Archives For Prosperity

Conformed or Transformed?

Corey —  June 15, 2010

       If someone were to look at your bank or credit card statement, would they see a Christian? Are the choices you make still following the pattern of the world? Or have you been transformed by the renewing of your mind and presented your body (and your money) as a sacrifice to God?

       1 Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:1-2 (WEB)

       These verses encourage us to live changed lives in light of God’s overflowing mercy toward us. I would not begin to imply that it relates specifically to finances. However, the choices you make with the money God has given you can clearly reflect where your heart is focused. When you make your money decisions are you thinking in terms of God’s will, or are you continuing in the patterns of the world?

       This doesn’t mean that you are perfectly holy and good if your account statements show that you give all your money away (or even live on very little and give the rest away). Outward appearances are not necessarily an indication of the heart. Jesus spent most of His time teaching this exact idea. If you do not have God’s love and your actions are not motivated by that same love, then your pious actions will help you in no way.

       The challenge I want to present to you (and myself) is simply this: In your earning, spending, and managing money, how are you presenting yourself as a sacrifice to God and seeking His will? In other words, are your money decisions in alignment with God’s principles and values?

       It’s very easy to live just as the rest of the world does. In many ways, Christians are indistinguishable from non-Christians. But we are called to live differently. This doesn’t necessarily mean rejecting everything the world does, but it will often look that way. Rather, we must give everything over to God (as a response to the gift of salvation) and seek His will.

       A transformed life may not look very different from the world. Much personal finance advice is good regardless of your faith (though the motivations may be quite different). On the other hand, it may be the exact opposite of the world’s ways. Giving is one example. It simply doesn’t make sense if you look only at the numbers.

       How your life will look is not the point. A transformed life could look different from one Christian to another (though there will be some similarities). The point is whether or not you are seeking that transformed life, seeking God’s will, and striving to persevere until the end. A life of following Jesus is not marked by the absence of sin. It is marked by striving against sin, by denying your own will, by giving up those things that keep you from God, and by taking up your cross each day. If you’re willing to do that (you’ve counted the cost), then God will transform your mind and your life as you grow in the likeness of Christ.

       So take time (at least each month, if not more frequently) to ask yourself this question as you review your finances: Am I following Jesus, or am I following the world?

Preaching Christ Crucified

Corey —  May 11, 2010

       I want to apologize.

       I want to apologize for anything I have taught that did not point to Christ crucified.

       If I have written about giving without emphasizing that giving does not make you righteous, I have missed the point. If I have ever implied that your generosity will please God, I have been wrong. If I have suggested that you can find contentment through your own power, I was in error.

       All too often in “Christian” personal finance (and Christianity in general), we fail to emphasize the fact that Christ accomplished all on the Cross. We can put heavy burdens on readers and listeners because we may teach that your choices and your determination will glorify God.

       There is a choice you must make. But that choice is not to change your heart of greed to a heart of generosity, your heart of laziness to a heart of diligence, or your heart of covetousness to a heart of contentment.

       The only choice you must make is to accept the forgiveness, grace, and mercy that Christ offers us through His death on the Cross for our sins. Until you accept that Gift, nothing will make you right before God – in your finances or any other area of your life.

       Tithing will not make you holy. Generous, sacrificial giving will not make you righteous. Contentment will not bring you salvation. Diligence cannot save your soul. Only Christ can.

       The evidence of a Christ-filled life is not in your choosing to be generous. Generosity flows out of your choosing to follow Christ. Contentment does not come by your choosing to live simply and reject consumerism. Contentment comes from your choosing to focus solely on Christ and the rich Gift He gives.

       If I ever teach that you will glorify God through your finances by doing certain things, living a certain way, or giving a certain amount, I am wrong. You will glorify God through your finances as Christ lives in you and pours out His love through your life. Contentment, diligence, stewardship, and generosity will result as you look to Jesus’ example and follow Him – not as you make specific choices and fulfill certain objectives.

