As we look around at our crazy world in North America we can't help but conclude that people seem to have one motivation in life. In fact, money seems to be the great motivator in all aspects of living. Bosses use it to satisfy their employees, governments use it to influence voters, even some parents use it to bribe their children into good behaviour. Even in my school we have used it in the sense that without it our students will lead a terrible life. We have them do two budgets, one based on a minimum wage job and the other with an education based career. Sad to say, in most cases it has proven successful at motivating our students to do better, but at what cost?
We aren't going to lie to ourselves here, the song writer was correct in saying that money makes the world go round. The more we have the more we are able to do. Without enough money we have to constantly live on the edge of need. But who is to say how much is enough? Something I have discovered is the more money you have the more you need. If last year you scraped through on $12,000 and this year you have $20,000, you are still going to scrape through. The more you have, the more you spend. As much as we need money to live, it cannot be our motivator for living and not living; for doing and not doing.
In his preparation for sending out his twelve disciples, Jesus gave these instructions:
Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep. (Matthew 10:9-10)
These 12 disciples were being sent out to serve but they were also being sent out to learn and one of the greatest lessons we need to learn is that we serve a generous Father, not money. Jesus did not say they would go without; he said that the worker is worth his keep. Isn't that how we see ourselves, as God's workers? Jesus did not want these 12 men relying on any of their own resources because they had to learn the valuable lesson that God's work is not dependent on Man's resources. Even if every Christian entered into rebellion and withheld their tithes, the Father's work would still move forward. He is not dependent on our tithes, which is an act of love and adoration not a method of bankrolling the Kingdom.
Too often our plans are frustrated by lack of finances. In these cases we should ask ourselves if these things are the Father's will or our plans, and if they are our plans we need to drop them and seek the Father's will. If we are spending more time raising funds than we are serving Jesus then we have gotten ourselves all messed up. If we are going to work every day because of our pay cheque then we are out of step with the Spirit. If our motivation is money and not love then our lives are being wasted.
Now listen carefully, I am not saying that we should all quit our jobs and become flower children, I am asking you to check your motivation this morning. Check what is the driving force behind what you do. In this instant Jesus told them to take nothing, but in another season Jesus told them to take everything they could, they would need it. The difference is that they were instructed then to take it in the same manner they were being instructed here not to take it. Money itself is not bad, not bad at all, but the reason behind it is what needs to be checked. If God has told us to do something and we are not doing it because of lack of money then we do not have a clue what it means to live by faith. We can't wait on money to do the Father's will, unless he has instructed us to wait. We can't go ahead and do something just because we have the money, unless our Father has told us to go ahead and do it.
Money is simply a tool, not a motivation. It cannot be your motivation to go to work today. Our motivation needs to come from Jesus' love. We do things out of obedient love. We serve our boss, our neighbour, our family because of his love for us. This motivation of love will see us move mountains, swim oceans, traverse jungles, face giants, cast out demons, forgive sins against us, love the unlovable. Sometimes the Father will provide a job for us to pay the bills and other times he will provide it directly. Our part is to listen, to obey and to love. Our part is to be completely dependent on the Father's instructions and to trust those instructions with all of our heart.
Obedience is the key, even when you don't understand. The disciples will go out in complete obedience and experience the power of God in their service. When we obey in love, we too are astounded when our Father does everything right, as we see demons flee, and the dead rise. It is not so much what the instructions are, to stay or to go, to take or to leave, as long as we do what we are told. Our dependence is on our Father in all things, and the sooner we all learn that, the sooner we will all be better off. Now excuse me while I go and adjust some of my lesson plans.