As you may (or may not) be aware, I spend a lot of my time at work, working with investors. There are things related to that excite me, like talking with people about how they can invest their IRA’s in real estate instead of stocks. When you start working with investors, you often find yourself dealing with people who are in miserable situations financially. I love it when we get to help some of these people out and they use our help as an opportunity to begin to deal with finances more responsibly. Every so often, however, I hear “I’m just not good with money.”
Unfortunately, I am hearing sentiments very similar to that within the church. For those of you who have already endured my class on stewardship, you may be aware of my position that being “bad with money” is merely symptomatic of the larger issue—you are not being a good steward of the resources with which God has entrusted you. You see, when God chooses us to be His and to live a life that honors Him, a huge part of that involves taking care of the things that are entrusted to us. The fact is that there is no way around it, God gives us responsibilities.
From the first chapter of the Bible, which talks about how God creates us to “rule” over His creation, to Revelation, the assertion of our need to take care of that which we are given is vital. This clearly is not limited to money, but money is absolutely something God entrusts to us. In my opinion, it is kind of sad that our culture is so secretive about money that I believe it influences our churches to not teach on this topic as much as they should.
There are few topics discussed as much in the Bible as money, and yet, the least likely issue to cause church discipline or to be addressed or even just taught is the handling of money. And when it is taught, it is almost always done with so many apologies and generalities that it tends to lose some of the bite. Jerry Bridges writes an entire book on those sins that we tolerate. Now, don’t cheat yourself by not reading the book, but I believe we are so culturally tolerant of poor management of money (from our government to individuals who over-committed to a myriad of examples in-between) that it is taboo to even address it as a sin.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, we may try to rank the severity of certain sins, but, in my opinion, the root cause of all sins is a rebellion against God and putting something else before Him. And, in a capitalistic culture, there is no surer way to see what you value most than by looking at what you spend your money on (or, in some cases, the fact that you refuse to spend your money). So, basically, I think that money is something God entrusts to us over which we need to exercise good stewardship.
Stewardship is not a choice. Because when you recognize that ultimately you do not own something (sorry fellow capitalists), but rather, you have been allowed by God to use it while on this earth, it necessarily follows that you are answerable to the Giver of Wealth for how you use it. So whether it is your money, your time, your possessions, or something else, we must understand that God owns it all, and we are entrusted with supervising it for Him. To me, this is a very daunting thing. When my parents allow me to use something of theirs, it is both honoring and empowering. But this empowerment always makes me take stock to make sure I don’t blow it. (The same is true of others, but my parents are just the earthly example that happens the most often).
We need to make sure that everything we do, we recognize that the ability to do it, as well as the placement within the opportunity, and everything else about the situation was provided by God. Further, God is the person to whom we are answerable for it. So, whether we just need to be more honorable in our money choices or we need to better stewards of something else or this was just a reminder to stay the course, be certain that everything you do is symbolic of where you place God in your life. And if you find that too overwhelming, please let your elder or someone else in your covenant family know how they can pray for you better.