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Posts tagged ‘Effective Stewardship’

Effective Stewardship – Month #18

God expects Christians to pay their taxes,

since the government is ordained and authorized by God.

“Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s,

and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

 

Under the Old Testament economy, people were required to give to God because this was also the means of providing the government.  A theocracy was in place then, which meant that government was actually operating under the direct authority and leadership of God Himself.

Today, we are under a different economy.  However, we are still required to support the government.  We may not like the way government operates.  We may not agree with the policies of our governmental leaders.  We may not even like the political process or the individuals involved in it.

But God says that is not the issue.  The issue is one of obedience.  He says we are to pay our taxes to whom “taxes are due” (Romans 13:7).  In spite of all the ills of government, God says that governmental agencies and government leaders are His “servants” and that they operate for our ultimate “good.”

So the question is not whether we agree with or even support the work and activities of our governments at the local, state and national levels.  The question is one of whether or not we will obey God.  You see, it’s relatively easy to sing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus.”  It’s far more difficult to demonstrate our love for Him by yielding to Him in full and complete obedience, especially when His commands are ones we do not care for — like paying our taxes.

If He is in charge, if He is Lord of our lives, then we will do what He tells us to do.  As the little chorus states it so clearly, “I’ll say, ‘Yes,’ Lord, ‘Yes,’ to Your will and to Your way; ‘Yes,’ Lord, ‘Yes,’ I will trust You and obey.”

Even when it comes to paying my taxes?  Even when it comes to paying my taxes!

“Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #17

God expects us to provide for our families.

“And whoever does not provide for relatives,

and especially for family members,

has denied the faith and is worse

than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).

 

One of the most striking accusations the Lord Jesus made when He was on earth was to label someone a hypocrite. Time and time again, He criticized the Pharisees and others for their hypocrisy. They said one thing but did something entirely different. They fit the description used by Zig Ziglar who said, “A hypocrite is one who is not himself on Sunday.”

That’s perhaps what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote to Timothy: “And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” In other words, to give credence to Christianity, to give lip service to following Christ and to trusting in Him as Savior and Lord, and then to fail to provide for our own family, is hypocrisy. To do so, in reality, is to deny our faith and to be considered as someone who has no faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and no interest in spiritual matters.

It seems like such a small thing — relatively speaking (pun intended) — that Paul is exhorting Timothy to do. Provide for your own household, your own relatives. Take care of those under your care. Minister to those closest to you as a demonstration of your Christian faith.

Yes, we are to give to His ministry here at Central United Methodist Church. Yes, we are to be involved in ministering to others “on our own” and as part of the outreach of this church. But we are also to provide for our own families. We are also to minister to them and to care for them, for by doing so, we demonstrate the practical reality of our Christian faith. We thereby avoid the label of hypocrite since what we say is what we do.

How’s the balance in your life? Are you providing for the needs of this ministry and those of your household? As a result, do others (especially your family) see Jesus in you?

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #16

God expects us to pay our debts.

“The wicked borrow, and do not pay back,

but the righteous are generous and keep giving” (Psalm 37:21).

 

The Scripture does not forbid debt or borrowing. Nor does it in any way encourage us to borrow or to go into debt. In fact, debt in the Bible is frequently referred to in a negative connotation.

But the Bible is very clear in describing how we should deal with debt. Simply stated, we are to pay our debts. Psalm 37:21 uses an old-fashioned word to describe borrowing money or creating a debt and then failing to repay it. The Psalmist describes such behavior as “wicked.”

One of the most important questions to ask when considering creating a debt is whether or not we have the ability to repay it. To go into debt without the ability to repay or a plan for repayment is actually presuming upon the grace and goodness of God.

Honesty and integrity — especially concerning our debts — should be the hallmark of every Christian. How we handle our financial obligations can and does speak volumes to our family, friends, and business associates. There is simply no way we can expect to receive God’s full hand of blessing in our lives when we have failed to show His love to others by paying what we owe them. That’s why the Psalmist added this striking contrast to his description of the wicked man who borrows and fails to repay: “ . . . the righteous are generous and keep giving.”

In his instructions to Christians at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul urged them to walk in an honest manner, especially with respect to those outside the church. When we pay our debts, when we live lives marked by integrity and honesty, then we literally fulfill Matthew 5:16. Our good works (including paying our debts) shine as lights in the world, which men see and in turn glorify our Father who is in heaven.

