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MONEY GOD OR GIFT JAMIE MUNSON
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I was once one of them. THIS BOOK IS FOR LONGTIME CHRISTIANS. I want to exhort every 1 2 3 4 Deut. his grace changed my life. I want to encourage new Christians. demonize. so that they can experience more of his goodness as well. so I racked up debt by spending money on myself. New Testament scholar Craig Blomberg calls stewardship of material possessions “the most important test-case of one’s profession of discipleship. Craig L. First Timothy 4:16 says. or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. 8:18. 2 and “money answers everything” (Ecclesiastes 10:19)..” 4 As a pastor.WHY THIS BOOK EXISTS THIS BOOK IS FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE MONEY. 10:22. Prov. When I learned how to worship God with my money rather than worshiping my money as god. Neither Poverty nor Riches (Downers Grove. “Watch your life and doctrine closely” (NIV). money was my god. and help them learn what God says about money. THIS BOOK IS FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE MONEY. live for it. 1 Cor.” 3 and names materialism as “the single biggest competitor with authentic Christianity for the hearts and souls of millions in our world today. THIS BOOK IS FOR THE CHURCH. I want to see our church—and all churches—filled with people devoted to Jesus. “for either he will hate the one and love the other. I couldn’t wait to get rich. Before I met Jesus at age 19. THIS BOOK IS FOR NEW CHRISTIANS. 4:7. “No one can serve two masters. 127. 5 . 2000). Blomberg. We can love God. IL: InverVarsity Press. 5:19. we need not avoid. God’s provision is a gift. 132. Eccles. 1 the Lord grants wealth. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Ibid. We have so many new Christians at Mars Hill Church.” Jesus said. not money. love people. and use money to enjoy life and do ministry. There is no middle ground. If our hearts belong to Jesus and our lives are devoted to his mission. It’s not money’s fault that we’re prone to love it. or fear money. and even die for it.
wise counsel. more people will meet Jesus—and we will love him more. we’re all prone to reject or abuse the gift of money.” 5 This book is to point your heart. 5 Luke 12:34. your treasure. He is a good God. If you’re not sure about Jesus. rich and poor. there will your heart be also. THIS BOOK IS FOR YOUR JOY. THIS BOOK IS FOR THE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW JESUS. Men and women. Without discipline and help. and the power of the Holy Spirit. and “where your treasure is. If we use our money wisely and give faithfully. and love: Jesus.Christian in both areas: know the biblical teachings on money and apply them to life. We do this “closely” through ongoing repentance. I pray that this book would help you come to love and understand him. God works through his people (the church) to reach others with the gospel. 6 . young and old—everybody has something they treasure. goodness. life in community. and your life to the source of all joy.
Orin. Thank you to Andrew Myers and the many others who contributed to this project. this book doesn’t exist. Thank you Mars Hill Church for being all about Jesus. Kara. . Without your faithful help. and Haley) who top the list of blessings you’ve graced me with.Acknowledgments Thank you to Jesus for your “grace upon grace.” including my wife (Crystal) and our four kiddos (Caleb.
Cheerful Sacrifice: The Bible and Giving 4. Is Saving a Sin: Matters of the Heart 3. Wants vs.TABLE OF CONTENTS This book is designed to be read and studied over the course of three weeks. Die Before Your Money Does: Establishing a Legacy 14. “Retirement” Isn’t in Scripture: The Bible and Saving WEEK TWO: LIFE IS MORE THAN FOOD (LUKE 12:22–34) 6. Be Ready: Budget for Judgment Day 12. families. or personal reflection INTRODUCTION (LUKE 12:4–7) What are you afraid of? WEEK ONE: RICH TOWARD GOD (LUKE 12:13–21) 1. Singles. Freedom from MasterCard…Priceless: The Bible and Spending 5. Stewardship for the Whole Family: Money Advice for Kids. couples. Needs Priorities: Is God Telling You to Get a Big Screen? 7. and Couples 13. Have’s and Have-Not’s: Life in God’s Economy 2. Redeeming Worry: Hedged Bets Always Lose 8. Conclusion: What Can God Do With 10. Invisible Treasure: Gain What You Cannot Lose 10. Churches Are All About Money: And Other Excuses WEEK THREE: THE FAITHFUL AND WISE MANAGER (LUKE 12:35–48) 11. Give What You Cannot Keep: A Lifestyle of Generosity 9. Each week’s worth of reading includes: • • • Scripture – A passage from Luke 12. Teaching – Five instructional chapters per week (three weeks total) Discussion – Questions and thoughts for consideration in small groups.000 People and $300 Million? APPENDIX A. Budget Template 8 . It Starts Today: Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is 15. For Further Reading B.
Fear not. and after that have nothing more that they can do.” –Jesus (Luke 12:4–7) 9 . fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. my friends. even the hairs of your head are all numbered. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who. I tell you. do not fear those who kill the body. Yes. you are of more value than many sparrows.INTRODUCTION “I tell you. has authority to cast into hell. Why. after he has killed.
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? .
“They reveal the things that we love and value. 2007). 13. our energy. Jesus prefaces his teaching in Luke 12 with a sobering reminder to fear God. NC: New Growth Press.” 7 In turn. The effort is in vain. because children die. the size of our bank balance. Friends move away. embarrassment—because everybody cares about something. fools despise wisdom and instruction” (1:7). failure. Everybody is afraid—afraid of suffering. Ed Welch. the things that we love and value are the things that we worship. however. Stock markets crash. and friendships become idols when we fear death. The book of Proverbs states. The best place to begin is your fear. And so we pour out our resources. 11 . Welch. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. –JOHN NEWTON (“AMAZING GRACE”) The best place to start a book about money is not with budgets and balance sheets. This should elicit a certain amount of raw. BAD FEAR “Fear and worry reveal us. rejection. People lose their jobs. money. insecurity. Revelation 1:17. Our happiness then gets tied up in the well-being of our kids.‘TWAS GRACE THAT TAUGHT MY HEART TO FEAR. gut-wrenching fright—a common emotion exhibited by those who encounter God throughout Scripture 6 —but fear in this case carries a much deeper meaning. economics and financial theory. even if it’s just themselves. The Bible 6 7 Exodus 20:18. children. and our days in an attempt to protect what we love from whatever threatens it. the one who possesses sole power to both destroy and preserve. Houses burn down.” writes theologian and psychologist Dr. Families disintegrate. and rejection. Likewise. We waste life by worrying about things we can’t control and fearing things we can’t avoid. or debt management and career development. or the health of our relationships—all of which will eventually falter and fail. For example. Running Scared (Greensboro. Isaiah 6:5. Edward T. AND GRACE MY FEARS RELIEVED.
9 The fear of the Lord is wisdom because only God deserves our worship.” So we can confidently say. 8 9 Eccles. To live otherwise is folly. then what we fear is of great importance. we are free to “fear not. or when foreclosure seems imminent. FEAR AND MONEY When used with wisdom. GOOD FEAR If fear is unavoidable.” 10 In the following pages we’ll discuss stewardship. Westminster Shorter Catechism. holiness. 13:5–6. but God controls everything. ever-present. and live for our money. 10 12 . eternal. Fear of the money god is slavery.calls this “striving after wind. 2:17. goodness. which makes it our god. When an unexpected bill shows up in the mail. when the car breaks down. But a heart-level love.” 8 In the end. always good Creator and Sustainer of the universe. worship. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.4. The fear of the Lord is not a caution against an abusive father with cosmic mood swings and unpredictable behavior. giving. There’s never enough and it offers no salvation. it is folly—the opposite of wisdom. money is a gift from God—a tool for worshiping Jesus and honoring God. and be content with what you have. and fear of the Lord is the beginning of it all. I will not fear. budgets. The fear of the Lord is the only thing that can prevent us from succumbing to all of the other fears that steal our lives away.” knowing that our future. Fear of the Lord leads us to worship him: acknowledging with reverence and awe that God is the all-knowing. and truth. What that looks like is the subject of this book. justice. trustworthy care of his hand: Keep your life free from love of money. however. and our lives are in the stable. and unchangeable in his being. all-powerful. when a major business decision looms. for he has said. we’re likely to fear. and we can trust him because he is infinite. Heb. worship. We can’t control anything. and more. Without wisdom. Q. wisdom. Fear of the Lord is wisdom and freedom. “The Lord is my helper. our eternity. power. priorities.
RICH TOWARD GOD -PART ONE- .
Soul.” But he said to him.” –Jesus (Luke 12:13–21) 14 . “The land of a rich man produced plentifully. you have ample goods laid up for many years. eat. and be on your guard against all covetousness. for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said. and there I will store all my grain and my goods. tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. “Take care. be merry. ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones. relax. “Teacher. who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them. and he thought to himself. “Man. whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. drink.’ But God said to him. And I will say to my soul. ‘What shall I do. and the things you have prepared. ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you.Someone in the crowd said to him. saying.” And he told them a parable.
PART ONE DISCUSSION
• • • • • Discussion: Which column (gratitude or greed) most accurately describes your life? In which areas are you encouraged? Where do you need to repent and seek forgiveness? (page 18) Discussion: Where in your life are you prone to grumbling? What does grumbling sound like in your heart? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you resist the temptation to grumble. Cultivate a heart of gratitude by sharing evidence of God’s grace in your life, in your community, and in the promises of Scripture. (page 19) Discussion: What is your gut-level response to the call to giving? How does that align (or not) with how you believe God wants you to give? What is holding you back from giving in response to God’s grace? (page 20) Discussion: Which aspect of biblical giving is most difficult for you: cheerful, sacrificial, or regular? What does this struggle indicate about your heart? (page 27) Discussion: Are you prone to spend or hoard more money than you should? What does repentance look like for you? What fears compel you to hoard or spend more money than what you believe brings honor to God? (page 33)
CHAPTER ONE HAVES AND HAVE-NOTS: LIFE IN GOD’S ECONOMY
ONE’S LIFE DOES NOT CONSIST IN THE ABUNDANCE OF HIS POSSESSIONS. –LUKE 12:15
The Rich Fool of Jesus’ parable could be a poster boy for the American Dream. He worked his land, earned a good living, and planned to enjoy the fruits of his labor. But he could also pass for what is too often the American Reality. Ruled by selfishness and greed, he ignored the One who created the land, the One who made it produce a harvest, and the One who numbered his very days.
BIG IDEA: STEWARDSHIP
Everything we have comes from God and belongs to God: life, family, money, resources, time, job, talents . . . everything. 11 We are stewards of what God has given us. He owns it; we use it. In addition to the breath in our lungs and the food on our table, through the work of Jesus God has given us forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life: “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven.” 12 All of this is much more than we deserve, and though many Christians would nod their head in agreement, few of us actually live as though that were true. Rather than cultivating humble appreciation we covet a higher standard of living. Rather than gratitude for his grace we exhibit greed for our own gain. The difference between these two outlooks influences and directs every aspect of life:
John 3:27; 1 Cor. 4:7. Pet. 1:4.
Therefore my money mine. 2:3) Greed Perspective Desire Money Possessions Church Job Family Future Worship Identity Giving Grumbling (Phil.or gain-motivated (or Generous non-existent) Discussion: Which column most accurately describes your life? In which areas are you encouraged? Where do you need to repent and seek forgiveness? 18 . energy. culman. I please. and I use it to glorify him.Gratitude Attitude Humility (Phil. I want Jesus is enough to satisfy wealth / fame / comfort / power my life. Contentment: I have enough Covetous: I never have enough Serve as a member of Be served as a consumer God’s family Work begrudgingly for the Work heartily for the Lord. Therefore my money is God gives. energy. 3:23) (James 3:16) A blessing to embrace A burden to escape Eternal: optimistic/hopeful (2 Temporal: pessimistic/anxious Cor. 4:7–9) Time. and resources go Time.” the meantime. as well. 8:17. and I use it however is his. becoming bitter and tivating thanks for God’s provijealous against others sion (Deut.” Jesus is not enough. 2:15) Entitlement: “I am a good Grace: “I am a sinner who deperson who deserves serves death but Jesus paid the heaven—plus a comfortable. I earn. Col. price and gave me his perfect pain-free existence in righteousness. and resources go to God to me My abilities and my Jesus and his achievement achievements Guilt.
that’s still an occasion to praise him with our last breath because “to live is Christ and to die is gain. poor.” says C. in your community.” but without Jesus and his work in our hearts. Even if all we have left is air in our lungs.S.” 14 We can choose to grumble or we can choose to be grateful. “It begins with a grumbling mood. The Great Divorce (New York: HarperCollins. and more than we deserve here on earth. Rev. which becomes the theme of our lifetime. Ongoing discontentment.” 13 As for the “have-not’s” in this scenario. “Have-nots” may be destitute or they may enjoy great wealth. haves and have-not’s in terms of the heart. And yourself. Jesus addresses the church in Laodicea. anger. or when it’s time to put the kids in the car and go to community group. 2001). our choice of mood sets the course for a day. which becomes a year. We’re all susceptible to the “have-not” mentality.’ not realizing that you are wretched.SPIRITUAL “HAVES” God’s grace is a cosmic reality with enormous implications. Col. Ye can repent and come out of it again. Cultivate a heart of gratitude by sharing evidence of God’s grace in your life. we don’t have anything. 15 Little by little. 3:15. and in the promises of Scripture. 16:7. I have prospered. which falls into the latter category: “For you say. ‘I am rich. may will that mood. Lewis. maybe when the offering bucket comes your way. and naked. entitlement. embrace it. Discussion: Where in your life are you prone to grumbling? What does grumbling sound like in your heart? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you resist the temptation to grumble. “and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticizing it. The life of 13 14 15 16 17 Phil. in a dark hour. they’re often recognizable by a nagging discontent. blind. and I need nothing. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. 19 . 1 Sam. 2:21. and bitterness cloud conversation and douse any joy. C. pitiable. Lewis. resentment.” 16 God measures rich and poor. 77–78. 17 We may prosper and “need nothing. 3:17. which becomes a week. We’re all “have’s” in Jesus. Listen for the grumble—perhaps it’s even echoing in your own heart. In Jesus we have everything we need for all eternity.S.
