Money 2: History of Money and Some Words from Jesus

Watch the video or read the lesson text … or both.

Lesson Text

Scripture reading:

Matthew 6:19-34
Genesis 1:9-13
John 1:1-5
Matthew 24:35
1 Corinthians 3:14
1 Corinthians 13:13

Discussion:

Before we get started, let’s take a few minutes and review the history of money. This exercise is to cement in our minds that we did not create money. As we have done with all the stewardship lessons, we examine whether we created the item being discussed and then consider our response and responsibility.

Money, in and of itself, is nothing. It can be a shell, a metal coin, or a piece of paper with a historic image on it, but the value that people place on it has nothing to do with the physical value of the money. Money derives its value by being a medium of exchange, a unit of measurement and a storehouse for wealth. Money allows people to trade goods and services indirectly, understand the price of goods (prices written in dollars and cents correspond with an amount in your wallet), and gives us a way to save for larger purchases in the future. Source: Andrew Beattie

Our modern system of money can be traced back to Greece around 600BC. The king had the first coin minted. The denomination or value was marked in symbols or images minted into the coin, and people came to learn the weight and value of the coins by the symbols. The first coins were made of gold and silver, and coins were made from precious metals for most of the history of money.

Who created gold and silver? If you said God, you are right. We did not create the materials used to print or mint money as we know it today. The whole system of money depends on materials created by God. The idea conveyed in this brief history is that money as we know it originated from precious metals mined from the earth, all of which God created.

As a medium of exchange, money can represent almost anything. We trade something of value and receive something of value in exchange. It is in its basic form a bartering system. For that matter, we could be trading ten bushels of apples for a pair of goats, and because the apples are a medium of exchange, it becomes money.

Paper currency was developed to make a simple and uniform medium of exchange, and modern advances such as checks, electronic transfers and credit or debit cards are just forms of, you guessed it… a medium of exchange.

Even if we used apples instead of gold and silver or paper, God still created the apples.

This is an important lesson to understand as we start this Bible study on money.

We place a rather high value on money. It is sometimes comical that we put such a high value on pieces of paper and digital bytes representing our wealth. Knowing we did not create money, are we right to put so much value on something that actually doesn’t belong to us? We didn’t create it, so it does not belong to us.

This may be why Jesus cautioned against worry in Matthew 6:19-34. What we value (treasure) is of little value in God’s eyes. In Genesis 1:9-13, God created the earth (where we find gold and silver) and vegetation and seeds (which were used to develop the first trading system). Notice how God created. “Then God said…” We see the same thing in John 1:1-5. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God. In other words, our beginnings have their root in God’s word – spoken speech. God created by speaking into existence that which we use to store up wealth and to buy and sell things. If God speaks something into existence, He can also speak them out of existence.

We are promised that heaven and earth will pass away. Matthew 24:35

Jesus says instead we are to lay up treasure in heaven. How do we lay up treasure in a place which is not physical? Some things which endure are works that remain, such as faith, hope and love. 1 Corinthians 3:14, 1 Corinthians 13:13 Laying up treasure in heaven, then, is accomplished through prayer, Bible study, drawing closer to God, putting ourselves to work for the kingdom of heaven, love, hope and faith, making disciples, and bringing others into the kingdom of heaven with us.

Next, Jesus discusses worry. In the New American Standard Bible, “worry” (or variations of the word) appears nine times. All but one of those uses was spoken by Jesus. In Matthew 6:25-32, Jesus addresses worry. Worry is used in a negative sense, and Jesus equates worry with distrust of God.

How does God promise to feed the birds? Jesus does not spell it out for us step by step. However, we know from observation that God does not provide breakfast in nest. Take the robins, as an example. Early in the morning and all through the day, the robin is searching the ground for food. God promised to feed the birds by providing bugs and other forms of food. Every time you see a bird eating, whether it be catching a bug in the air or pulling a worm out of the ground, this is God fulfilling His promise. This is God assuring us that worry is useless and that His promises are sure.

Why does Jesus refer to the Gentiles in Matthew 6:32? It is a symbolic reference. Jesus refers to the Gentiles as representative of the world, or those who have worldly cares. When we seek to lay up treasures on earth, we are pursuing worldly cares.

Jesus uses Matthew 6:33-34 to make His promises contingent on our action. Like the birds, we have to do something for “all these things to be added” to us.

• Worry does not accomplish anything.
• We are called to trust God – both His word and promises and to supply needed resources.
• We must seek God's kingdom and His righteousness to receive His promises.
• We are not to make the aim of our life stockpiling wealth – it's all going away eventually.
• We are to lay up treasures in heaven – increasing in the knowledge of God, building up faith, loving God, hoping in God and His promises, sharing the gospel message with others, and working to build up God's kingdom.
• Money is not to be our primary motivation for anything.

The beginning of handling money well and according to God’s principles is faith and trust in God, obedience of His Word, and seeking God’s righteous in our own lives and in our relationships with others.