Or as Larry Burkett put it, “Money merely reflects to the outside world what is going on inside each of us.” And that is nowhere more apparent than in how we deal with our debts.

Annie Johnson Flint wrote:

            Christ has no hands but our hands

                        To do His work today;

            He has no feet but our feet

                        To lead men in His way;

            He has no tongue but our tongues

                        To tell men how He died;

            He has no help but our help

                        To bring them to His side.

            We are the only Bible

                        The careless world will read;

            We are the sinner’s Gospel,

                        We are the scoffer’s creed;

            We are the Lord’s last message

                        Written in deed and word.

            What if the line is crooked?

                        What if the type is blurred.

John Wesley summed it up this way: “Earn all you can; save all you can; give all you can.”

As you give to the ministry here at Central United Methodist Church this morning, is your giving to God in any way in conflict with how you pay your bills?

Or, stated another way, do people know you’re a child of God by how you handle your debts?

Effective Stewardship – Month #15

God wants us to know the state of our finances.

“Know well the condition of your flocks,

and give attention to your herds;

for riches do not last forever,

nor a crown for all generations” (Prov. 27:23-24).

 

Many people — including Christians — sometimes end up in serious financial difficulty because they ignore this basic principle from God’s Word: God wants us to know the state of our finances. Proverbs 27:23-24 instruct us, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds; for riches do not last forever, nor a crown for all generations.”

In Old Testament times, livestock were one of the primary measures of a person’s wealth. Today, we might be admonished, “Be diligent to know the state of your bank accounts and your possessions.” Or as Proverbs 24:3-4 says in a contemporary version, “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.”

Why is this so important? As managers, we are responsible for what God has entrusted to us. Part of that responsibility includes monitoring the status of our possessions and making wise investments.

One of the best investments we can make is to send deposits to the “Bank of Heaven” by giving to the Lord’s work here at Central United Methodist Church. When we do that, we are not only exercising good stewardship, but we are also earning God’s approval. There’s no better return on an investment than that!

As you think about your life today, do you have a good picture of where you are financially? Are you keeping the commitments concerning giving which you have made to God?

Think about it: A dollar spent for lunch lasts about five hours. A dollar spent for a necktie lasts about five weeks. A dollar spent for an automobile lasts about five years. A dollar spent in the service of God lasts for eternity.

Effective Stewardship – Month #14

The primary way we are to obtain money is to work for it.

“ . . . to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs,

and to work with your hands” (1 Thes. 4:11).

 

What comes to mind when someone mentions “work”? Is your initial tendency to moan and groan, wishing you could avoid work?

It might surprise you to learn that God described His creative acts as “work” and that he brought “work” into being shortly after He created man. Adam worked in the Garden before and after his fall due to his sin. Cain worked by raising vegetables. Abel worked by tending sheep. Throughout Scripture, people worked. Even the Lord Jesus worked while He was on earth, and He described God the Father as having worked. Work has always been part of God’s nature and eternal plan for mankind.

Wait a minute — If God created and owns everything, why should we His children have to work? Couldn’t He just provide for us in some supernatural way that would enable us not to have to work? Surely, God could do that, but He doesn’t do so. According to the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, one of the primary benefits from working and providing for our needs is to be able to lead lives marked by integrity and a healthy self respect. And God’s plan is that we are best able to accomplish these worthy goals by working.

God also knows that by utilizing our talents and abilities through work, He will be able to minister to others through us in an effective way. Work, then, is one of the primary avenues by which we can demonstrate our Christian faith, particularly as we do our tasks to God’s glory. Work is also the primary way through which we obtain money to give to God.

What should be the Christian’s response to work? First, thank God for work and for the ability to work. As Solomon observed, this is a “gift of God.” Second, view your work as a means of bringing glory to God. Third, whatever you do — no matter what your vocation or occupation — do it “with your might,” as unto the Lord. And finally, remember that by providing work for us to do, God enables us to give to Him and to His ministry at Central United Methodist Church.

Effective Stewardship – Month #13

Money is a means to the greater end of glorifying God

as we demonstrate practical Christianity in our lives.

 

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,

do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

We’ve all heard the expression, “Money talks.”

That’s true. Money does talk.  Oh, not in words or phrases that constitute a language, but money talks.

Because it is valuable to us, how we use it communicates volumes to those about us.  People tend to spend their money on things that are important to them.  With the exception perhaps of taxes, all of us vote with the contents of our purses, wallets and checkbooks concerning what means the most to us.

