Are you getting tired of hearing about money in the news? Are you getting tired of the “double-dip” recession? How about the drop in all the Stock Exchanges worldwide? While unemployment is creeping higher and higher everywhere, companies are steadily laying off employees, which exacerbates the problem even more. People are fearful of losing their lifestyle, their homes, and their jobs. There is a very small minority who doesn’t fear spending money on “extras” in an economy characterized by uncertainty. So are you tired of it all like I am?
Our debt as a country is so far beyond reach that it is silly to even report on the “progress” that’s being made or thwarted. That debt will never be brought under control at this point, and I believe we will lose more and more benefits we once enjoyed as a country. Locally, we may lose teachers, police officers, firemen, and other services we relied on. Schools will be closed and classrooms will double in size possibly weakening the education of our children in the public schools. Taxes will be raised locally in an attempt to get municipal and state deficits under control. This will not end!!!
I’m not trying to be a doomsday voice in the night, but things, I believe are going to get much worse. So before I move on to what God’s Word says, I want to encourage you all not to pay any attention to the issue of the National Debt as it relates to you, as an individual, being able to do anything about it. Other than voting and praying for our leaders, the problem with our nation’s debt is beyond our control as an individual. Even solutions to the state and local economies are out of our reach as individuals. So don’t get an ulcer over the national, state, and local debts…you can’t do much alone. What you can do as an individual is develop the proper attitude toward money and finances through these several verses, and these can help you keep your personal and family financial house in order. That is definitely one area that you, by yourself, can exert much change.
These nine verses we’ll review today could be an eight week lesson, but like most of the articles this ministry puts out, it is simply intended to point you in the right direction for further in-depth study. Some of these verses will be review while others may be new. You may read a verse and realize you’re on target with its message and yet there may be another attitude towards money that God’s Word will reveal an area that is lacking in your life. In any case, learn these principles, precepts, and attitudes and study them and help others during these uncertain times.
“The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth” (Psalm 37:21). It’s no secret that in the Bible, we see and learn that the wicked prosper at times. Sometimes though, the wicked prosper through means that are completely wrong. These people may amass fortunes and squander them foolishly, requiring them to seek finances through any means necessary to stay afloat. Whether money is gained through loans, immoral activity, or by unscrupulous means, the money acquired simply goes to fill a hole in their finances that make it impossible for them to pay back. Christians should never get to the point where we need to borrow money (or worse) in order to try to fill a bottomless pit of debt. It’s only proper to repay anything borrowed, and if it’s an impossibility to repay a loan, it should never be taken out in the first place. That’s simply the process of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” We should have hearts for giving and not for monetary gain for material purposes.
“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). Don’t be lazy! Actually work for what you need and want (2nd Thessalonians 3:10). A lowly insect can work extremely hard to provide for itself and its family, without anyone overseeing their work. Yet we, as Christians in the workplace, want nothing more than to have less responsibility with more pay. Our work ethic is questionable in some cases even though we have not only our employer overseeing us, but God as well. Working hard to get what you need greatly enhances the enjoyment you can have in partaking of the fruits of your labor. Even if you are physically disabled and on assistance from the state for legitimate reasons, seek God’s wisdom, as I’m sure there is a task you can do for Him regardless of your state of health. No one is beyond being able to contribute in some way in God’s eye.
“Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith” (Proverbs 15:16-17). Money can’t buy happiness or foster in someone a godly lifestyle. The Bible teaches that those who seek wealth find that the wealth usually pierces them through with many sorrows. Skipping church on Sundays to work extra to buy a boat, only to find that your four-year-old son fell overboard one day and drowned! How much pleasure is associated with that boat now? Wouldn’t you rather go back in time and be in church and had never bought the boat in the first place? What about having the best things this world has to offer, but your home life is a wreck? Having very little in the way of luxuries, but living within the blessings of God is preferable. Also, having the most basic things life affords us, while enjoying a loving home is preferable. Read in Philippians 4:11-12 how Paul was able to be content in lean times.
