Saturday, October 6, 2012
The Church Wants MY Money!
Unfortunately, we as a nation have lost all common sense concerning the use of money. The problems of this lack of common sense trickle from the White House to the average citizen. I know I learned some hard lessons with money as I have matured into a man over the years. The Bible has a lot to say about money and I would like to explore a few lessons I have discovered over the years.
Honor the Lord with Your Wealth.
Proverbs 3:9-10 says, "Honor the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine." First, let me say that I am not a "prosperity gospel" guy at all. But, I can say that when I began to understand that I could honor, or dishonor, God with my resources my financial health began to change for the better when I started honor God with my possessions. The Bible's teaching on money is God's wisdom revealed so, naturally, applying biblical truths to how you handle your money has very practical benefits.
Debt is Bad.
After I turned 18 it didn't take long for me to rack up a ton of debt. Man, it's just like fat--easy to put on and hard to get rid of. I don't remember where I pulled this information from, but I stated this in a sermon earlier this year, "As of May 2011, it is estimated that the average American household carries $16,000 in credit card debt--this doesn’t include auto loans or other types of loans." This is a huge burden to carry and adds a major strain to your life, marriage, and family. This is why the Bible instructs believers to "owe nothing to anyone except to love one another" (Romans 13:8). If you're reading this and you're drowning in debt, I would encourage you to come up with a plan to become debt-free. A good place to start is www.daveramsey.com
Money a Tool.
Money is inert. It is neither good nor bad, but simply reveals the good or bad of our heart. I believe the Christian is to use money in a number of ways. A few of the uses of money are for giving, providing, and saving. While money can be used for a whole slew of things, I will focus on these three.
Tithing is Training Wheels for Christian Giving. No, you won't find "tithing" in the New Testament. But let me warn you not to take that argument too far because as you study the New Testament's teaching on money you will start stumbling into phrases like "sacrificial giving" and other expressions that express that Christian giving far exceeds the 10% standard thought to be normative by many today. While, I won't die on the 10% hill, I do agree with Hank Hank Hanegraaff's teaching that "tithing is training wheels for Christian giving."
First,on a side note, tithing is giving 10% of your income. There is some discussion between gross or net income...but I think this whole discussion detracts for the spirit of the issue. Personally I hold to a gross income understanding, but the main issue is the condition of your heart in this.
Tithing teaches stewardship. One of the first things I came to understand as I started to tithe was I began to view everything I had as a gift from God. I believe He cares just as much, if not more, about how I manage the money I keep than what I give. As I began to tithe, I began to make better financial decisions as a whole because I placed my money before God in prayer before I began to spend it. In this some ways this practice exposed areas where I was not acting in wisdom with the resources God had intrusted me with.
Participation in the work of the Gospel. I started going to church because a friend nagged me and because they offered free pizza. I loved the free pizza and it kept me coming back week after week. After many months went by, it started dawning on me that everything that the church was providing was because all the wonderful people were contributing out of their personal means. No product was being sold. There was no stream of income from the government. It was simply because the people there desired to participate with the things of the Lord and so they gave. This had a profound impact on me as the realization of the operating expenses, salary, outreach, and giving to the missionaries were all covered through the generous giving of the people in the church. From that point on my giving was no longer grudgingly or superficial (i.e. throwing a buck in the pot when I knew I was about to eat $20 worth of pizza). It gives me great joy to use the resources that God has blessed me with to
How you use and view money greatly affects your life. I know all too greatly the burden of debt. My prayer is that you reach a place where you desire to get out of debt and can come up with a plan to get out of debt. A simple strategy is to pay of your smallest debt first and the attack the next smallest one. This strategy gives you small victories along the way that encourage you to continue on the battle. There is great joy and freedom being debt free. As you begin to save, save, but don't let money become your God. God will take care of you and He will provide what you need--when you need it.
Posted by Gunnar Hanson at 9:07 AM