In fact, we could even go so far as to say that a person who does not spend money on something which is supposedly very important in his or her life really does not place much value on that item or activity.

Suppose for a moment that you think “little league” baseball for kids is very important.  You talk about it wherever you go.  You attend the games.  You enroll your own children in the program.  But when someone calls you to ask you to be a sponsor of a team, or when someone “passes the hat” at a game to pay for equipment, you refuse to participate.

Would you not agree that an impartial observer of such behavior would conclude correctly that little league baseball really does not mean much to you?  Your lack of financial support would outweigh the other positive aspects of your attendance, enthusiasm and participation.

The same thing is true in the spiritual realm.  It is one thing to talk about Christianity.  It is yet another to demonstrate our faith by how we use the money which God has entrusted to us.  And that is especially true in our support of the ministry of Central United Methodist Church.  As someone said recently in one church just before the offering was received, “Lord, in spite of all we say and do, this is what we think of you.”

Or as the Lord Jesus put it, “ . . . let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

 

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #13

Money is a means to the greater end of glorifying God

as we demonstrate practical Christianity in our lives.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,

do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

 

Shortly after World War II came to a close, Europe began picking up the pieces. Much of the Old Country had been ravaged by war and was in ruins. Perhaps the saddest sight of all was that of little orphaned children starving in the streets of those war-torn cities.

Early one chilly morning, an American soldier was making his way back to his barracks in London. As he turned the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. Inside, the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move.

The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, got out, and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed-up window, he could see the mouth-watering morsels as they were being pulled from the oven, piping hot. The boy salivated and released a slight groan as he watched the cook place them ever so carefully into the glass-enclosed case.

The soldier’s heart went out to the nameless orphan as he stood beside him.

“Son, would you like some of those?”

The boy was startled. “Well, yes, I would.”

The American stepped inside and bought a dozen doughnuts, put them in a bag, and walked back to where the lad was standing in the foggy cold of the London morning. He smiled, held out the bag, and said simply, “Here you are.”

As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. He looked back and heard the child ask quietly, “Mister, are you God?”

There’s an old saying that says, “Money talks.” It does, you know. It speaks volumes about our priorities, about the things we think are most important, about our values. Money never speaks more clearly than when we use it to minister to someone in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. When that happens, money sends forth a radiant, powerful message about the love of Christ as we demonstrate our Christian faith in action.

The admonition from God’s Word is clear: Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we are to do it for the glory of God. As you consider what God would have you give to your Church, and as you consider the commitments about money and giving you have made to Him, are you doing what you are doing for His glory?

Remember the young boy’s question of a man who befriended him: “Mister, are you God?” It’s just possible, you know, that someone may experience your faith in action by how you use your money today and ask the very same question about you.

Effective Stewardship – Month #12

We are to be content with what we have.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money,

and be content with what you have; for he has said,

‘I will never leave you or forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5).

 

Suppose that God allowed you to have one wish. Without limit, you could have anything you desire. You could have unlimited wealth. You could have perfect health and live 1,000 years — or more. You could — like Solomon — have great wisdom. Whatever you want, you may have it. But you only get one wish.

What would you choose?

Sad to say, many people would choose great wealth and material possessions. Unfortunately, that would not be a good choice. Listen to the counsel of God as expressed in this contemporary translation of Proverbs 27:20 through Solomon, one of the richest people who ever lived — “The eyes of man are never satisfied.”

The behavior and attitude which always wants more has a name: Greed, and it demonstrates itself in our lives as though we were at an auction. If we have $5, we want $10; if we have $10, we want $20; if we have $20 we want $30. Solomon went on to say in Ecclesiastes 5:10, “The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain.”

A better choice would be to ask for God’s perspective on life and all that life entails. When we see life as God does, we realize that everything belongs to Him, that we are just managers and stewards, and that only what is done for Him will endure for eternity. When we have God’s perspective, we will be able to say with the Apostle Paul, “ . . . I have learned to be content with whatever I have.”

When we have God’s perspective, we will accept with a spirit of peace and restfulness whatever He entrusts to us. And when we have God’s perspective, we will put into practice the truth of Hebrews 13:5“Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’”

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #11

Money can be a blessing or a curse,

depending on our attitude towards it.

“For the love of money is a root

of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).

 

 

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).