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, ready to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1st Timothy 6:17-19). You may not feel rich or wealthy, but compared to the rest of the world, including the undeveloped nations, you are rich and wealthy. Don’t look down on those in need. Don’t look down on the poor. Don’t think they are any less civilized and deserving of what they have, than you are. Don’t think for a minute you have nothing to spare if God challenges you to give. Don’t think that your wealth will be your forever and that no one (including God) can touch it. Don’t take your material blessings for granted. Use your money for good. Allow your lifestyle to become such that it doesn’t cost so much and you will be able to give of yourself monetarily as well as give of your time. Don’t let money get in the way of you developing and putting into practice your faith. Believe God and lay up for yourself treasures counted in eternity. John Wesley believed, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Unfortunately, we want to trust that God will allow us the resources to continue to indulge in whatever hobbies we enjoy. We worry very little about food and clothing compared to whether or not we would be able to afford a vacation next year. We somehow take for granted that we’ll always have food to eat and clothes on our backs. But that’s ALL that God promises to provide if we seek Him and seek to do His will (Matthew 6:30-33). In fact, the psalmist wrote in Psalm 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” You need to understand the differences between your “needs” and your real needs. Serving God may make you go without certain things unnecessary to life in general, or you may have less opportunity to indulge in such activities, but God will provide all your needs if your attitudes toward money are in line with His.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall you vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of Hosts” (Malachi 3:10-11). Whether or not you believe that tithing is under the law and not applicable to the New Testament Christian, certain principles of giving still apply. First, God still commands us to give and He promises to bless our generosity. Finances from the congregation are what supports the work of the church, beginning with its pastor and extending down to every area of ministry God has laid on the heart of that pastor. But if you want to argue tithing is passé, than all I have to say is this…in the Old Testament, Israel tithed in hopeful expectation of the Savior. Today, we in the New Testament age, have the privilege of seeing Christ’s finished work of salvation. Just as Christ didn’t come to do away with the Law, but rather to fulfill it, I suspect we should still tithe…at the minimum…but in reality we should be ready and willing to give more than that. Think of the blessings that can be stored up for you in Heaven if your money has a part in getting a missionary to the field, who in turn leads countless hundreds of people to the Lord in his lifetime. That’s seeking the Kingdom of God first, and doing His will. But, we can only do that willingly with a proper attitude.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). Here’s a tough one. Let’s go back to the above-mentioned missionary who needs support. Your church holds a missions conference where the goal is to increase the “faith-promise” budget for the upcoming year. Your pastor, by faith, may promise to take on more missionaries because you, by faith, promise to give a certain amount above and beyond your offering to support the church (tithe). Let’s say God lays on your heart to give 25.00 dollars per week to missions. Then you do the math and see that 25.00 dollars a week translates t0 about 1200.00 dollars at the end of the year. Does 1200.00 dollars represent gas for your boat for the summer? That money may equal that new set of golf clubs you were looking at. Maybe you have a few loans, and 1200.00 dollars would go a long way in paying off one or two of them. Well guess what. If we decline God’s urging to promise 25.00 a week to missions in order to buy new golf clubs, you’ve put the work of God’s missionaries behind your desires for new golf clubs. Your heart’s more focused on your pleasures and wants, than on the souls of people you’ve never met before.
“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches” (Luke 16:10-11)? The least thing that is spoken of here is money. If we can’t prove ourselves faithful stewards with the money GOD HAS ENTRUSTED US WITH, then He won’t trust us with other responsibilities greater than money. Get that one point down this week…it’s God that allows us to have what we have. Our money is on loan from God and He expects us to use it wisely and as He leads us periodically in specific circumstances. If you can obey God and take steps of faith with your finances, and show God that His will trumps your will in the realm of finances, then God may call you to take greater steps of faith, leading to mightier and greater feats for Him. But if you can’t let go of your finances, how will you ever be willing to let go of family, home, and other comforts if God calls you to the mission field, or to pastor a church clear across the country. You won’t be able to do it. Money is the means by which God begins to grow us and take small steps of faith, all the while proving Himself to be faithful (Psalm 37:25; Philippians 4:19; Matthew 6:30-33).
“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 can not serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:12). Is it obvious to you by now? Your attitude toward money will either make you serve God, or your own desires. You cannot do both. You can’t take the same 1200.00 dollars and give it to God and buy yourself your golf clubs, or fill your boat, at the same time. It’s impossible. It’s no more possible to go left and right at the same time. If we would just understand that what we have is God’s ultimately, and if our attitudes would line up with that truth, we could easily serve Him, and not our own lusts. We would never dream of picking up extra shifts at work on a Sunday morning in lieu of church if we weren’t driven by money. If our love for God drove us, we would be in church, and be willing to leave the financial details to God.
There is so much overlapping truth within each of these verses. Again, this could be a several week series, but this is simply a compass to point you in the right direction to begin your own study in one of the areas God may be telling you your weak. I don’t know you, but I know myself, and it’s good to be reminded about these attitudes toward money that are Biblical. Last week I preceeded this with my own personal testimony of how God has dealt with our finances and how He has proven Himself to be faithful, like He promised He would be in the Bible. I hope it was an encouragement to you and something you can use to begin changing your attitudes about money and begin taking steps of faith in that which is least!