Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Handling Money God's Way

People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
I Timothy 6:9, 10
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.
Proverbs 3:9, 10
 Guest Blogger: Ben Lutz with his family
Money is one of the most common topics in the entire Bible. In the book of Proverbs alone there are over 100 references to money or wealth in some fashion. God clearly understood that money would play a significant role in human history. So what does His Word say about money? Well, like many topics in the Bible, on the surface there appears to be some conflicting messages. In the verses above for example, we read that the love of money is a root of evil but honoring the Lord with your wealth is good. So how are we to understand this? The truth is, money itself is neither good nor evil. Money is simply an instrument, much like a tool or a weapon, to be used for whatever purpose the holder intends. The Scriptures are actually very detailed on this topic, and cover a number of items including debt, investing, insurance, tuition, inheritance, retirement, lending, and more. I guess you could say that God is the first and greatest financial counselor the world has ever seen. In fact, if you handle money the way God teaches in His word, money can truly becoming a blessing in your life and in the lives of those around you as well.
To handle money God’s way, you must first understand that everything that is given to you, money or otherwise, belongs to God (Haggai 2:8). God entrusts us with his wealth, with his knowledge, and with the ability to use these things to glorify Him. To make this concept more real, think about if a family member was leaving the country for a few years, to go into the mission field. They have always been very smart with their money, and they leave you their entire nest egg to manage in their absence. How much differently would you treat this money than if it was your own? How much more would you seek their advice on the best way to invest or spend this money? And if instructed, how much easier would it be for you to give this money to those in need? This is exactly how God wants us to handle His money, seeking his wisdom with every significant decision, making choices that see his investment grow, and giving effortlessly and generously. [For more on this see Jesus’ Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and His Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:12-28).]
In Proverbs God tells us how we can use the wealth He has given us to truly glorify Him. The first thing you need to do is have a plan: “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5). You need to be intentional about what you are doing with God’s money; develop a plan and be patient. Avoid debt: Of all the references to debt in the Scriptures not once is it mentioned favorably. In fact in Proverbs 22:7 it reads, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lenders slave.” Christ died for our sins so that we could be free from slavery, bondage, and sin. God wants His children to flourish and succeed in the same way we that want for our own children to flourish and succeed. Save and invest: Sometimes the best thing you can do with money is nothing at all. Putting money aside, or investing it wisely, is a biblical principle that is far too rarely practiced these days. Proverbs 21:20 says “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” Give generously: Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” The amazing thing about giving away what God has given you is that with the right intentions and attitudes it can be an absolute and total blessing in your life. Even though after giving you may have less, the kingdom of God has more. You see when God’s children give God’s resources to advance His kingdom it allows us to accomplish things that we literally couldn’t accomplish on our own. With one gift, hundreds of lives can be affected. But before this is possible, you must develop a plan that will allow you to give more than you ever thought possible.
I know some of you may be saying “That’s great, but I feel like God hasn’t given me enough to even get by, let alone to give away and to help others.” God isn’t asking you to give so much that you can’t even provide for your own family. In fact, the Bible tells us that we have a special responsibility to care for the needy in our family first. In first Timothy 5:8: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Financial struggles are not new to the world. In fact, if you live in America and have a roof over your head, you are far richer than most of the people throughout history have been. We are so rich, both in our finances and our freedoms, and we don’t even realize it. That being said, that knowledge alone doesn’t help pay the bills, or keep the debt collectors from calling and harassing us. God wants us to be at peace financially, and not have money (or the lack thereof) weighing on us and taking our focus off our true goal of living for Him.
One of the hardest financial goals to master in life is to be content with whatever God has given you. Never allow your desire for success to convince you that somehow you deserve more, or that God isn’t providing what you need. God knows your heart. He knows if you are capable of handling extreme wealth His way, or if your love for money will steer you off course. Ecclesiastes 5:10 says, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” Take the knowledge of the Scriptures, and use that knowledge to increase what God has entrusted to you. Use your tools to build up God’s kingdom in heaven, and here on earth.
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