By Scott Talbot –
As I read books and heard from teachers, I learned that there are a handful of principles in the Bible intended to help me manage my money. These include saving for the future, avoiding debt, paying taxes, and working diligently to earn a paycheck. If I managed my money well, I could receive greater enjoyment of my money. It was all about me.
And where did the 90 percent—my portion—fit into my spiritual life? Did God care about that? I assumed that there were certain things that God cared about: prayer, church attendance, reading the Bible, and morality. I also believed there were certain things that were spiritually neutral. I wondered if God really cared about things like life insurance, writing a will, and the amount of money I spend on groceries.
What does the Bible say? First, it is clear that God made everything. “All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Col 1:16).
It is also true that God is the source of all good things—our provider. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Even the money we work hard to earn ultimately comes from God. “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deut 8:17-18).
Further, the Bible teaches us that God owns everything. Everything! Even after it is placed into our hands. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Ps 24:1).
“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours … Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you” (I Chr 29:11,16).
These are foundational truths that allow us to see the financial arena of our lives in a brand-new way. Rather than seeing our finances (the portion that we keep after we give God “His portion”) as being spiritually neutral, we discover that it is an important segment of our lives in which we can engage with God! Knowing that it all belongs to God allows us to welcome God into our financial lives! We have the opportunity to walk with God, even in this sector of life that we may have previously overlooked.
New Paradigm – Spiritually Engaging
Stewardship is often interpreted as giving. Giving does not make one a steward. Giving is something a steward does. But stewardship is about much more than giving. It is about understanding that God owns it all. It is about managing it in a way that honors Him.
A friend once asked to borrow my car for a few days. When he returned it, I found that he had filled the gas tank, washed and detailed the car inside and out, and even made several necessary repairs. Because it was my car—not his—he took great care to show his respect for the vehicle and his appreciation to me. He treated the vehicle better than if it were his own. He cared for the car because he acknowledged my ownership of the car. That is stewardship.
Knowing that it all comes from God and it all belongs to God informs us that everything we do with God’s money has spiritual implications. Everything! As His stewards, we have the privilege of managing God’s resources according to His heart, His agenda, and in a way that honors Him. Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do if He had my paycheck, my bank account, my home, and my investments?” What would that look like if you began viewing “your money” as God’s money, and yourself as a steward rather than an owner?
What did Jesus say is His number one competitor? Is it Satan? No. It is money! He said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Mt 6:24). The flesh tempts us to view money and that which money can buy as the focus of our worship. This replaces our worship of God and pushes Him out of the picture, putting money in its place. Conversely, we have a wonderful and very practical opportunity to worship God in our finances by making Him the object of our worship over and above money.
As we invite God into the financial arena of our lives, the process becomes one of listening to God so that we can manage His resources for His glory. Thereby, we demonstrate our worship of Him. Enoch walked with God. We can do the same. And the reward will be one of the highest praise from our Master: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Mt 25:21).
Do you view finances as a divided ownership or all-encompassing God-ownership? Do you have a spiritually neutral mindset or spiritually engaging lifestyle?
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom12:2).
I invite you to shift your paradigm. Let God’s Word guide your thoughts and actions so that you can view the world through God’s eyes and live your life according to His principles. May this be true in the area of your finances. May this be true in every area of your life.