How would people describe you?  Are you one who “loves” money?  Is your life marked by a continual inordinate concern about and striving for money?  If so, then perhaps you are one who truly “loves” money.

Money is neutral. It is neither good nor bad.  What matters is our attitude towards it.  If we view it as a means to an end, a means of exchange, and something God can use in our lives to bring glory to Himself, then we probably do not love money.

On the other hand, if we are always wanting more and more money, if we will do just about anything to obtain it, and if we think about money more than anything or anyone else, we likely are guilty of loving money.  In that situation, it has become a “god” to us, and we bow at its altar in continuing service in order to obtain more of it.

If you are determined to get rich, no matter what, before you continue that lifestyle, read Paul’s admonition to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:9-10.  Consider Solomon’s counsel in Proverbs 11:28 and Ecclesiastes 5:10-11.

And think about the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:24, who said, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Or as Jesus would say, “Let anyone with ears listen.”

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #10

God uses money as a testimony in the lives of His people.

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness,

and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).

 

“ . . . if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away . . . everything has become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).  Christians should have a different outlook on life, including money and material possessions.  They realize that they own nothing, that everything they have belongs to God, and that they are only managers and stewards of what God has entrusted to them.  Because of that, Christians should have a different attitude towards “things.”

That attitude demonstrates itself in many different ways.

For example, Christians show mercy and give, in contrast to the those who borrow and do not repay (Psalm 37:21).

Christians should hold possessions with an open hand, and “refresh” others with their bounty (Proverbs 11:24-25).

They are honest and demonstrate their faith by their work and integrity (1 Thes. 4:11-12).

They give to those in need and thereby demonstrate to a watching world the love of God (1 John 3:17).

When this kind of lifestyle is present in our lives, Jesus said that people will see our good works — our different attitude and perspective — and will glorify our heavenly Father (Matt. 5:16).  And as we seek His kingdom first and foremost, we have His promise that He will provide what we need (Matt. 6:33).

As others observe you and your lifestyle, do they see any difference because of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?

As they observe your relationship to “things,” especially to money, do they realize you are a manager, a steward, and not an owner?

Or stated another way, is the manner in which you handle money and material possessions a testimony to your faith in Christ?

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #9

God uses money as a test to help us grow.

“If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth,

who will entrust to you the true riches?” (Luke 16:11)

 

Someone once said, “Experience is a good teacher, but she gives the test first and then the lesson.” That’s certainly true, and based on many of life’s experiences, we frequently fail the test before we can benefit from the lesson.

The formula “e equals mc2” is familiar to many college students but understood by very few people. Most of us know it had something to do with Einstein and was the formula that led to the release of enormous power and to the nuclear age. Similarly, in funding the local church, “e” might stand for every, “m” for member, “c” for commitment, and the “2” for the effort multiplied by itself. The fruit of that kind of effort is much more powerful than what Einstein discovered, even as Jesus described it in Matthew 21:22 — “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”

Right now, as we consider the opportunity to support the ministries here at Central United Methodist Church, God is putting us to the test. As Gordon Moyes stated, “Responsible giving or stewardship is not man’s way of raising money, but God’s way of raising people. . . .The church’s budget is not a list of its expenses, but a record of its vision. It is not a list of bills to be met, but a program of ministry to be achieved.”

As each of us prayerfully considers what God would have us give, and as we obey what God asks of us, we can trust Him to provide the resources. That’s a test — a test of where we are spiritually much more than where we are financially. It’s a test of us as individuals and of us as a church. The question is whether or not we really believe that God has the power and ability to bless our obedience “far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).

How are you doing concerning God’s tests regarding money in your life? If God’s provision in your life in the days ahead depends on how you obey His leading now concerning your giving, what will the future be like for you?

It just might, you know. . . .

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #8

God uses money as a tool to help us grow.

“Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed;

for one’s life does not consist in the

abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).

 

A wise person once observed, “Half of any task is having the right tool, and the other half is knowing what to do with it.” Although we don’t often consider it as such, money is a tool which God uses in our lives as a means of spiritual growth.

You see, money is not an end in and of itself. It is a means to an end. And in God’s hands, one of its primary “ends” is to instruct us and to help us grow spiritually. God especially wants us to avoid our natural tendency which is a bent toward selfishness, greed, and hoarding. That’s why the Lord Jesus said, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Well, if an individual’s life does not consist in having a lot of possessions, in what does it consist?  Jesus provided an insightful answer to that question in Matthew 6:20-21, where He said, “ . . . store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Now, according to Jesus’ teaching in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25), there is nothing wrong with saving. There is nothing wrong with investing or earning interest on investments. There is nothing wrong with being a wise steward by planning for the future.

In fact, Jesus taught that those who do so are to be commended.  But our primary emphasis as God’s children is to make our investments in the “Bank of Heaven.”  When we do that, our investments are secure.  They are not affected by inflation, by theft, by wear and tear, or anything of the kind.

There is only one way to make deposits in this special “bank”:  By giving to the Lord’s work.  Although the money is used here, it is credited to your eternal account.

Each time you give your tithes and offerings at Central United Methodist Church, you are giving to the Lord by investing for eternity.  You are storing up “treasures in heaven” that will glorify God forever.

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #7

We are personally accountable to God for

how we use the money He has entrusted to us.

“For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ,

so that each may receive recompense for what has been

done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10).

 

If you read annual reports from publicly held companies or banks, you will frequently see the word “fiduciary.” Fiduciary is used as an adjective to describe something which is held in trust. It is also used as a noun to describe the one who is a trustee who must account for that which is held in trust.

For example, a bank president has a fiduciary responsibility to stockholders in the bank and to depositors who place their money in the bank. A company treasurer has a fiduciary responsibility to the owners of the company. A payroll clerk has a fiduciary responsibility to pay people what they have earned.

You may never have considered yourself a fiduciary, and you may never have acted officially in a fiduciary capacity, but in reality, you are a fiduciary. All of us are. That applies both to Christians and to those who are not part of God’s family through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We who are Christians will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. There, we will not be judged for salvation, since the penalty and judgment for sin was settled once and for all on the cross of Calvary when the Lord Jesus paid the price for our sin. Instead, when we stand before Christ, we will give an account of how we have used what God has entrusted to us.

Just as a bank president must account to stockholders and depositors on how their funds are used, we must account to Christ for how we have used what God has entrusted to us. Since everything we have rightfully belongs to Him, we will need to report on how we have managed His assets!

As you consider how you have used what God has entrusted to your care and keeping during the past few months, what kind of job have you done? And more importantly, as a “fiduciary” of what God has placed in your hands, will you stand before Him with joy, eager to report on your giving and management of His assets?

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #6

Money is one of God’s gifts to people.

“Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and

possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them,

and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil —

this is the gift of God” (Eccl. 5:19).

 

“Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil — this is the gift of God” (Eccl. 5:19).

Don’t you just love gifts?  There is great satisfaction both in getting gifts and in giving them. Since we are created in the image of God, it stands to reason that He also must take great delight in giving and receiving gifts.

All that we have comes from His hand, but in particular, Solomon indicated that money and riches and the ability to enjoy them are gifts from God. In other words, God gives us that which is rightfully His, and then He allows us the enjoyment of wealth and money. As we enjoy what He has entrusted to us, no doubt He takes great pleasure in our enjoyment if our actions are in conformity to His Word and His will.

How can we be sure that our enjoyment of money and wealth is according to God’s plan? The Bible contains a great deal of specific instruction as to how we are to use money, but this guiding principle is to motivate our entire lives, including the use and enjoyment of wealth: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

There’s nothing wrong with money. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the things that money can buy. Solomon was correct when he said that both are gifts from God. The key is to use money in such a way that our enjoyment will bring glory to God. One of the primary ways to do that is to give to the Lord and His work here at Central United Methodist Church.

During the past few months, have you kept God’s glory as the number one priority in your use of money?  Or have other things taken the place of your giving to God?

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #5

God grants to people the ability to earn that

which is His already: money and wealth.

“Riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all.

In your hand are power and might;

and it is in your hand to make great

and to give strength to all” (1 Chron. 29:12).

 

An oxymoron is the use of two terms which are contradictory in nature. “Jumbo shrimp” is an oxymoron. “Ferocious lamb” is another. “Dumb scholar” is yet another.

One of the saddest and most contradictory is the oxymoron, “Stingy Christian.”

Because we have been redeemed through our faith in Christ, Christians should be the most generous of all people. We have been abundantly blessed of God, who has given us all things richly to enjoy (Rom. 8:32).

