This Lent we are exploring what it means to live the way of Jesus in a modern economy. Each Wednesday of Lent we will be sharing a reflection from a JustMoney Champion or staff member exploring a passage of scripture.

JustMoney staff member Sarah Edwards reflecting on Micah 6:8. Watch this reflection here. Find the scripture passage here.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. 
    And what does the Lord require of you? 
To act justly and to love mercy 
    and to walk humbly with your God. 

This is the foundational verse of the JustMoney Movement. God has shown us what is good with regards to money.

Everything belongs to God – all that we have and indeed all the wealth in the world, is ultimately His. So we should hold any material wealth we have lightly, using it wisely, practising radical generosity. 

Is the money in your bank account, pensions or savings, or spent on goods and services, reflecting the command to act justly? Does our financial system, our economy, treat everyone well, allow all to flourish, farmers, labourers, producers, and the people and places around where they live 

How do we love mercy, or in some translations, kindness, with money? Are our neighbours near and far, experiencing mercy as a result of our choices with money? Or are they being harmed, exploited, treated as mere commodities in a rush for more and more wealth. 

And finally what does it mean to walk humbly with our God, when it comes to money? Money can have a power over us – Jesus even names it as Mammon. How do we serve God in humility, standing with Him on the side of the powerless, when it comes to money? 

So I’d encourage you to reflect today on how you can act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, with your own money, and, in joining with others to work towards a whole financial system and economic model that reflects what God has shown us, what is good.  

JustMoney staff member George Amadi reflecting on Acts 4:34-35. Watch this reflection here. Find the scripture passage here.

The Bible tells us here that when the disciples needed money, people sold their land and brought it to the apostles’ feet. This shows us that God himself cares about what we do with our money.

Even at this time of cost of living crisis, with many people going through a lot of things, God is concerned about what Christians do with money. So the question is, how do you use your money?

In this Scripture, they use their money in the right way. Use your money rightly: there are people that need help and assistance, that could be lifted by the way you use your money.

So the way you use your money matters to God – whether in the church, in the bank, how you save your money, how you trade with your money – what you do with your money matters to God. Make sure that that money is used equitably, justly, and to be a blessing to people. If there is any way you can be a blessing, to help someone, then do that today!

Tesco always tells us that ‘every little helps’, and I want to add my voice to that today. In every little way you can, help someone today. God bless you.

JustMoney staff member Matt Ceaser reflecting on Deuteronomy 15:1-15. Watch this reflection here. Find the scripture passage here.

The Exodus is perhaps the defining story of the people of God in the Hebrew Bible. They understood themselves as a people who had been miraculously rescued from slavery and brought into a new land in which they were to live distinctively. 

For Christians, the Exodus points ahead to the even greater rescue of all humanity through the saving work of Jesus.

It is a collective freedom: just as the Israelites were bound into a people by the liberation of the Exodus, so we are bound together in the freedom of Christ.

Israel’s laws post-Exodus include radical measures to guard against inequality. They were designed to ensure that no one ever got too rich and no one got too poor. No Israelite could accumulate wealth in perpetuity, and none would be sold into slavery forever.

They were to remember how oppressive life in Egypt was, recall how God had rescued them, and live like they were free – not only in their spiritual lives, but in their economy too. Prayers and policies, love and legislation, worship and welfare; all was to set them apart from their neighbours as holy. 

God’s vision of freedom is clearly concerned that no one should feel the shackles of poverty limiting their freedom. As Christians, we must ensure that no one in our society is in need when there are sufficient resources to go around. This means being generous and sharing what we have, but it also means advocating for an economy that works for everyone.

JustMoney staff member Rosie Venner reflecting on John 10:10. Watch this reflection here. Find the scripture passage here.

John 10:10 says: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 

This comes just after Jesus describes himself as the gate for the sheep to enter, a gateway to life and green pastures.  

The thief comes to take, to make themselves rich at the expense of others. Thieves do this through violence or sometimes through pretence, offering what looks on the surface to be life-giving.  

But Jesus says we will know His voice, the gate that leads to life. If we are attentive, we will recognise what is destructive and what is life-giving.   

We can see much in the world that is destructive. The climate crisis, increasing inequality. Our global economy is an extractive one, built on centuries of exploitation.  

Sometimes this economy pretends to offer us life in all its fullness. Buy this, consume more, build up your wealth, make your future secure. But this is often at the expense of others and puts nature at risk.   

