John Cortines and Greg Baumer are two guys who get money. But far more importantly, they love Jesus and have allowed Him to renovate their hearts in a radical way. Their two families met at Harvard, which was the beginning of a transformation that took them from wanting more, to giving more. Their book True Riches: What Jesus Really Said About Money and Your Heart captures a new way to think about money, rooted in what Jesus taught. It’s a grace to welcome them to the front porch today…
ey, Daddy. What’cha doin’? Can I help?”
My (John’s) four-year-old has asked me this question a thousand times. No matter what my answer is, he wants in. Fixing a curtain rod, restringing the Weed Eater, sending an email, cooking breakfast, running to the store. He wants in on all of it!
Does he love curtain rods, emails, or shopping trips? Not really. He loves me.
He wants to be with me, to be taught by me, and to receive the loving affirmation that only a father can give, as we take on a project together.
And you know what? I love when he comes to me like this. Even though I’m an imperfect dad, I nearly always invite him in.
Our Father God is the perfect dad, and like a good earthly dad, he loves when we approach him. He invites us into what he’s doing. What if we approached God with the enthusiasm of a four-year-old?
“Hey, God, what’cha doin’? Can I help?”
God has lovingly already said yes. He’s adopted us as His children through Jesus and has invited us into His work.
He answers us, “Yes, my child. Here’s my to-do list today. Do you want to help? I was hoping you’d join me.”
God’s To-Do List
Throughout scripture, God reveals three top priorities– three big things He is up to in the world.
He invites us to help with each of these, and we get to join our eternal Dad in doing His work.
As we take on these tasks, God grows our capacity to love, breaking us free from indifference.
Task 1: Serve the Poor (Mercy and Justice)
Why do Christians care so much about the poor? Because God does.
Psalm 113 describes the glory and grandeur of God in His heavenly majesty, but then takes a turn, claiming that He “looks far down” to the earth and “raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.”
Psalm 68 identifies God as the “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows.”
Psalm 82 goes further. In a poetic contest of the gods, our God is the greatest god not because of His omnipotent power, but rather because He gives “justice to the weak and the fatherless” and “rescue[s] the weak and the needy.”
Jesus affirmed that the stakes are high, even telling a parable about how the cups of cold water we give to, or withhold from, the poor are being counted. In His story, those who fail to serve the poor are thrown into hell, away from God!
We believe in salvation by grace alone, through faith alone. We can’t earn our way to heaven by doing good things.
So why did Jesus tell this story?
Perhaps Jesus is telling us that we never truly know Him as Savior and Lord, unless we know Him well enough to figure out that His business is in caring for the downtrodden. As Jesus’ brother James wrote, “pure religion” is to be found in caring for orphans and widows in their time of need.
Claiming to be a Christian but not giving to the poor is like claiming to be a chef, but not knowing how to cook.
It just doesn’t make sense; it’s a contradiction of terms. Christians care for the needy—it’s in our spiritual DNA. As the church Father John Chrysostom puts it,
“Do not tell me you cannot look after others. If you are Christians, what is impossible is for you to not watch after them.”
Task 2: Save the Lost (Evangelism)
More than once, Jesus’ instruction after helping or healing someone was, “Go and sin no more.”
What a strange thing to say! Why not, “Enjoy your life! Be blessed!” One time before He healed a paralyzed man, He said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Why would He say this?
Jesus cared for the whole person. He fed the hungry and healed the sick, but He did so in the context of holistic healing, including an invitation to enter the kingdom of God.
He knew that there was limited value in making people more comfortable in life if they were still hurtling toward eternal separation from God. He wanted to truly save them, forever.
Physical pain and suffering is secondary to our spiritual reality. In fact, Jesus’ final instruction to His disciples, known as the Great Commission, was this:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
Jesus had a clear vision that His gospel would reach the ends of the earth, giving all people a chance to respond to God’s invitation.
Today, two thousand years after Jesus walked the earth, we are within reach of this goal.
You may not be called specifically to go to the edges of the world to share the gospel, but you can give generously to support those who do.
Despite the clarity and force of the Great Commission, less than 0.1 percent of Christian income is given to global foreign missions (less than eight dollars per person, per year).
The truest love we can show our neighbors around the globe is to bring them an opportunity to know the God who made them and loves them.
Task 3: Strengthen Believers (Discipleship)
The first half of the Great Commission is baptism, or salvation.
The second half is “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
This is the primary and ongoing task of our local churches. Jesus cares deeply about His followers having a maturing, growing, healthy faith that guides their daily lives.
In fact, the Bible clearly instructs that those who provide spiritual instruction are to be paid well: “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages.’”
The church is God’s plan for the world—His chosen vehicle to grow His family, and to serve the poor and save the lost.
Without our local churches, we would have no place to take our children for regular worship, no steady stream of biblical teaching to sit under, no gathering place for fellow believers. God is all-in for the church.
We should ask the same questions of our churches that we’d ask of any nonprofit regarding how diligently they use their resources. But we should also know that we have a huge head start as potential supporters of our churches, relative to other nonprofits.
We’re already conducting due diligence—we visit every week, we know the staff, and we witness much of the work firsthand.
Most of us know far less about the charities we support than we know about our local churches.
These three tasks are our invitation to change the world with our generosity.
Our Heavenly Father invites us into what He’s advancing in the world.
What an amazing opportunity to have our hearts shaped to be more like His, while having a positive impact on the world around us!
John Cortines and Greg Baumer are a dynamic duo who passionately advocate for a grace-driven, Jesus-centered perspective on money. They each pursued a Harvard MBA in order to pad their lifestyles, but God intersected their journey and showed them the joy of simplicity and generosity.
In True Riches: What Jesus Really Said About Money and Your Heart, they invite us to explore the words of Jesus and experience four transformations in our financial journey with Christ.
[ Our humble thanks to Thomas Nelson for their partnership in today’s devotion ]