Have you ever truly considered what the outcome of the Apostle Matthew’s words is for your life? Keep in mind that Matthew was a former tax collector who was greedy and understood the deep, fleshly temptation to love money before he became a disciple of Jesus.
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. – (Matt. 6:24)
One of my friends mentioned to me just the other day that Christians claim to be living a life fully sold out to the Lord. However, the blunt reality is that there is more than likely at least one thing that we keep from the Lord. We go around praying, “God you can have everything”, but then in a quiet whisper we slide in a quick exception of “except my free time, or my job, or my friends, or _ (fill in the blank) _.” I would even guess that most Christians today would fill in the blank with money. For that reason, I hope to express how money is to be stewarded well for the Kingdom of God and is to lose its place of status in your life.
Stewarding your finances as a Christian is much more than just understanding and handling your tithe; it also involves the other 90 percent of your income and how you see and value money as a Kingdom Citizen.
Dave Ramsey puts it this way,
“The solution is to teach true, biblical stewardship—to change not just peoples’ behavior but also their hearts through the power of Scripture. No age group, income level or demographic is exempt from this need.”
Christians today must pray alone and as a congregation to recognize that overspending is just as much of an idol as holding onto money. By looking at Scripture, one can see how biblical stewardship is displayed. Two well-known stories that are often preached to explain proper and poor use of money are the Parable of the Talents, found in Matthew 25:14-30, and the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19:16-30.
In the Parable of the Talents, a master gives three of his servants various amounts of talent, which at that time was a monetary unit worth about twenty years of wages for a laborer. The master then left them to handle the money as they saw fit. Two of the servants doubled the amount of what the master originally gave them, receiving a “Well done, good and faithful servant;” while the last servant did not earn any interest on his original talent and the master deemed him as a “wicked and slothful servant.” The questions to ask yourself right now are, “Am I being a good steward of the money the Lord has given me? Which title would the Lord give me? Am I a faithful servant who is wise with resources or rather a slothful individual who lacks the effort to steward his/her money well?”
The story of the Rich Young Ruler is an example of an individual allowing money to be an idol of the heart. The ruler claims to have kept all of Jesus’ commandments, yet once Jesus says, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (v. 21), the man leaves the presence of Jesus “sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (v. 22). The ruler let the world of possessions and materialism overshadow the surpassing joy found when being with Jesus. This is unfortunately a stark reality for many Christians today as well.
Stewardship as a concept must be recognized as a discipline for the believer so that he/she learns the careful management of the resources and finances the Lord has provided. May we fight the temptation to let money be the object we strive to live for and instead strive to receive the comforting words when we meet Jesus, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Tithes and Offerings Explained
It is fitting to provide a brief explanation of tithing and offering, as this is a concept even mature Christians still seem to not fully understand. A tithe is 10 percent of your income given specifically to your local church. The word tithe literally means ‘tenth’ in Hebrew. An offering is anything extra beyond the 10 percent of your income. Most people will assume that an offering is only given to your church, but there are other examples of offering that Christians can do to be a good steward of their money. For example, he/she can give money to a Christian charity, support missionaries, or use the spiritual gifts the Lord has given him/her in various volunteering capacities.
In Scripture, garden imagery is used to explain what the Lord intends for our giving. For instance, in Proverbs 3:9-10, the author writes,
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with your firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. – Proverbs 3:9-10
The word firstfruits is not a word you typically hear in our culture today, but it means that you should give first before doing anything else with your money. Society today emphasizes gaining personal success by measuring how much you have in your bank account and/or how much you own, with materialism. However, from a Christian perspective, the reality is that God owns everything, and our giving is an example of how He gave everything to us by sending His only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. God does not need our money, but rather desires and commands us to give as cheerful givers (2 Cor. 9:7), who proclaim that God is good and delight in giving to His Kingdom here on earth. Just as it states in Leviticus, “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the LORD” (27:30). So, as believers, living in a world where money has increasingly become a distracting idol, let us use our money in service of making His name great and not our own.
Suggestions for Giving
Tithing and giving of an offering are both acts of faith that display God’s sovereignty and power to supply us with what we need, and not always what we want. If you find yourself struggling to remember to give each month or find yourself clinging tightly to your money and finding security in what you have, here are some suggestions to follow. Have a close friend keep you accountable in giving first each month or set up a monthly budget or automated giving to set aside giving as part of your budget each month. Another suggestion would be to pray without ceasing regarding your heart and mind towards money and how you should give. Ask the Spirit to open your eyes to seek first the kingdom of God by offering up your finances to the Lord is doing the will of God.
Ultimately, being a good steward of your finances as a Christian is a learned discipline that is developed with consistent prayer, accountability, and a humble heart posture that recognizes that the Lord is the One who gives and takes away, knowing deeply the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. I think Pastor Jamie Dunlop says it well,
“As a Christian, every time you give to God’s purposes, you’re declaring God to be better than whatever else you would have done with that money. It is fantastically fun to spurn what this world values in order to invest in God’s true and lasting promises when you give, declaring your freedom in Christ from our materialistic age.”
As the body of believers, let us encourage one another to give sacrificially and live a life that glorifies the Lord in the way we think about and spend our money during our time here on earth. May the Lord be honored, and may we recognize that He alone is worthy of our giving because He first gave to us.