considering parallel passages in the other Gospels, including texts found only in the Gospel of Luke or the Gospel of John." Related notes and observations from other texts throughout the Bible are amply provided in the margins."

Each chapter is brief, distinct and provides "three opportunities to consider how the teachings of Jesus about money related to people in the 1st century also serves as a guide for us in the 21st century."

"Following each chapter is a page which describes a second and third opportunity.   The second opportunity is to reflect on a portion of your own faith journey against the background of a portion of the teachings of Jesus. . .  ask yourself, 'Of what practical value is this for my life,  or for the life of my family, now?'"

"The second opportunity is to review a portion of the faith journey of your congregation against the background of what Jesus taught us about money."

The chapter below serves as a random example of the content of the book.

Chapter 22: Counting the Cost
The Parable of the Good Samaritan

'Take care of him, and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.'

The parable of The Good Samaritan was told in response to a question raised by a lawyer. He asked, Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? On another occasion this same question was posed by a rich young man. In both instances Jesus began by referring them to the law. However, the law was viewed in different ways by each of these men.

For the rich young man the law is centered on the Ten Commandments. He is confident he has been able to keep these commandments faithfully but wonders if this is enough.

The lawyer is asked to define the basic meaning of the law. He replies, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. He is not confident that he can be faithful to what the law requires, especially as it relates to loving his neighbor. This prompts him to ask another question, Who is my neighbor?

Reviewing this parable from a monetary perspective may be very expensive. Restricting our purpose only to the money involved may be to lose sight, at least momentarily, of many other dimensions to this parable. We dare not blind ourselves to its great importance for the church, for society and for our own faith walk. We can only hope that this limited focus will serve to sharpen our appreciation for other facets of this parable.

Counting the cost can be done by putting ourselves in the place of that man from Samaria. We can begin with the amount we earn each day. Then we take that amount and multiply it by three. The first third we have forfeited by personally spending the rest of that day and through the night taking care of the beaten man we picked up in a ditch.

The other two-thirds of this amount is given to the innkeeper. This is an open-ended arrangement in which the Good Samaritan promises to make a further contribution if it is needed. The risk is compounded by some unknown factors.

Did he have a factual basis for trusting the innkeeper? If the injuries suffered were made worse by the efforts of these well-intentioned amateurs, would they be held liable?

Counting the cost may also involve hidden costs. It is apparent that the Samaritan's time was precious to him. He could not spend more time with the injured man. It was cheaper for him to pay the innkeeper. What was the total amount of time and money he would contribute before the man who was half dead was able again to resume his life?

Counting the cost would not be complete if we failed to consider the possible benefits which the Samaritan may have enjoyed as the result of his good deed. If personal rewards were his motive, he may have been deeply disappointed. Only two other persons had knowledge of his compassionate generosity: the injured man and the innkeeper. The hostility between Samaritans and Jews may have prompted both of them to remain silent.

Counting the cost also depends on who is doing the counting. If the man near death in the ditch counts the cost, he would consider the time and money involved as incidental. His life was saved! He may not have headlined the fact that his life was saved by a Samaritan but his hostile attitude toward these neighbors would be challenged.

If the innkeeper counted the cost it may have made little difference whether he was a Jew or a Samaritan. The cost would not be of great concern for him. He witnessed an amazing kindness which involved neighbors who rarely spoke to each other. Speaking about it may have been hazardous for his business but it remained a beautiful memory.

As the lawyer counted the cost, he could only conclude that the lesson he had learned was very expensive. He had hoped that the Jesus would answer his question in a way that would make his religious life less demanding. Instead, the prospect of failing to achieve eternal life because he was unable to keep the law was very real. Apparently, he simply walked away to consider what he had learned.

How do we count the cost? Perhaps we will begin by recalling times when we had an opportunity to be a good Samaritan. However, we considered the cost to be too high. Our reactions were comparable to those of the priest and the Levite. Those memories remain painful. Is this the end of the story for us?

Again, how do we count the cost? We can turn our attention to the first question asked by the lawyer by putting ourselves in his place. We ask Jesus, Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

We hear him say to us, What is written in the law? We give the same answer as did the lawyer about loving God and loving our neighbor. Jesus says to us, You have given the right answer; do this and you will live.

At this point, we would not try to justify ourselves by having Jesus define who our neighbor is. We have the enormous advantage of knowing Jesus as our Savior. We live in the wake of the resurrection. Jesus promised, Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.

We know that Jesus fulfilled the law perfectly for us. He calls us to follow him. He gives to us the gift of faith, the gift of forgiveness, and the gift of his grace. As we reflect of the story of the Good Samaritan in terms of the gospel rather than the law, we discover many other perspectives from which we can explore its great riches.

Now we are exploring this parable only from a monetary point of view. We examine the relationship of our faith to our courage to risk a lot of money in ways which are critical for someone else but of little or no benefit to us. Our action is motivated by mercy and justice. We grasp on opportunity to do what we decide to do simply because we know it is the right thing to do.

