When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.”
Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Your spending reveals what you value most. For example, I remember a busy evening when I was exhausted and wanted to order a pizza for dinner but needed more cash. I didn’t feel like going to the bank. So instead, I borrowed the money from my youngest daughter.
She loved pizza and quickly agreed to loan me the money. However, spending her savings on someone else, especially someone she regularly quarreled with, was another matter. That’s why I was shocked when my then ten-year-old asked me to take her shopping for a gift for her older sister, who was going to have surgery. All these years later, the memory of the cute, fluffy stuffed pig she bought still brings me joy because the gift revealed my youngest daughter’s heart.
Just as the stuffed pig purchase revealed sisterly affection, the deal between Judas, the chief priests, and the elders exposed their motivations. Judas was just plain greedy. He had arranged to betray Jesus because he lusted after money, and his hunger for it was never satisfied.
The chief priests and elders were devoted to their position and influence. It kept them from seeing the truth about who Jesus was. They considered Him a threat to their authority, so they plotted His murder. When Judas conveniently offered to turn Jesus over to the chief priests and elders, they happily paid him. Although later, Judas was filled with regret and returned the blood money to them, the chief priests and elders were unmoved. Their self-deception was deep. They were careful not to defile the temple with dirty money, but ironically, they did not seem to recognize their murderous plot had tainted the money in the first place.
It is easy to read passages like this one and feel like, in comparison, my relationship with money is acceptable. After all, I haven’t committed murder-for-hire. But the truth is, sometimes, I buy into materialism and its promises of acceptance and security. When I realize it, I get curious about why I have trusted myself to something other than Jesus. So first, I ask myself if money truly satisfies these needs. Then I pray for a change of heart.
- In answer to the question “How much money is enough,” the ultra-wealthy man, John D. Rockefeller, answered, “Just a little bit more.” How would you answer this question?
- What does your spending reveal about your heart? Have you ever used your money to feel better about yourself? If so, how long did the good feelings last?