So as promised, I will be talking about money this week. I feel like money is one of those subjects we all have an opinion about, but also are worried to talk about very openly. It seems like everyone has some great plan or perspective on money, but in reality, most of our words don’t match up with our actual monetary transactions. Because money is such an important part of our lives, I feel like how we view, earn and spend money reflects where our heart really is.
Our culture has much to say about money. Advertisements continually try to convince us that money and stuff will lead to happiness. So many of us have bought into the idea of “Work hard, play hard” or “My best life now” that many of our lives center around money. Now as Christians we know that “the love of money is the root of all evil,” (1 Timothy 6:10), but I feel like we Christians use this verse to defend our lifestyles. We claim we don’t love money, (because that would be evil!), but our actions tell a different story. Or, we err on the other side and become so tight with our money people wouldn’t describe us as “joyful givers” (2 Corinthians 9:7), but rather as stingy misers.
So what does the Bible have to say about money. Well actually the Bible has a TON to say about money. But being from a baptist background, I am going to focus on three key points I think each of us need to practice.
The first is the idea of good stewardship. This is for those people out there who can’t seem to save any money. The Bible teaches us that God gives each of us different blessings, (talents, finances, etc..), that he expects us to use for His Kingdom and glory. In Matthew 25:14-30, we read about three men. Two men used their blessings while the other just wasted it. We can see that God expects us to use whatever He has blessed us with to yield an even better return.
In order to do this, we cannot just be frivolous spenders or stingy savers, but must learn how to invest and grow the blessings God has given us. Some practical things you can do to help you use your finances in order to grow them and yield a better return for the Kingdom are to make a budget, plan ahead and distinguish between needs and wants. I feel like these three things will help you plan, invest and utilize your financial blessings for the King. A good website to help with some financial planning from a Christian perspective can be found at crown.org.
Secondly, we need to be generous. I feel like Christian generosity and giving has decreased greatly since America’s economy has worsened. Christians, when times get tough, we need to be the ones on the forefront of giving. Yes you need to be responsible with your money, (as I said above in being a good steward), but I feel like we often use stewardship and responsibility as an excuse not to give.
Isn’t God in control, (Ephesians 1:11)? Isn’t God the one who gives and takes away, (Job 1:21)? Rather, most of us live like this man: “And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry!” (Luke 12:18-19). Sounds kinda like retirement or the American dream doesn’t it?
We have become so consumed with safety that we are unwilling to do bold things with our money for Christ. Again, we need to be good stewards and provide for our families first, but does my family really need an SUV when a minivan will do just fine? Do we need a 6 bedroom house when only 4 of us live there? Do we really need all those things in our garage, spare bedroom or shed? My guess is Christians are just as over indulgent as those outside the Church, we just do it in a less obvious way.
Finally, we need to remember to be content. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” We are so busy “keeping up with the Jones’” that we have forgotten that it is completely unbiblical to do so! Instead, Jesus tells some to sell all they have, (Matthew 19:21), and to not lay up treasures on earth but rather focus on treasures in heaven, (Matthew 6:19-21). I feel like we identify more with the rich young ruler mentioned in Matthew 19:16-24 than we want to admit.
While I don’t know how this will look in your specific life and situation, I do what to challenge to you take a long hard look at how you are using your finances. Are you saving for the future? Are you investing so that money earned today can be used to serve the Lord in the future as well? Are you content with the old car you have, or do you have to get that nice new BMW? Are you living within your means or even BELOW your means so you can give more money away to those who are really in need?
I want to close with the story of George Mueller. Mueller was a Pastor who lived with his wife in England in the 19th century. He noticed that there were many children on the streets, so he decided to open his home as an orphanage to them. He never asked for any support or money from anyone. He just saw a need and met it. George and his wife prayed to God to provide rather than asking others. Well over their lifetimes, the Mueller’s opened five orphanages and housed over 10,000 orphans! They also were able to fund all of these houses on donations they never even asked for! Rather than fund raisers and asking others, they went to their Heavenly Father who “knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8). May we be willing to do the same and live radically with our money for the glory and praise of our King.