63.” 20 In fact. Craig L. Ibid. goodness. 4:12. our time have all become eternally and utterly expendable. “then Christians will. “They are not so now. 19 On the contrary. Pastor Tim Keller says. Timothy J.” Keller continues. 1997). Blomberg. and good news of Jesus.Paul illustrates this well. so that our possessions. “If stewardship is a sign of a redeemed life.” 21 Far from an excuse not to help the poor. Neither Poverty nor Riches. our physical wealth pales in comparison and we will have no problem parting with our possessions. “They used to be crucial to our happiness. Ministries of Mercy (Phillipsburg. 247. 20 . if we understand the immense value of our spiritual riches.” Blomberg says.” 22 Discussion: What is your gut-level response to the call to giving? How does that align (or not) with how you believe God wants you to give? What is holding you back from giving in response to God’s grace? 18 19 20 21 22 Phil. whether living in plenty or in want. whether well fed or hungry. the spiritual “haves” view the riches of grace as a profound motivator. want to give. Every opportunity to give becomes an opportunity to demonstrate and share our truest. “The grace of God makes Christ precious to us. NJ: P&R Publishing. most valuable possession: the generosity. our money. James 2:15–17. He “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. PHYSICAL “HAVE-NOTS” The spiritual reality that we have everything we need and more in Jesus should not lead us to neglect the physical “have-nots” in our communities and our world. by their new natures.” 18 It’s all about Jesus. Keller.
CHAPTER TWO IS SAVING A SIN: MATTERS OF THE HEART .
BE MERRY. MOTIVES AND MEANS Saving is a sin—if it’s done for the wrong reasons. investing. The Rich Fool earned his rebuke not because of his actions but in part because of the motivations harbored in his heart. he was also claiming preeminence over the God of destiny. the parable of the Rich Fool seems to discourage planning and saving because tonight could be the night when God will require our soul. you who say. Is it a sin to save up? Is preparing for the future evil? The Lord did not reprimand the Rich Fool for planning ahead. EAT. . SOUL. Planning is not a sin. you boast in your arrogance. such as working hard and investing wisely. The significance of the heart levels the playing field between rich and poor because the treasure itself matters far less than how it’s stewarded. DRINK. “FOOL!” –LUKE 12:19–20 On the surface. Righteous rich stewards also manage their treasure righteously by 22 . All such boasting is evil (4:13–16). “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. The book of James explains: Come now. As it is. In his book.“I WILL SAY TO MY SOUL. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Pastor Mark Driscoll includes an entire chapter about stewardship. Any financial transaction reveals our heart by presenting an opportunity to worship Jesus or worship ourselves.” BUT GOD SAID TO HIM. “The Bible speaks of four ways in which treasure can be stewarded. . The guy was not only being greedy with his resources. and even giving. YOU HAVE AMPLE GOODS LAID UP FOR MANY YEARS: RELAX. Arrogance is our problem—not preparation. . Wealth is not a sin. Doctrine.” he writes: 1) Righteous rich stewards “gain their treasure by righteous means. Same goes for spending.
we essentially have three options: give it. such as stealing and dishonest business practices. IL: Crossway. and save. most of the guidelines found in the Bible apply to rich and poor alike. paying their taxes and bills. For the purposes of this book. The money itself is merely a prop on the stage of God’s story. act honestly in business dealings. it doesn’t matter how much money is involved. . THREE WAYS TO USE YOUR MONEY Since stewardship is a gesture of the heart. spend. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (Wheaton.” 23 Unrighteous rich stewards “gain their treasure through sinful means. spend it. and giving generously. 23 . God does often challenge the rich directly and advocate for the poor. protects us.” 23 Unrighteous poor stewards “seek to gain their treasure through sinful means. When it comes to money. God does not require his people to be poor (poverty theology). and allows us great freedom to live within the all-encompassing framework of his wisdom. and/or are lazy and do as little as possible. nor does he promise that all of his disciples will be wealthy (prosperity theology). and when to retire—he simply provides principles that help us live in such a way that honors him. stay out of debt. used or pursued for good or for ill depending on the intentions of the steward’s heart. but fail to succeed. such as free loading and stealing. so over the course of the next three chapters we’ll consider what it looks like to honor God and live under his principles in the way that we give. 389–390. where to invest.” 23 Righteous poor stewards “work hard. and save it. but rather than a lot of specifics—how much to give. and live in contentment with the treasure God has appointed for them to manage. live within their means. [They] are prone to foolish spending . gambling. 24 The Bible includes lots of foundational instruction in each of these key areas of stewardship. 23 24 Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. chasing get-rich schemes hoping to obtain wealth without wisdom or effort. 2) 3) 4) living within a reasonable budget. I’m indebted to Dave Ramsey for the give/ save/spend trio. 2010).” 23 Contrary to what many popular preachers teach. because their idolatry of money drives them toward greed. Therefore. we’ll consider “investing” to be a close relative of saving. .
CHAPTER THREE CHEERFUL SACRIFICE: THE BIBLE AND GIVING .
Many give out of their leftovers. 20 percent of all U. 29. 2 Cor. According to the leading research on Christian giving. the couple’s community group organized a fundraiser that provided an extra $4. A few months after the accident. Randy Alcorn. The Treasure Principle (Sisters. and at least one man became a Christian in response! The Father proved faithful. 34.” 29 But God requires the “firstfruits” of our labor. 34. and the couple was able to receive God’s gift without guilt or shame. “We escape their gravity. however: giving that honors God. Michael O. or nonreligious charities. Ibid. 2008). Christian Smith. A couple in our church was facing steep medical bills after a serious car wreck. “It is more blessed to give than to receive. Our God Jesus is a giver. Prov. Passing the Plate (New York: Oxford University Press.. entering a new orbit around our treasures in heaven.SO IS THE ONE WHO LAYS UP TREASURE FOR HIMSELF AND IS NOT RICH TOWARD GOD. 28 and the vast majority give “very little. HONOR GOD BY GIVING BEFORE YOU SAVE OR SPEND. Emerson. yet for your sake he became poor. 8:9. 30 without qualification. 3:9. so that you by his poverty might become rich. 2001). –LUKE 12:21 Jesus said. They met with a non-Christian legal counselor whose first piece of advice was to stop giving to the church. who “though he was rich. fuzzy feeling when you do something nice for somebody.” 25 not because you get a warm. He loves us and wants us to trust in him and not our money.” 26 This describes a specific kind of giving. 25 26 27 28 29 30 Acts 20:35.S. Christians give nothing to church. OR: Multnomah. They declined. It is quite possible to dishonor God by giving.” writes author Randy Alcorn. 25 . but because only in giving can you grow rich toward God and store up treasure in heaven. para-church. and Patricia Snell. It all depends on why you’re giving. Giving “breaks us out of orbit around our possessions.” 27 We give in gratitude to honor him and be like him so that more people would know him.000 toward medical expenses. Many people were blessed by this tangible demonstration of Jesus’ love among his people.
26 . Despite hardship. who entreated Paul for the favor of having a part in this enterprise. When a need in Jerusalem arose. 2 Cor. support the pastor. move from death to life.” 32 Money is a useful tool that God gives us to help others and spread the gospel. who willingly sacrificed his life in order to serve and save sinners. but it’s clear that. 9:7. and enjoy the same grace that has been given to us. you get excited to play a part by giving.” 31 Paul draws many helpful principles from the Macedonians’ example. When Mars Hill Church opened a campus near the University of Washington in fall 2010. In 2 Corinthians. Our giving cannot equal Jesus’ giving. “Normally we think of the fundraiser as ‘begging’ the would-be donors.HONOR GOD BY GIVING CHEERFULLY. Neither Poverty nor Riches. When you’re excited to see Jesus change lives. we willingly give up something we could have had in order to take part in giving to support the work of the church and its mission. Here it is the donors. As opposed to giving out of unnecessary abundance. we are to contribute in similar sacrificial fashion. or time for giving to the church. the congregation exploded from three hundred to eight hundred in the first week and thirty young men and women got baptized on the spot. We have 31 32 Quoted in Blomberg. the Macedonians began “begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (8:4). and pay the bills. “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart. 192. When we use it in this way. more people meet Jesus. He draws a connection between this sacrifice and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus. Paul writes about a church in Macedonia that loves to give. not reluctantly or under compulsion. it’s an honor. The Bible does not mandate a specific frequency. Ralph Martin says. In commenting on this passage. Paul also applauds the Macedonian congregation for giving beyond their means to help a church that was suffering to an even greater degree. for God loves a cheerful giver. HONOR GOD BY GIVING SACRIFICIALLY. who could least afford it. HONOR GOD BY GIVING REGULARLY. It’s not a chore. It was an incredibly joyful celebration made possible by the many people who gave the resources that allowed us to buy the building. “their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity” (8:2). day. as his disciples.
Of course. In fact. as Pastor Mark Driscoll writes. privileged gain. Giving hurts a bit it requires going without something.freedom to establish a regular plan that matches the rhythm of our life.” he says. Lack of faith and trust in God’s provision. Jesus celebrates many instances of spur-of-the-moment generosity. “For every beast of the forest is mine. John 12:1–8. Other priorities take precedent over God. If I 33 34 35 Luke 10:30-37. 19:21. Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. 12:10–11. regular giving does not rule out spontaneous giving. lack of planning. 17–18. this tends to be a monthly or twice-monthly contribution that aligns with pay schedule and budgeting practices. Matt. Doctrine. 34 But. Irregular giving indicates poor stewardship: a reluctance to give. “I know all the birds of the hills and all that moves in the field is mine. 33 Regular giving habits are merely a helpful and necessary foundation upon which to build a more thoroughly generous life. 27 . Regular giving requires us to live a disciplined life and also serves as a constant reminder that what we have does not truly belong to us. Church giving occurs on a regular basis. 27:30. 10:32–33. 19:9–10. 18:21–29. Num. sacrificial. cf. or laziness. poor planning. and indifference lead to sporadic giving (usually guilt-based). 14:22–29. Deut. “The total ‘mandatory’ Old Testament tithe resulted in over 25 percent of a family’s gross income going to God and ministry. Laziness. Lev. BIBLICAL GIVING PRINCIPLES Giving Principle Cheerful If present… If absent… Excitement and joy to Giving feels like a loss and not a participate in the work of Jesus. the little legalist inside all of us still wants to know where to draw the line: how much does God want from me? Old Testament law required God’s people to give a tithe (tenth) of their income to the church. Neh. For most people.” 35 But God has never needed money. Sacrificial Regular Discussion: Which aspect of biblical giving is most difficult for you: cheerful. or regular? What does this struggle indicate about your heart? HOW MUCH SHOULD I GIVE? Regardless of what the Bible says about cheerfulness and sacrifice. 393.
What he’s truly after is us. Lewis sums it up well: I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. 9:6. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us. That’s why the New Testament encourages giving without providing specific numbers. The more we give generously (see chapter 8).S.. and you shall glorify me” (14–15). and regular. sacrificial. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure [giving] excludes them. and call upon me in the day of trouble. for the world and its fullness are mine. Mere Christianity (New York: HarperCollins. God’s people are to give as a grateful response to his love. and reminds us that if we fail to give. Without a hard-and-fast percentage that mandates how much we give. 40 If our giving does not require us to trust God. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly.” 36 God doesn’t need our money..S. “Whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 86. I should say they are too small. amusements. 2001). luxuries. 28 . 6:24. if our expenditure on comforts. I’ve often counseled and taught that 10 percent is a good place to start. I would not tell you. I will deliver you. 10 percent represents an amount that challenges 36 37 38 39 40 Ps.” 39 Contrary to what many popular preachers have taught. Matt. we don’t harm God—we only harm ourselves (and our church. 2 Cor. “bountifully” does not solely refer to material gain.” Scripture says. Giving is important because “where your treasure is. we’re left with the biblical qualifiers for generous giving: cheerful.. and since Jesus fulfilled the law. since we’re all part of the same body). there your heart will be also. For most people. C. and the more we will see Jesus’ mission progress in our lifetime. etc. In my decade-plus of experience at Mars Hill. the more we will store up treasure in heaven (see chapter 9). Lewis. and perform your vows to the Most High. not to fulfill a pre-determined percentage or quota. is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own. 6:21.” 37 It is impossible to love God and not give. C. 38 Since giving is a matter of the heart. 50:10–12. In other words. It’s about spiritual blessings on earth and tangible treasures in heaven.. there’s a good chance we’re simply going through the motions. Psalm 50 continues: “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.were hungry. we are probably giving away too little. Matt.
Depending on the circumstances of life. “how much does God want” becomes “how much can I give?” 41 Blomberg. Neither Poverty nor Riches. the absence of a specific mandate creates dependence on God because we must actively seek his will for our finances. For others it may be too much. Craig Blomberg speculates. dynamic component of lives lived in worship of Jesus.” 41 In any case. giving is meant to be an ongoing. When we understand the joy of giving in response to God’s grace. 29 . We can’t identify a percentage and “set it and forget it.” Rather. for some a tenth isn’t enough. “If most affluent Western Christians were to be honest about the extent of their surplus. 199. they would give considerably higher than 10 percent.them to walk faithfully in this area of their life.
. PRICELESS: THE BIBLE AND SPENDING . .CHAPTER FOUR FREEDOM FROM MASTERCARD .
