Financial advisers were mostly telling investors to ‘hang in there,’ during the wild swings on the stock markets yesterday. With American indexes showing declines around 10%, millions woke up this morning with less money on their balance sheet. Most termed the last two days as a ‘correction,’ but some are saying we are headed into another extended time of losses due to various world economic factors. I am no economist and won’t even guess! However, we can learn some basic principles about wealth that are given to us by God Himself.
There are three principles that guide my financial decisions!
First – God, not money, is my resource.
Jesus teaches us to put our Father’s concerns and directions in the place of priority. If we do, there is no need to worry. “Why be like the pagans (those who do not know God) who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” (Matthew 6:32-33, NLT) One of the reasons I tithe (give 10% of my income to my church) is to remind myself that the Lord is my source and supply. When I write those checks, it is a tangible act of worship, a declaration of dependence on Him. No, it’s not manipulative, nor do I believe that tithing causes God to owe me a thing. Tithing is a statement of faith.
Second – Contentment protects me from foolish choices.
Countless lives are wrecked by chasing wealth. Some fall for the empty promises of ‘easy money’ and lose everything. Others spend the most precious resource, time, working all the time to gain wealth, and lose their faith, family, and even health in the process. Still others are tricked by envy and destroy their lives wanting what someone else has acquired. Here is wisdom: “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 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.” (1 Timothy 6:6-10, NIV) We need to know the difference between what we want and what we need. When we gain clarity on that issue, we learn a basic part of Christian money management.
Third – Having wealth is NOT the same as owning gold (money).
I like having money in my pocket. I like the options that come from having dollars in the bank. But, I also know that money is just one measure of wealth.
Jesus used a phrase ‘treasure in heaven’ on several occasions. He told a rich man that the only way to break his love of wealth was to give it all away. Only then would he know what real wealth was. He did not do it, choosing to walk away from the Lord! Some of us need that same ‘cure.’ Another time Jesus said, “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” (Matthew 6:19-21, The Message) What do you value most? It is not a simple question!
These principles withstand bear markets and bull markets; inflation and deflation; recession and growth. They apply to the Christian in a poor, developing nation and one in America. They were true two millennia ago and will be true long after I pass from this present world.
Here is a word from the Word. My prayer is that the wisdom of Jesus will bring us great joy today. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? “No servant can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.” (Luke 16:9-13, NIV)
Jerry D. Scott, Pastor
FAITH DISCOVERY CHURCH