The way we think about money can either deplete or engergise us! It’s phenomenal how much the Bible has to say about finances- there are approximately 2350 verses that have to do with wealth, money, and possessions. God wants us to learn how to handle our money in a way that reduces stress, blesses others and glorifies Him.
Richard Borg in ‘The Chief Steward’ lists several transformations that de-stress how we view money:
- From idolatry to an exclusive love for God. The way you handle your money reveals a lot about your relationship with God. Matthew 6:24 says that “No one can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Money has a power to attract us- yet God is the only one with the right to all of our love and devotion. Your heart follows either your money or your relationship with God.
- From fear of economic need to an exclusive trust in God. It can be really hard to get out from underneath the grip of fear with all the financial troubles that we experience in our lives and hear about in the news, but He wants us to know that He is a good Father who will take care of us. When we choose to trust in God’s provision, that fear will disappear. Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will meet all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
- From attraction to what is not possessed, to contentment with what is possessed. Without God, many of our financial decisions are controlled by lust or even the need to impress people with our possessions or improve our self esteem. But in Christ, you have can increase your levels of contentment as you life increasingly centers on His glory. He will give you satisfaction with Himself and what He provides. His version of ‘enough’ is better than ours. 1 Timothy 6:6-7 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” So, if you’re content you’ve got it better than the person who isn’t. The other thing is, discontentment can push you to making decisions that hurt you and your family financially. Be careful to not be duped into discontentment through aggressive advertising in our culture.
- From undisciplined squandering to a disciplined spending plan. That’s right, the B-word: budget. We like to focus on what we want, and we usually want it right now. And we like that we can afford it because we are so awesome and hard working. However, the Bible says that our ability to have a flow of income comes from God. Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant which he swore to your forefathers as it is today.” God gives us the health, opportunities, skill, and know-how to make that money, so since it’s from Him, we’re accountable to Him for how we take care of it. God owns all of us, we’re just stewards- so we’re accountable and responsible.
- From self-focused over-achievement to having financial margins for God’s purposes. Our own slavish desire to impress others drives our spending. We can need to be freed up to be able to live more selflessly and simply so that we can bless other people. We should be making choices that help God’ purpose, since His values are eternal. Ours significance and delight is found in plugging into His eternal purposes. 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
- From giving sacrilege to giving sacrificially. Giving sacrilege is basically giving God what costs you nothing. Remember the story of the religious leader who gave a huge sum of money to the synagogue, and looked great doing it, while the widow gave a very small amount. In proportion to the widow’s wealth, the wealthy man had given hardly anything, and it had cost him nothing, while the widow dearly needed the money she had given. 2 Samuel 24:24 says (after king David was offered a field for free), “The king replied, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.'” Even if you feel like giving is a huge challenge, it will eventually bless you and give you peace and delight.
- From getting rich to wealth creation. This is an interesting one in scripture. When you come to Christ, your financial and material accumulation should also go towards bringing people to Christ. Contrary to the commonly held belief among many Christians, you should make as much money as you can so that you can give as much as you can. There is a place to look for increased income to put yourself in a position that will build God’s kingdom and bless the next generation.
- From consumptive debt to productive debt. We like instant gratification, but God would have us practice patience and long-term investment. The Bible has a lot of warnings about getting into debt; “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” There is a lot of enticement today in our culture with marketing schemes, so we need to be wise with our borrowing by only borrowing for items that increase in value.
- From retirement as leisure, to full participation in kingdom work. Ouch! Retirement is not actually a Biblical concept. There’s nothing wrong with leisure, but pursuing God’s will is more important. God wants us to finish with excellence, and be able to look back on our retirement years knowing that we invested in the Kingdom of God. You might recall Caleb- a crazy guy we read about in the scriptures. Joshua chapter 14 records a time when he was about eighty years old, years after he was sent to survey the promised land and nobody believe they could take it: “I’m still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out. I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle as I was then; now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day.” This guy didn’t want to sit back in his rocking chair, but he was ready to get something done, despite his age, enjoying the full measure of all that God had for him in this life.
- From denial of death to planned legacy. Proverbs 13:22: “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.” It’s good to think ahead, planning how to bless the coming generations. Before we come to know Christ, we have a lot of fear of death, sometimes denial. But with Christ, we can stare death in the eye and face it down. So we need a plan that allows us to bless our children and ministries after we have left.
The way we think about and handle money can either deplete us or energize us. May God abundantly bless you and give you peace in the area of your finances.