There is nothing quite like money to test our integrity and our priorities. Through money we can easily see the character of a person, the quality of an organization, and the honesty of a church.
As humans we are quite naturally concerned with our everyday needs. We are concerned with where we live, the food we are eating, the things we must pay for and provide for ourselves and those we are caring for.
While money is necessary for all these things we too easily make money into much more than just the things we need. As humans we distort money. We use it to know our personal value and worth, we use it for status and as a way to prove to others the value of what we are doing. We use money to gain favour with others and to show that we are important people.
But using money like this distorts and defiles both money and God. For we are not to look to money for our needs but we are to look to God. Speaking to our personal and daily needs God says,
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and 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.” Matthew 6:31-33
He is saying, ‘Seek my ways, do life as I instruct and I will take care of you.’
We live in unceasing struggle and burden to make our lives work but God cuts in and says, ‘You can be relieved of your worry if you will entrust your life to me.’
Now this does not mean that all things will be fixed just like that. God doesn’t work this way. Rather He slowly bit by bit leads us into greater truths and integrity about who He is and how this impacts and changes our hearts and minds and then lives. And this is true of our relationship with money as with anything else.
Now it is quite possible to gain money outside of God’s ways and through dishonest means. People do it all the time. There are those who accept bribes and those who pay bribes. There are those who sell the gospel, tricking people into believing that God can be bought and that this is okay. We can go after big money even while we are sinning with little money.
The writer of Proverbs knew that “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Proverbs 13:11.
A primary principle throughout scripture is about being faithful with a little. While it is part of our sin nature to be unsettled in what we have here and now and to go after the much we see all around us, this is not faithfulness, it is not stewardship, it is not trust, and it is not wisdom.
Money matters reveal our hearts. In Hebrews we read,
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
It is very important for each one of us to be content in the here and now. Right now, as things are, can we be content? Are we able to give thanks? Is our heart grateful?
These noble characteristics of our hearts have nothing to do with the amount of money we have. We are tempted to think that if we have more money and all the things money can bring that then, THEN, we will be content. But it just isn’t true.
If you are not able to be content with a little you will not be content with much.
Our ability to walk in integrity, to be honest, to refuse bribes, to give freely, has nothing to do with our money. Integrity, honesty, generosity, trust, faithfulness, all has to do with our hearts and the motives hidden there.
What kind of a person are you with money?
Where we get it wrong is that we fail to learn that money belongs to the Lord. My money, your money, our money, all belongs to God.
This means that we do not make decisions about the money we have without consultation and obedience to what the Lord is telling us. We cannot just do with God’s money what we want. It is not ours. Rather, we want to be faithful stewards of what belongs to God. We want to become trustworthy in all matters before God including money.
- Do you understand that your money belongs to God?
- How might this change your money decisions?
We do not want to steal from God for then how can God trust us with more? We want to be people who God can trust with money and this requires a number of disciplines.
1. The First Money Discipline is Tithing:
“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.” Malachi 3:10
As we read in Malachi God challenges us to trust him and to test him. Now a tithe is traditionally 10% of what we make. We receive money from a job or a gift and we take 10% of that money and give it back to God. Giving it back to God means that we invite the Lord to tell us where to give that money; it might be to our church, to a neighbour in need, to a school or an orphanage.
Tithing brings us back to who we are trusting. Are we trusting ourselves, our jobs, in donations, or are we trusting in the Lord. Tithing secures our life in God. It is an act of obedience that both tests us and releases us. Tithing is a private thing between ourselves and God. Simply invite the Lord himself to personally lead and guide you in your tithing.
2. The Second Money Discipline is Generosity:
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6
While we tithe a portion of our money we are also instructed to be generous with our other gifts and abilities and in fact with our very lives. Generosity can be expressed in many ways. For someone with land perhaps we make available to someone, a portion of that land.
For someone who sews for a living perhaps a portion of every weeks labor, perhaps a dress or shirt is given to someone in need. Maybe you own a cow and a portion of the milk from that cow can go to someone who needs it more than you. Perhaps you are gifted in writing and reading and maybe you can gift your writing skills to someone who cannot write but needs to get a letter to someone.
