Kingdom Culture in Youth Ministry: On Money and Worry
This is the second article in our series, “Building a Kingdom Culture in Our Youth Ministries.” In this series, we will address passages from the Gospel of Luke, which demonstrates that the culture of God’s Kingdom is that of grace and mercy for the poor, the weak, and the failing. It’s a culture built on grace meeting humility and vulnerability. To read the first article from this series, click here.
For many years, my father worked in the business world and had the privilege of supporting top-level executives in his company. Throughout his career, my dad constantly asked us to pray for specific individuals who he found himself witnessing to. Many of these witnessing opportunities arose due to his peace throughout the process of company budget cuts. Even more witnessing opportunities arose due to his executive friends battling the discouragement and disillusionment of power and position. They had sacrificed everything to reach the top, only to find a lack of peace. “The top” hadn’t delivered on its promise.
Hearing these stories growing up showed me two things. First, that money worries many people the most. Second, those with lots of money can be easily disillusioned by its promises. Money is a great gift from God and a great tool to be used for God, but it is also a great source of anxiety and temptation. Jesus spoke often about money because He knew that for many of us, it would be an area of worry that would tempt us away from following Him. The greatest temptation for me when God has clearly called me to a specific task or ministry, is worry over my budget or my salary: money. Luke 12:22-33 reminds me and you that if we seek money, we lose God and everything else. But if we seek first the kingdom, we receive God and everything else with Him.
I believe it is important to be transparent with teenagers concerning the temptations of money. Many teenagers are praying through and seeking God’s direction concerning which college to go to and what degree to pursue. They are wondering whether they should take over the family business or go to a country overseas to start an orphanage. One of the main spiritual battles that students will fight in following their calling is worry over resources. They, like us, will tend to look to their own strength for security. We would do well to remind them that the most prosperous and stable place to be is in the will of the Lord.
“22 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. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 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! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 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. 28 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! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”
This portion of scripture offers three truths to help us worry less and to live for God more.
1. Worrying cannot change anything (Luke 12:25-26)
Christ reminds us that we are totally dependent on Him for even the smallest things in life. We tend to overestimate our ability to control things and underestimate God’s power and promises. He reminds us, “Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (12:26). Worrying cannot cure us of disease. It cannot make money fall from the sky. The only thing worry does is distract us. Let us remember that time is wasted by worrying.
2. You are valuable to God (Luke 12:24,27-28)
Christ calls our attention to the ravens and plants to remind us that He daily provides for their needs. If God provides for these simple animals and objects, then surely He will provide for us who are made in His image and purchased by the blood of His Son.
3. Everything given to the kingdom is eternally secure (Luke 12:31-33)
We can rest assured that any monetary sacrifice – whether it be serving in a ministry that can barely pay us, or pulling a large sum of money out of our savings in order to fund a missions project – that these deposits into Christ’s Kingdom are eternally secure. Not only are they secure deposits, but they yield great returns (12:31). Time and money spent seeking the Kingdom will never be regretted.
C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” Let us cast aside worry concerning ourselves, and let us cast ourselves wholly on God’s promises as we seek first His Kingdom and see all of these things added unto us.