       Do not be misled by what I am saying. Faith without works is certainly dead. How can our response to Jesus be anything other than contentment, diligence, stewardship, and generosity? But neither are we saved by our works. And it is not our power that produces these good things within us. It is Jesus who saves us and the power of God’s Spirit that produces whatever good we see in our lives. This does not relieve us from responsibility for our actions. We are called to seek holy lives in light of our new life in Christ. If we are not following and obeying Jesus, how can we call ourselves His disciples?

       I ask you to keep me honest to this truth. If you see me teach anything other than Christ crucified, call me out on it! If I teach that you will please God by doing specific things, remind me that God is pleased when we listen to His Son and follow Him. Yes, this requires action on our part. But it is action that flows out of faith (faith that works) – not action that precedes faith or salvation. Show me my error and refute it. Do not allow me to continue in a lie or lead others in it either. I pray that we may all remember how powerless and fallen we are and that we will learn to rely only on the salvation Jesus gives and the example He taught and lived.

       22 For Jews ask for signs, Greeks seek after wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians 1:22-25 (WEB)

       If you spend much time reading personal finance advice for Christians (either on Provident Planning or somewhere else), you’ll probably start to realize that it’s not all that different from other personal finance advice. Most of the good advice for Christians applies equally to non-Christians as well. Stick to a budget, spend less than you earn, avoid excessive debt, keep an emergency fund, minimize your taxes, don’t buy insurance you don’t need, save for the future – none of those things are particularly Christian in nature.

       There may be some points in which Christian personal finance and secular personal finance will differ, but, generally speaking, good personal finance advice is the same regardless of your religion. The difference – and this is a major difference – is in the ultimate purpose, the final goal, of following that good advice.

       As far as the world is concerned, it makes sense to make smart personal finance decisions because that’s what is best for you. Good money management will help you meet your goals, maximize your wealth, and get the most out of the money you’ve earned. And according to the world, that’s what you should do with your money. Use it for the things you want. Use it to meet your goals and fulfill your dreams.

       But for Christians, making smart decisions in our finances is not important just so we can maximize our wealth and meet all our desires. Our purpose is not to find fulfillment in this world and the things it offers. Our purpose is to honor and glorify God – to serve Him with our entire being in everything we do. Our goal is to do His will. And part of God’s will for us is to share His love by caring for those in need through generous giving. We don’t try to maximize our wealth for our own use. We try to maximize our wealth for God’s use.

       I want you to remember this as you read the articles I write. Many times there won’t be a Bible verse in a post. Personal finance in the Bible is more about the principles that should govern our decisions – not specific applications (like how to get out of debt). But it’s very important that we remember the purpose of seeking and following good financial advice.

       When I talk about spending less, it’s so we’ll have more to give. When I talk about earning more money, it’s so we’ll have more to give. When I talk about making smart financial choices, it’s so we’ll have more to give. It all comes back to giving – giving motivated by love that flows out of our response to God’s Gift to us.

       Yes, making good financial decisions will have benefits for you personally. But our focus as Christians is on the benefits those decisions will have for the Kingdom. In our efforts to follow good financial advice, let’s keep our eyes focused on Christ and our minds focused on how we can serve Him fully.

       The advice we follow may not be all that different from non-Christians. But the motivation, goals, and results should be very, very different. And that difference will serve as a witness for the power of God’s love working in our lives.

       What do you think makes Christian personal finance different? Let me know in the comments!

       I’ve written in the past about the problems with the “prosperity gospel”. But something I haven’t done is discuss God’s purpose for Christian prosperity. God does want to bless us, but it’s not so we can waste that wealth on lavishly pampering ourselves. He has a specific purpose for prospering Christians and we can find that purpose in His Word.

God Prospers Us To Meet Our Needs

       God blesses us to meet our physical needs. Christ promised us that God knows what we need and He is happy to provide it, but we should seek His Kingdom first instead of worrying ourselves to death about those needs.

       31 “Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:31-33 (WEB)

       We should have faith that God will provide for our needs as we seek His kingdom. This is something I struggle with myself, for Jesus’ words here are difficult to follow despite the freedom they offer. Our weak flesh leads us to worry even though Jesus has promised that God will meet our needs. We must remember that God desires and has the power to meet our needs. He has given us eternal life in Christ, and He will not withhold what we need when we seek Him.

       My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19 (WEB)

God Prospers Us So We Can Give Generously

       God also blesses us to meet our spiritual needs and the physical and spiritual needs of others. We see another purpose for prosperity clearly illustrated in the Bible – namely the purpose of generous giving.

       In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul is asking the Corinthian church to complete their desire to give to the poor Christians in Jerusalem who were suffering from a famine. He provides wonderful counsel for the Christians in Corinth about God’s ability to bless them so they can be a blessing:

       7 Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart; not grudgingly, or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has scattered abroad, he has given to the poor. His righteousness remains forever.”

       10 Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; 11 you being enriched in everything to all liberality, which works through us thanksgiving to God. 12 For this service of giving that you perform not only makes up for lack among the saints, but abounds also through many givings of thanks to God; 13 seeing that through the proof given by this service, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the Good News of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all; 14 while they themselves also, with supplication on your behalf, yearn for you by reason of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Now thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift!

2 Corinthians 9:7-15 (WEB)

       Paul explains to the Corinthians that God is able to meet all our needs so that we may focus on being generous and doing good things in His name. God prospers us so that we will have the opportunity to give generously. It is up to us to use that opportunity to honor Him instead of following the Worldly path of honoring ourselves.

       Even though the “prosperity gospel” is false, there are small nuggets of truth in it that get warped into something ungodly. God desires to bless us so He can meet our needs – both physical and spiritual. But wealthy Christians are called not to merely go through life enjoying the wealth God has blessed them with but to use that wealth to honor God and help others.

       When God makes Christians rich, it isn’t for our own benefit only – it’s so we can glorify His name by being obedient to our confession of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Our response to that Good News should be unending thankfulness and amazing generosity. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Not for Itching Ears

Corey —  December 31, 2009

       If you want to hear how the Bible can make you a millionaire, you’re in the wrong place. If you want to hear that you can give 10% and you’ve done your duty to God, you’re in the wrong place. If you want to hear how easy life is going to be as a Christian, you should go do another Google search because you’re not going to find that here.

       Provident Planning is not a place for people with itching ears.

       But if you want to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you’ve come to the right place. If you want to know what the Bible – not man – teaches about money, you’ve come to the right place. If you desire to be a lover of God rather than a lover of money, then I invite you to join me as I seek God’s Truth for personal finances.

       3 For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but, having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside to fables.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (WEB)

       A lot of the most popular teaching about personal finance for Christians emphasizes how Biblical financial principles can make you rich. This naturally appeals to many people because the love of money is so prevalent in our society. Those who teach how the Bible can make you rich while putting little emphasis on God’s true purpose for those riches are doing nothing but scratching the itching ears.

       God’s Word is not a guide on how to get rich and enjoy all the fine things of the World. God doesn’t want rich Christians to splurge on luxuries while their brothers and sisters die from hunger and thirst. The Gospel is not about how you can prosper in this life. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so you can retire early.

       Jesus warned us of the dangers of greed. He taught us to give generously to anyone in need. He taught us to seek God’s Kingdom first – to make it our top priority in life. All of God’s Word testifies to the fact that our best life will be an eternal life in Heaven – not here on Earth. He has warned us that this life will be full of trials, tribulations, hard times, and difficulties. But He has promised us the most wonderful blessing – eternal life with Him for anyone who believes in His Son, Jesus Christ.

       3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine, and doesn’t consent to sound words, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, 4 he is conceited, knowing nothing, but obsessed with arguments, disputes, and word battles, from which come envy, strife, insulting, evil suspicions, 5 constant friction of people of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Withdraw yourself from such.

1 Timothy 6:3-5 (WEB)

       Many false teachers talk about how God will bless you if you’re a Christian. Or they tell you to send them a love gift or plant a seed and God will pour out miraculous financial blessings for you. These people do not teach the whole Word of God! We are to have nothing to do with those who twist the Scriptures for their own financial gain or teach a gospel different from the one Jesus taught.

       As Christians, we are rich – but you can’t measure our wealth in dollars. We have eternal life with God as our promised reward for faith in Jesus. That reward outweighs anything you can imagine for yourself in this life – and that reward is why contentment and giving should be our primary concerns when it comes to money. Reflect on these words from the Bible:

       6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can’t carry anything out. 8 But having food and clothing, we will be content with that.

       9 But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

       11 But you, man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you confessed the good confession in the sight of many witnesses. 13 I command you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate testified the good confession, 14 that you keep the commandment without spot, blameless, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; 15 which in its own times he will show, who is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and eternal power. Amen.

       17 Charge those who are rich in this present world that they not be haughty, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on the living God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy; 18 that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life.

1 Timothy 6:6-19 (WEB)

       So if you want to learn what God says about money and what the Bible teaches about personal finance, then please sign up for free updates to Provident Planning. And if you ever find me teaching anything contrary to the Scripture or the Gospel of Jesus Christ, please contact me and let me know.

       But if you just want someone to tell you the things you want to hear, you’ll have to go somewhere else to get your ears scratched.

Who or What Is Mammon?

Corey —  November 3, 2009

       19 Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.

Matthew 6:19-24 (WEB)

       Many times “Mammon” is translated simply as money in verse 24. While the idea of serving “money” can help us get the gist of what Jesus was saying here, we can gain a better understanding by looking carefully at the meaning of “Mammon” and its context in these verses.

       The word “Mammon” originally came from the ancient Chaldeans. It has its roots in the word “confidence” but it also signifies wealth. The way Jesus used it here seems to mean the personification of wealth, as if it were a person, thing, or god that can be served. We can gain even more understanding from the fact that it is rooted in the same word for confidence. If we think of it as confidence in wealth, it flows very well to the next passage where Jesus tells us not to worry about food or clothing because God will provide. Our confidence should be in God and our priority should be to serve Him and Him alone.

       The idea of “Mammon” representing wealth also makes sense in the context of the preceding verses. Jesus tells us not to lay up treasures on earth but instead to lay up treasures in Heaven. We’re not to focus our lives on amassing treasure, or wealth, for our own use while we’re here on earth. Making that a priority in our lives is the same as serving wealth. It means that we make becoming rich more important than becoming like Christ – so that we are not serving God.

       This should be an area of extreme concern for all Christians because of the statement Jesus makes here. He says we cannot serve both God and Mammon. We must make a choice. And we must live out that choice. There is no middle ground. We cannot choose to amass wealth and claim to be following Christ at the same time.

       It’s clear why Jesus makes this statement. Mammon’s goals are directly opposed to God’s.

  • God says, “Give me your heart.” Mammon says, “No, give it to me.”
  •        

  • God says, “Learn to be content.” Mammon says, “Get as much as you can – anything you want.”
  •        

  • God says, “Never lie or rip others off. Be honest and fair in everything you do.” Mammon says, “Cheat anyone you can if you’ll gain something from it.”
  •        

  • God says, “Be generous and give to the needy.” Mammon says, “Keep everything for yourself. You deserve it, and you worked for it.”

       In every way the commands of Mammon are inconsistent with the commands of God – to the point where you cannot serve both at the same time. You must choose one or the other.

What Is Wealth?

       Some people have taken these teachings of Jesus to mean that we should not save any money at all for the future. The claim is that saving money, even for needs (not wants, or unnecessary things), demonstrates a lack of faith in God’s provision.

       But what, exactly, is Jesus attacking here? Is he telling us that prudent saving and wise management of our affairs is against God’s will? If so, how does that idea support the numerous Proverbs that encourage saving, wisdom, and preparing for danger and the future? Or how would Paul’s command that Christians should provide for the needs of their own family be following Christ’s instructions?

       The way Jesus describes serving Mammon does not preclude Christians from saving for their needs or the needs of their families. Jesus preached against unbridled greed and materialism. He taught us that if we value being rich and having things more than serving God then we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

       Let’s look specifically at the idea of treasures, riches, and wealth. These words have never meant “any amount of money or possessions”. Who are the rich and the wealthy? Are they the people who have just enough to meet their needs, or are they the people who have far more money than they could ever possibly need to survive?

