Archive for March, 2016

How to Manage Money: Why A Biblical Mindset Matters

Guest blogger: Richard L. Blake

For the introduction on this series, see the 3/11/2016 post “How to Manage Money”

Maintaining a biblical mindset about God’s provisions matters for at least two reasons. First, it matters because of our relationship. We have been made in God’s likeness, fashioned for fellowship with him. He has redeemed us by the blood of his Son, showered us with blessings, and loves us with an everlasting love. Our response to this must be one of gratitude, and one way our gratitude is evident is in the way we manage the gifts he has given.

Moses reminded the Israelites of God’s expectations in response to his goodness:

800px-Foster_Bible_Pictures_0065-1_The_Israelites_Gather_Manna_in_the_WildernessH.M. Snyder, illustrator for the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster

“In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth . . . And it shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God, and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you shall surely perish” (Deuteronomy 8:16-18a, 19).

In other words, God is paying attention to our response to his goodness in providing so abundantly for us. When we ungratefully receive and improperly use his provisions we wound his heart and injure our fellowship with him. Guard your relationship with the Provider, not the provision.

Another reason for maintaining this biblical mindset is because of our rewards. Scriptures teach us to view money and all materials things through the lens of eternity. Heavenly rewards await those who faithfully manage the provisions God entrusts to us on earth.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks of money and rewards this way:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

800px-Rusted_car,_Strezlecki_Track

Jesus is asking us to see material things with an eternal perspective. This view sees all earthly treasures as not only a provision God makes for our own temporal needs, but also as a means to serve God and help others. In the process, we store up eternal treasures in heaven. To be sure, Christ’s words about storing up treasures in heaven can be broadly applied to how we spend our time and use our abilities. The Scriptures are clear that there are rewards for those things, as well. However, the central emphasis of this text is about giving and unselfishly using money and possessions.

We store up treasures on Earth by accumulating and preserving them. We store up treasures in heaven by holding loosely, sharing generously, and giving away earthly treasures for God’s Kingdom purposes. This is very practical investment counsel; invest in what has lasting value. Money is only of temporary value—unless, that is, it’s used and spent and shared and given with a view toward heavenly treasure. Moths destroy fabric, rust corrodes metals, and thieves can steal almost anything. No earthly treasure is safe. Yet even if they escape moths and rust and thieves, they cannot escape the coming fire of God that will consume the material world (2 Peter 3:7). Therefore, Jesus is not condemning wealth as morally wrong, but rather, he’s telling us it’s a bad investment.

Ultimately, we will die and everything we managed to hold onto in this world will be left behind. Whatever treasures we store up in heaven will be waiting when we arrive. Jesus is not telling us to avoid storing up treasures; in fact, he specifically tells us to do so. He’s just telling us to stop storing them in the wrong place—on Earth where they won’t last—and start storing them in the right place—Heaven, where they’ll last forever. Missionary Jim Elliot had this insight when he wrote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

How to Manage Money: Biblical Principles

Guest blogger: Richard L. Blake

For the introduction to this seven part series, see 3/11/2016 post “How to Manage Money”.

The_Black_Death

The Black Death

I ask you to come with me 669 years back in time to Lubeck, Germany. In 1347, as the Black Plague swept across Europe killing over 30 percent of the population, the people of Lubeck were terrified. The wealthy citizens sought to enter the huge fortified monastery for shelter. But the monks, afraid of contamination by the disease from the outside world, locked their gates and strictly refused admission.

The nobles and the wealthy pleaded in vain. They then took their money, jewelry and valuables and threw them over the wall, pleading for admission that they might find safety. Within a short time, the money and valuables piled up a meter high. Yet the contaminated treasure was left untouched and the gates remained closed.

Now, why did all these monies and valuables lie at the base of the monastery walls? Because the rich thought that money thrown away would save their lives, and the monks thought that contaminated money accepted would kill them.

There were two entirely different views of wealth. What is your view? This is a very important issue for us to consider.

Develop a Biblical Mindset About Money

When it comes to money and material possessions we find three different views in the church.

Poverty Theology

The premise of Poverty Theology is that money is inherently evil and thus to be poor is to be spiritual. The orientation then is towards shunning wealth. This makes no sense because some of God’s most godly saints are wealthy. Job was the richest man in the ancient east (Job 1:3; 42:12). Abraham was exceedingly wealthy (Genesis 13:2). It’s not a sin to be rich, nor to enjoy the things wealth may bring. In 1 Timothy we are told that God is the one who “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (6:17). Solomon, famed for both his riches and his wisdom, wrote, “As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:19).

