This article is part of the What Did Jesus Teach? series.
Tale of Two Kingdoms
When it comes to kingdoms, there are really only two choices. With every choice, decision, or action, you live out of a deep heart allegiance to the kingdom of self or the kingdom of God. I’m not saying that you are always conscious of this or that your decisions are intentionally kingdom driven. What I am saying is that with everything you do, you are either serving the purposes of God or the desires of self.
This conflict of kingdoms is brilliantly laid out for us by Christ in Matthew 6:19–33, where Jesus argues that if you live for the right-here, right-now pleasures of the kingdom of self, you will tend to invest your time, energy, and money in the physical treasure of this present world. You will attempt to satisfy the longings of your heart with earthbound treasures, that is, with people, places, and possessions. The core lie of the kingdom of self is that by satisfying your self-oriented desires, you will find life. And the corollary lie is that physical things will be the delivery system.
With everything you do, you are either serving the purposes of God or the desires of self.
Living for Ourselves
This whole delusional system is driven by the reality that as sinners we tend to live for ourselves, to make life all about us. We tend to be obsessed about what we want, why we want it, how we want it, when we want it, and who we want to deliver it. We invest so much of our time and energy acquiring things for the sole purpose of our comfort and pleasure. We keep telling ourselves that the next thing will be what satisfies us, but it never does, so we go out and buy something else.
The car that we told ourselves we’d always wanted doesn’t satisfy us for long. Soon we have our sights on another that we think we’d like better. The house we bought, vowing that it was the last house we’d ever live in, now no longer seems so special, and we begin to notice other houses in other neighborhoods. We rent storage rooms and fill them with the discarded delivery systems of promises that never delivered. Sadly, so much of our money is spent looking for life in all the wrong places.
This is why Jesus’s words in the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” are so important to hear, to pray, and to live. Embedded in these words is a plea that God, in grace, would cause our hearts to love his kingdom more than we love our own, and embedded in that plea is the hope for financial sanity and practical-spending wisdom.
Loving God’s Kingdom
How would your finances change if you loved God’s kingdom so much that it is where you wanted to invest your time, energy, and money? How specifically would a God’s-kingdom focus serve as your defense against frivolous and selfish spending? Are you ready to pray, “Your will be done right here, right now, in my finances as it is in heaven”? If you would budget with God’s kingdom in view, how would your budget change?
If you would give with God’s kingdom in view, how much more would you be giving? Are the large purchases you make driven by God’s kingdom? Are your incidental purchases made in allegiance to what God says is important and of eternal value? Is your car payment too big or your mortgage too heavy? Where is this issue of kingdom allegiance laying out for you an agenda of financial change? True, God-honoring financial sanity is only ever found when you surrender the kingdom of self to the greater purposes and the eternal vision of the kingdom of God.
This article is adapted from Redeeming Money: How God Reveals and Reorients Our Hearts by Paul David Tripp.