James 1:17 expresses this truth clearly: “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Think about some of God’s good gifts:

  • God gives the seed (Gen. 1:11).
  • God gives the rain (Job 5:10).
  • God gives health (Jer. 30:17).
  • God gives life (Acts 17:25).
  • God gives strength (Isa. 40:29).
  • God gives riches (1 Chron. 29:12).
  • God gives grace (2 Cor. 12:9).
  • God gives eternal life (Rom. 6:23).

And God gives us money and the ability to get wealth.  Solomon said that money is one of God’s gifts to people.  The purpose for which He gives us money is stated clearly in Ecclesiastes 5:19 — for our enjoyment.

Some of us make that the primary reason for money.  We major in pleasure and the things money can do for us.  But there is another major purpose God gives us money, something that also can bring great pleasure: To give it back to Him.

That’s why of all the oxymorons in existence, “Stingy Christian” is the most contradictory.  We who have been given the most from God should be the most generous people in the world.

As the tombstone in an old cemetery read, “What I spent, I had; what I saved, I lost; what I gave, I have.”

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #4

The amount of money we have is determined by God.

“But remember the Lord your God, for it is he

who gives you power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:18).

 

There are some wonderful principles in the Old Testament which apply to present-day Christians.

One of these is in Deuteronomy 8:10-18.  Stated in contemporary language, it says, “When you have eaten and are full, when your cars, houses and bank accounts multiply, don’t forget where it came from: Remember the Lord your God.”

In truth, all that we have comes from God.  He determines what we will receive, whether it be money, gold, silver, houses, land, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, etc.

It all belongs to Him in the first place, and He entrusts it to us.  According to David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29, riches, honor, power, and wealth all come from God.

That’s why there is no such thing as a self-made man or woman.  Oh, we have to do our part.  God’s plan is not that we just sit around praying and reading the Bible all day long so that what we need to survive will miraculously drop into our hands.

We’re not just to pray for “our daily bread,” but we’re also to get up each day and work for it!   That’s why the Apostle Paul stated clearly, “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).

But in reality, the amount of money and wealth which we receive is determined by God.  According to His divine will and knowledge, He entrusts to each of us the amounts which He knows will be best for us.

What should be our reaction to our financial state?

  • Some might pray, “Dear Lord, you must have made a mistake concerning me and my finances.  Please give me more money.”
  • Others might try to circumvent God’s design for their lives by trying to win the lottery or to obtain large sums of money through some other means.
  • Mature Christians, however, will realize God’s infinite wisdom far surpasses their limited perspective.  They will accept with a thankful spirit what God has entrusted to them and seek to honor God by their living and by their giving.

Effective Stewardship – Month #2

Because all that we have belongs to God, our goal in using that which belongs to Him is to glorify Him.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

When he was president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Gordon MacDonald said, “One of the greatest teachings missing in the American church today is the reminder to men and women that nothing we have belongs to us.”

We own nothing. We have been given material means to use, but not to own. All that we have belongs to God. He is our Source according to Psalm 62:5. We are only managers and stewards of what He has entrusted to us.

Because all that we have belongs to God, and because He gives us the ability to obtain wealth, every spending decision is in reality a spiritual decision. According to 1 Corinthians 10:31, our constant goal must be to glorify God in all of life, including how we use His resources.

Stephen Olford wrote this: “ . . . man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.’

  • We are to glorify God by our worshipful praise (Psalm 50:23). 
  • We are to glorify Him by our consistent fruitbearing (John 15:8). 
  • We are to glorify Him by our spiritual unity (Rom. 15:6).
  • We are to glorify Him by our entire dedication (1 Cor. 6:20).
  • And we are to glorify Him by our good works (Matt. 5:16). In this last category is included the matter of giving.

Only in this way can we provide for ‘honest things in the sight of the Lord.’ The glory of God should motivate us to give and to give our best.”

If our goals and ambitions are truly set on spiritual things, if our emphasis in life is to glorify God, we will use the funds He has “loaned” to us on a temporary basis to glorify Him. We will put His money and possessions to good use by giving to His work and by storing up “treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:19-21).

There are two key questions to be asked concerning money and possessions:

  • First, are you glorifying God in how you are using the money and possessions He has entrusted to you?
  • And second, are you viewing these things as yours or as His?

 

 

New “Effective Stewardship” Page

Check out our new “Effective Stewardship” page!

Each month, we will feature a new Stewardship theme and reflection to help each of us be a better steward of what God has entrusted to us.