While generosity positions us to be blessed by the Lord the mark of purity in giving is revealed in the heart of the giver as one who expects nothing back. Generosity is not about what we will get in return, it is about our heart that freely gives as the Lord has freely given to us. True generosity does not expect to be repaid. True generosity does not give to get.
3. The Third Money Discipline is Faithful with A Little:
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke 16:10
We all begin with a little. In fact, this is the best way to begin. It is therefore important that we learn integrity, truthfulness, honesty, with the little bits of money that we have. We learn to tithe on the little we have. We learn to give with the little that we have. We learn to trust the Lord in the little that we have.
In this our hearts are purified of greed, of hoarding, of possessions, of envy of others, and of coveting what is not ours. The little tests us. How are you in this test?
As in all things God is growing us up into people he can trust. If he cannot trust us to act rightly with a little bit he will never be able to trust us to act rightly with much. Choose today what kind of a person you want to be in regards to money and to God.
Do not be in dismay about your little. Take it as an opportunity to grow in the Lord.
4. The Fourth Money Discipline is Give the Gospel Away:
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1
The entire point around the work of our Lord is that it is freely given. Grace, forgiveness, healing, deliverance, freedom, cannot be bought and should therefore not be sold.
“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12-13
When Jesus came to the temple and began turning the tables of the money changers over in great rage he was responding to the sin of the leaders who were taking advantage of the people’s need. The people were travelling from a far ways to come to the temple and to make their yearly sacrifices. Because of this long distance they often did not bring the dove or the lamb that they would be offering to the Lord, rather they planned to buy these things once they got there.
The religious leaders of the day took advantage of this need. It wasn’t that they were charging for doves, it was that they were charging exorbitant amounts for doves. They were taking advantage of the people’s need for their own gain. This is what had Jesus in such a rage; forgiveness is not for sale, grace is not for sale, healing is not for sale, prophecy is not for sale.
“But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!” Acts 8:20
Perhaps no where else are we to be so careful with money as in the church. It is just so easy to have distortions. Consider some of these possibilities. I once heard it said by a tv evangelist, ‘The wealthier you are the holier you are.’ I once heard of a pastor paying his congregation to bring people to church, ‘For every person you bring you will receive xx number of money.’
These are crazy distortions of the word of God and defile the gospel.
Churches are to be the leaders, the ones showing us how, to tithe, to be generous, to be faithful, to be stewards of God’s resources, and to not sell the gospel.
While there are other principles that we could look at in regards to money, but for today I leave it to these four and simply leave off with a few more important verses about money for your own study.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-4
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Most of all settle yourself in greater trust and rest in the provisions of our Lord. Be okay with today. Trust Him for tomorrow. Be content. Present all your requests to the Lord. Wait on Him. Do not rush ahead. Do not lag behind.
In all things, particularly with your money, walk in step with the Lord. Be obedient. Be willing. Receive with thanksgiving, hold with open hands, and give as God directs. And remember,
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
“God we come to you today in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We confess that we have not always been good with our money. Too often we do with it what we want, what seems best to us. We have not asked you for direction.
Today we change this, today we turn toward you, we turn our money toward you. Please show us the way free from our money sins. Where we have stolen may we repay. Where we have greedily held money close to us may we be free.
Where we demand from others may we release them. Where we guilt and shame people into giving to us may we stop. And where we do not yet fully trust you please teach us and give us faith.
We declare today in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that my money belongs to you God. I set myself to obedience to you with my money. I invite your leading and your guiding. Make my spirit quick to hear your instructions and wisdom.
I remove from money the authority that only you God are to have. I give you lordship of my life. Amen”
Note, that if you are the pastor of a church that has misused your people in regards to money, that this prayer is for you as a leader and for your church leadership team to set straight before the Lord all that has been wrong, so that all that is right might be yours.
Much blessing to you as you walk with the Lord, Cyndy