~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is a summary a sermon by Brad Ettore. You can read the whole sermon, Financial Principles of the Bible (part 9), by clicking here.
What is God’s opinion about money? In the Western Hemisphere we tend to associate wealth with worldliness more so than Godliness. But is that accurate? The answer is NO! There is zero connection whatsoever in God’s mind between being poor and being more spiritual. Let us understand God’s perspective about money!
In order to understand God’s perspective about money we are going to need to be spiritually minded and not carnally minded. Being carnally minded brings death. The carnal mind is against God, because it is not subject to His word. “Yeah, I know that’s what the Bible says, but ….” That phrase is surefire evidence of a carnal mind! It doesn’t say “the Bible says it – end of discussion.” “I don’t even care if I don’t understand it; it’s still true. I’m not God, He is!” To be spiritually minded is to be word-minded.
So, here is the Biblical view about money in one statement: Money isn’t the issue; trust is. “Where is out trust?!?” Can a Christian be very wealthy and very un-Godly? Absolutely! Could a Christian be very wealthy and be very Godly? Absolutely! Why the dichotomy? Because money isn’t the issue!!! Jesus turned an exchange He had with the rich young ruler in Mark 10 into a teaching moment for His disciples. “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” Look at the disciples’ response – they are shocked! But Jesus answered them again and said “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (verse 24) Do you see it? Trust is the issue! Money is never the issue.
When you study the scripture, you look for the hinge. Without a hinge, a door is useless. When you study scripture, you need to find the hinge that a particular scripture swings on. Hunt for “the hinge” in scripture. That hinge is the key to the a whole parable or story from scripture unfolding or opening up for you. The hinge will open the door to the truth (the revelation) that is in that scripture. In Mark 10, in the story of the rich young ruler, the word “trust” in verse 24 is the hinge. The difficulty is not in having money, but in trusting in money! In fact, we see later in Mark 10 what Jesus was about to do for this very wealthy man when He told him “give it all away?” He was going to give it all back to him 100 fold! The problem was that the man thought that he had wealth but the reality was that the wealth had him! Jesus recognized that and was trying to set the man free. If the man had obeyed Jesus, the Lord would have brought the wealth back to him which would have made it clear to him who his source was; he would have know God is his source. That is what Jesus was after.
If you can think of other scriptures that seem to be opposed to wealth, do the same thing. Go to them. Read them in context. You will see money is never the issue. Money is not the root of all evil. “The love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Tim. 6:10)
In other words, what is, or who is, your source? Is your source money or is your source God? Do you know how you can find that out? Have a job get pulled out from underneath us and see where we go emotionally. If God is truly our source, we could lose a job today with no emotional or psychological repercussions. You won’t skip a beat. “I’m interested to see what God’s going to do now!” Why doesn’t it touch you emotionally? Because you are standing on God as your Rock! The job can shake, move, or even disappear, but you’re still standing on the Rock! By contrast, if you are standing on your career, intelligence, ability, and/or bank account as your source then you will falter emotionally if they falter. The fall of man is the reason we struggle so much with this. Prior to the fall, there was no question in Adam and Eve’s minds that the Lord was taking care of them and they could just enjoy life. It was only when the deceiver came in and sin entered in that fear, shame, and worry came in. All of these negative experiences were introduced by the fall of man. Since the fall of man, there has been a barrier of fear between man and God. God has given us His Word and His Spirit to break through that barrier of fear and reconnect and recognize that God is our source and He “has us!” He is so capable that He can take anything that happens in our lives and turn it around and make it actually work out for our good! He is the ultimate at turning lemons into lemonade! He can take any situation we throw at Him and turn it for our good!
We live out of a belief system. You can hear a great message, but if you don’t do anything more about taking that message and really studying it out and meditating on it, unfortunately it really will not change anything in your life. To change a belief system that is deep in your heart, you have to work on it and meditate on it. The world says you have to make all you can, can all you get, and then sit on your can. But God says, “I want you to trust me and when you make money I want you to give some of it away. First give me the first 10% and the rest of it … I want you to give some of that away and then trust me for your provision.” So God says “give and it will be given back to you.” It takes time meditating in that word in order to really come to the place of believing it so that you will act out of that belief. But there is only way to change your belief system and that’s to get into the Word of God. You can think you are good. You can think you are right in line with God. You can think you are right in-step with God but all the time your heart is deceived and you don’t even know it. One way to “check you heart” is to read the Word – take the light of God’s Word and read it to shine the light of it on your heart and see how you respond to it. Another way to see where your heart is actually at is to stop when you get to a comment in scripture like “you cannot serve both God and mammon.” Instead of glossing over that, simply stop and truly consider and think about it. Another way we can see where our heart is at is by considering hypothetical scenarios (which are a far-better way to learn than actually living them out!) You can experience things through mediation and find out where you are at and adjust ahead of time.
Money is a liar. It is on every commercial. It is the fancy cars, nicer houses, and wealthier friend. All of it says “if you only had me, you would be happier.” “If you only had more of me, you would have significance. You don’t have significance because you don’t have me.” Money is a liar straight from hell! Jesus personified it. “You cannot serve mammon and God.” Money doesn’t give you significance. There is only ONE PLACE that TRUE significance comes from – it’s from service. Having money will not in and of itself make your significant. Likewise, relationships will not give you significance. Money will only allow you to have significance if you do something with that money that helps others! Likewise, the only way a relationship will give you significance is if you serve the person you are in relationship with! Fame doesn’t bring significance. Fortune doesn’t bring significance. There is only one way to get significance – to serve! To feel significant, you have to actually do something significant! Newsflash! That’s where significance comes from. You feel significant when you are significant!
Now, for the second issue. The first one was “where’s your trust?” The second issue is “when God blesses you with money, what do you do with it?” The second issue is about your faithfulness – your stewardship. “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.” God will give you more and more as long as we prove to be good stewards with what He has given us. The Bible says “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38, KJV) Notice that it is men that will pour it into your bosom. Why? Because God doesn’t just bring money down from Heaven; God doesn’t counterfeit money in Heaven. But He will move on men (mankind) to bring money to you. He will move on mankind to bring more and more and more to you.
If you find yourself struggling with all of this … if you find yourself thinking “I believe this, but I struggle with it.” First of all, welcome to the human race. Secondly, here are a couple of things to help you trust God with money.
- Assuming you are a tither, pray and ask God to help you trust Him. Be honest with Him.
- Think about your tithing, think about how long you’ve been tithing and see what God has already done in your life and let that begin to build up your faith.
- Find scriptures on giving and mediate on them and let the Word do it’s own work. Read those scriptures over and over.
- When you find yourself getting excited, when you get to the point you can actually give cheerfully, then give! Even if you have a little trepidation in the process, it’s OK. Just give and keep doing it. Ask God “show me places to give. Speak to my heart. Where can I give?” And start to give! And like Ecclesiastes 11:1 says “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” It will start coming back to you.
- Remember that finances is not the big thing. It is actually the training wheels that God uses to teach His children to trust in Him. The tithe is the first rung on the latter. Giving is the second rung on the latter, but God has so much more for His children! But He uses money to teach us. God has stuff for us that is far better than money! Money is just the training ground. That’s where you start. As you grow into faith in finances there will be some other things God wants you to move in to now that you are realizing how He is active in your life! “I want to use in the gifts and the power of the ages to come: like healing the sick and casting out devils and raising the dead.” These are the true riches. Money is elementary. But it is wonderful and it’s available and it’s there for us. God has it for us. May our thinking be aligned with Heaven! Amen!