Prior to the outset of the virus outbreak we were evaluating the premise that doing things the way God intended is better for people regardless of whether they believe in God. We have looked at all seven of the final Ten Commandments and seen how following them is better for us as people.
That our lives are better when we live by His standards. That following them is like acknowledging Gravity as a rule. Gravity does not care if we accept and believe it or not, it simply is. If we choose to ignore His rules we do suffer the consequences. Let us look at one more area, the way we deal with money:
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:1-4)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)
Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Proverbs 3:9-12)
You see God designed us to work; to have purpose in that work and fulfillment from the work.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15)
But just like today we chose to ignore His Rules and we decided to eat of the tree of knowledge. His judgement on us changed the nature of that work.
By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19)
Now we would struggle in the work. Now we needed to work much harder to feed ourselves and our family, but part of this remained. It was still intended that we would find purpose and fulfillment from the work. But to truly gain that we must learn something else:
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3)
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)
I have personally experienced this difference hundreds or maybe thousands of times at work. It is night and day different when we are working “for the Lord” vs. just working or working for man or working for money. No matter how dark a moment seems, no matter how much money I am or am not making, no matter the man I am answering to, working for God changes everything. It is certainly not easy, but I know I am not alone and I know He will guide me through when I am committing to the Lord whatever I do.
Our next Finance issue is that we are paid for our labor with money and we are called to be stewards of that money. Stewardship begins with acknowledging the one who makes our living possible, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the opening passage of our lesson from Proverbs we see Him telling us:
Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)
You see God does not need your money, the Church does not need your money. Whether the Church pays its bills or not is in God’s hands not ours. So why does He ask us to bring Him our first fruits? Because the simple truth is everything we have comes from Him. He wants us to acknowledge that and thus we are acknowledging Him. He wants us to TRUST Him with everything we have.
Otherwise our money can come into a false competition with Him. We may find ourselves trusting money instead of God. We may find ourselves getting our feeling of purpose and self-worth from money instead of from Him. We may find ourselves worshiping money instead of Him.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
I can tell you from personal experience that we cannot “out give” God. That when we trust Him to provide for our needs, then He will do so in ways we cannot imagine both here on earth and in eternity to come.
Our next financial principle is all about debt. Ogden Nash had it right when he had this to say about debt:
“Some debts are fun when you are acquiring them, but none are fun when you set about retiring them.”
God tells us over and over again to avoid debt:
Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you. (Proverbs 22:26-27)
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)
A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge and puts up security for his neighbor. (Proverbs 17:18)
Most of us have had at least one bad experience with debt. A time when we felt we had lost control of our lives and had felt overwhelmed with our debt. It is never a happy story and sometimes it is very tragic. But God tells us there is another way. The other way is to first be content with what you have.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
When we are content then we realize the blessings God has already provided and the realization that He grants us more and more as we prove ourselves trustworthy. The key to Godly finances all boils down to this:
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Luke 16:10-13)
So, my question for us all today is what kind of steward of the gifts God has given us, will we choose to be?