The upcoming issue of the Sound Mind Investing newsletter will focus on giving and generosity, as is our July custom.
Working on the issue this week, I was struck by a passage in our cover article by pastor Charles Stanley. He notes that it is Matthew, the gospel writer who was once a tax collector (see Matthew 9:9), who gives particular emphasis to the financial aspects of discipleship.
[Matthew] is the gospel writer who knows from personal experience a great deal about money and whether it is being used righteously or unrighteously.
Matthew is the one who gives us the details about the gifts brought to Jesus. He is the one who records Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees for allowing people to avoid caring for their parents financially, and who tells us about what the Pharisees did with the thirty pieces of silver that Judas returned to them after he had betrayed Jesus.
As you look at the Gospel of Matthew, you will find a great deal of information about money, finances, material possessions, and the proper use of our resources.
What Matthew preserved for us
Intrigued by what Dr. Stanley wrote, I decided to do additional research. With the aid of a topical concordance that lists biblical passages that touch on money and possessions, I discovered that Matthew's gospel has about 70 references to financial matters (depending on how you count them). Many are from the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7.
Mark's gospel (much shorter than Matthew's and likely a reflection of information from Peter) has only 23 such references. John's gospel has even fewer — only 16. And while Luke comes close to rivaling Matthew for references to money and possessions, Luke was not among Jesus's 12 disciples. He compiled his narrative based on details from "those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses" (Luke 1:2). He doesn't name those eyewitnesses, but certainly, they included (either directly or indirectly) various apostles — Matthew likely among them.
So we are indebted to Matthew, who (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) passed on to us, from Jesus Himself, such life-changing teaching as this:
- “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21 – a similar passage is in Luke 12).
- "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money" (Matthew 6:24, cf. Luke 16:13).
- "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:31-33).
- "As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful" (Matthew 13:22).
- "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field" (Matthew 13:44).
- "Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?'" (Matthew 16:24-26).
- "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master'" (Matthew 25:21).
The July "generosity issue" of the Sound Mind Investing newsletter will be released Friday, June 25. We trust it will encourage you as you seek to be a "good and faithful servant" of the Lord.