Luke 12:15, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
1 Timothy 6:6-8, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content”
Our Theme – Through the wise stewardship of money, the believer can honor God and meet the needs of others.
The story has been told of a rich industrialist who was quite disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. Why aren’t you out there fishing, he asked. Because I have caught enough fish for today, said the fisherman. Why don’t you catch more fish than you need, the rich man asked? What would I do with them, said the fisherman. You could earn more money, came the impatient reply, and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you would have a fleet of boats and be rich like me. The fisherman asked, and then what would I do? You could sit down and enjoy life, said the industrialist. What do you think I’m doing now the fisherman replied as he looked placidly out to sea? This story highlights an important truth. If we live only to accumulate material wealth, we will never get enough to be satisfied.
We are constantly bombarded by credit card offers or banks offering an immediate line of credit. By simply writing a check, we can have all the money we need for that well deserved vacation, for house improvements and I’m sure you could add many more. Not only is money easy to get, but it has the power to give us everything we want! Newsstands carry magazines like Money or Money World. Advertisements offer quick riches or imply the rich life is the only life worth living. Even a TV program called “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” is designed to make us wish and want more. Money and things seem to be the focus of not only America’s culture, but around the entire world. Money does have power and is important in our every day existence.
Someone has estimated that we spend half our lives; our time, energy, conversation and attention occupied with money. Since money occupies such a great amount of the average person’s time, don’t you think it’s important for the believer to view money and the use of it as God desires? Commonly held views among believers concerning money range from the concept that money is evil and the best Christian is a poor Christian to the idea that God wants us all to be rich and wealth is a sign of His blessing. However, these views of the Christian and his/her money need to be evaluated by the standards set forth in the Word of God. As you study the Scriptures you will find the Bible has much to say about money, such as how to view it, spend it, save it and give it away. However, for this study we will look at:
(1) How we are to view money as recorded in God’s Word; and
(2) Principles from the Apostle Paul.
RIGHT WAY TO VIEW MONEY (Ownership vs. Stewardship)
Transferring ownership of all material possessions to God is the first step in becoming financially free. This means giving God not only our money, but also our time, family, material possessions, education and even earning potential for the coming future. This is essential to experience the Spirit filled life in the area of finances. God’s Word says we must be willing to transfer ownership of every material thing in our possession to Him if we truly want to be financially free. Jesus said the number one prevention in following Him would be material things (1 John 2:15, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him”. Luke 16:13 tell us, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon”.
If you were to make a list of everything you own, then crossed off the ones that are not important to you, what would remain? Then if God asked you to give up those remaining things, would you do so willingly? It’s not that God desires to deprive us of all material blessings; rather, we must be certain that we assign them the right priority so they don’t interfere with the far more important spiritual things that will last for eternity. The easiest way to keep your priorities straight is to make God the owner and you the caretaker of your money and your possessions He has so graciously given to you. Without Him we would have nothing!
SPIRITUAL ASPECTS OF MONEY
God is able to use money in many different ways in the lives of Christians because money is involved in so much of what we do and in so many of our relationships. God uses money to test our faithfulness, as shown in Luke 16:11 where Jesus said, “If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon [money], who will entrust the true riches to you?” The way we use money is an outside indicator of an inside spiritual condition. Some people are slothful about money, some are ignorant, some are greedy, and some are indulgent. God also uses money to demonstrate His love, to direct our lives, and to indicate His will. Sometimes God supplies money and sometimes He withholds it. God uses money in our lives to enable us to share with others or to enable them to share with us. God does not use money to cause anxiety, fear, frustration, or worry. Yet, many Christians are frustrated, fearful, anxious, and worried about money because of a misplaced trust in the things of the world. Proverbs 10:22 says, “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.”
PRINCIPLES FROM THE APOSTLE PAUL
1 Timothy 6:17, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy”
Money is not evil, but it can lead to many temptations. The above verse highlights one common snare, trusting in money instead of trusting in God. We claim to trust in God, yet we act otherwise. A pile of money seems more secure to us than God’s promise to provide, but the Apostle Paul assured us that money is the uncertain part. Indeed, it’s possible to run short of money, but we will never run short of God’s power to provide both essential and enjoyable things that are needful in your life. To appreciate God’s limitless power to provide, it is useful to consider the limitations of money. Take for example the gospel tract which resembled a $20 bill. On the back of the tract were these thought-provoking words:
“Money will buy”
(1) A bed but not sleep.
(2) Food but not an appetite.
(3) A house but not a home.
(4) Amusement but not happiness.
(5) A cross but not a Savior.
(6) A church pew but not heaven.
My brethren, what money can’t buy, Jesus Christ gives freely without charge?
1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-18 states, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all-evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (17) Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. (18) That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate” …
Let’s take a look at the principles concerning money the apostle Paul set forth in these passages? The following are suggested principles for summarizing the verses:
(1) Verse 6 – we should be content – Hebrews 13:5
(2) Verse 7 – money is only temporal – Proverbs 23:5
(3) Verse 8 – we should be satisfied with the necessities – Luke 12:15
(4) Verse 9 – riches can be a snare;
(5) Verse 10 – loving money can wreck your faith;
(6) verse 17 – we should not trust in riches but in God – Proverbs 18:11; and
(7) Verse 18 – we should be rich in good works and share our wealth.
The Bible not only warns about the misuse of money, it also speaks so positively about the source of money and the opportunities for using it for God’s glory. Thus, we must look at our money as a gift from God. While the pursuit of money (covetousness) and reliance on money (idolatry) are condemned in Scripture, wealth itself is a gift from God (Ecclesiastes 5:18). We deserve no credit for wealth we enjoy; it’s all provided by God (Deuteronomy 8:18a). Since wealth is a gift, we should be content with whatever we have. Like all God’s gifts, some have more than others, but all have more than they deserve! We must also look at our money as a tool God uses to meet the needs of His people and His work. We are to use money to meet the needs of those who rely on us.
Paul strongly stated in 1 Timothy 5:8, that a believer who disregards his responsibility to care for his family’s needs has “denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel (unbeliever)”. God created us and knows what we need. When we have our priorities in order He guarantees our care and providing money for necessities is one way He keeps that promise. We must also use money to meet the needs of the Lord’s work. The Israelites, under the law, were expected to fully support the worship of God and the teaching of His truth. How much more should we, overcome by God’s grace, do the same cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver”)?
We live in a world where magazines, newspapers and the mail we receive tell us that true life and true happiness come from having more, that real security comes from building up a larger financial base, and that the most important people who should be listened to are those who are materially and financially wealthy. There is much in our present day society that we enjoy, but material things pose grave dangers when we use them thoughtlessly. Os Guinness said that we are “free to utilize” but “forbidden to idolize.” As born again believers in Jesus Christ, we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13), and we must not become so in love with the “riches of Egypt” that we grow complacent and forget our true calling. We should ask the Lord to help us to reflect on the proper use of the money and material gifts He has so generously given us, and especially help us to use them wisely. Money can’t buy you happiness or eternal life; however, when invested in Christ’s cause, it pays eternal dividends.
(1) So, are you using your monetary and material blessings to serve the Lord?
(2) Or have you become salves to them?
Wealth is a wonderful gift of God’s grace to be used in His way and for His purposes.