” Proverbs says. Family Finances from 2004 to 2007. successful businessmen. and we can easily rationalize spending beyond what we have: • • • • “It’s a really good deal—I’m actually saving money. but also because it saves us from a life of slavery to the money god and his earthly treasures. over-extending ourselves severely limits our ability to give. Spenders commit themselves to more obligations than they have money to make good on. Nowhere is this more obvious than in our spending habits. To make matters worse. HONOR GOD BY LIVING WITHIN YOUR MEANS—DON’T BE A SPENDER. that many of us all but close the shackles across our own wrists. A45.” “I’ll make sure to spend less next month to make up for this month’s splurge. AND BE ON GUARD AGAINST ALL COVETOUSNESS. Godly wisdom in spending is important not only because it honors the Lord. which in turn draws our hearts away from Jesus. Kennickell. Arthur B. spend is so strong. 42 The Federal Reserve Board. and Kevin B. 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances: Changes in U. –LUKE 12:15 To store up treasure in heaven and grow rich toward God requires patience and delayed gratification: laughable concepts in the Google Age. These expenses usually seem harmless at the time. The average credit card debt per household with a credit card is about $7. Bucks.S.” “Buying this thing will allow me to be more efficient and productive so I’ll actually end up making more money. The temptation to spend. however. 42 We spend on credit cards when we fail to plan. Moore. spend. We can’t wait around for five minutes let alone for eternity. “The borrower is the slave of the lender” (22:7).TAKE CARE. 31 .300.” “It’s been a tough day—I deserve to indulge. All of their money is gone before it even comes in. Mach. or when we covet things outside of our plan. Debt is crushing millions of Americans. Spenders aren’t always poor. Prepared by Brian K. Traci L.
bury it. drink. Like sex. I’m not opposed to emergency funds or investments. and lottery winners often succumb to rash consumption. material gifts. He returns to find that two of the servants put their gift to use. The third servant. Over-spending and consumer debt are completely antithetical to the worship of a God who calls us to persevere. This leads to stress and fear as any faith is “choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life. and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:14). Spenders wind up in trouble because they don’t have the ability to maintain their chosen lifestyle. “even at times to a lavish 43 Matt. I took it straight to the electronics store and maxed out the $500 limit in less than an hour. Like the Rich Fool. 25:25. but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it at all. hoarders place their faith in money as lifeline/security/savior. Fix up your house so that you can have people over and show hospitality. however. returns the original sum. hoarders may have billions or nickels. however. Take your spouse out on a nice date. My brand new stereo with a ten-disc changer was so rad that somebody stole it a few days later. In either case. HONOR GOD BY SPENDING WELL—DON’T BE A HOARDER. they selfishly tuck it away for a rainy day that may never come. endure. I got my first credit card bill shortly thereafter and reality sunk in: I was stuck paying off a stereo that I didn’t even own anymore. “and I went and hid your [money] in the ground. The temptation to overdo it is strong. and the tightwads. They collect it. Jesus tells a story about three servants who each received a sum of money from their master before he left for some time. Plan a vacation for your family. and obsess over it rather than using it to multiply the church and help people in need. we can use money faithfully for great good and enjoyment. God gave us money in part so that we can spend it. the cheapskates. or any of God’s gifts.” 43 The master is enraged and casts “the worthless servant into the outer darkness” (25:30). “There is room for the periodic celebration of God’s good. Hoarders seek to maximize their savings and investments. As soon as I turned eighteen I got my first credit card (known as “free money cards” in our household). and “bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).” he confesses.” says Blomberg.pro athletes. On a functional level. doubling its value. I grew up as a spender in a family of spenders. 32 . On the opposite end of the spectrum are the penny pinchers. “I was afraid. food. hoarders are never satisfied with how much is in the bank. Like spenders.
Mark 14:3. and even seen as something of value. 44 45 Blomberg. A good place to start is with the prayer found in Proverbs 30: Give me neither poverty nor riches. We’ll always be tempted to want more. hitchens-201004. 1 Tim. 15:23.” 44 With guidance from the Holy Spirit and the Word. IL: Crossway. This is the water we swim in—we’re already drenched and. Lest I be full and deny you and say. 145 cf. it is possible to spend money in a way that is neither selfish. April 2010. nor frivolous.vanityfair. Col. Christopher Hitchens. we’ll drown and drag our church to the bottom with us. unless we heed Jesus’ words to guard against covetousness. which is idolatry. Like instant gratification.extent. Discussion: What fears compel you to hoard or spend more money than what you believe brings honor to God? HONOR GOD BY GUARDING AGAINST COVETOUSNESS. and we cannot take anything out of the world. 6:10. 47 greed and envy are inevitable components within the engine of a capitalist society. Feed me with the food that is needful for me.com/culture/features/2010/04/ See Dave Harvey. Neither Poverty nor Riches. but “it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” 48 The alternative? “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment. Rescuing Ambition (Wheaton. http://www. “The New Commandments. Ecclesiastes 4:4 makes the same observation and calls such competition “vanity and a striving after wind. 3:5.” 46 47 48 49 33 . 2010). “Who is the LORD?” Or lest I be poor and stead and profane the name of my God. The American Dream has become one big covet-fest that empties consumer wallets and then some. covetousness is widely accepted in our culture. 1 Tim.” 49 Such contentment requires the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit—especially for we the people of Western affluence. nor sinful—and even honors God.” Vanity Fair. John 2:1¬–11. “Is not envy a great spur to emulation and competition?” 45 While there is a difference between healthy ambition 46 and covetousness. 6:6–7. for we brought nothing into the world.” He argues. Prominent atheist Christopher Hitchens calls Thou shalt not covet “the most questionable of the commandments.
CHAPTER FIVE “RETIREMENT” ISN’T IN SCRIPTURE: THE BIBLE AND SAVING .
Prov. 1 Tim. consider her ways. get everything ready for yourself in the field. and long life expectancies. Prov. 13:11. persist. The lesson of the Rich Fool is not “don’t plan. Paul reinforces the call to provide for our families while also challenging the rich to use their resources 50 51 52 53 54 1 Cor. she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. 52 The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance. but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Rather. HONOR GOD BY BUILDING UP SAVINGS THROUGH HARD WORK—NOT GET-RICHQUICK-SCHEMES. 54 HONOR GOD BY ALIGNING YOUR SAVING GOALS WITH HIS MISSION. Prov. the Bible offers numerous guidelines for how to save for the future in a way that honors God.THE THINGS YOU HAVE PREPARED. 21:5. It would be foolish—and dangerous—to squander your resources on day-to-day expenses. 4:15. costly medical care. . and after that build your house. 8. 53 Prepare your work outside. and press on if they expect to see any progress in faith and in life. Paul encourages believers to labor. 1:29. Col. Prov. . 35 . but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.24:27. WHOSE WILL THEY BE? –LUKE 12:20 We live in a world of unexpected car repairs. Throughout his letters. O sluggard. 6:6. 9:26–27. The Rich Fool saved up to bless himself while the Proverbs ant saves to bless its family. 50 Proverbs also includes many verses on the connection between diligent work and long-term planning: • • • • Go to the ant. and be wise . 51 Wealth gained hastily will dwindle.
1 Cor. We’ll discuss this more in chapter 7. Alcorn. into a snare.000plus.” he says.” October 10.” 55 If your objective in saving is to simply build wealth. but to raise your standard of giving. 1 Tim. and help those God brings into our life. PurposeDrivenLife. 59 Exactly what this looks like. The Treasure Principle. faithfully saving money over the course of a lifetime and having the ability to quit your job is not a bad thing. not as an act of anxiety and fear of what the future may hold. Save as an act of prudence and stewardship. naps. 36 . to be rich in good works. 10:31.htm. HONOR GOD BY RETIRING TO GIVE—NOT TO GET. Luke 12:22–34. and other good things God has given. 61 he decided to retire from staff at the church he founded: Saddleback. such a transition could be a great gift if the extra time is used to invest in our families. Adam had a job: to work and keep the Garden of Eden. that doesn’t change the fact that we were built to work. 58 Though work became laborious toil after the Fall. http://www. however. provided your post-work years are spent worshiping Jesus (not comfort and ease). 2:15. 2010.purposedrivenlife. but he didn’t create us to hit cruise control at age sixty-five. 57 God does not require us to save. “About The Author.com/en-US/AboutUs/AboutThe- Author/AboutTheAuthor. 5:8. God grants retirement not to raise your standard of living. That’s not to say it’s wrong to enjoy golf. into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 75. “and had people serve me little drinks of ice tea with 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 1 Tim. After writing one of the best-selling books in the history of the world. serve our church. you will “fall into temptation.” 56 HONOR GOD BY NOT BEING ANXIOUS ABOUT SAVING. We’re storing up treasure for heaven. congregation 20. and to bring glory to God in doing so. but he does require us to trust him. To paraphrase Randy Alcorn. Right from the beginning. before sin even entered the picture. not treasure for retirement. 6:9. In fact. 60 Take Rick Warren for example. Gen. to be generous and ready to share. Work is a good thing.com. “I could have bought an island. will change with age.“to do good. The word “retirement” is not in the Bible. 6:18 cf.
He now gives away over 90 percent of his income. 2010). how much you’re able to give. 37 . When he died. however. he lost everything. they will gain everything. You may not always be able to do as much as you’d like. Lake Forest. 62 63 64 Rick Warren. And when they die. 59. save. 62 “God’s people may at times be enormously wealthy.” Instead. but don’t make that an excuse to give up on diligence. Pray and plan in order to make sustained improvement and progress over a long period of time. Neither Poverty nor Riches. and spend will vary from season to season.umbrellas in them the rest of my life. saving. Saddleback Church. Col. February 12. 64 In the meantime. “Radical Generosity. 3:1–4.” says Craig Blomberg. Those who focus on others. Pastor Rick paid back his salary from twenty-five years of ministry and continues his work at Saddleback as a volunteer. giving. Blomberg.” 63 The Rich Fool took his wealth to be his own—not a gift from God. CA. “but a major purpose of God granting them wealth is that they may share it with those in need.” (lecture. grow rich toward him. and spending to honor God.
LIFE IS MORE THAN FOOD -PART TWO- .
“Do not be afraid. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field. yet God feeds them.Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you. and your Father knows that you need them. For where your treasure is. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap.” –Jesus (Luke 12:22–34) 39 . where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing. what you will wear. do not worry about it. what you will eat. or about your body. which is here today. a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted. they have no storeroom or barn. not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. do not worry about your life. For the pagan world runs after all such things. and these things will be given to you as well. and the body more than clothes. why do you worry about the rest? “Consider how the lilies grow. O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink. They do not labor or spin. But seek his kingdom. how much more will he clothe you. little flock. for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. there your heart will be also. and tomorrow is thrown into the fire. Yet I tell you. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out. Life is more than food.
questions. or away from it? How can you tell? (page 60) Discussion: Which excuses. questions. who you hang out with—what would they say your priorities are? (page 45) Discussion: What do you worry about? What sin does your anxiety reveal? What does repentance look like? (page 49) Discussion: Do you find it more difficult to be generous with your money or your time? (page 54) Discussion: Explain the difference between guilt-based and grace-based generosity. what you do with your money. or sins do you struggle with today? (page 67) 40 . (page 56) Discussion: Do you feel that you’re drifting toward your treasure. or financial sins did you use to struggle with? How did God teach you to mature in your giving habits? Which excuses.PART TWO DISCUSSION • • • • • • Discussion: If somebody were to observe your life for a week—how you spend your time.
NEEDS PRIORITIES: IS GOD TELLING YOU TO GET A BIG SCREEN? .CHAPTER SIX WANTS VS.
For starters: • • • • • 65 I want to wear clothes. almost nothing is technically a “need.FOR LIFE IS MORE THAN FOOD. Some may add clothing and shelter to the list. The truth is. AND THE BODY MORE THAN CLOTHING. –LUKE 12:23 Air. the focus is on you and what you should not do (buy a latte) rather than on God and what he’s called us to do (make disciples and plant churches). but I could run naked through the great outdoors and do just fine. Also. honest attempts to manage your desires either lead to guilt (My conscience won’t let me eat anything besides tap water and vitamin paste) or self-righteousness (If God wanted man to wear shoes we would have been born with Velcro on our feet). I want a lot of things. 3:20–23. But this way of thinking can be problematic. food. You go see a movie and then feel bad about it because it’s not vital for survival. I want to take my wife out on a date. In terms of purchases and possessions. 65 If you give up a latte per week in order to pay off debt and give more to your church. but my life would not cease if I suddenly lost my house and then all my clothes disappeared. I want to buy things for my family. SELF-MADE RELIGION AND ASCETICISM We often separate desires into arbitrary categories of “wants” and “needs” to help us make decisions with our money. really long. 42 . or you avoid the cinema altogether and grow smug and judgmental against those who can’t resist the latest comic book flick. That’s all I need. and water. I would probably need to re-locate to a milder climate and learn how to evade the authorities. Col. my list of “wants” is really. avoiding “wants” leads to a negative focus —asceticism and self-denial—rather than a positive emphasis—on Jesus and his mission.” Therefore. I want to drive a car. I want a roof over my head.
wondering. I’m an imperfect sinner. which is exactly what Jesus did. 66 The truth is. A straight-up comparison between my infinite “wants” list and my three-point “needs” list inevitably leads me to think in terms of guilt rather than grace. 69 Most “wants” are not inherently evil.” 67 PRIORITIES MATTER MORE THAN WANTS Since the Bible does not draw any absolute distinctions between needs and wants. which means that any guilt and condemnation I may feel aren’t going anywhere—unless they’re dealt with once and for all. We’re simply called to trust God for our needs 68 and be good stewards of everything else he provides. I begin to construct my own pathway to righteousness. 8:1. 25:21.• • • I want a new iPhone. In the name of holiness we end up rejecting God’s good gifts because anything remotely enjoyable or borderline indulgent stirs up remorse. Rom. 11:13. I’m not arguing against discernment. on the other hand. some Christians suck it up and decline such gifts in blind devotion to austerity. but they are never-ending. As Paul puts it. which means we must prioritize. I want to take a vacation. I’m going to screw it up. self-discipline. 2:20–3:4. We can trust him with our needs because God is a good and loving Father. you’re probably rejecting the fullness of his ultimate blessing as well: amazing grace. a deck. I want to have people over for dinner. or moderation—a good steward must pursue all three—but if you’re in the habit of always rejecting God’s material blessings because they violate some arbitrary regulations. are finite. Since we don’t technically “need” a vacation. “Which ‘wants’ should I cut out in order to be a better Christian? How many can I keep and still be ‘holy’?” This mentality implicitly denies the gospel in favor of a list of rules that I must follow (religion) in order to alleviate guilt and condemnation. 6:14. Luke 12:24–25 cf. Our resources. Rom. Rather than embracing the finished work of Jesus on my behalf. Matt. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. “‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is beneficial…not everything is 66 67 68 69 Col. 43 . or a fancy dinner.
