CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
By Denise Baum
Though in the context of sexual purity, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 provides the basis for understanding any kind of stewardship: "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." Whether we are talking about how to use our money or our time or our strength or our passions, the central focus is glorifying God. We glorify him by acknowledging that everything belongs to him, including ourselves and our possessions. It is good to remind ourselves of this when we awaken each new day:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." Lamentations 3:22-24When we view our bodies and possessions as belonging to God, we know that the money we earn also belongs to him. In order to avoid making money an idol by either hoarding it or being extravagant, we must start by giving our firstfruits to God. "The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God" (Exodus 23:19). This is speaking to farmers, but all of us receive payment for work done. When you receive your wages, before you spend any money on yourself, give the first portion to God. Begin with your local church and then ask God where he would have you share this first fruit of your labor.
Giving is not to be an exercise in pride, but of humble generosity as one belonging to God:
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8How do you spend the remainder of your wages with wisdom? Believers must be people of integrity, responsibility and punctuality. If we have living expenses like mortgage or rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, insurance, and taxes, these must be paid on time and in full. "Whoever walks in integrity walks securely" (Proverbs 10:9). How we consume the resources God has given to us is also important. Again, it is essential that we surrender all of ourselves to God as servants accountable for every action. How do we consume our resources? With thrift or excessiveness and wastefulness?
When God has been honored by our firstfruit generosity, and our living expenses have been paid in full, whatever is left over should be carefully divided between saving, recreational spending, and sharing. Always pray about how to use any of your income. In order to prevent idolatry, we must be continually aware of our position as God's stewards:
We are not our own; we are bought with a price. We prayerfully ask God to reveal his will about all the details of our lives. Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit" — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17In summary, the best way to manage your money is to put God in charge of all that you possess. Then you will not be selfishly greedy and miserly or foolishly extravagant and thoughtless with it. In fact, he is already in charge of the universe and all that happens in it. But, on a personal level, he requests our participation. He wants us to receive good gifts. He also wants us to be generous in return. The focus is not on money, but on our relationship with God. That is the key:
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24
Image Credit: Ken Teegardin; "Numbers And Finance"; Creative Commons
comments powered by Disqus
Published on 10-4-16