Obviously, in this 21st century we will not do what the Good Samaritan did in this 1st century parable. If we were traveling down a road and saw a badly injured person in the ditch, we would call 911. We would stay to comfort the injured person. When an ambulance arrived, we could go on our way. Neither courage nor cash was required.

You may remember a time when you had the courage to do the right thing, not counting the cost. Now as you look back, you may not remember how much money was involved but you are not sure you would do it again. There were so many things which could have gone wrong. If this had been a historical event rather than a parable, we may have wondered if the Good Samaritan would really do it again.

A little known historical event may prompt you to remember other Good Samaritan stories. We go back to three days in August 1991 when the Soviet Union simply disintegrated.

First came fear. Tanks rolled into Moscow on August 19, 1991. . . Yeltsin brought legitimacy to the new democracy . . . Key initial defenders of the Yeltsin White House came there directly from a liturgy in the Cathedral of the Assumption . . . Older women church-goers were among their supporters. Orthodox priests ministered to some in the ring of defenders as they awaited an attack; and, after the coup collapsed, everyone used one simple word to describe it all -- a miracle.

A key event in this miracle took placed on August 20th. Everyone was then expecting a military attack on the Russian White House. Young tank troops were awaiting an order from the coup leaders to crash through the ring of young people defending the fledging democratic government inside. But it was the older women who went on the attack. They moved out to scold the crew-cut troops for even thinking of attacking their pony-tailed brothers at the barricade.

The young soldiers, lacking written commands from their superiors, were taking orders from their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and the selfless babushkas who had brought them up and kept alive memories of Russia as a motherland. The fearsome Red Army seemed to dissolve into a band of nineteen-year-olds being cautioned against misbehavior. The older women of Russia had become for a moment "world historical figures" in a way that the Russian intelligentsia had never expected -- and that Western historians have not yet recognized.

Those good Samaritans had great courage. Cash was not a critical factor but their very lives were at risk They grasped the opportunity to do something dangerous simply because it was the right thing to do.

Counting the Cost: Personal Notes and Observations
reflecting the risks involved in compassion:

A few questions to prompt questions of your own related to your faith journey.

What are the key factors you consider as you count the cost of giving?

What are some of the risks involved in compassionate giving in response to an urgent need?

As a thoughtful person, what are some key factors which serious givers should consider as they prepare their giving plan for the coming year or years?

Counting the Cost: Congregational Notes and Observations
related to compassionate giving to meet an urgent need.

A few questions to prompt questions of your own related to your congregation's ministries.

Does the parable of the Good Samaritan contain some key factors which a congregation may want to include in your vision for mission?

Is there a contingency fund in your budget which will allow the congregation to respond to immediate needs like that of a man who had been beaten and left in a ditch?

Do you have some observations you will want to share with your groups about this issue?

A listing of the chapters gives further indication of the breadth and value of this work.

1 - Gold for Our King
Matthew 2:1-23

2 -- His Forerunner and Ours
Matthew 3:1-17, Luke 3:1-20

3 - His Temptation and Ours
Matthew 4:1-11

4 -- Money and the Making of Disciples
Matthew 4:18-22

5- The Teaching of Jesus: At the Beginning
Matthew 5:3 and Luke 6:20

6 -- Reconciliation, Then . . .
Matthew 5:21-26

7 -- A Special Place for the Poor
Matthew 6:19-21

8 -- Treasures: On Earth, In Heaven
Matthew 6:19-21

9 -- The Linchpin: The People of God
Matthew 6:24

10 -- The Linchpin: the World of Commerce
Matthew 6:24
11 -- Economics and the Kingdom: A Personal Evaluation
Matthew 6:25-34

12 -- Economics and the Kingdom: The Broad Scope of History
Matthew 6:25-34

13 -- Ministry Without Money
Matthew 10:1-15

14 -- Looking Beyond the Obvious
Matthew 13:1-51

15 -- Listening at the Edges
Matthew 14:13-21 and John 6:1-13

16 -- Life and Language
Matthew 16:24-26

17 -- Money and Power
Matthew 18:23-25

18 -- Wealth: a Worrisome Wonder
Matthew 19:16-26

19 -- Generosity: His and Ours
Matthew 20:1-16

20 -- Prayer or Preyers
Matthew 21:12-17

21 -- Taxes and Giving
Matthew 22:15-22

22 -- Counting the Cost
Luke 20:25-32

23 -- Money and the Lost Son
Luke 15:11-32

24 -- Rich Man, Poor Man
Luke 16:19-31

25 -- Pharisee/Tax Collector/Tithing
Luke 18:9-14 and Luke 11:42

26 -- Salvation Now!
Luke 19:1-10

27 -- Concluding Contrasts
Luke 10:38-41 and John 11:1-45

I anticipate making use of this helpful resource for years to come.  

- Reviewed by Jerry Hoffman

To order contact:
Kirk House Publishers
PO Box 39079
Minneapolis, MN 55439




Loyal E. Golv developed this resource after retiring from a career of parish pastor (28 years) and churchwide stewardship leader (10 years).

Author information was updated as of the article's post date. Author profiles may not reflect author's current employment or location.

Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa ( via Flickr. Used by permission.

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