As I began researching what the Bible had to say on money I was brought to probably one of the best books on this subject. The Word on Finances by Larry Burkett. Larry went through the Bible and found every reference to finances and then organized them by topic. He found over 1000 references--second only to the subject of Love.
I don't know about you, but this tells me that God knew what an idol we would make out of our money, that He needed to address it A LOT!
As I continued my research, there are just so many topics to cover and I just wasn't sure where to go. But I really felt that before we deal with any other sub-topic, we first should look at God's role when it comes to money and our role. This led me to stewardship.
What is a steward?
A steward is in essence "a manager". He is a person that manages another's property or financial affairs.
Stewardship would then be the verb form of this. To act or serve as a steward.
I'd like to share with you what Larry Burkett writes on Stewardship.
The key to understanding God's will in finances is to have the proper understanding of stewardship. A steward is one who manages another's property. We are merely stewards of God's property while we are on earth. He can choose to entrust us with much or as little as He desires, but in no case will we ever take ownership.
Quite often the demonstration of our stewardship is not how much we give but how we react when there is not much to give. We cannot experience peace in the area of finances until we have surrendered total control of this area to God and have accepted the role of steward.
So what does this mean to us as Christians?
The first thing we need to understand is that everything is God's. I Chronicles 29:11 reminds us of this.
Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
He has entrusted to us everything that we have. All our wealth. Our wealth is not just our money, it is everything. In Genesis 13, we see that Abraham's wealth not only consisted of his silver and gold, but also included his livestock. In Joshua 17 we see that the allotment of land that a man had was his wealth.
How do you view your things? Are you the owner or are you the steward? When we truly recognize that God is the owner and we are the steward or manager, our spending will change. When we view everything we have as God's possession, we will want to use our money in a way that is pleasing to Him and not to ourselves, especially since we know that one day we will have to give an account to Him for our managerial skills.
Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.
When I look at these verses and so many more, it reminds me of what a huge responsibility Brad and I have when it comes to our families finances.
Seek His Kingdom First
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
When you look at your budget, what does it tell you? Where does it tell you that your heart is? Does it tell you that you are seeking the kingdom of God or the god of materialism? Is God pleased with you as a steward?
As American Christians it is so easy to get sucked into materialism, it is all around us. But the greatest investment we can ever make is to invest in God's kingdom and not the world around us. We must remember that it is not materials that are the problem, it is materialism which is a matter of the heart. A heart that is not focused on the things above.
I really liked what Woodrow Kroll had to say in his article God's Gift of Wealth over at Back to the Bible. (I highly recommend going to his site and reading the article in it's entirety.)
Don't treat what money you have, whether it's a little or a lot, as your own. Treat it as God's and it won't buy things you don't need. Treat it as God's and it won't rule your life. If you treat it as God's, you'll discover that it will go a lot further than it does now.
Everything you have is God's gift to you. What you do with everything God gives you is your gift to Him.
My prayer for all of you that have been following these posts is that you will completely surrender control of your finances to God. And that I will do that as well. I don't want you to think that I have it all figured out, I am a work in process as well and many of these areas that I will be writing about are daily struggles for me.
My other posts in this series:
What Led Our Family to Budgeting