we must prioritize our relationships with people. we can begin to evaluate our wants in light of this framework. Once we align our priorities according to life as a disciple.” any “want” that doesn’t involve breaking commandments can be justified. and neighborhood. beginning with our family (first spouse. the wisdom of Scripture. and help one another. 2 Tim. care for. Therefore. IL: Crossway. and share the gospel to those in our circles of influence. worship. worshipers. friends. and the family of believers known as the church. God has given us the mission to make disciples. As Mars Hill pastor Bill Clem writes. 70 71 72 73 74 1 Cor. our wants matter less than the priorities that actually determine how we spend our time. to love. Prioritize mission. Prioritize human relationships. 72 and he calls his disciples to participate in this work. and energy on a daily basis. a community. our Creator and Sustainer.” 70 Since “the earth is the Lord’s. A DISCIPLE’S PRIORITIES Jesus guides his disciples through the work of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8. we must prioritize the gospel. and everything in it. 2011). 2 Cor. NIV. we follow him “as redeemed image-bearers.constructive. so we must prioritize our relationship with him. We are entrusted with the message of Jesus 73 —we get to proclaim his work that saves people from death to life! 74 Therefore. then children). Our identity is found in the person and work of Jesus. Disciple: Getting Your Identity From Jesus (Wheaton. 10:23. 1:10. 5:20. 28:19. Without him we are lost. Bill Clem. We were created to need community. money. 51. community. 44 . Savior and King. and missionaries. then our church. Therefore. and mission—carries with it God-given priorities that help us categorize our list of wants: Prioritize Jesus. Matt. and live our lives in worship of him.” 71 Each of these components of discipleship—identity. serve. using our resources to bless.
4:4–5. Some even used this argument to criticize Jesus. then maybe Doug should buy a TV. 75 On the other hand. Other Dougs need to honor their higher priorities before reaching the big screen item on their “wants” list. offer hospitality. big. 1 Tim. If Doug can pay for a TV without going into debt or compromising his ability to provide for his family or ceasing to give to his church and those in need. The Bible gives us freedom.” he would never buy the big screen. 45 . Stewardship is an act of worship that proceeds from a changed heart—not a rote list of do’s and don’ts. In reality. some Dougs can buy their big screen. brand new TV for “holy” reasons and “selfish” reasons. “For everything created by God is good. Amen. enjoy it. for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. and use it as a ministry tool. Doug wants to buy a nice. If Doug were thinking in terms of “wants” and “needs. it’s also easy for Christians to cite “freedom in Christ” to justify selfish. IS THE HOLY SPIRIT TELLING YOU TO GET A BIG SCREEN TV? Doug is a disciple of Jesus with lots of non-Christian friends. he plans to invite his buddies over to watch sports. which compels us to rely on the Holy Spirit to provide discernment and wisdom.” 76 75 76 Matt. destructive behavior. build relationships. guilt-free. 26:8–9. making something a priority when it really should not be.Discussion: If somebody were to observe your life for a week—how you spend your time. and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. Or he would buy it and feel bad about spending money on something that’s not a need. Is it wrong for Doug to drop a couple grand on home electronics? It’s easy for legalistic Christians to issue blanket condemnation of anything that costs a lot and therefore impedes “nobler” pursuits. Yeah. and point them to Jesus. But Doug also thinks it would be pretty relaxing and awesome to own a decent home entertainment system for himself and his family. what you do with your money. who you hang out with—what would they say your priorities are? Ask your spouse or a close friend to give their honest assessment.
CHAPTER SEVEN REDEEMING WORRY: HEDGED BETS ALWAYS LOSE .
Luke 11:13. it is as simple as that. worry is sin. YOUR FATHER KNOWS THAT YOU NEED THEM. Through Jesus’ death we are forgiven and set free from all sin—including worry. 47 . His objective is not to make us feel bad by illuminating our shortcomings. . is not simply an emotion that erodes our quality of life or a pain to be alleviated. desires. . 30. If we see worry as an emotion or as pain. Ed Welch explains this well: Worry. 79 No matter what we say about God with our mouths. fear not. Phil. it is dealt with at the cross. 5. . little flock. find anxiety about finances and you find sin. however.” Jesus says. In Matthew’s version of Jesus’ teaching on anxiety. therefore. But when we understand worry as sin. Running Scared. NOR BE WORRIED . 77 God redeems our worry by using it as a flashing neon arrow that points right to our sin. . throughout Scripture. 32. “No one can serve two 77 78 79 Welch. nor be worried . we can only mitigate or manage it This makes us slaves to anxiety. Rather than justify this anxiety. financial anxiety eclipses all reverence for God. 163.AND DO NOT SEEK WHAT YOU ARE TO EAT AND WHAT YOU ARE TO DRINK. . –LUKE 12:29–30 “Do not be anxious . Luke 12:24. Worry reveals our lack of faith in his promises. . It is making life about our needs. but for many. CONFESS WORRY Over and over again. John 10:10–11. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge (see introduction). 4:6. 78 he is a good God. To put it plainly. Dr. and wants . It is trying to manage our world apart from God. 1 Pet. . but to reveal our desperate need for Jesus. 6. God assures us that we need not worry because we can trust him. he begins by saying. confess the truth. as long as worry resides in our hearts we do not believe him. Matt. . It is a misdirected love that should be confessed. God is not surprised.
” Welch writes. 6:24. but Jesus seems to recognize a certain universality when it comes to financial fears—fear that God’s provision will not be sufficient when it comes to money. 163. All hedged bets are deposited in the earthly kingdom—the one with ‘mine’ written all over it. Confession is a humble declaration: I have committed treason against the kingdom of God by placing my hope and trust in an earthly kingdom of money and stuff. freedom from worry requires admission of guilt. Our worries reveal our slavery to sin. “The rule of kingdom investment. Jesus draws a clear line between a fleeting material kingdom and the eternal “kingdom of God.” 81 God knows that the temptation to “hedge our bets” is strong—which is probably why the Bible addresses worry so often—so when we blow it. Everything must go into one account or the other. but our worry indicates otherwise.masters . for your grace. In doing so. hoping to minimize our risk. Our inability to cease worrying reveals our helplessness. 48 . Our helplessness reveals our need for God’s grace. 80 81 Matt. You cannot serve God and money. God’s grace sets us free from worry and enables us to change. food. there’s no use pretending otherwise. and I need the power of the Holy Spirit in order to change. . Running Scared. Thank you Father.” 80 There’s plenty of things to be afraid of in a great big world filled with sin. and clothes. I need Jesus’ death in my place.” Maybe we assume that we’re on the right side of the line. As with any sin. “Confession acknowledges that we still invest in both kingdoms. is all or nothing. Welch. however. . That’s where confession comes in.
research cost of children. and these things will be added to you. budget accordingly Use a retirement calculator to plan ahead. good stewards use these tools to prepare for the realities of life. purchasing a life insurance policy may alleviate financial concerns. But prudence may still cover a sinful heart. Planning deals with behavior and circumstances. planning is not a sin. If you worry a lot about your spouse dying.” I share these ideas because repentance from worry may include putting together a plan (and maybe repentance from laziness as well). trust God and plan accordingly.” This isn’t a distraction technique. for example. If you stay busy seeking the kingdom of God. true repentance deals with what we worship. which then affects behavior and circumstances. Don’t worry about food and clothes because those things aren’t important. It’s not. you’ll simply forget about your worries! Nor is it. It’s a promise: Don’t 49 . “Seek his kingdom. Stuff happens. “Do not be anxious” does not mean. but that only gets you so far in dispelling anxiety because savings accounts and insurance policies cannot provide ultimate security. adjust lifestyle as necessary Insofar as it’s possible.REPENT FROM WORRY As we learned in part 1. Jesus invites us to something greater. Discussion: What do you worry about? What does your anxiety reveal about what you believe regarding the character of God? What would it look like to be prudent while trusting God as a good Father? Rather than commanding us to “fear not” and leaving it at that. Don’t dwell on the possibilities. “Be lazy and make no plans. For example: Common Worry Unemployment Sudden crisis Husband’s death Can’t afford kids Retirement funds Suggested Plan Maintain a savings account to cover living expenses for three months Build an emergency fund for unplanned expenses Purchase enough life insurance to pay off all debt and provide for ongoing living expenses Begin living off of husband’s income. In fact. prudent preparation can help address many finance-related worries.
82 In a word: generosity. and give to the needy. And what instructions does he leave us for the journey? How do we go about seeking the kingdom? “Sell your possessions. which means we can spend our time and energy on bigger things. Seek the kingdom of God and you will have enough. Jesus doesn’t belittle our material concerns.” Jesus says. 82 Luke 12: 33. according to his will. 50 . his job is to take care of us along the way.worry about ‘what you are to eat and what you are to drink’ because you’ll get it. He promises that God will provide for them. Our job is to seek the kingdom.
CHAPTER EIGHT GIVE WHAT YOU CANNOT KEEP: A LIFESTYLE OF GENEROSITY .
Ministries of Mercy. God works through his people. “they can then be freed to give more generously in times of plenty. those who love Jesus want to emulate his example of generosity. Luke 12:31. AND GIVE TO THE NEEDY. lower their standard of living.SELL YOUR POSSESSIONS. “As the community of the redeemed seeks first God’s righteous standards. “God the Father is the first generous giver. Generosity (Alpharetta. But true. More specifically.. Quoted in Keller. Author Gordon MacDonald describes how each member of the Trinity demonstrates this characteristic. 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 Blomberg.” 83 Therefore. Acts 4:34.” 88 As God’s image-bearers 89 we bear his imprint. Neither Poverty nor Riches.” Blomberg continues.D. 2009). all men see that our people lack aid from us!” 87 What motivates such flagrant generosity that moves people to sell off property. 132. Ibid. and cause the Roman emperor to take notice? THE FAMILY RESEMBLANCE For starters. and God the Holy Spirit is the ongoing expression of God’s generosity in us. 86 This pattern continued. which includes an inherent sense that generosity is good. 6. Gordon MacDonald. and in A. 145. “There was not a needy person among” the early Christians. “these things will be given to you as well” 84 in part because the church as a community of Christians seeking the kingdom of God will be the church that provides for its impoverished members. 52 . 1:27. Gen. 361 Roman emperor Julian complained that “the impious Galileans [Christians. And “when believers realize that others will care for them if they unexpectedly find themselves impoverished. –LUKE 12:33 More often than not.” Blomberg writes. 87. GA: The National Christian Foundation. godly generosity goes much deeper than a basic desire to be like Jesus. “by definition they will help the needy in their midst. ‘impious’ because they did not conform to the pagan practices of the day] support both their own poor and ours as well. God the Son is the chief of generous givers. God is a giver.” 85 The book of Acts provides an example of what this looks like.
. A wealthy family could give a lot of money and appear quite benevolent while failing to be generous with their time or their other possessions. 53 . “How selfish you are to eat steak and drive two cars when the rest of the world is starving!” This creates great emotional conflicts in the hearts of Christians who hear such arguing. • • • • • 90 Tipping—double the price of your latte or meal Buy dinner for the couple next to you. RANDOM ACTS OF GENEROSITY True generosity is a lifestyle—not a monthly financial contribution or a checkbox on your to-do list. . The deeper the experience of the free grace of God. requires a new heart.” 90 Generosity is an outward sign of inward transformation: rebirth by the power of the Holy Spirit. or the car behind you in the drive-thru Bring your wife a surprise gift card Take your kids out for ice cream Buy doughnuts for your co-workers (or low-fat Greek yoghurt) Keller. Here are some ideas for incorporating spontaneous generosity into your everyday life. “Can I help it I was born in this country? How will it really help anyone if I stop driving two cars? Don’t I have the right to enjoy the fruits of my labor?” Soon. It’s quite possible to give a lot of money without a generous heart. not grudging at all. . The Bible does not use guilt-producing motivation. biblical stewardship does include financial giving. Ultimately it produces guilt. 62–63. . but all sorts of defense mechanisms are engaged. Generous. the more generous we must become. with an anxious weariness. Ministries of Mercy. we turn away from books or speakers who simply make us feel guilty about the needy. .DON’T EAT THAT STEAK! (AND OTHER GUILT TRIPS) In his book Ministries of Mercy. We feel guilty. Tim Keller writes this insightful passage explaining the motivation for Christian generosity by contrasting it with another very common yet fundamentally flawed tactic: Often books and speakers tell Christians that they should help the needy because they have so much . but it also extends to our time and the spiritual gifts (talents and skills) God has given us. To give largely and liberally. This is why Robert Murray M’Cheyne could say: “There are many hearing me who now know well that they are not Christians because they do not love to give. It says.