What are the markers of an economy that is life-giving? 

At a very basic level a life-giving economy is one where everyone has access to food, shelter, rest, healthcare, education. An economy in which all of God’s creation is able to flourish, a place of green pastures.  

So, my encouragement to you today is to be attentive. Be ready to call out and resist the thief that destroys, and join in with what is life-giving, so that all may have life and have it abundantly.  

JustMoney Champion Thomas reflecting on Leviticus 19:9-10. Watch this reflection here. Find the scripture passage here.

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.”

Sometimes when I read a passage from Leviticus, or other early Old Testament books, I find myself bracing a little.

I worry I might read something that makes me feel uncomfortable, or that sits uneasily with some more familiar passages, and it often feels tempting to leap on to the Sermon on the Mount. But I also know it is important to take the Old Testament seriously, meditating on its commands towards justice, and to see what Jesus is drawing from in his preaching.  

These verses talk powerfully about overconsumption, waste and the drive to maximise profits. The tendency to accumulate as much profit and stuff for ourselves as possible is baked into our society and our economy.  

Nature is often seen as a free gift ready to be exploited for individual gain. But we know nature is not a free gift from God. Not only are we called to be good stewards, but we have been made as a part of nature by God. As core elements of a symbiotic natural order. A natural order that is exhausted from human overconsumption, not leaving enough for everyone.  

Let us remember to take care in how we tread, to not be selfish in how we see the world around us.

The world produces enough food for everyone, and yet so much is wasted, rather than apportioned equally. I think looking into the Old Testament’s wisdom can be a humbling experience, especially when I feel overwhelmed by reels of names and laws!  

I pray that in seeking a Christ-like vision of justice, we remember that God created us with nature in neighbourly harmony.

To love our neighbour, human and nonhuman, let us only take our fair share.  

JustMoney Champion Matthew reflecting on Mark 10:17-27 & Luke 19:1-10. Watch this reflection here. Find the scripture passages here and here.

In this week’s passages, Jesus tells a law-abiding person to give away all his worldly goods, but praises a financial fraudster who gives away half his possessions but keeps half. Why is that?

Let’s start with the rich man who proudly declares that he’s kept all the commandments – against murder, theft, adultery, false testimony and so on – since childhood. “One thing you lack,” Jesus tells him. “Sell everything you have and give to the poor.” The rich man went away sadly, and Jesus said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.

Could you do it? Could you give away your house, your pension, your wardrobe, all your worldly goods?

It’s often claimed that the eye of the needle was the name of a narrow gate in the city walls of Jerusalem, which was barely wide enough for a camel. But that story was invented by a medieval monk. There was actually no such gate. Jesus really was talking about the eye of a needle.

The strange thing is, he was more lenient towards another rich man who was a self-confessed financial fraudster. His name was Zacchaeus; he was a tax collector and social outcast, and he had Jesus round for dinner. 

Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.”

So the law-abiding rich man in the first story had to sell every last possession, but the cheating rich man in the second story only had to give away half. How is that fair? 

Listen to what Jesus told the rich man who claimed he was leading a good life: “Only God is good,” he said. If it feels like Jesus is asking the impossible, he’s not inviting us to despair – he’s telling us that we can’t achieve the impossible on our own, but only with God’s grace. In other words, he’s asking us to show some humility. Humility goes a long way with Jesus – just look at Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus didn’t claim to have led a perfect life since childhood. He acknowledged his sinful use of money, and committed to do better. 

The just use of money can be a struggle. There are dilemmas. If you always find it easy, you’re probably not doing it right. 

Some religious people take vows of lifelong poverty and chastity to avoid the ethical pitfalls of money and sex. But we don’t all have to take those vows. Jesus told Zacchaeus that salvation can come to a rich person, or at least a half-rich person. And if your household income is more than £3,000 per year, you’re in the richer half of the world’s population.

We can use our money to be better stewards of the world God entrusted to humanity. You might be tempted to give up before you start, like the man in the first story. But if you follow the example of Zacchaeus, and start by deciding that you can and should do better, you’ll be on the right path. 

Comments

  • Phil Craine
    14 Feb 2024

    Thanks for these thoughts and keep up the good work. We shall overcome one day…!

  • Helpful thoughts Thomas and Matthew. I shall pass them on – with attribution! Thanks and best wishes, John

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *