For those who have made a commitment to try and follow Jesus and want to accept the life that God is holding out to us, then serious thinking about the part money plays in this decision is absolutely fundamental. For such people we will look at four principles of stewardship that are worth serious consideration.
This is the foundational principle of stewardship. God is not trying to take money away from us. We are being invited to share in God’s work and to commit our resources to this work. This invitation is always a privilege. It comes from our need for God, not God’s need for us
It would be difficult to argue with the first principle of stewardship. This second principle might require a little more convincing. The conventional wisdom concerning money is that we have to learn how to hang on to it, not how to give it away. I want to offer three reasons why it is important for growing Christians to learn to give. Indeed why we need to give.
We need to give in order to be free: The seductive power of money is undeniable. But it is disarmingly subtle. In ensnares us without our even being aware of it. It wraps chains around our hearts, our minds, and our imagination without our even noticing….
There is only one way. The power of money can only be broken by learning to give it away. The basic question is simply, Will I control my money, or will my money control me?
When we begin to give, the chains begin to break. This can be very uncomfortable, frequently it is painful. Yet once the chains are broken we experience the sheer exhilaration of freedom. Only then do we realize how tightly the chains were wrapped around our heart. Only then can we really understand what Jesus meant when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We were created to give, not to hoard…Jesus wants us to be free.
We need to give in order to grow:
One of the central questions for us on our spiritual journey is, “are we willing to trust God?”
We have been conditioned through the whole of our lives to pursue financial security as a primary goal—faced with this conditioning these words of Jesus sound like ridiculous nonsense, if not downright irresponsible.
Let’s read Matthew 6:25-33 from our bibles…
When our lives are properly centered the peripheral issues will be sorted out as well. The goal of our lives as followers of Jesus is to seek God and God’s purposes first of all; and to trust that when we do so, the rest of our lives will fall into place as well. This is Jesus’ prescription for peace.
As you are listening to me speak a million questions, are probably popping into your heads, that all start with the same two words: “Yes, But!”. Given our conditioning this is only natural. But the point of Jesus’ teaching is quite clear. Those who follow him are called to develop a radically new understanding of the place and purpose of money in their lives.
This is a perspective that is developed in the face of great resistance. When we analyze this resistance we discover that the very idea of such dependence on God scares us half to death.
The good news is that God knows all this and then WAIT for this—invites us to put him to the test.
Let’s read Malachi 3:10 in our bibles.
So strongly does this fly in the face of common sense that the only way to evaluate it is to try it. We must learn to give in order to grow.
We need to give in order to find fulfillment:
Enough always seems to be just a little bit more than I have right now. A study was done by an economist called George Barna and it shows that most people seriously believe that they need approximately $8-10,000 more a year to live the way they would like to and no matter how much their income increases they still believe they need 8-10 more.
The OT prophet of Haggai comments on his phenomenon:
Let’s read Haggai 1-5-6:
This is what the Lord Almighty says: Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat but never have enough. You drink but never have your fill. You put on clothes but are not warm. You earn wages only to put them in a purse with holes in it.
When we try to find satisfaction through our possessions, enough is never enough. Whatever we have is always too little. Satisfaction, happiness and joy come from meaningful relationships and activities. It is no accident that many people readily admit that the happiest times of their lives were when they had few material possessions…the reverse of this is that increased financial prosperity did not increase their happiness one bit.
People who give of their time and resources in service of others will tell you time and time again how incredibly fulfilling it is…that happiness doesn’t come from wealth, financial or otherwise, but rather because they are happy with what God has given, they are able to be contented and happy in all things, and that is a kind of wealth in itself that overflows into all parts of life.