Christian Financial Advice and Biblical Stewardship

Which Do You Have to Manage More: Money or Faith?

  • Kile Baker Contributor
  • Updated Sep 08, 2022
Which Do You Have to Manage More: Money or Faith?

Which one do you have to manage more: your money or your faith? The answer may surprise you a little. But before we get to the answer of this question, let's ask a different, but arguably more important one:

What do you treasure?

Most of us probably don't use this kind of language when we talk about what's important to us. We talk about what we are "into," what we're "passionate" about, what we "desire" or "crave," or we simply use the word "love." We don't use the word treasure much anymore, but it's the word Jesus used to describe the moving force upon our hearts.

Whatever we treasure will have an impact upon our hearts, and therefore everything else in our lives, including our faith. Our heart (sometimes used as the Biblical slang for the seat of our will and decision-making) is the one that manages our thoughts, emotions, actions, etc., in response to everything around us. So what happens when our heart treasures something? According to Jesus, the heart only has room to treasure one thing absolutely, and then everything else gets managed around that treasure. Here's the story that Jesus tells about this dynamic.

In one instance, as Jesus was teaching about the dangers of money on the heart of people, He tells a parable in Luke 12:13-32 in response to someone asking Jesus to be an arbiter between him and his brother on a financial matter. Here's where Jesus takes the story:

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."

Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."

Jesus warns the man and the crowd listening upfront to be wary of our relationship with money. In fact, Jesus is warning the man about money he doesn't even have yet! Jesus is saying to be careful not to let it overtake you and move your focus in the wrong direction. To highlight this point, rather than directly answering the man, Jesus begins to tell a story that is directed at the man and those listening so if they too come into money, they can take the right action:

And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

This is a good problem to have; the harvest was plentiful, so the man in the story has a few options: sell most of it, give some of it, or keep all of it. He chooses the last, which is, unfortunately, the wrong decision.

"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."'

The emphasis here is "mine, mine, mine." The man in the parable focuses on what he believes is his, what he believes he has the power to control. He believes the resources are all his to do what he wants with, so he manages everything else around them. He plans to build new, bigger barns. He'll have a new outlook on farming because of his surplus. And his work will turn into more leisure time. His heart has begun managing all the details of a future life that he believes will take place.

If we modernized this notion for many of our own lives, it might be like getting a big check from selling our house, a pay raise because of a new job or promotion, or an inheritance from a family member. We have an influx of money, so we decide we'll upgrade. We'll get a bigger house, or at least a nicer car. We'll take that trip we've been putting off for years. We'll change how we live and eat better or get some of the nice things we couldn't afford before. Our life will be different. Better, for sure. We could say it this way: We're always trying to manage our way to a better life.

The problem is, there are so many parts of our life we have no control over, especially tomorrow. The best we might be able to say is that we can manage today, and even that is a stretch at times! Tomorrow seems close, but it's farther out of reach than we think. In Jesus' parable especially, this kind of attitude is foolish.

"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

Knowing that real people are listening to this parable Jesus has made up, Jesus draws their focus (and ours!) onto the one thing the man in the story can't control or dictate - his own life. Just like in Jesus' story, most of us do not live on our own terms, and almost no one dies on their terms. And when we think we can, Jesus points out that there are not one but two tragedies: 1) the man whose focus was on the wrongs up until his life ended, and 2) the stuff that could have been used and given to others.

Here's a key takeaway that I think that Jesus is getting at when it comes to our relationship with money: Be careful when preparing for this life that you're not unprepared for the next.

We can try to manage our money, our circumstances, and everything else around us so much that we've lost the ability to see that money and possessions have captured our hearts. Money and stuff are the greatest dangers (according to Jesus) to our hearts and souls. This means we only have two options:

1. You can manage your faith through your money.

2. You can manage your money through your faith.

Here's what happens when we choose the first option, which is essentially the path of greed that Jesus mentioned earlier. Greed takes away our focus on three crucial things when it comes to money and our heart:

1. We forget it all belongs to God, not to us.

2. We prioritize the riches of life over our relationships in life.

3. We think in temporary terms instead of eternal terms.

If these aren't bad enough, Jesus isn't quite finished. As He wraps up the story, he finally gets to the teaching moment;

"This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God." Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?"

Let's make a painful admission and observation based on what Jesus has just said above: Money can help you have a greater time in life, but it can't give any more time to your life.

Anyone at any time, at any age, can make more money. But guess what no one can make at any time, by any means? Time. We aren't in charge of it; we don't make it —it is given to us. And here's how Jesus draws the connection between time, money, and our faith. He says:

"Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well."

Here's what we are to do with our time and faith: we are to manage our money and stuff through our faith. And guess what happens when we do? God gives us everything that we need. Maybe not everything that we want, but surely everything that we need.

We've come a long way through Jesus' story, but let's not forget the question we started with: Which one do you have to manage more: your money or your faith?

Whether you have a lot of money or a little money, it seems like the answer to this question should be money. After all, if it's not ours, we're just managers anyways. It's God's, and we need to be the best managers we can be. The first part of Jesus' story seems to suggest just as much. But here's how Jesus ends this long teaching as He talks not just to his disciples but to us as well:

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For….

And here's what most Christians think Jesus says next: For where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.

The problem is, without God - our hearts are misleading and deceitful. Without careful management, our hearts seek after everything but God. We could argue that the worst thing we could focus on is managing our money, and yet that is what most of us spend our lives doing — saving it, spending it, managing it, giving it, storing it, and using it wisely. These are all good things, but they aren't the emphasis that Jesus has in mind. Here's what Jesus actually says: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The treasure does not follow our hearts but, in fact, the other way around. Our hearts seek after treasure constantly. This means we have to manage our faith more than anything else, to seek after the Kingdom of God so that all things — like our money — are managed around the true treasure of the Kingdom of God.

While the initial question we started off with may be helpful, let me suggest a better one that pays off far more dividends than money management:

What if we took all of the time, effort, intention, and even worry about our money and stuff and directed all of them towards seeking God's kingdom? Quite possibly, we'd forget about managing our money at all and would instead seek the true riches of being with God — forever.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Deagreez

Kile Baker is a former Atheist who didn’t plan on becoming a Christian, let alone a Pastor, who now writes to try and make Christianity simple. Kile recently wrote a study guide to help people “look forward to and long for Heaven.” You can get one on Amazon here. He also writes at Kile is the grateful husband to the incredibly talented Rachel, Dad to the energetic London and feisty Emma and Co-Lead Pastor at LifePoint Church in Northern Nevada. He single handedly keeps local coffee shops in business.