Man’s Way Versus God’s Way With Money, Mark 8:14-15

This week’s money and stewardship devotional from the four Gospels* is about following God’s plan versus man’s, from Mark 8:14-15.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

When it comes to personal finances, business and the economy do we follow wisdom and principles that are from man or from verses that we can trace directly to the Bible?

What does the Bible say about personal finances? There are over 2,000 Bible verses about money, so there is much to be gleaned and applied to contemporary life. If we follow its practical wisdom of avoiding debt, saving, seeking counsel, working hard, not wearing ourselves out to get rich, spending less than we make, and giving; most of the time we will do okay financially- but is that enough?

Why then does Jesus warn his apostles about the yeast of the Pharisees?  Most Bible scholars today believe Jesus was warning them about legalism. Jesus came to sow the seeds of grace, and this ran against the current of religious leaders. Yeast is very small, yet when it is worked into the dough and left to itself, it will begin to rise the bread. Jesus knew that the yeast of legalism was always going to be present around religious people, so he was warning them, for he was showing them a new way of love, grace and spirit.

However what was Herod’s yeast?  Herod had the miss-fortune of ruling over Isreal, and it wasn’t easy dealing with a diverse and unruly culture. Herod’s main goal was not to be known as a humanitarian, by caring for the people. Instead, he was interested in leaving his mark, in massive building projects, and by making his city an economic force. To accomplish this he needed resources and for people to follow him. Herod ruled with force, power, and politics. His chief aim was power and money; and he connived and manipulated to get his way. You think politics is abundant at your place of work?- you haven’t seen anything comparatively.

To summarize these two examples, the yeast of the Pharisees was to manage life and rule by legalism; to manipulate people and God to get what one wants. Herod’s yeast was to get what he wanted by political and economic might.

How does this translate to personal finances? For one, Jesus warns us against trying to live legalistically, both outward, and upward. Meaning if we think we can follow Biblical commandments and principles to get what we want, then we have an orientation of manipulating God for selfish purposes. God doesn’t follow our math, for he sees our hearts, and knows what is best for us. Secondly, Jesus cautions us about following man’s way to getting what we want. Jesus is warning us, as a wise friend and father, to be careful and not let all of those types of yeast to creep into our hearts. He want us to be mindful of God’s thoughts and ways, for He knows they don’t come naturally: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways my ways- Isaiah 55:8.

When Jesus warns, I think we need to be very alert. It is important when we live in a society with strong messages of greed, sexuality, consumerism, and materialism to not fall into those traps. Are we to be like the Amish, and divorce ourselves from society? Jesus never indicated that at all. In fact he wants us to let His yeast permeate society, His light to shine all over, and for his seasoning to salt mankind and culture. Does this mean we shouldn’t read contemporary secular books about success, business, economics or finances? No, we are to look to those things with discerning minds; Christians don’t need to look different because we are ignorant but by wisely choosing what is right, and being men and women building treasures in heaven. 

What do you think about all of this? Please comment below. 

*A chronological examination of any verse that involves money and stewardship, attempting to see the new light that Jesus shines on money in His ‘for-us’ but selfless, grace filled, Holy Spirit empowered, and Kingdom oriented positions. This is the twenty fifth post in this series.

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