Four lessons about money
God promises to take care of all our needs. Yet with all the advertisements, warnings and advice we get, many Christians unknowingly carry a “spirit of poverty” and feel insecure about their futures. Why are so many of us needlessly worrying about and in bondage to money?
Matthew 6:31-33 ESV Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For … your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
For this reason, we need to remember three important truths:
- Rich vs. poor: The top 1% richest people in the world earn at least US$32,400 a year according to the 2016 Global Rich List. Anyone who can afford their own computer or mobile device is therefore quite rich by the world’s standards.
- Freedom vs. fear: We cannot live in the fear of not having enough, and hope to enjoy the freedom that God has promised us as His children. Anxiety about money brings spiritual death.
- Love vs. doubt: How we allocate our finances reveals how much we love or “despise” God. We cannot truly say we are Christians if we do not trust His plans for us.
Matthew 6:24 ESV “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
The world promotes fear and discontentment. We are encouraged to worry about our futures and to never be satisfied because something better is just around the corner. Such covetousness robs us of the ability to enjoy everything that God has already provided and will provide in the future.
Luke 12:15 ESV And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Thankfully, God’s ultimate money guide, the Bible, is filled with many principles on how to manage money. Here is just a handful.
1. “Who has true control over your money?”
The phrase “my money” implies that we are in control. We deceive ourselves when we think this way. It is really “the money that God has given us.”
Money can be frittered away through unexpected emergencies, credit card fraud, poor investment decisions, identify theft or systematic economic collapse. Nothing is really secure these days, especially as more and more transactions are conducted online. Uncertainty drives us into vicious cycles of insecurity. The Bible warns us that our focus on money will lead us to “pierce” ourselves with many types of pain and sorrow. We cannot experience the peace of God when we serve our money.
1 Timothy 6:10 ESV For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
There will never be “enough” financial security, once we consider the cost of rising inflation, medical costs for the family, education and entertainment, allowances for relatives, saving for retirement, emergency cash, money for home repairs etc. Just thinking about all this is enough to raise one’s blood pressure.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 NLT Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!
The very idea of “my money” ignores the One who has given us all the necessary opportunities and abilities to earn our keep. It is really money He places in our hands and only God alone can keep it secure. No one can secure our own future. Only God can. God is the ultimate insurance policy!
Psalm 24:1 NIV The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
Deuteronomy 8:17-18 ESV Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth…
Proverbs 10:22 ESV The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.
2. “Have you considered the cost of your soul?”
Even if we had 100 trillion dollars, it could never secure a place in heaven. The price of redeeming our souls is the death of God’s Son.
Someone once said, “give your tithe to the church, just as you pay your taxes to the government.” There is little gratitude in such an attitude. When we truly understand the exceptional cost that Jesus paid for our souls, we would know how offensive it is to be tightfisted and grudging towards our Saviour in return.
God has a right to demand all of what we have, yet He only asks us to contribute a small portion as earthly tithes and offerings (most people use 10% as a benchmark). Should we not cheerily thank God by bringing Him a gift offering each month?
2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
3. “Are you enjoying blessings or curses?”
We tend to keep track of interest rates, foreign exchange rate or returns on investments, and fail to factor in the cost of curses we bring upon our family by worshipping money more than God. Our Creator promises us incredible provision when we honour Him first with the money He gives us. On the other hand, He warns us about the cost of “robbing” Him by ignoring His instructions.
Malachi 3:9-11 ESV You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.
We forget that our Heavenly Father is immensely richer than any human being. We cannot out-give nor out-plan God. We are blessed in numerous ways; financially, relationally, emotionally and spiritually when we honour God with our money. We enjoy the best ROI when we honour God first.
4. “Are you reflecting God’s generosity?”
Money that’s hoarded is dead. When we share generously with those in need, it brings life to others and delights God.
God cares for those in need. When we ignore the distress of others, we are basically ignoring God’s heart for His people. We tell God, “I don’t care what You think, I only care about what I think.”
James 1:27 NLT Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
When God provides us with excess, it is with the expectation that we use it to also care for others; both the poor and our relatives. And the Bible repeatedly reminds us to be generous. Jesus Himself said that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
1 Timothy 6:18-19 ESV They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
1 Timothy 5:8 ESV But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Acts 20:35 ESV In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Let us honour the high price that Jesus paid for our spiritual redemption by paying it forward in cash towards those He cares about.
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