When you think of the link between faith and finances there are several ways to view it. The most common way is to simply ignore it. After all, we earned our money by our hard work, so what does our money have to do with our faith?
For most people, money is one part of our life and faith is another part of our life and they are totally separate things. However, this kind of thinking is the total opposite of what we read in Luke 16:11, “If therefore you have not been faithful in handling worldly wealth, how can you be trusted with true wealth?” Luke tells us that our action related to worldly things does have an impact on our faith.
The second way to think of the link between faith and finances is the “Prosperity Gospel” viewpoint. This line of thought tells us that we should receive worldly benefits if we are true members of God’s family. It’s a tit-for-tat relationship with God. If I am faithful to God, he will give me what I want. The prosperity gospel also teaches that religion and generosity are the keys to worldly riches.
The “Prosperity Gospel” preaching could not be further from the truth. The depth of our faith has absolutely nothing to do with our success according to the world’s standards. The only thing our faith promises is the joys of heaven and life to come. Many passages in the Bible elevate the goodness of the poor and suffering and condemn those people who put importance on material possessions and financial gain.
The Biblical interpretation of prosperity is a spiritual blessing, not necessarily financial wealth. What can be viewed as prosperity in a spiritual sense can sometimes be viewed as a failure in a worldly sense.
Which brings us to the “Poverty Gospel” mindset. In this teaching, anyone who is truly faithful must also be poor, as wealth interferes with our spiritual life. This sort of preaching tells us that material possessions are evil and anyone who loves God is poor and disdains material wealth.
Both the poverty and prosperity preaching are in error. Our spiritual health is not connected to our physical circumstances. Some of the godliest people in the Bible were very wealthy and other very godly people were extremely poor.
Think of the story of Job, a rich man in the material world, and he was also faithful to God. Job had 7 sons and 3 daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 she-donkeys, and a very large household of servants.
One day Job was the topic of a conversation between the Lord and the satan: “The LORD said to the satan, ‘Have you noticed my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil.’
The satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing? Have you not surrounded him and his family and all that he has with your protection? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock are spread over the land. But now put forth your hand and touch all that he has, and surely he will curse you to your face.’ The LORD said to the satan, ‘Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on him.’ So the satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
Poor Job – little did he know how severely he would be tested. In a short period of time, Job lost everything – all his animals, his servants, his home, his family, his possessions, his health and all his wealth. Yet in this midst of this, Job declared “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
Like Job, our faith in God should not be dependent on our wealth or our poverty. Rather we are called to be stewards of what we have, whether much or little. The foundation of being a steward means living in a way that pleases God in all areas of our lives – even when it comes to our own personal finances. Our possessions are a gift from God and we are called to take care of them responsibly. Possessions are beneficial if they are used wisely to fulfill our calling as a child of God.
How we make money, how we save money, how we spend money, and all of our attitudes about money need to be thought of in terms of our faith. At the most basic level, stewardship is a way to live our faith in a daily basis. True stewardship, is a way of life and it’s an important tool in living our faith no matter what circumstances we experience.
Stewardship means we put God in first place and money in some other place in our lives. But this is NOT how our society thinks or influences us to think.
Applying Stewardship to our daily lives and living these principles on a daily basis can be difficult. It means analyzing our actions and their motivation. Are you lazy; greedy; generous; overrun with debt?
Take some time and reflect on these questions to determine how well you integrate faith and finances:
- Do you involve God in your finances through prayer?
- What does it mean to be a steward of your personal finances?
- How do you balance the demand of the secular world against your personal financial stewardship?
- What is your biggest challenge in living a stewardship lifestyle?
Asking yourself these questions will help you discern if your attitude toward stewardship needs adjustment. If so, take some time to sit in front of the tabernacle and remember that how you use money is about doing what will please God.
in our lives, the purpose of money is to help us to better know, love and serve the Lord. If the way we are handling our money hinders our ability to do that, then our money management techniques need to change big time!
Being able to walk away from anything and everything for Christ reveals a pure heart. Money is one of those things from which we should be able to walk away.
What is in our hearts becomes evident through outward signs (like debt). So, in the big scheme of things, money is a small thing. Simply put money is stuff we use to get other stuff. We should be much more concerned about our spiritual life and pleasing God than about how much money and stuff we have. Mastery over money is mastery over ourselves, and from this mastery over money, grows a broader ability to know, love and serve the Lord.
Once you start living a stewardship lifestyle, nothing is the same. And that’s a good thing!