What random act of generosity would you like to try this week? GLORY THIEVES Without the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts. but also the Bible gives no grounds for such mandates. our natural desire to give is hopelessly tainted by sin. 86–87. and any act of benevolence we attempt contains some ulterior motive for personal gain: we give to get rid of guilt instead of trusting in grace. but this will look different in various seasons of life. Some may have few dollars but lots of hours to volunteer. The überwealthy aren’t the only ones liable to twist generosity for some personal benefit. For example. “Sometimes our pride also hinders our charity. volunteer to help out a new mom Participation in the local church can’t simply be a business exchange where we essentially pay for religious services or give to satisfy our conscience. Mere Christianity. we are tempted to spend more than we ought on the showy forms of generosity (tipping. however. We can’t impose unhealthy legalisms and quotas on the church body. 54 . or we give to get a favor in return. C. box up an extra meal and give it to a homeless person Mow your neighbor’s lawn Read the newspaper for stories about local needs you could help meet Offer free babysitting to families in your community group If you’re a single lady. Others may be in a frantic season of work when all they have time to do is write a tithe check. Jesus calls us to be all in. scroll through the list of billionaire philanthropists on The Giving Pledge website (givingpledge. church members must not justify their lack of involvement with inappropriate excuses.org) and see how many are vested in foundations and programs named after themselves. S.” 91 91 Lewis. we give to get applause. Not only are life circumstances always changing. Lewis observes. We need the wisdom and help of the Holy Spirit and church family to avoid sin and align our hearts with the work God has called us to do. hospitality) and less than we ought on those who really need our help. At the same time. Discussion: Do you find it more difficult to be generous with your money or your time? Explain why.• • • • • If you’re dining in the city.
June 26. He later tried to clarify his statement. Jr. He is a good God 96 and we are made in his image. 99 Luke 7:5. we want accolades. so giving money to the church didn’t make a ton of sense.usatoday. 100 “Warren Buffett signs over $30. self-sufficiency. 49:17. I didn’t want to part with “my” hard earned money. 94 Isa. 92 93 Ps. http://www.Whether it’s our name in the charity’s title or a warm smile from the barista after dropping a dollar in the tip jar. tip generously. 95 Micah 6:8.” USA Today. http://www. In fact. “Billionaire clarifies ‘get to heaven’ remarks.com/society-social-assistancelifestyle/philanthropy-charities/14639689-1.” Warren Buffett said after giving $30 billion to the Gates Foundation. 1:27. 97 Gen. applause. give to charity. and morality. But since the Bible says it’s important. or serve others. Generosity is meant to spill out of our worship and love for him. I was going to school and working at a restaurant. but the underlying sentiment remains evident throughout American culture and religion: the way to get to heaven is by being a good person (Bob Gary. 98 Eph.” 92 We may be able to glean some temporary praise from our fellow humans. 2006. feeding the hungry. I decided to give it a shot. he sees them as “filthy rags. “There is more than one way to get to heaven. 55 . 2006. 97 God created us for good works.. 34:6. 6:2. “but this is a great way. and promoting justice. drawing us away from God rather than toward him. any act of generosity expresses shadows of truth: A desire to do good. We are glory thieves. “for when [a man] dies he will carry nothing away.7B to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.html). 98 God can use non-Christians to help redeem his creation—healing the sick. 99 When these acts proceed from an unredeemed heart. 96 Ex. 2:10. We want the worship only God deserves. 64:6.” Chattanooga Times and Free Press.allbusiness. not to complete a karmic transaction that moves us one notch closer to holiness. looking for a pat on the back. and work for justice 95 reveals God’s imprint on our hearts.com/ money/2006-06-25-buffett-charity_x. July 12. and recognition. his glory will not go down after him. Matt. however.” 100 GOD SAVES SINNERS When I was a new Christian. 93 but when we bring our gifts before God. the result nurtures human pride. show mercy.htm.” 94 This is not because it’s wrong to help people. None of it belongs to us. however. gratitude.
“We brought nothing into the world. We are stewards and cannot keep any of it. As a loving Father. or grace tend to motivate your generosity? GIVE WHAT YOU CANNOT KEEP On October 28.” October 10. while at the same time building my faith in his continued provision and promises. guilt. No longer filthy rags offered with self-serving hands.edu/bgc/archives/faq/20. 1 Tim.I was quite pleased with myself when I decided to start giving $10 per week to Mars Hill. 6:7.” writes Paul. and our eternity are completely in God’s hands. 1949. 101 102 103 Phil. sacrificial. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. For me. The more I read the Bible. So did he strike me down for my pride? Hardly. the more I realized that my contribution was merely a token gesture.htm. Jim Elliot gave everything for the gospel. “and we cannot take anything out of the world. he sent the Holy Spirit to convict me of my sin and graciously and patiently encouraged me to give more and more. 56 . http://www. Does pride. $10 in no way represented the sort of generous.” 102 In 1956. a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God” 101 because they came from a heart redeemed by his Son. “Jim Elliot Quote. Jim Elliot wrote in his journal. our provision.wheaton.” 103 Throughout Luke 12 we see that our life. and in doing so gain much more in return: treasure in heaven and God himself. But we can give it away. he was speared to death in the jungles of South America while sharing Jesus with the Waorani people. 4:18. Billy Graham Center Archives. 2010. however. but he understood that none of it was his to keep in the first place. worshipful giving that God invites us to. my gifts were becoming “a fragrant offering. Discussion: Explain the difference between guilt-based and grace-based generosity.
CHAPTER NINE INVISIBLE TREASURE: GAIN WHAT YOU CANNOT LOSE .
The Treasure Principle. “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it. Luke 12:33. money. your treasure will be kept “where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. but the means to treasure in heaven. Whatever treasure we store up on earth will be left behind when we leave. 107 As Jesus said. WITH A TREASURE IN THE HEAVENS THAT DOES NOT FAIL.104 When Jesus discourages us from storing up earthly treasures. One.”106 Randy Alcorn calls it the “Treasure Principle”: You can’t take it with you—but you can send it on ahead. Not a means to get into heaven. They simply won’t last. And two. because here “moth and rust destroy and . 10:19. THE LOGICAL APPEAL God is good and he makes good things—in heaven and on earth. Alcorn. . 18. 58 . but whoever loses his life will keep it. he’s not saying that earthly treasures are bad. and you’ll never lose it. The Treasure Principle. Like salvation for those who love Jesus. thieves break in and steal.” 109 104 105 106 107 108 109 Ecc. Keep your treasure on earth and you’ll lose it in the end. how is this any less selfish than the generous non-Christian who gives in order to gain something on earth? There are two key differences between earthly treasure and heavenly treasure. Alcorn. .” explains Alcorn. . energy. “it’s a logical one: Invest in what has lasting value. Luke 17:33. . the object of desire—the treasure to be gained—makes all the difference. Jesus says we gain treasure in heaven by giving our time. and skills to seek the kingdom of God. . If we are to be generous in order to gain treasure in heaven. Even money is a gift that can be extremely helpful. . 19.” 105 Give your treasure away. 6:20.PROVIDE YOURSELVES WITH MONEYBAGS THAT DO NOT GROW OLD. Whatever treasures we store up in heaven will be waiting for us when we arrive. Matt. –LUKE 12:33 Generosity is the means to treasure in heaven.” 108 “It’s not an emotional appeal. we cannot lose heavenly treasure.
.” 111 When the Christian gives to gain more of God. however. 59 . Piper continues: The reason our generosity toward others is not a sham love when we are motivated by the longing for God’s promise is that we are aiming to take those others with us into that reward. it begins to make a bit more sense. 96. But if our very pursuit includes the pursuit of their joy. none of us can say how the whole treasure distribution system will actually go down. When we consider the alternative. 9:27.” Paul wrote. one more time: The one who actually sets himself above God is the person who presumes to come to God to give rather than get. We know our joy in heaven will be far greater if the people we treat with mercy are won over to the surpassing worth of Christ and join us in praising Him. 195–196. I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. John Piper.WHAT IS “TREASURE IN HEAVEN”? Jesus does not downplay the fact that there will be rewards in heaven based on how we conduct ourselves on earth. They are. . Desiring God (Colorado Springs: Multnomah. how is that selfish? How am I the less loving to you if my longing for God moves me to give away my earthly possessions so that my joy in Him can be forever doubled in your partnership of praise? 112 In our sinful state. the promise of treasure should serve as some encouragement—incentive even— for Christians to persevere. . let alone the precise nature of these mysterious rewards. everybody wins. You cannot please God if you do not come to 110 111 112 1 Cor. “so that after I have preached to others. He alone can satisfy the heart’s longing to be happy. 47–48. . he positions himself as God’s benefactor—as if the world and all it contains were not already God’s. however. “What could God give us to enjoy that would prove him most loving? There is only one possible answer: Himself! . “I beat my body and make it my slave. Ibid. . it is difficult to comprehend a scenario where it’s healthy to desire something in return for our giving.” Pastor John Piper says. . “In view of God’s infinite power and wisdom and beauty. . It would only be unloving if we pursued our joy at the expense of others. . secondary to the greatest treasure to be found in heaven or earth: God. 2003). John Piper.” 110 Since none of us have ever been to heaven. With a pretense of self-denial. .
The scope is intensely personal. aimed right at the heart. “To him. HEAVEN PRACTICE STARTS NOW Money follows heart. or away from it? How can you tell? In the book of Revelation. 16:11. John describes the scene in heaven when the kingdom of God is complete. when an old woman gives two pennies. Not with what we don’t have. like the roar of many waters and 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 Heb. he’s moving daily toward his treasure.” 118 Discussion: “He who lays up treasures on earth spends his life backing away from his treasures. In the process. redeemed.him for reward! . celebrate in his presence together: Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude. How much you give counts for nothing.” 115 That’s how.” 119 Do you feel that you’re drifting toward your treasure. The people of God. Ps.” 116 God asks us to live generously with what we have. but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on. trust. 2 Cor. and cling to—stuff that could choke out 117 the hope of Jesus’ great promise: “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Jesus can say. . . 45. time. energy) in Jesus’ mission on earth. The more you invest (money. and not with what our neighbors have. He who lays up treasures in heaven looks forward to eternity. not according to what he does not have. Luke 8:14. 8:12. Heart follows money. and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore. For they all contributed out of their abundance. Luke 12:32. 11:6. The Treasure Principle. I tell you. this poor widow has put in more than all of [the rich]. forgiven. 60 . Alcorn. He is our exceeding great reward! In his presence is fullness of joy. It’s also encouraging to remember that this “exceeding great reward” and all of the treasures in heaven are equally accessible to everyone. giving generously will compel you to part with stuff that you might otherwise be tempted to worship. Luke 21:3–4. What matters is generosity “according to what a person has.” writes Randy Alcorn. To him. and made righteous by Jesus. death is gain. death is loss. the more you’ll look forward to seeing everything come to fruition when Jesus’ returns. “Truly.
for all time—and more. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory. 120 121 122 Rev. . but we have forgiveness of sins today. 120 Here is the ultimate fulfillment of the provision Jesus promises in Luke 12. bright and pure. John 16:33 (NIV). bright and pure” . We have the Holy Spirit today. For the marriage of the Lamb has come. This heavenly treasure may still seem off in the distant future. Already “the kingdom of God has come upon you. Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Clothes: fine linen. “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.like the sound of mighty pearls of thunder. 19:6¬–9. It’s our great privilege. Though “in this world you will have trouble. We have the free gift of grace today. the countdown has begun. joy.” 121 God will ultimately make good on his word to provide everything we need—tangibly. mission. crying out. It was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen. 61 . . Food: the marriage supper of Jesus.” 122 and though it’s not yet time for the marriage feast of the Lamb. Luke 11:20. and his Bride has made herself ready. and treasure to invite others to the party.
CHAPTER TEN CHURCHES ARE ALL ABOUT MONEY: AND OTHER EXCUSES .
Acts 2:44–47. –LUKE 12:34 When it comes to giving. so we need to hold each other accountable for how we use it. a creepy church. but work that is carried out by the church. THERE WILL YOUR HEART BE ALSO. My hope is that this chapter can serve as a quick reference guide for discipling ourselves and others toward more faithful stewardship. We can usually think up plenty of reasons not to steward our money well. 123 124 Mt. then surely we can talk about this integral component of discipleship. He passed on Mars Hill because he heard that we get access to every member’s bank statements in order to calculate their income and giving to ensure that everyone gives at a level of 10 percent. MONEY IS A PRIVATE MATTER BETWEEN ME AND GOD. Here are a few of the more common questions and concerns I’ve heard in over ten years working on the financial life of the church. parenting. I’m not an expert in criminal law but I assure you: if your church is secretly monitoring your bank accounts. marriage. A tool. and so on. 123 he has given us these resources in part to help build his kingdom and spread the gospel. It’s just a gift. and more treasure in heaven. There is nothing magical or especially holy about money. given the amount of airtime and gravity money gets in Scripture. if we can talk about prayer. MY GIVING HABITS ARE NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. a more generous lifestyle. 63 . worship. 9:1–5. and the faceoff between heavenly and earthly treasures. generosity. 124 Plus. 25:14–30. which is not a solitary. and we need someone to explain what the Bible says on the subject. We can wield it wisely or foolishly. One of my personal favorites was from a young gentleman who was looking for any reason he could find not to settle down and pick a church. and we need somebody to rebuke us. and some talented hackers on your hands. Other times it’s just an excuse. 2 Cor. I’ve pretty much heard it all. Sometimes it’s a matter of ignorance or immaturity. private accomplishment. you’ve got a significant problem.FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS. Though we will give a personal account to God for how we steward our resources.
” 129 Col. As Christians. In any case. Regardless of circumstances. Matt. Luke 18:18–30. No church is perfect. And more than that. at Mars Hill we strive to give generously as a church to those outside our immediate congregation. visibility. 73:23–26. 128 CHURCHES ARE ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. 126 I NEED TO SAVE MONEY BEFORE I CAN GIVE ANY. they should probably find a church they can trust and go there instead. 1 John 1:7. possibly a lack of trust in and resistance to authority in general.I’M ASHAMED OF MY DEBT AND POOR MANAGEMENT. if someone can’t be led to trust their church. money is just a tool—Jesus spoke about it more than we do. If someone doesn’t trust the church enough to give or be involved. church planting and online resources that reach people worldwide. Rather. In addition. Ps. but neither should replace giving. This includes relief efforts in Haiti. 3:3. we are free to bring all our iniquities into the light without fear. At Mars Hill we work hard to be completely transparent with our financial practices. This is kingdom work. FINANCIAL SINS: COMMON MONEY MISTAKES • 125 126 127 128 129 Idolatry – “You cannot serve God and money. because our identity is secure in Jesus 125 (not our portfolio) we need not feel shame for the condition of our finances. but we’re doing our best to operate above reproach and steward God’s finances faithfully. it’s a means to our hearts and the hearts of others. Again. our idols tend to shift from rash spending to incessant hoarding. TALKING ABOUT MONEY MAKES ME FEEL INEPT. 127 so we mustn’t trade over-consumption for excessive self-reliance. I DON’T TRUST THE CHURCH. 64 . We want to use our resources to see as many people as possible meet Jesus. not empire building. this probably indicates another underlying issue. Few churches welcome the same level of detail. When the economy lags. 6:24 cf. It’s not wrong to save or spend. and MicroMission projects that serve our neighborhoods and communities. God is trustworthy. 6:28–33. Matt. and scrutiny that we do. Luke 13:21.
