Core Value 10:Stewardship of God’s financial resources is practiced, modeled, and taught with passion and clarity.
The Greeks believed that the ring finger was connected directly to the heart by “the vein of love”—that’s why the wedding band is worn on that finger. The way Jesus teaches at times, you might think that there’s another key vein that runs from your wallet to your heart. He’s always treating people’s financial habits as an indicator of their spiritual heart condition.
The rich young ruler refuses to loosen his grip on his riches and walks away from Jesus sad, knowing he’s not as devoted to God as he’d thought. Zacchaeus pledges to pay back the people he’s cheated and give half his possessions to the poor, and Jesus proclaims that salvation has come to Zacchaeus’s house. A widow puts two pennies into the offering bucket, and Jesus declares her gift the largest of all because she’s giving God everything she has.
To say that riches are bad and poverty is good is to oversimplify—to create a black-and-white dichotomy that Jesus never sanctioned. The issue, it seems, isn’t the money but the attitude toward it. For there are rich people who hold their wealth loosely, trusting God to guide the use of what He’s given to them, ready to give whenever and wherever God leads them. And there are poor people who hold their pennies tightly and pursue money as the true answer to all their ills.
The core issue seems to be this: how tightly do I grip my money? If Jesus were to talk with me about my finances, would I walk away from the conversation sad or glad? If someone were to follow me around for a month, focusing solely on how I used the financial resources God’s given me, what would they learn about my relationship with God? What impressions would they get about the God I serve based on my monetary decisions?
There’s a spiritual vein that runs from your wallet to your heart. So, take a few moments and take your wallet’s pulse. See if it’s beating to the rhythm of the heartbeat of God by prayerfully asking yourself the following questions:
Which am I more passionate about—my pursuit of money or my pursuit of God?
“No one 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.”(Matthew 6:24, NIV)
Which am I more proud of—the stuff I own or my relationship with God?
This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NIV)
When considering a major purchase, which am I more concerned with—God’s eternal purposes or my immediate wants?
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, NIV)
When considering my standard of living, which am I more concerned with—keeping up with God’s call on my life or keeping up with the Joneses?
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1Timothy 6:6-10, NIV)
When confronted with people in financial need, which is my heart’s first question—“How does God want me to help?” or “How did they get themselves into that mess?”
“Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew25:37-40, NIV)
When I give financially toward God’s work, which is more my attitude—grudging obligation or cheerful freedom?
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7, NIV)
When I give financially toward God’s work, which is more my custom—giving what’s left over as an afterthought or giving my best as my first thought?
“My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.
And you say, `What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the LORD Almighty.
“When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the LORD. “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.”(Malachi 1:11, 13-14, NIV)
When I look at the money and possessions in my life, who do I think owns them—me or God?
“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?” (Luke 16:10-12, NIV)
Some key questions can come out of a close look at your finances. Be brave enough to keep tabs on your wallet’s pulse and adjust your actions accordingly—it could lead you closer to the heartbeat of God.