Monday, October 27, 2008

The Costliness of Worrying about Money

Matthew 6 shows us the heart of Jesus Christ. The entire chapter is a continuation of a monologue that Jesus began in Matthew 5:3--the verse that starts the famous Beatitudes speech as Jesus taught the crowds. In light of the current financial drama, parts of Matthew 6 offer comfort or make the reader squirm.

Matthew 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal" (NRSV throughout).

Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

Matthew 6:25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"

Matthew 6:31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?'" [or 'When will we ever retire?"]

Regardless of one's financial position, verses like these remain unfashionable in a world that puts its trust in the god of wealth. For those who have suffered life-changing losses, it may seem impossible to reorient trust in God alone. Fears loom. Those who were headed towards retirement, but no longer, have a host of emotions to work through. I think of banks like Washington Mutual (Chase), how it left the stock holders (us included) with nothing while paying its chief millions. In the end, anger and worry end up costing more than just money.

The truth of Jesus' message in Matthew 6 remains unchanged despite the ups and downs in the market. The challenge for me is to live simply, to know the true source of joy and abundance.