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Reform Magazine | June 13, 2024

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Jesus and... Money - Reform Magazine

Jesus and… Money

A series about what we have to learn from Jesus on a range of subjects. This month, Kevin Snyman looks at Jesus’ attitude to money

Galileans faced economic oppression under Roman occupation in Jesus’ time, the system shifting wealth from the margins to the centre of empire. It still does: $242tn was stripped out of Africa between 1990 and 2015, and UK pension funds, it seems, would collapse without carefully husbanded poverty for Africans.

Jesus refused to put his faith in the world’s economic system, being unconvinced that the kingdom would ever come through by employing the very system that brought about inequality and poverty in the first place. But the system continually convinces us that if we simply try harder and apply godly principles to it, we’ll finally get the system to work for good.

In uncovering Jesus’ approach to money, we must uncover our theological assumptions. By doing so, we risk uncovering more questions than answers, but our hope is that by grace we might discover more of God’s mission…

Kevin Snyman is the URC’s Programme Officer for Global Justice and Partnerships


This is an extract from an article published in the April 2023 edition of Reform

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  1. Victor Haven

    Thank you for writing the article. However, what you wrote is impractical, unattainable and hypocritical.

    Jesus lived and worked within the money system. When he worked as a carpenter no doubt he paid tax. And in Matthew 17:24 we read how he instructed a disciple to catch a fish in whose mouth would be the money to pay the temple tax. Also, in John 4:8 we read that the disciples had ‘gone into the town to buy food’.

    It is possible to do God’s will in any system. I believe that is the message that Jesus was putting across when he said to ‘pay Caesar what is Caesar’s ‘. God’s plan for the world is achieved to a large extent through the money system, despite imperfections. If that was not the case, his plans would be be pretty much at a standstill. And I don’t believe they are.

    The money system makes possible the printing processes and associated processes that make the magazine possible. The money system makes possible medical science that saves lives and alleviates much suffering. The money system makes possible all the houses, flats and churches that are so important. There are countless other examples.

    We should not be putting out messages that are totally unworkable. People are struggling financially, suicidal, in despair and it is no response to tell them that we should all give up money. It is not realistic. It is not workable and therefore will not help. It is a complete non-starter.

    I also wonder to what extent you yourself are living the advice that you give and what your plans are to continue to develop that further. And I am at the brink of despair to read a Christian writing such unhelpful and manifestly incorrect material. Write something instead that helps ordinary people to do something that they can actually do to make a better life.

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