Some may ask, “Doesn’t the Bible say that money is the root of all evil?” No, it does not. Rather, it says, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Money itself is not evil but evil resides in people who love it. People may be moral or immoral, but money is morally neutral and can be used for good things or for bad. Therefore, we must reject the idea that money or material things are inherently unspiritual.

Prosperity Theology

The premise of Prosperity Theology is that money is a signature gift of God and thus to be rich is indicates God’s special favor. The orientation then is toward splurging wealth. Prosperity theology looks exactly like materialism but it professes to be based on God’s word and is therefore not only permissible but also desirable. Following God through giving and other forms of obedience become a formula for abundant provision and the celebration of prosperous living. There are some Christian leaders that exhort their listeners to give liberally while they live in palatial mansions, own private jets, and pay for luxurious hotel suites while they travel to spread their message of prosperity.

Of course, there are scriptures that seem to link material prosperity with God’s blessing. For instance, God gave material wealth to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Solomon, and Job because he approved of them. Some passages offer material rewards for faithful financial giving:

“You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings” (Deuteronomy 15:10).

      “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; The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 3:9-10; 11:25)

      “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows’” (Malachi 3:10).

God does do those things these scriptures promise, but that’s not the whole picture. The scriptures also warn against the dangers of wealth—especially that in their prosperity people often forget the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:7-18). But even when people love and obey God they still may suffer. In fact, they’re promised suffering (Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12). Jeremiah, a righteous man who lived in adversity, complained to God, “Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy? (Jeremiah 12:1). His question echoed the psalmist who wrote, “This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth” (Psalm 73:12).

If, as prosperity theology maintains, material wealth is a reliable indicator of God’s reward and approval, then crime bosses, drug lords, and embezzlers must be his most favored people, while Jesus and the apostle Paul must be on his blacklist. So, prosperity theology does not square with the teaching of scripture.

Provision Theology

The premise of Provision Theology is that money belongs to God but He has entrusted wealth to us to be used wisely. The orientation then is towards stewarding wealth. This is the biblically correct view of wealth. Our good God has promised to provide for all our needs according to his riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). His provision is therefore good and not to be shunned or apologized for. Neither is it to be coveted or boasted about. The right approach is to see money and all materials resources as God’s property placed under our management. We are stewards of his provisions.

 

How to Manage Money

For seven posts, my husband, Richard L. Blake, is my guest blogger. Recently he was asked to write conference material on how to manage money. I thought it was so applicable to this blog site that I asked his permission to include it on this site. In these posts, I will share his notes – verbatim (only excluding what was very specific for his target audience) – with you.

Like the other posts on this blog, this material is written from a Christian perspective.

The next six posts will contain:

  • How to Manage Money: Biblical Principles
  • How to Manage Money: Why a Biblical Mindset Matters
  • How to Manage Money: What the Bible Says About Ownership
  • How to Manage Money: What the Bible Says About Stewardship
  • How to Manage Money: Practical Counsel – Work, Give, Live on a Budget
  • How to Manage Money: Practical Counsel – Get Out of Debt, Save, Invest

HOW TO MANAGE MONEY

The matter of money management may at first seem an appropriate subject only to those who actually have a good deal of money to manage. Some may believe the subject of little value to them because they think they have so little to manage. A rethinking of this view is in order for several reasons.

First, the matter is broader than merely managing money. Our material possessions, our gifts and talents, our time—these also are resources that we are given to manage. Gaining wisdom about managing all these resources will benefit us now, not only in producing greater gain but also in reducing stress and anxiety.

Secondly, we actually are rich. If you have an annual household income of $11,000  you’re in the top 14 percent of income earners in the world. If your income is only $34,000 annually you’re in the top 1 percent. And even if you made only $1,500 last year you would still have more money than 75 percent of all people on Earth. You may not feel wealthy but from a global perspective we’re among some of the richest people on earth. With more than 1 billion people around the world living on less than 1 dollar a day, living in huts without indoor plumbing or running water and unsure of where their next meal will come from, it does change our perspective. With that change we begin to see more of the importance of money management.

Finally, we need to become good managers of our resources because it is what God expects. In Luke 16, Jesus made a direct connection between our handling of worldly wealth and his decision to entrust to us even greater wealth: “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” (Luke 16:10-11). God is observing what we do with our time, our talent, and our treasure. What may seem such little things to us are major factors in God’s decision to commend and promote us—or reprimand and demote us—in his Kingdom. Therefore, we must ask ourselves, “What opportunities are we missing, or one day will miss, because we have failed to use our money and other resources wisely?”