Mike Ruffin

Mike Ruffin

All must account to the Lord

By Mike Ruffin
Religion Columnist

0 Comments | Leave a Comment

“You cannot serve both God and Money” (Luke 16:13).

It’s income tax time – a season each year that sort of sneaks up on us in January as we begin to receive our W-2s or Form 1099s. The truth is we shouldn’t just take a financial accounting of our last year. We need to take a spiritual accounting, too. What did we do last year for the Lord with all that money and talent he gave us?

We often think that God doesn’t care a lot about money. After all, the Bible discourages materialism and we all know that money is the fuel that feeds our materialistic habits.

But if you think about it, materialism isn’t about money at all. It’s about letting the desire for the things that money can buy take the place of God in our lives. It’s just another form of idolatry. That is one reason the Bible says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5).

I believe money is very important to God. He cares deeply about how we use it. That’s why half of the parables that Jesus told dealt with money. In fact, did you know that there are twice as many verses in the Bible on money as there are on prayer and faith combined?

Most of us wouldn’t dare stand between someone else and his or her money. It’s the same way with God, except his love for us and his faith in us have no limits when it comes to how we spend his money. Sure, he’s going to hold us accountable if we fritter away the resources he’s given us. But he’s also going to give us every chance to live up to the potential he knows we have.

Jesus told a story that demonstrates these very points. In the parable of the talents, a master went away on a long trip. Before he left, he had one last meeting with his servants. To one servant, he gave five talents, to another two and to a third servant one. He never told them what to do with the money even though it was pretty well understood that he would return one day and expect a full accounting.

The Bible records that the servant who received five talents turned them into 10 talents. Likewise, the second servant who received two talents also doubled the original investment. But the third servant, who received one talent, buried it, representing a clear choice to do nothing with the money that was given to him.

Interestingly, even though the first two servants earned different amounts, their rewards were the same: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).

However, the third servant, who did nothing with the money, was thrown out “in the darkness.” It was not just a place where the owner’s care and provision would be missing, but a place where the owner never again would look upon the servant’s face.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard this story, but until recently I never realized that its point is not just about what God will do to those of us who choose to live our lives and do absolutely nothing for him with the resources he gives us. It also points out that even though some of us might not be as wealthy or talented as others, the final reward will the same for those of us who take what he gives us and serve him to the best of our ability with it.

There’s another important spiritual truth in this parable: God’s confidence in our ability to do the right thing with the resources he brings our way is uncompromising. How do I know that? The answer is found in the revelation of what a talent was worth in those days. Some theologians believe that one talent referred to in Matthew 25 was equivalent to 20 years of wages for a common laborer in Jesus’ day. The point is even though a tremendous amount of the owner’s business was at stake, each of the servants had the unbridled freedom to do with it as he pleased. Would you place that much confidence in your child?

The bottom line is this: It really doesn’t matter how much you have. What matters is what you’re doing with what you were given. So while you’re looking for all those receipts you need to support your tax return this year, stop and take a spiritual accounting about what you’re doing with all that money and talent that God has brought your way.