One of the most beloved hymns of the church is Be Thou My Vision. The hymn we sing emerged out of a poem from the early Irish period sometime between the sixth and eleventh centuries. The manuscripts of the Irish poem were originally translated by Mary Byrne in 1905, and one portion of the poem from Byrne’s translation reads as follows:
Be thou solely chief love of my heart Let there be none other, O high King of Heaven Till I am able to pass into thy hands, My treasure, my beloved, through the greatness of thy love
1. This section on “Be Thou My Vision” summarizes the work of Chris Fenner, “Rop Tú Mo Baile (Translated Be Thou My Vision),” Hymnology Archive, July 9, 2008, hymnologyarchive.com/be-thou-my-vision.
Eleanor Hull in 1912 adapted this portion of Byrne’s translation into these better-known hymn stanzas:
Riches I heed not, or man’s empty praise; Thou mine inheritance, now and always. Thou, and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art.
Whether from medieval Ireland, first century Jerusalem, or twenty-first century America, the spiritual longing of the Christ follower is to be exclusively consumed with the love and supremacy of Christ. No rivals accepted. This poem and the hymn capture the Christian longing for Christ to be “first in my heart” without divided loyalty or love. God’s wills to unite everything, in heaven and earth, under the ruling authority of the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:9–10). It is his will for Christ to have first place in everything (Col. 1:18), and so believers long to make Christ first place in their lives by putting to death the idols of immorality, impurity, wrongful cravings, lusts, and greed (Col. 3:5).
The conviction of “Christ Over Finances” begins with confessing the truth that Jesus is Christ Over All. The reality of Jesus’s supremacy exposes the foolishness of covetousness and wanting to get rich for its own sake. A bevy of inspired authors testify to this: Love of money can lead to abandoning the faith (1 Tim. 6:9–10); we carried nothing into the world and will carry nothing out (Job 1:21); two masters cannot authentically be served (Luke 16:13).
On the other hand, having material riches is not wrong by itself. Asceticism can be just as deadly as covetousness, even if fewer people in our western context fall into this ditch. God does grant us good things to enjoy in this life, and sometimes these good things are purchased (1 Tim. 6:6–7). The Christian can use financial means to enjoy groceries, housing, vacations, reliable transportation, and also art, craftsmanship, recreation, and other avenues that reflect our imago Dei. You will notice, however, that the chorus of biblical texts exhorting Christians to enjoy their stuff is much smaller than the warnings against greed gaining a foothold.
To guard against these extremes of covetousness and asceticism, Christians must balance a healthy tension of two biblical truths about money: that it is meant to be both enjoyed and employed. If only briefly, we have considered the enjoyment of wealth. But what of employment?
Putting Our Finances to Good Use
There is a popular bumper sticker that usually appears trucks caked in mud, “Dirty Hands Clean Money.” The slogan parallels Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 4:28, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” In one small verse Paul completes the idea from repentance to acquisition to investment. Do you want to convince the world that Jesus is real? Show them a former convict paying the electric bill of the widow in his church.
For the Christian, money earned is not the end but the beginning. Part of putting off the old self and putting on the new self (Eph. 4:23–24) is understanding that what we earn as stewards has a greater purpose than serving ourselves and satisfying our desires. We have the privilege to employ what we earn for the sake of gospel advancement. Dirty hands and clean money create kingdom opportunity, whether by allowing full-time pastors to devote themselves to teaching (1 Tim. 5:17–18) or by supporting travelling gospel workers (Phil. 4:14–19; 3 John 6). The Great Commission happens through Christians who are generous and seize opportunities in this life for ministry.
Once a Christian has been awakened to the privilege of stewarding God’s money, the very practical question is where that money should be given. The first answer is easy: the local church. Christians are to “share all good things” with the one who teaches (Gal. 6:6), and this is done primarily through the weekly offering plate (see also 1 Cor. 16:1–2). But is there any rationale for giving beyond the local church?
We would offer: yes. One reason for giving to a parachurch organization is when that organization assists the church in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Here’s where our humble labors at Christ Over All come in. With great sorrow, we see many Christians being tossed about by various winds of doctrine and imbibing worldly thought patterns without realizing it.
Would God Have You Give to Christ Over All?
When 43% of evangelicals believe that Jesus was a great teacher but not God(!) and 37% of evangelicals agree that “Gender identity is a matter of choice,” it’s fair to say that our house is on fire. (You can see all the results for yourself). Compounding this is the fact that the average North American adult spends over five hours online, at least two of which are spent connected to social media. News sites and TikTok videos and tweets are all value-laden, and they are shaping what our generation sees as true, right, and beautiful. How can churches be healthy when so many of their members are being digitally transformed from one degree of consumer to another? How can Christians think biblically about transgenderism, abortion, homosexuality, racism, government over-reach, elections, justice, and Christ’s exclusivity (to name a few), when they are getting only a forty-minute sermon a few times a month?
This is why Christ Over All is so necessary. As elder-pastors ourselves, we assist pastors and teachers in discipling Christians on the digital front. We show that Christ really does have sway over every area of life, even in a complex Internet age. We give clear and robustly biblical answers in a time when they are lacking. And we do all this in proportion to God’s grace of generosity in our supporters. If you see what our eyes see and believe in the work we are doing, we would earnestly ask you to give to our labors for building up of Christ’s church.
We will steward towards the goal that captured sheep would be set free from ideological prisons and that Christians might think rightly about the new ideas of our day. Everything on our site is free, but this is only possible through the openhandedness of those stewards who see the larger purpose of what we are doing and want to join us in this work.
Christ is over all, and his followers have an inheritance far greater than anything realized in this present age. This causes us to see earning wages as a means to a greater end. What God grants the believer to possess is a tool for a greater purpose. May God grant grace and faith to his children to be ready to share, to be generous, and to secure a solid foundation for the greatest inheritance in the kingdom of our Lord. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:32–25), and in our generosity we declare to Christ, My treasure thou art.