“Your Money or Your Life!”
Believe it or not, someone actually said that to me. He cornered me in an alley and backed me up against a wall. I remember his hand on my shirt and the look on his face.
He was a young guy, younger than me and way thinner. But he was taller and tried to look scary.
The problem was that I was not scared. In fact, I laughed. I don’t why I laughed. I guess it was because I didn’t take him seriously. After all, it’s a pretty cheesy line to say when you want to rob someone.
As soon as I started laughing, he lost his nerve and actually looked embarrassed. Poor guy. I felt sorry for him.
I wonder if I actually had money if I would have been so cavalier in my response. I had no money so the question seemed absurd. For me, there was no choice.
But for many it would be a tough choice. What if someone demanded that you give them your wallet or you will die? Or what if someone asked you to give up your wealth in order to live? Would you do it?
There is an ancient Hebrew saying that goes like this: Where your treasure is, your heart will be also. In other words, if I value money more than life, my choice would be to hang on to my money and take my chances with my life.
And your treasures may be things other than money. Treasures could be possessions. They could be people in your life that you can’t live without, dreams that never die yet remain unfulfilled, or any number of things that we hold dear.
The issue is not that we have things or people we love; it is that we cherish them more than life. This is unhealthy. I am not talking about the Biblical command of a husband to lay down his life for his wife. That means a man is to put his wife above his career, hobbies, other people, and his children.
Here the issue is that we do not cherish the Creator of life. We cherish the creations. And it doesn’t matter if we cherish his creations or our own creations. When we value anything or anyone over God, we invite trouble. And this trouble has to do with priorities.
There are two stories in the Bible that illustrate this point. There are more than two but I am just going to include two here. The first one is about the rich young guy who thought he was good enough just the way he was. And the second is what Jesus said about priorities.
This rich young man tried to be righteous by following the ten commandments and all the other laws of Moses. He seems kind of proud so Jesus, after agreeing that he did follow the rules of the day, questioned his priorities.
“You lack one thing; go sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21).
The young man went away sad because he didn’t want to do this. His priorities were not in the right order. He put his treasures before his very life. To many, this man had life already. Money, resources, discipline, etc. In today’s cultures, he may have been a leader or a celebrity preacher. I can see the look on the face of one of these guys if Jesus said to them to give it all away and follow him.
Jesus wasn’t saying being rich is bad. He was saying that we have to have proper priorities. He tells us exactly what our priorities should be. All the rules that the rich young man followed, all the Mosaic laws, even the ten commandments can not give life. Only Jesus can.
The offer of eternal salvation is open to all who believe that Jesus is who he says he is. The priorities of Jesus are to repent of your sins, accept him as savior, get baptized, and then life a life as follower of Jesus, devoting yourself to prayer, scripture, and discipleship.
This is how he says we can do this:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your souls and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39).
Your money or your life?
It’s your choice.
Andy Becker is a pastor, retired counsellor and former CEO of a Hospice organization. Currently, his wife, Stella and Andy, lead both Lighthouse ministries and Bread of Life ministries in North Central Regina, one of Canada’s poorest and roughest neighborhoods. His book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.