6:1–4. 65 . and I need nothing.” 143 Lack of vision – “I was afraid.” 138 Selfishness – “You ask and do not receive. 6:3–5.” 136 False doctrine – “. 4:4. 1 Tim.” 132 No fear of the Lord – “Better a little with fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it. 144 Matt. 3:6–15 cf.” 131 Envy and covetousness – “Envy makes the bones rot. 2 Kings :15–27. 139 James 4:3. 14:30 cf. 143 Luke 12:22–34. Prov. 138 Mal. 19:14.” 135 Greed – “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. 136 1 Tim. 135 Prov.. James 5:1–3. But you say. 6:17–19. 21:5 cf.” 130 Unnecessary debt – “The borrower is slave of the lender. 15:21. 141 Eccles. 5:10 (NIV) cf. 4:8. 22:7. 6:10 cf. 13:22. Luke 12: 13–21. 13:4 cf. 25:14–30. sound no trumpet before you.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 130 131 Pride – “When you give to the needy. 140 Rev. 15:16.” 141 Freeloading – “If anyone is not willing to work. 3:17 cf.” 134 Lack of planning – “Everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. 1:29.” 145 Matt. Prov. . 142 2 Thess. 1 Tim. I have prospered.” 139 Hope in wealth – “For you say. because you ask wrongly. Acts 5:1–6. ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. . 137 1 Tim. Eccles. 134 Prov. and I went and hid your talent in the ground. imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” 142 Worry – “Do not be anxious about your life. 133 Prov. 145 John 3:27. to spend it on your passions. Rom. let him not eat.” 144 Entitlement – “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.” 137 Not giving or tithing – “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. 1 John 3:17–18. 132 Prov. 3:8. I am rich.” 140 Seeking satisfaction in wealth – “Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” 133 Laziness – “The sluggard craves and gets nothing. what you will eat. 5:8.
152 Again. Eph. and I very much encourage widespread giving to other organizations. 149 Jesus says. Acts 4:35. Only the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection in our place offers consistent. WE SHOULDN’T TALK ABOUT OUR GIVING HABITS. Secrecy is a spiritual discipline that is appropriate under certain circumstances and with right motives. Luke 21:1–4. a Christian’s first obligation is to contribute to the health and well-being of the church. or sinful negligence. 146 Favoring some other charity above your local church indicates either a misunderstanding of the biblical definition of church.4. and a lack of passion for the gospel. 6. and then buys a bunch of new clothes for the kids down the street while his own children run around in garbage sacks. the difference-maker is the heart: what’s your motive? If you want everybody to know about your giving—why? Do you want recognition. Matt. 2:19. When it comes to giving. earns a living. after you have given to the local church. God’s chosen vehicle for this message is the church. 1 Tim.” 150 Paul even encourages healthy competition when it comes to giving. Our culture encourages college students to live beyond their means by taking out exorbitant loans 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 Rom. that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. etc. universal. Gal. so we have a responsibility to make sure she’s healthy. we as the church must remain a decidedly cross-oriented people. Mark 14:3–9. 147 Exclusively cause-oriented giving could also represent a measure of pride (“proceeds from this shirt benefit my image”). the church is a family. Causes come and go like fads—whether they’re resolved or not. 6:10. MINISTRIES. 148 but the Bible also includes many examples of public benevolence. however. charities. Acts 4:36–37. or do you want to encourage others? If you don’t want anybody to know about your giving—why? Are you ashamed or is their a legitimate reason why the details would be distracting? I CAN’T GIVE—I’M A POOR COLLEGE STUDENT. 66 . 5:16. 5:1–2. 2 Cor. Rather than cause-oriented interests. THE BIBLE SAYS TO GIVE IN SECRET. 151 and givers in the early church publicly presented their offerings. ministries. The church is not an organization. sadly. 9:1–5. A generous lifestyle does not stop there. It would be like a father who works hard. and eternal hope. CHARITIES—THE “CHURCH” AT LARGE. 8:15–17.. “Let your light shine before men. Matt.I GIVE TO OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.
I WANT TO GIVE. Also. Give him room to cultivate in you a generous. nothing will change. If you never give God anything to work with. skills—not just finances). remember that stewardship includes time. Discussion: Which excuses. On behalf of your church. 67 . but it’s not something to be entered into lightly either. many college students practice little to no sacrifice. stewardship includes time. or financial sins have you struggled with in the past? How did God teach you to mature in your giving habits? Which excuses. I CAN’T GIVE—I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING.” 154 Also. start small—start anywhere. The Treasure Principle.155 This reality should always keep us in humble pursuit of his grace. The church needs some time from the folks who can give us more dollars and some dollars from the folks who can give more time. It’s just that you don’t want to. Start somewhere. Pursue discipline. God will grow your faith.’ And I say. While investing in a career track and establishing discretionary spending habits. Mal. 8:7. questions. “When people tell me they can’t afford to tithe.” says Randy Alcorn.’” 153 Start simple. Set a calendar reminder on your computer or phone and give online. 3:10. questions. “I ask them. Financial aid in the form of debt is not wrong. thank you. it’s important to remember that we can never out-give God. 16:11.against an uncertain future. Consider telling your story to encourage others to “excel in this act of grace also. ‘If your income was reduced by 10 percent would you die?’ They say. energy. faithful heart. Invite others to hold you accountable. I want to encourage faithful. ‘No. I AM GIVING FAITHFULLY. 66. BUT I JUST KEEP FORGETTING. ‘Then you’ve admitted that you can afford to tithe. or sins do you struggle with today? 153 154 155 Alcorn. Ps. generous givers while at the same time recognizing that nobody ever reaches the spot of perfect generosity (again. 2 Cor. John 4:14.
THE FAITHFUL AND WISE MANAGER -PART THREE- .
he will set him over all his possessions. You also must be ready. or in the third. so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. . and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast. Truly. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will. But if that servant says to himself. of him much will be required.” –Jesus (Luke 12:35–48) 69 . “Who then is the faithful and wise manager. I say to you. the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know. If he comes in the second watch. for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. I say to you. . and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. and finds them awake. will receive a light beating. whom his master will set over his household. .“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning. blessed are those servants! But know this. Everyone to whom much was given. will receive a severe beating. to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly. he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table.’ and begins to beat the male and female servants. But the one who did not know. he would not have left his house to be broken into. they will demand the more. and did what deserved a beating. that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming. ‘My master is delayed in coming. and he will come and serve them. and to eat and drink and get drunk. and from him to whom they entrusted much.
(page 84) Discussion: When it comes to money.PART THREE DISCUSSION • • • • • Discussion: Which areas of your life do you tend to keep from God because you don’t want to “bother” him with small stuff? (page 72) Discussion: Based on your season of life. and how do you hope to change? (page 81) Discussion: Share some of your long-term goals with your community group. (page 90) 70 . which piece of advice is most encouraging? Which one is most challenging. them to help shape your plans. How has Jesus shaped those plans? Invite your group to help you think through some long-term goals that build a gospel-saturated legacy. is giving your number one priority? Why or why not? (page 87) Discussion: Pray for the future of our church. that God would use the ministry and resources of Mars Hill to reach millions of lives for generations to come with the gospel of Jesus.
CHAPTER ELEVEN BE READY: BUDGET FOR JUDGMENT DAY .
and. 72 . This is a lie we tell ourselves and a lie Satan is happy to perpetuate. how we use our money. Luke 12:35–48 is all about stewardship (though not only about stewardship). and the token good deed from time to time. Central to this passage is another story. rather than cultivating a sense of anticipation. BUDGET FOR JUDGMENT DAY It may seem odd to leap from a passage about Jesus’ return into a discussion about spreadsheets and budgets. The master of his house is delayed. 6:21. eating the food. and abusing the other servants. this time about faithful and unfaithful managers. In other words. Jesus gets scary serious: we will answer for how we spend our time. Jesus moves on from flowers and birdies and starts talking about setting the earth on fire and people getting hacked to pieces.STAY DRESSED FOR ACTION. We steward it. He owns it. and how we live the life that he has given us. he begins to cut corners and justify his actions. Everything we have is from God. Discussion: Which areas of your life do you tend to keep from God because you don’t want to 156 Matt. Not only will our resources be less effective in the mission God’s given us. church attendance. And he cares about what we do with it. Therefore. It doesn’t take long before the servant starts acting like he owns the place—drinking the wine. 156 The unfaithful servant in Jesus’ story falls prey to this mentality. We minimize and compartmentalize certain aspects of life and choose to believe that God only cares about things like prayer. in this section we will talk about creating a plan and building a budget for God’s glory and your joy. The enemy wins when our money is separated from our walk with Jesus. –LUKE 12:35 The end of Luke 12 gets pretty intense. And in case we missed it during the flower-bird-treasure talk. but also our hearts will remain distant from him. The stakes could not get any higher. What probably began as a small breach of decorum (Surely my master won’t miss one little sip of the good stuff) quickly degenerates into the power trip from hell. and that’s the problem. Bible reading. Hopefully you’ve got it memorized by this point.
for that matters—may feel restrictive. so ask him to help you. indicators. Every outing is a giant guessing game. and obey God. In fact. Living with no plan and no budget is not freedom—it’s a recipe for stress. choosing to follow and honor him rather than running after the money god and tumbling headlong into financial slavery. you never know if the trunk is ajar. and follow where he leads. We respond to his grace and goodness not only in song and in prayer. Our own sin and poor decisions get us into trouble. hardship. Don’t leave God out of your financial planning. and every successful trip merely delays the inevitable crisis. It takes wisdom to balance all of this stuff. you can enjoy it rather than playing catch-up. Then when the time comes for spontaneity. A budget or a plan—or God’s commands. It’s not the gas gauge’s fault when you sputter to a halt on the middle of the I-90 bridge. you never know if you’re about to run out of fuel. he has been exceedingly generous. Keep a calendar. so remember where wisdom comes from. the more prepared we are. And wisdom says make a plan. Spend time with Jesus. Share Jesus with friends and family. the more likely we’ll be ready to roll when the Holy Spirit leads us. Date your spouse. I’m not arguing against spontaneity. but the boundaries are there to protect us and guide us. You never know how fast you’re going. then you may need some help. Love your kids. 73 . Budget.“bother” him with small stuff? BUDGET FOR GOD’S GLORY I encourage you to see these exercises as an act of worship rather than a chore. Invite the Holy Spirit to guide you. or panels whatsoever. Imagine if your car had a blank dashboard—void of any dials. Building a financial plan requires contemplation of all that God has given us—and regardless of our wealth. Read the Bible. He is our Helper (John 14:16). and folly. wisdom helps us stay out of it. create a budget. you never know if the engine’s about to explode. BUDGET FOR YOUR JOY If you think balancing your checking account means looking at your balance each time you withdraw cash from the ATM. We can also glorify God with a life lived according to his Lordship.
CHAPTER TWELVE STEWARDSHIP FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY: MONEY ADVICE BY LIFE STAGE .
work ethic. then all the financial knowledge in the world amounts to nothing. running errands. I’ll never forget when my son opened a fifth birthday card from his grandparents. Invite your kids into the conversation. into adults and old age. and he blurted out. FOR THE SON OF MAN IS COMING AT AN HOUR YOU DO NOT EXPECT. joy. and middle and old age. –LUKE 12:40 The servants Jesus describes in Luke 12 await their master through the night and for some days. and allowance) into three categories: give. this time period represents our entire life.YOU ALSO MUST BE READY. We may be excellent money managers. Children can handle more than we give them credit for. Whether it’s in death or his return. youth and singleness. and decision-making. able to instruct our children in the way of financial planning. we never know when we will finally see our Master. our circumstances change constantly as we grow from infants into young men and women. but if neither our children nor we understand the gospel. now I can pay my bills!” He didn’t have many bills as a five-year-old. “Yes. For us. paying bills. and the sooner you begin developing them financially. but the details of your budget and plans will evolve with your life. The biblical principles of generosity and good stewardship always apply. In this chapter we’ll consider how to be a good steward in a way that is unique to different seasons of life: childhood. and spend. doing chores. Generosity stems from Jesus. holidays. Teach your kids to divide their money (from birthdays. Too often we parents go about our day. There was some money in it. In the meantime. and forgetting to invite our kids to participate and learn about things like responsibility. marriage. but I loved the fact that he was beginning to think through stewardship. 75 . CHILDREN (ADVICE FOR PARENTS) Teach your kids about Jesus and their need for his grace. save. the sooner they’ll learn.
friends. Are you working on building up your shoe collection. Practice what you preach.) Since generosity flows from grace.000 of school loans and credit card debt. take the time to encourage them and invest in them so that these mini-ventures can be used as teaching opportunities—whether or not they’re financially profitable. And whether or not you agree doesn’t change reality: what you do now sets the course for the next twenty years. Engage your kids and teach them discernment. 76 . Think about what it would look like to set a pattern of giving and serving. When you get married. I hate to say it. I assure you they’ll have a list. But you singles excel in this vice (I know I did). Consider what you’d bring into a marriage. Kids need to be equipped to recognize the difference between truth and lies. I know it’s a lot of work to setup the lemonade stand. without any parental discernment to guide them. business principles. Learn from others that are ahead of you. too. And the truth is. but single people are some of the most selfish people on the planet. You’re in a season of your life in which you have a lot of time and (often) excess money to manage. and what they would do differently. and TV—none of which tend to rely on the principles of Scripture for instruction. Don’t give to impress your children. SINGLES Establish giving patterns now. but through marketing. We’re all selfish. confess your sin to your family and let your kids see that Dad and Mom need a Savior. and managing finances. I get that. Most parents expect their kids to learn through osmosis rather than intentional development. allow failure. one that chips away at the selfishness rather than reinforces it. Model generosity. (When you miss the mark. their mistakes.Don’t stifle innovation. what worked for them. your spouse will be a mirror that points out the flaws and highlights the healthy patterns you’ve established. As your kids get ideas. but don’t hide it from them either. Ask them about their successes. we can use it as a tool to teach about Jesus. I’ve worked with couples beginning life together under $100. kids will absorb their life lessons. but what a great opportunity to teach your kids about work. or your savings for a down payment on a house? There is a huge difference between debt and cash when it comes to starting a marriage. Use your extra time to learn from married men and women.
Be proactive. Invest enough so that you can continue to be generous in your old age. What you do with your money today will have a profound effect on your future marriage. your seven years’ worth of savings will grow to $1 million by age sixty-five. 77 .com/columns/starting/ar- chive/2007/st1107. plans. If your priorities are in order. I’ve also worked with couples that brought savings into their marriage. it’s to your advantage to start right away. seize the opportunity to build a financial future that will be significantly more generous. November 8. it’s both/and—not either/or.” Kiplinger. it’ll take thirty-four-years of saving to reach $1 million by sixty-five. Start loving your future spouse now by practicing good stewardship. The purpose of saving is not just future provision. the magic of compound interest is on your side. If you start investing your $300 a month at age 31. http://www. It usually starts small but anything kept in the dark will grow into a massive shadow that will cloud and destroy the oneness God intends for marriage. and a vision for your future doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy God’s blessings. and grace to you today. secret hobbies. preparing for the future should look and feel much different than banking on the future (Luke 12:19¬–20) or worrying about the future (Luke 12:22–23). Financial secrecy destroys marriages.The burden can be smothering. “Behold the Miracle of Compounding. Even if you can only contribute a small amount. rather than hoarding your nest egg for yourself. Right now. however. 2007. the more your savings is likely to grow. If you save $300 per month from age twenty-two and continue through age twenty-eight at an interest rate of 10 percent per year. gifts. The word “retirement” is not in the Bible. If you are not 100 percent honest with your spouse about your debt. spending habits. however. Working toward goals. Remember. MARRIED COUPLES No secrets. but that doesn’t mean you’ll always be able to work as hard or earn as much as you can when you’re young.kiplinger. Rather than seizing the day by spending all your money as it comes in. Have fun. and it often becomes the dominating issue for many years of the marriage. and the financial freedom they enjoy is life giving. Take advantage of compound interest (ages 18–30). 157 Though ten percent may be optimistic these days. On the other hand. the same principle applies: The younger you are.htm. and 157 Erin Burt.
put this book down immediately and begin the confession and repentance process. Don’t point fingers—start by knowing and owning your own style and sin patterns (saver. which isn’t wrong. Leverage each other’s strengths. but the dichotomy can lead to all kinds of marital strife if you don’t understand one another. Dave Ramsey. 158 So don’t burden your wife with the whole task. our mental health. 78 . know your giving. but don’t abdicate responsibility. Use money as a gift to foster oneness. cheapskate. Financial conflict and stress lead to way more divorces than they should. Make the experience fun—date your wife at home while you talk numbers. This is yet another way we fall into devoting ourselves to money as a god (allowing it to affect our moods. our marriage). and know where you stand financially as a family. Understand each other’s weaknesses. Financial Peace Revisited (New York: Viking. Jesus died for your sin. Both husband and wife need to have their heads in the game: know the budget. the financial management of the household is abdicated by one spouse and forced on the other. 5:22–23. figure out a way to make it happen. but both husband and wife should be involved. Stress tends to dominate our financial lives. rather than receiving it as a gift from God. 195. send her to get a pedicure. When your husband needs a gift. frivolous. Use those gifts effectively. or enough margin that allows you to spontaneously bless them? When your wife is stressed. The sooner this transition can be made. he or she will too. and he will forgive you. and we forget to have fun.159 I’ve found that savers often marry spenders. Start living on the husband’s income as soon as possible. If your spouse loves Jesus. however. one of you is more administratively gifted than the other. coveter) so that you can learn to communicate humbly and effectively with your spouse and build a united plan that honors God together. Husbands. you are ultimately accountable. Hopefully.such. the sooner a couple will be prepared for the day God gives 158 159 Eph. We’ve talked a lot about giving in this book—how about giving to your spouse? Do you have a fund in your budget dedicated to loving your spouse. 2003). spender. money is the number one thing American couples fight about. which will foster love and intimacy. There are no authoritative rules on who does what when it comes to managing the household budget. Too often. Figure out how to use money to have fun in your marriage. so that person will be better at balancing the checking account and managing the spreadsheets.
Too often newly married couples immediately adjust their spending to match the double income. Oftentimes. and they begin to live a lifestyle that isn’t sustainable and easily supported by one income. most likely—not your situation. Your policy should be enough to cover your family’s debt (including mortgage) and living expenses for some years so that your wife can concentrate on taking care of your children (who will need all the more care without a dad) and not have to worry about earning a livable wage. If that’s the case. Start repenting and see what God does. Whether weeks or years before a child arrives. you are in full-time ministry? Every Christian is an ambassador of Jesus. You’re the problem. and pay off debt—all of which will give you a firmer foundation for your future. 79 . culture. but I would have a few pastoral questions to ask before you quit your day job: • • Do you believe that. by virtue of being a Christian. changing circumstances is simply a way to avoid dealing with sin.” Just because it’s not your job doesn’t mean you still can’t serve people. If you are being faithful where you’re at and feel called. and sphere of influence. Are you being faithful where you are? Many people think switching to a more ministry-oriented career will provide the spiritual juice and accountability that seem to be lacking in their life. share the gospel. however. money (or lack thereof) should not be the deciding vote. the cheaper it will be.them children. Life insurance is another financial decision to make sooner rather than later—the younger you are. Husbands and fathers: purchase life insurance to provide for your family in your absence. The transition to one income allows you to use the wife’s income to give. MIDDLE AGE AND OLDER Don’t defer or compartmentalize ministry. save. be free in Christ to explore where the Holy Spirit might be leading. no matter if their work is “secular” or “spiritual. Many successful Christian business people wrestle with whether they should trade their secular vocation for a life of “full-time ministry” serving the church. and be a missionary to your neighborhood. This may be God’s call on your life. pray. don’t go anywhere.
your success. 161 Names have been changed. and your failures. It could be that God allows you more discretionary time and resources as your earthly clock ticks down. My success in these areas varied significantly. and service didn’t have to compete with my production—the need for income. peace. and how you choose to invest those reflects what is most treasured in your heart. and that production and time can co-exist. but by God’s grace. spend wisely.” I wanted to have a life where people. but if God has blessed you with great business skills and financial success. My vision for retirement was not very different from the same lifestyle and goals I used to get there. save diligently. The main difference was trading “production” for “time. age 50 The vision I had of retirement led me to follow a steady course for many years. and all the accompanying trappings. the original vision was realized. grandbabies. but will be wasted if my life does not bring glory to God. and contentment. “You win or lose. 80 . The path included established goals to work hard. My dad used to say. retirement had a better chance to succeed than a longer or scaled-back career. so I invited some of the seasoned men in our church to share their thoughts: 161 Instead of “grabbing all you can get and enjoying it now. and to be content with what we had.” We should make certain we choose wisely in this area as the stakes are very high to future generations. by the way you choose. Share your story. –Dave. give faithfully. When it comes to life stages. your wisdom. This all sounds fine in theory.• Did you know that giving is a spiritual gift? 160 It may feel more holy to drop every thing you’re doing to start volunteering full-time at your church or pursue oversees missions. relationships. I have the least amount of experience in the middle and old age categories. I am 160 Rom.” we should practice intentional living that points to eternity as our source of joy. your role in the kingdom of God may be to make a ton of money and give a ton away. for me. but I also know myself and my tendencies well enough that. sacrifice. 12:8. I understand the value of work. practice delayed gratification. a full-time job.
This idea is called legacy. and it’s never too early or too late to start thinking about how your time and money can pave the way for future generations. And to be certain retirement is some of that. We never retire from our faith. that I continue to grow closer to him. We are called to serve and the only change is the address of where we work. which piece of advice is most encouraging? Which one is most challenging. Christians never retire from serving Jesus and community. and enjoy the privilege of extending the work of the gospel beyond your life and into the life of the church. But retirement as it relates to our vocation is much different than what we do with our lives after our primary vocational responsibilities have ended.praying that God’s grace will continue to lead me. and that my life brings him glory and blessing to others. age 55 To older men and women attending younger churches (like Mars Hill): your war stories are invaluable. –John. take young folks out for coffee. Discussion: Based on your season of life. Share them in your community groups. age 60 Most of us grew up with the thought that retirement is what Grandpa did when he didn’t have to go to work anymore and was able to spend more time with us kids. and how do you hope to change? 81 . –Stan.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN DIE BEFORE YOUR MONEY DOES: ESTABLISHING A LEGACY .
What will you leave behind in your absence? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Or maybe you’ve dismissed it because you feel too young (“I don’t need to worry about that right now”) or too old (“It’s too late”). family member? 162 163 John Piper. DREAM BIG John Piper says. neighbor. Though finances are a piece of this puzzle. Dream really big. or else you’ll waste it. our dreams need to reach into the next generation. Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton. your life amounts to more than the money in your bank account.” 163 Legacy. “We waste our lives when we do not pray and think and dream and plan and work toward magnifying God in all spheres of life. while we cheer them on. or fifty years from now.” says author Dave Harvey. Harvey. in your city. in the world? For Christians. 2003). –LUKE 12:37 You will die. “To be truly ambitious. and don’t diminish it. Consider the answers you’d like to give ten. he expects you to use it. positioning them to run stronger and farther. long-term picture that is your legacy. 200. “A biblical definition of success means we transfer the work to them. culture. twenty-five. 83 . and then on the last day of your life: Walk with Jesus – Who will be impacted by my walk with Jesus? A particular age group.” 162 Where do you want to go? What are you pursuing? What drives you? What bugs you? What do you want to see changed—in your life.BLESSED ARE THOSE SERVANTS WHOM THE MASTER FINDS AWAKE WHEN HE COMES. Here are some questions to get you thinking about the various pieces of the puzzle and how they fit together in the one big. Rescuing Ambition. As long as God has given you life. you’ve got the Holy Spirit working with you. Don’t delay it. IL: Crossway. Both excuses are untrue. 32.
Giving – How much will I give between today and my last day? Have I given generously throughout my life. and will I continue to do so through my estate? Family – What will my family look like? How many children? Where will we live? Friendships – Who will my friends be? To whom will I have been a friend? Mission – What will I have done in obedience to Jesus’ commandment to “make disciples of all nations” and fulfill the Great Commission? 164 Career – What will I have spent my life working on or working for? Housing – Will I pass on real estate as part of my legacy? 165 Finances – What will I leave behind financially and to whom? 166 Where will the money God has entrusted to me have the greatest impact for the gospel? The questions you ask today will ultimately shape the legacy you leave at the end of your life. 16:9. Prov. 13:22. In between. Prov. you’ll need a plan. “A man plans his course. we 164 165 166 167 Matt. PLAN BIG I’m not sure who said it first. Proverbs says. 28:19. but I like it: The difference between a vision (or a dream) and a goal (or an achievement) is a plan. 19:4. A plan takes our desired future and turns it into reasonable.” 167 We need to plan. Prov. but the LORD determines his steps. How has Jesus shaped those plans? Invite your group to help you think through some long-term goals that build a gospel-saturated legacy. Discussion: Share some of your long-term goals with your community group. specific steps we can take in succession to achieve our goals. 84 .
need to write things down, we need to pray for specific direction in our lives, but we also need to hold our plans in an open hand for God to chart our course. That’s okay. He’s God. He’s allowed to do that. Our plan will change as he shapes your life and your convictions, but we still need to plan.
GOD IS GOD (NOT YOU, NOT PLANS)
We participate with the Creator of the world to map out a direction for our life. That is a profound, encouraging, humbling thought that should constantly align our will with his. Make plans and shoot for something, but don’t place that something over God’s kingdom. God is not Santa Clause. Our plans are not a wish list that we hand him in exchange for our good deeds. We plan to his glory. The object is to make highest and best use of the things he’s given us for the biggest gospel impact as possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. The legacy you leave defines your faithfulness and stewardship of everything God has entrusted to you, and God has blessed you to bless others. Don’t delay.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN IT STARTS TODAY: PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR HEART IS
WHO THEN IS THE FAITHFUL AND WISE MANAGER? –LUKE 12:42
By now, you’ve read, you’ve discussed, and hopefully you’ve learned more about biblical stewardship. It’s time to take these lessons, turn them into convictions, and apply them to the day-to-day, life and doctrine together. 168 In the past couple chapters I’ve shown you the mountain that we’re trying to scale (big vision) and provided a basic map of the trail you’re on to get there (lifestage). Now it’s time to put one foot in front of the other and start making progress toward these tangible milestones: 169
• • • • • • • •
Give Purchase life insurance Budget (see appendix B for sample budget template) Create an emergency fund Pay off debt Save for retirement Save for college Estate plan (will, legacy giving)
Always begin with give. After that, the order will vary depending on your priorities. As you get to work defining the specifics of your plan, your money, and your life, here are a few ways to pace yourself: Discussion: When it comes to money, is giving your number one priority? Why or why not?
KEEP IT SIMPLE.
