Most of us remember a quote made famous in the movie, “Jerry Maguire” (1996), starring Tom Cruise as Jerry Maquire, a sports agent, and Cuba Gooding, Jr., as wide receiver Rod Tidwell (see this link for a synopsis of the movie). The quote (which is also the title of this blog post) is found in the following dialogue (quote source here):
[Rod has just told Jerry he will keep him as his agent]
Jerry Maguire: That’s, that’s great. I’m very… happy.
Rod Tidwell: Are you listenin’?
Jerry Maguire: Yes!
Rod Tidwell: That’s what I’m gonna do for you: God bless you, Jerry. But this is what you gonna do for me. You listenin’, Jerry?
Jerry Maguire: Yeah, what, what, what can I do for you, Rod? You just tell me what can I do for you?
Rod Tidwell: It’s a very personal, a very important thing. Hell, it’s a family motto. Are you ready, Jerry?
Jerry Maguire: I’m ready.
Rod Tidwell: I wanna make sure you’re ready, brother. Here it is: Show me the money. Oh-ho-ho! SHOW! ME! THE! MONEY! A-ha-ha! Jerry, doesn’t it make you feel good just to say that! Say it with me one time, Jerry.
Jerry Maguire: Show you the money.
Rod Tidwell: Oh, no, no. You can do better than that, Jerry! I want you to say it with you, with meaning, brother! Hey, I got Bob Sugar on the other line; I bet you he can say it!
Jerry Maguire: Yeah, yeah, no, no, no. Show you the money.
Rod Tidwell: No! Not show you! Show me the money!
Jerry Maguire: Show me the money!
Rod Tidwell: Yeah! Louder!
Jerry Maguire: Show me the money!
The dialogue goes on a bit longer but you get the message. And we’ve become a nation full of “show me the money” folks, too. As I stated in my last blog post, “No Free Lunch,” it is based in our voracious appetite for accumulating as much as we can in wealth and material possessions in this life. And, unfortunately, many Christians in America are just as caught up in that mentality as the message of material prosperity has been propagated by many of the more famous (and rich) among us through their various ministries. And they would have us believe that “faith = money,” and nothing could be further from the truth.
We need to take a look at what genuine faith really looks and acts like as stated in Hebrews 11:
Faith in Action
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance,admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a cityfor them.
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames,and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
By faith . . . . And there is nothing in those verses that even eludes to “faith = money.” So why do we often equate money and material possessions with faith? The bottom line is it’s because of our greed. We are far more focused on the “here and now” and what we can get in this life then we are about living out a real and dynamic faith in Jesus Christ that has nothing to do with this “material world” of ours. And there is nothing in that entire chapter that eludes to faith being equated with the acquiring of money and material prosperity. Nothing!
In fact, when Jesus spoke about money, it was not in a positive direction. For example, Jesus clearly stated in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” So why don’t we get that? Because of greed and what we want in the “here and now.”
Faith is proved out by action, not appearances. Our American “success model” of Christianity would have Jesus living on Prosperity Street in a big house at the end of Success Way if he was physically walking on the earth today. And his ministry today (if you believe some folks) wouldn’t include a cross; instead, it would include a pot of gold at the end of some rainbow and all the “get rich quick” schemes including ten easy steps of faith to acquire it. And sin? Well, we all know God winks at sin, right? Right?
And that’s blasphemy . . . yet we find that kind of thinking and rationale everywhere in our culture today.
Let’s look further on the topic of Jesus and money and what he had to say about it. Let’s take a look at the dialogue he had with a rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22?
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything that he had and give it to the poor, and then he would have treasures in heaven. In heaven, not here on earth. And the rich younger ruler went away sad as he couldn’t do it.
If we are mostly concerned about acquiring more money and material possessions and that whole “more, more, more” mentality, we aren’t operating on faith at all. We are operating on greed as in the heretical equation of “faith = money.” And there’s a lot of that aberrant teaching going on out there in our society today. In fact, it’s made a whole lot of those folks rich and famous. But the rest of us? Not so much. But try to convince folks that they aren’t really focused on money instead of Jesus and see how far you get. It’s like beating a dead horse. And greed will eventually turn a heart stone cold.
In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus tells us a parable regarding a rich fool. Let’s read it:
The Parable of the Rich Fool
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Running after prosperity leads to spiritual death, because the focus is on us and what we can get from Jesus instead of on Jesus and what he wants from us as his followers. While there is a whole “theology” out there driving some ministries that states Jesus was really rich and they focus on material prosperity in the “here and now,” nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, early on in his ministry Jesus made this statement to a teacher of the law who told him he would follow Jesus anywhere (see Matthew 8:18-20):
When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man [referring to himself] has no place to lay his head.”
There is a cost to following Jesus Christ, but you won’t find it on Prosperity Street at the end of Success Way, or wishing you could live there and doing anything you can to acquire it (which can and often does enter into questionable ethical/legal issues).
I Timothy 6:10 clearly states, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” But no matter how many times we may read that verse, we still believe we can be one of the few who can handle money/possessions without loving them and wanting more and doing anything to get more, too, if the opportunity presents itself. We are blinded by greed and the insatiable desire to have more, no matter what the actual cost is to us and to others in the end.
Right after the parable of the rich fool (stated above) in Luke 12:13-21, Jesus made the following statement, which is far more important for us to consider then chasing after money and material possessions (Luke 12:22-32):
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
And that kingdom is the kingdom of heaven, not the kingdoms we try to build for ourselves here on earth.
I’ll end this post with this verse from Hebrews 13:5:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
And that’s a promise God will keep, but don’t overlook the condition to receiving it. Jesus said we cannot serve both God and money . . . .
So which will it be?
The choice is ours . . .
God or money . . . .
YouTube Video: “Money” by Pink Floyd: