This book, Jesus' Terrible Financial Advice, was in a list of books available for review in the book reviewing program of which I'm a member. The description of this book caught my attention. It was described as not being the book that the author, John Thornton, intended to write. He wanted to write about how his family had gotten to a debt free state and wanted to back it up with biblical principles. But then He went to the Bible to study the topic and found that Jesus' teachings on money shocked him, they really seemed like irresponsible teachings, teachings that didn't seem like the type of instructions that God would give wise stewards to follow. He put off writing the book for a long time. I was intrigued by this information and so I requested the book.
Thornton later decided to dive in and write the book with this perspective, "If my theology disagrees with God, one of us is wrong, and it's not Him." Thornton directs us to think about why Christ came to the earth in the first place, "to glorify His Father". And all of Jesus' teachings, including his teachings on money, stem from this purpose. God does not need money to get things done, and we Christians do not need money either because God supplies all our needs, and he does not need money to do that.
Thornton makes it clear that being rich does not make you an evil person, nor does being poor make you a good person. Money is not bad in and of itself, but it does have potential to become an idol when we look to it for peace, security and help. Poor people can do this just as much as rich people. The love of money is deceiving, it promises that money can supply all our needs, directing our focus to it rather than to God. And many also may be deceived by thinking that the Lord's work cannot get done without money (look at all of the Christian ministries out there begging for money!). God can supply our needs however He wants, with or without money.
Being a wise steward does not mean building up earthly treasure, but building up a heavenly treasure. "Imagine if you were playing Monopoly, and you were offered the chance to trade in your pink fivers for real ones. Or better yet, trade the yellow $100 Monopoly bills in for Benjamins. You'd go straight to the bank and make the exchange. And you wouldn't ask how many of the Monopoly bills you could keep. You'd trade in every last one." The author demonstrates from the Bible that this is the perspective of a believer. We are after real treasure, not fake treasure. A believer doesn't care about storing up treasures on this earth, but storing up treasures in Heaven. A believer doesn't care about gaining worldly acclaim, but commendation from His Father in Heaven. A believer's goal is to glorify the Father, to do His will. And Christ tells us how this is to be done, "Jesus explains how we can make the most of the lives He has given us…" Many of the means by which Christ says we can glorify the Father are shocking to us, such as letting people sue you and giving them more than they demand of you, by giving to everyone who asks, by letting yourself be wronged financially, even by a brother in Christ, or rather, especially by a brother in Christ. There are some questions about how we are to implement the 'giving to everyone who asks you', and I think that Thornton addresses them pretty well by pointing out that it may be clarified by other biblical truths.
In this book we are reminded that God wants us to run our whole race, the beginning and end of it, at full speed. This, among other things, involves being wise stewards of everything God has given us, including our use of any money He has allowed us to have. We look to our Master to give us the standards for how we are to use His property and money, He defines what good stewardship looks like. And we should not look on our growing old as permission to use God's gifts to us however we want. The thought should not even cross our mind that we will ever reach an age where we will be able to retire from being good stewards of the Lord's gifts. We should not look to slow down as we get old, and enjoy our earthly life, our goal should still be to serve the Father with all the strength He gives us, grasping any opportunity He gives us to serve Him and invest in eternal things. Thornton laments that some older Christians do not desire to end their spiritual race at full speed, and yet hypocritically ,"We condemn our brother who squanders his early years, all the time longing to squander our later ones."
All in all, I think that this is an excellent book, pointing us back to the Lord as our Master, and reminding us that we are to live a life of faith. We must trust that God really is infinitely wiser than we are, even when we think that His commands are not humanly logical. As Thornton says, "God has a better plan for our lives than we do", God knows best whether or not our earthly richness or poorness will bring the most glory to Himself. And we Christians desire to be content with His sovereign placement of us in this earthly life.
Many thanks to MoodyPublishers for sending me a free review copy of this book (My review did not have to be favorable)
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars