Money is perhaps the most controversial subject in the church. Depending on your denomination or flavor of non-denomination your belief about money could be anywhere along a vast spectrum. Some sects within the church equate holiness and spirituality with poverty and simplicity. Other sects within the church equate true faith with wealth and prosperity. Most, however, fall somewhere in between these two.
The bible actually has a lot to say concerning finances in both the Old and New Testament. God has a plan for our finances and has given us instructions on how to treat money. It should come as no surprise to us. The God who is concerned about the thoughts and intentions of our hearts is concerned about our finances and our attitudes towards money.
Before we get started into this message I want to acknowledge that there has been significant excess and error in the preaching, teaching and ministry of messages concerning money within the church. These errors and/or excesses do not negate the biblical teaching and instruction on finances. I ask you to lay aside any previous experiences you may have had with false teaching and look at the scriptures with me. God’s word is not invalidated because a man or woman has twisted it or perverted it in the past for selfish reasons. Let God be true and every man a liar (Romans 3:4).
Let’s state a few well established facts:
- Houses and apartments are not free
- Utilities are not free
- Food is not free
- Transportation is not free
- Clothing is not free
These are some of the basic essentials in life; food, clothing, shelter and transportation. Each of these essentials must be purchased. As a believer or unbeliever our society requires you to pay for these items.
Let’s state a few more well established facts:
- There are poor Christians and those who are poor that are not Christians
- There are middle-class Christians and those who are middles class that are not Christians
- There are wealthy Christians and those who are wealthy that are not Christians
Faith in Christ does not have a monetary price tag attached. Salvation cannot be purchased, nor is it restricted to a class, race, geography or age group. The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. (Revelation 22:17). Regardless of our economic status we are all sinners in need of Jesus and may freely accept His gift of salvation. This message is not about the qualifications for salvation. This message is to discuss what the Bible says the saved should be doing with their money.
Let’s state a few more well established facts:
- Churches require money to operate
- It takes money to print Bibles
- It takes money to send missionaries to the nations of the world
- It takes money to feed the poor
In order to fulfill the Great Commission there are significant financial investments required. Believers must be willing to go and believers must also be willing to send.
For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:13-15).
God has filled us with His Holy Spirit and given us the privilege of speaking, praying and living in the name of Jesus. It is this power that allows us to minister His grace to those around us. As we share the love of God and gospel of Jesus Christ men and women have the opportunity to place faith in Jesus and be born again; receiving the same gift of the Holy Spirit that we have. This is the essence of New Testament Christianity; to win the lost and to make disciples of those that are won. This cycle of new birth and maturity is God’s plan for the church. We as believers continue to mature in Christ – becoming more like Him while constantly bringing those who are lost into the Kingdom. The church was not designed to exist within the four-walls of our sanctuaries – the church was designed to exist everywhere there are people. In order to fulfill God’s plan we are commanded to “preach the gospel to everyone” (Mark 16:15). The power to send is one of the most awesome things a church can have.
Sending power requires a few vital things:
1. A group of mature believers who are raising up disciples of Jesus Christ
2. Disciples of Jesus Christ who are willing to be sent
3. The finances needed to send
There are three main reasons that money is vital in the life of a Christian:
1. To provide for the needs of your family
2. To finance the preaching of the gospel
3. To care for the poor and those in need
As a result of the economic recession of the past several years there has been an increasing amount of debate in the media as well as in the church concerning money, wealth and excess. People have reexamined their priorities. Many have had decreased income. Many have just chosen to “tighten their belts” by eliminating any expense they find superfluous. There are new social justice campaigns to eliminate poverty. There has been a lot of focus on supplying peoples’ needs instead of our traditional consumerism and materialism.
There seems to be an undercurrent of socialist thinking becoming more and more prevalent in the US – a belief that it is wrong for people to succeed and have significant amounts of money from the fruits of their labors. It is amazing how many stories are run about the compensation levels of CEO’s and entrepreneurs. It seems the stories are designed to make us see their success and compensation as an evil. (If the money has been earned honestly – I cheer for their success. If not – then justice should meet out a penalty according to the laws that were broken). On the same note we seem to celebrate the salaries and compensation levels of entertainers and athletes. We tour their homes, their vacations, their cars, their clothing, their shopping tours, etc.
Travis McCoy (featuring Bruno Mars) sings, “I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad, buy all of the things I never had. Uh, I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine, smiling next to Oprah and the Queen.”
John Lennon wrote a song entitled, “all you need is love”
In “I will buy you a new life” Everclear sings, “I hate those people who love to tell you money is the root of all that kills. They have never been poor, they have never had the joy of a welfare Christmas”.
The world’s view on money and wealth ranges from the communist to the capitalist. The bible speaks of neither. We are citizens of the kingdom of God and need to adopt God’s worldview on money and wealth. God has a plan and a purpose for our lives and His plan and purpose involves our money.
But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:18)
The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it. (Proverbs 10:22)
Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Matthew 6:19-21)
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. (Luke 6:38)
No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. (Isaiah 58:6-7)
Our money, our influence, our status, etc. are all tools in the hand of Jesus Christ that He desires to use to reach a lost and dying world. We cannot care for the poor and need when we are the poor and needy. We cannot send missionaries around the world if we are unable to provide for the needs of our own families. Our attitudes must change in respect to finances and the kingdom of God. We have one cause to support – the gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything that we are and everything that we have has been given to God at salvation when we accepted Jesus Christ’s blood as payment for our sins. We have entered into a blood covenant where He has become ours and we have become His. His resources and supplies are ours and our resources and supplies are now His.
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it (Psalm 24:1)
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
The answer to each of these questions is NO.
Does any one of these people groups have things in their lives that give them advantage or disadvantage in the things of this world (depending on where they live)? Sure. Do any of these things matter at the foot of the cross? No.
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
I am not writing this message to judge your net worth. I am not writing this message to collect an offering from you. I am not writing this message so that you will support a ministry that I believe in. I am writing this message so that your view of money and wealth will be scriptural.
Here are the points that I want you to take away from reading this:
Your income level, possessions and bank balance have nothing to do with God’s love for you or salvation through Jesus Christ.
Money is neither good nor evil; money is a tool in the hand of the one who possesses it.
As a Christian everything we are belongs to God; including our money.
As a Christian we are called to fulfill the Great Commission and it takes money to spread the gospel through the world.
As a Christian we are called to meet the needs of the poor, the widow and the orphan and it takes money to do so.
As a Christian we are called to tithe and give offerings above our tithe.
Greed and pride are found among the wealthy and the poor. Change your heart and your mind concerning wealth and money. We should be working to bring the Kingdom of heaven to the earth through the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We should be laboring in love, deeds, actions, prayer and giving towards this goal.
I challenge you to see your finances as a tool in the hand of the Holy Spirit for the spreading of the gospel. I challenge you to trust the God you have given your heart and soul to with your check book. I challenge you to believe that He is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). I challenge you to believe that He is able to supply all of your need according His riches and glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
If you will obey God in your finances (as well as other areas of your life) you will find that you will have more than enough to meet your needs and to fulfill the calling of God upon your life.
The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10) and all we need do is turn on the news to see the devastation greed has wrought throughout the earth. The love of God and a love for the people of this world will change your view of money from a possession to desire into a sanctified tool in the hand of your Heavenly Father.