People often make financial planning more complicated than it needs to be. You don’t have to have expensive software, a CPA degree, online banking, or lots of mutual funds to be a good steward. Find a system that works for you. The simpler it is, the easier it will be to stick to it.
1 Tim. 4:16. For practical advice (templates, techniques, and tips), I recommend Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover (Nashville: Thomas Nelson).
how can I be most faithful with what I’ve been given? TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME. Ask God for wisdom each day. very frustrated if you try to make things perfect. 172 and you will get very. prayer. SHARE YOUR BURDENS. “Bear one another’s burdens. Don’t replace money with “good stewardship” as your god. 8:20 88 . We need ongoing teaching. Know that you will be tempted and prepare accordingly—memorize Scripture. Like all aspects of discipleship. The world is broken and life rarely fits together like a nice puzzle. family. your money. but with many advisers they succeed. and pray a lot. and time with Jesus to continually ask the question. 171 Husbands and wives must work together to steward their resources as one. Creation is subject to frustration.STAY ON TRACK. CARRY YOUR OWN LOAD. Galatians 6 says. 15:22 Rom. seek accountability. Managing your money and your resources well takes more than a one-time knowledge injection or a three-week study course. YOU’RE NOT IN HEAVEN. being a good steward takes a life of faith and repentance. As you begin to give and sacrifice you’ll feel the pinch.” 170 Ask for wisdom and accountability from trusted advisers—friends. At the same time. and begin there. Proverbs says. 170 171 Prov. tragedy). community group. DON’T GO IT ALONE. don’t be too proud to ask for help. but don’t get overwhelmed by the fifty-year big vision. “Without counsel plans fail. “Each will have to bear his own load” (6:2. Don’t give in. Don’t spend a ton of energy trying to create heaven on earth. even if it hurts. job loss. starting with today. when a legitimate burden arises (death. God gave us a large family (the church) in part so that we can make sure everyone is cared for. your giving. Temptation will creep in and the path of least resistance will start looking pretty good. Listen to what they have to say. love and obedience.” Jesus said (Matthew 6:21. “Tomorrow will worry about itself. illness. Your “load” refers to your responsibility: your budget. 9:8 172 Prov.” but also. NIV). STEWARDSHIP IS A LIFESTYLE. Work with what you’ve got and worship Jesus. It’s important to think long-term. Don’t make somebody take care of what you should be taking care of. 5).
CHAPTER FIFTEEN CONCLUSION: WHAT CAN GOD DO WITH 10.000 PEOPLE AND $300 MILLION? .
We have every reason to be grateful. and use our gifts to the glory of Jesus. Our faithful stewardship could bless generations to come. which means God has given us about the same collective resources as the nation of Tonga ($300 million).000 people. and the message of the gospel to share with the world. that God would use the ministry and resources of Mars Hill to reach millions of lives for generations to come with the gospel of Jesus. Of course. Mars Hill Church includes about 10. a church family. From our good. and for the joy of being what we were created to be. It’s more present than we realize or even fully understand. for the good of others. and loving God we’ve received forgiveness. ”Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 174 Discussion: Pray for the future of our church. Jesus. –LUKE 12:48 At the time of this writing.EVERYONE TO WHOM MUCH WAS GIVEN. This is a tremendous gift that calls for great responsibility. the Holy Spirit. salvation. and hundreds of thousands of people meet Jesus as a result. OF HIM MUCH WILL BE REQUIRED. 9:15 90 .3:20 2 Cor. 173 174 Eph. Seattle’s King County has a per capita income of just under $30. but he already we’ve seen him do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think”173 in our lives.000. the kingdom. What would it look like if everyone in our church used their money on mission? What would it look like if other churches joined us? What would it look like if we stopped worshiping money as a god. We’ve been given much. complaining about the gifts we’ve been given. and received it as a gift—a useful tool in the kingdom of the true God? We could see thousands of churches planted in our lifetime. Let’s not it for granted or grumble our way through life. life. That is my prayer for all of us stewards in Jesus’ kingdom. and our children’s children’s children’s children could hear the gospel based on how we live today. Our mission is to make disciples and plant churches—as many as possible. this depends on the work of the Holy Spirit. faithful.
Righteousness has nothing to do with wealth. “Haves” are grateful and grace-filled.” 175 Fear of the Lord leads us to worship him: acknowledging with reverence and awe that God is the all-knowing. Prov. The significance of the heart levels the playing field between rich and poor. ever-present. God does not require his people to renounce material possessions (poverty theology). investing) reveals our heart by presenting an opportunity to worship Jesus or worship ourselves. saving. and our lives are in the stable. CHAPTER ONE: HAVES AND HAVE NOTS • • • Everything we have comes from God and belongs to God. always good Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Every opportunity to give becomes an opportunity to demonstrate and share our truest. most valuable possession: the generosity. we are free to “fear not. we use it. spending.To conclude this study. goodness. all-powerful. and good news of Jesus. our eternity. fools despise wisdom and instruction. We are stewards of what God has given us. He owns it. nor does he promise that all of his disciples will be wealthy (prosperity theology). here is a brief summary of each chapter for review and wrap-up discussion: INTRODUCTION: FEAR • • • “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. CHAPTER TWO: MATTERS OF THE HEART • • • 175 Any financial transaction (giving. “Have Nots” are greedy and grumble (see chart on page 18).” knowing that our future. trustworthy care of God’s hand.1:7 91 . When faced with financial stress.
It’s about the heart. Honor God by not being anxious about saving. Honor God by retiring to give—not to get. on the other hand. food. and water. Honor God by giving cheerfully. Most “wants” are not inherently evil. and regularly (see chart on page 27). PRIORITIES • • • • All we “need” is air. sacrificially. CHAPTER FOUR: THE BIBLE AND SPENDING • • • Honor God by living within your means—don’t be a spender. A disciple’s priorities: Jesus. CHAPTER SEVEN: REDEEMING WORRY • • God redeems our worry by using it as a flashing neon arrow that points right to our sin. CHAPTER SIX: WANTS VS. there is no prescription. schemes. human relationships. When it comes to aligning wants with priorities. How much should I give? The absence of a specific mandate creates dependence on God because we must actively seek his will for our finances.CHAPTER THREE: THE BIBLE AND GIVING • • • Honor God by giving before you save or spend. Honor God by spending well—don’t be a hoarder. CHAPTER FIVE: THE BIBLE AND SAVING • • • • Honor God by building up savings through hard work—not get-rich-quick Honor God by aligning your saving goals with his mission. but they are never-ending. are finite. Our resources. Honor God by guarding against covetousness. No matter what we say about God with our mouths. and mission. which means we must prioritize. as long as worry resides in 92 .
secondary to the greatest treasure to be found in heaven or earth: God. CHAPTER EIGHT: GENEROSITY • • • • • God is a giver. Rather than justify this anxiety. They are. Random acts of generosity – page 53 CHAPTER NINE: TREASURE IN HEAVEN • • • • Logical appeal: Earthly treasures will not last. Motives = guilt and/or pride. 8:12 93 . How much you give counts for nothing.” 176 176 2 Cor. if only we’ll trust him. confess and repent (see chart on page 49). But if our very pursuit includes the pursuit of their joy. Grace-based generosity is an outward sign of inward transformation: rebirth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to seek the kingdom. Why not invest in heavenly treasures that will last? No one knows the precise nature of treasures in heaven. Jesus doesn’t belittle our material concerns. “It would only be unloving if we pursued our joy at the expense of others. What matters is generosity “according to what a person has. his job is to take care of us along the way. we are his image-bearers. how is that selfish?” (John Piper) All of the treasures in heaven are equally accessible to everyone. • our heart we do not believe him. Giving for (unrighteous) gain: It’s quite possible to give a lot of money without a generous heart. however. There is something (righteous) to be gained by generosity: treasure in heaven (including God himself). He promises that God will provide for them.
worry. but the boundaries are there to protect us and guide us. We shouldn’t talk about giving habits.” “I give to other organizations.” “I don’t trust the church. If you want to honor God with your money.” “Churches are all about money. freeloading. laziness. selfishness. false doctrine. unnecessary debt.” “The Bible says to give in secret. lack of vision. envy and covetousness. entitlement.” “I can’t give—I’m a poor college student.” “I want to give.CHAPTER TEN: QUESTIONS. pride. Invite your kids into the conversation. The enemy wins when our money is separated from our walk with Jesus. no fear of the Lord. ministries. 94 . AND FINANCIAL SINS • • • • • • • • • • • • “Money is a private matter.” Common financial sins (see page 64): idolatry.” “I can’t give—I don’t have anything. CHAPTER TWELVE: STEWARDSHIP BY LIFE STAGE Children – • • Teach your kids about Jesus and their need for his grace. lack of planning. It’s not the gas gauge’s fault when you sputter to a halt on the freeway. greed.” “I’m ashamed of my debt and poor management.” “I need to save money before I can give any. but I just keep forgetting. CHAPTER ELEVEN: BUDGET FOR JUDGMENT DAY • • • • We minimize and compartmentalize certain aspects of life and choose to believe that God only cares about “holy” things. A budget—or God’s commands—may feel restrictive. hope in wealth. This is a lie. ASSUMPTIONS. charities—the ‘church’ at large. not giving or tithing.” “I am giving faithfully. seeking satisfaction in wealth. building a budget is a form of worship.
Middle Age and Older – • • Don’t defer or compartmentalize ministry Share your story. family member? Mission – What will I have done in obedience to Jesus’ commandment to “make disciples of all nations” and fulfill the Great Commission? Family – What will my family look like? How many children? Where will we live? 95 . neighbor. Have fun. Leverage each other’s strengths. Use money as a gift to foster oneness. Young Singles – • • • • • Establish giving patterns now. Husbands and fathers: purchase life insurance to provide for your family in your absence. your success. save. Don’t stifle innovation. Learn from others that are ahead of you. allow failure. your wisdom. CHAPTER THIRTEEN: ESTABLISHING A LEGACY • • • Walk with Jesus – Who will be impacted by my walk with Jesus? A particular age group.• • • • Teach your kids to divide their money into three categories: give. Engage your kids and teach them discernment. Consider what you’d bring into a marriage. and your failures. Take advantage of compound interest. spend. Start living on husband’s income as soon as possible. but don’t abdicate responsibility. culture. Model generosity. Married Couples – • • • • • • No secrets. Understand each other’s weaknesses.
and will I continue to do so through my estate? CHAPTER FOURTEEN: IT STARTS TODAY Plan – • • • • • • • • Give Purchase life insurance Budget Create an emergency fund Pay off debt Save for retirement Save for college Estate plan Best Practices – • • • • • • • Keep it simple. You’re not in heaven (it won’t be perfect). Don’t go it alone.• • • • • Friendships – Who will my friends be? To whom will I have been a friend? Career – What will I have spent my life working on or working for? Finances – What will I leave behind financially and to whom? Where will the money God has entrusted to me have the greatest impact for the gospel? Housing – Will I pass on real estate as part of my legacy? Giving – How much will I give between today and my last day? Have I given generously throughout my life. 96 . Stewardship is a lifestyle (not a one-time knowledge injection). Stay on track. Carry your own load. One day at a time: ask God for wisdom for each day. and begin there. share your burdens.
but the entire book provides helpful insight on what it means to make God our greatest treasure. Possession. and what we treasure. Total Money Makeover By Dave Ramsey Mainstream practical financial advice that aligns with many of the principles found in Scripture.APPENDIX A – FOR FURTHER READING Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe By Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears Explains stewardship within the context of the whole Bible. Money. The Treasure Principle By Randy Alcorn An excellent introduction to biblical stewardship that you can read in one or two sittings. 97 . only at greater length and in much greater depth. Desiring God By John Piper One chapter deals with money specifically. Don’t Waste Your Life By John Piper How Christian stewardship plays out in our lifestyle. our priorities. Financial Peace By Dave Ramsey Ramsey’s original book takes a more general approach (“what to do”) than Total Money Makeover (“how to do it”). and Eternity By Randy Alcorn Alcorn’s definitive book on the subject of stewardship tackles the same themes as The Treasure Principle. Alcorn is a pastor and a best-selling author who walks the walk.
and Testament teaches us about money and stewardship. The subtitle is telling: “Why American Christians Don’t Give More Money.Neither Poverty nor Riches By Craig Blomberg A tour through the whole Bible in sequential order to discuss what each book. Running Scared By Edward T.” 98 . Passing the Plate By Christian Smith and Michael O. Christians. Emerson A team of researchers present the most comprehensive study to date on giving. genre. Welch devotes a chapter to financial worry specifically. Welch Great insight on a subject that drives our money decisions. and the church.
but here is a basic template to help you get started.APPENDIX B – BUDGET TEMPLATE There are many great budgeting tools available. Look up Dave Ramsey or Crown Financial for further financial guidance. etc. Calculate how much you need to save per month Essential for fathers 99 . be sure to save enough of your earnings to pay the IRS Yearly Total Notes Use Net Income (After Taxes and Deductions) SAVE Emergency Retirement Other Total Savings SPEND Insurance Life College. down payment. Monthly EARN Gross Wages Taxes/Deductions Retirement Deduction Other Income Total Income GIVE Church Other Total Giving DEBT Student Loan Auto Loan Credit Card #1 Credit Card #2 Other Total Debt Make it a priority to pay off debt ASAP List Mortgage in “Housing” (below) 10% of earnings (suggested starting line) If “Other” income is taxable.
haircuts. etc. Plan to bless others Save a little each month to have money for gifts. dates. A good budget accounts for the majority of income and expenses 100 . etc.Auto Home Housing Utilities Electricity Water Trash Gas Auto Fuel Maintenance Groceries Clothing Upkeep Hygiene Recreation Eating Out Entertainment Hospitality Mobile Phone Internet/TV/Phone Christmas Probably 0-40% of income Budget according to high-use months Probably 10%-30% of income Replacing. fixing and cleaning things around the house Toiletries. Subscriptions. membershipsdon’t leave anything out Other Total Expenses TOTAL MARGIN This number should be close to zero (not negative).
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