In our culture, our faith is disconnected from the more secular aspects of life. We spend one hour a week in church and worship the gods of consumerism and materialism the rest of the week.
When we step away from the consumerism and materialism, we can ask ourselves this question: “Is what I am doing with my life helping me be the person God wants me to be?” The purpose of our lives should be to live in a way that pleases God in all areas.
Once we put God in first place everything else seems to fall into place. This is the basic premise of being a good steward–God first in all ways.
Too often when we hear the word Stewardship, it’s related to giving. There is a need for an offertory increase in the parish. There is a capital campaign. It’s time for the yearly giving pledge, or the bishop’s annual appeal. But real stewardship is NOT about giving it’s about living in all areas of our life.
Applying Stewardship to our life and living a stewardship lifestyle on a daily basis can be difficult. It means analyzing our actions and their motivation. Am I greedy? Do I make hasty decisions and later regret them? Am I generous? Am I overrun with debt? Do I gave money a place of importance it does not deserve?
Once we have deeply examined our habits, including how we give, save and spend, managing money becomes simply an administrative matter. We can escape from the pressure society puts on us by telling us that we must have lots of money and lots of stuff in order to be important or worthwhile.
Money is simply a medium of exchange. It is not a statement on how valuable we are. Yet so many times, we give money an influence over us that is unhealthy. The purpose of our lives is to know, love and serve the Lord. If the way we are handling our money hinders our ability to do that, then how we manage money needs to be changed!
Acknowledging that God made and owns everything (Deuteronomy 10:14) is a practical first step in handling money properly. Managing our money wisely is our way of showing God that He reigns in our hearts. And knowing that we possess material things to help fulfill our calling as a Christian helps us to differentiate between how the world tells us to live and what will please God.
Think about the story of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21). He had become so wealthy that he wanted to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. It never occurred to him that he could have built an additional barn. He also never thought about sharing his wealth with others. The rich man was unwilling to give up his material things because they had the number one place in his heart.
Jesus never condemned the rich man for being rich. But Jesus was sad that the rich man was not willing to walk away from his wealth. His money took priority even over Jesus Himself.
The issue of money is as difficult now as it was when Jesus began His public ministry.
Money is one of those things from which we should be able to walk away. Being able to walk away from anything and everything for Christ reveals a pure heart.
Do we give money first place in our hearts—a place where God should be? A prideful heart is an obstacle to the pure heart that God wants from us. All too often, financial issues have their root in spiritual issues. What is in our hearts becomes evident through outward signs. When we give money an importance it does not deserve, when we use money to find personal fulfillment, when we are greedy or stingy with the money God has blessed us with, when we are overrun by debt and buy things we don’t need, then we may be giving money an importance it does not deserve. Recognizing these problems can be difficult.
The parable of the talents teaches us that God is looking for faithfulness in the little things. The talents were a form of money. The man who entrusted money to his servants expected a return. Two of the servants managed their money well and were rewarded with more of their master’s goods. The third servant managed the money poorly. When the master returned he punished the one servant for the mismanagement of his goods. He told the servant that if he could not even handle this little task, then he could never manage or enjoy the fruits of greater responsibility.
So mastery over money is mastery over ourselves. Mastery over money provides the ability to know, love and serve the Lord. As we better know, love and serve the Lord we become more obedient in all areas of our lives. As we become more obedient we are showing that we can be trustworthy. As we become more trustworthy the Lord bestows greater blessings on us.
We are not saying that if we are generous we will get more money. We are saying that when we submit ourselves to the Lord many blessings come to us in the form of peace, joy, gratitude, and contentment
The foundation of mastery over money is serving the Lord as our number one priority and knowing what God wants us to do with our lives.
Odd as it may sound, spending decisions need to be thought of in terms of our faith. Asking yourself how this purchase helps you be a better steward prior to making the purchase is much more beneficial than beating yourself up after the credit card purchases stack up.
If your attitude toward money needs adjustment, take time to sit in front of the tabernacle and listen to the Lord. It takes a conscious effort to change your mindset and adjust your attitude. But once you master your money, nothing is the same.
And that’s a good thing!
Checkout the Manage Your Money God’s way podcast for more.