       Being wealthy or rich signifies that you have an abundance that goes far beyond what is sufficient for your needs. Having enough money saved to cover small emergencies or saving money for a time when you can no longer work does not necessarily make you rich or wealthy. You only come to the point of wealth or storing up treasures when you have more money than necessary to meet your needs.

       What exactly is Jesus condemning here? Clearly, He condemns putting money before God – service to money before service to God. The whole idea is that if you let money rule your decisions and how you live life, then you cannot let God rule your decisions and how you live life. When you make money your idol, your god, you are violating God’s command to never have any other god before Him and to never worship anything other than Him.

       For Jesus to say that it is wrong for His followers to save money, prepare for the future, and properly care for their families would require that He go against the Word God had already spoken. But Jesus isn’t saying those things in this passage – or even in the passage that follows concerning worry.

       What Jesus said is that those who follow Him must never put pursuing money above pursuing God. Indeed, if we make pursuing and serving God our top priority, we will not even become consumed with getting rich or having more money than we need (to cover our necessities). How can I say that? Because Jesus Himself said you cannot serve both God and Mammon (the greedy pursuit of wealth). So if you choose to serve God, His love will cause you to reject greed, materialism, and amassing wealth beyond your needs.

How Then Should We Live?

       Even though this teaching does not prohibit Christians from saving for the future, it should still convict us when it comes to materialism. When we choose to spend our money on things we don’t need we are deciding that our wants are more important than our poor brother’s needs. That is why John says:

       16 By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him? 18 My little children, let’s not love in word only, neither with the tongue only, but in deed and truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and persuade our hearts before him, 20 because if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have boldness toward God; 22 and whatever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he commanded. 24 He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he gave us.

1 John 3:16-24 (WEB)
(emphasis mine)

       When we selfishly use the abundance God has blessed us with and close our hearts against the needs of the poor, we do not have God’s love in us. God’s love teaches us to lay down our lives for the needs of others. If we have some extra that we don’t really need and we see a brother in need, God’s love compels us to give generously to that brother – despite any claim or right we have to spend that money on our own wants. By choosing to follow Christ, we are saying we will lay down our rights just as He did so that others might be helped. If we do not follow God’s leading in that situation, then God’s love does not dwell within us. We must not only say we love our neighbors – we must prove it in our actions.

       Brothers and sisters, if you’re reading this right now and your heart is condemning you because you have chosen to place your wants above the needs of the poor, know this: God is bigger than the feeling of condemnation you have right now. He knows all things, and He knows that you want to do the things that please Him. His love can persuade your heart and give you compassion, so that you can testify to His power and love by laying down your life (setting aside your wants) for your brothers. Repent and pray to God for a change in your heart, that you might start serving Him and stop serving Mammon.

       Choose this day whom you will serve – God or Mammon. You must choose!

Show Me in the Scriptures…

Corey —  October 27, 2009

       A reader recently left a comment on my post discussing how much you should have in your emergency fund. Frank said:

Could you please show me in Scripture where it says believers are to have an emergency fund?

Thank you.

       I responded to Frank’s question in the comments, but I think this is an important enough issue to address in its own post.

       Not all personal finance advice can be backed up with a specific quote from Scripture. Does that mean it is bad or unchristian? Not in the least. If the advice follows the pattern of teaching and wisdom in the Bible, it can still be considered good advice for Christians despite the lack of a specific Biblical reference.

       For example, is there a specific Bible verse telling you that you should create a will? No. But it’s still a wise thing to do. Is there a specific Bible verse that tells us to update our résumés? Again, the answer is no, but that doesn’t change the validity of the advice.

       This concept doesn’t apply just to personal finance. Is there a Bible verse telling us to buckle our seat belts? Nope. But does that mean you’re trusting your seat belt more than God if you buckle it? What about looking both ways before you cross the street? Do you lack faith because you do this?

       The problem with applying the “show me in the Scriptures” test is that there is not specific advice for every single situation we will encounter in life. There are guiding principles and values that, along with God’s Holy Spirit, will help us discern the wise choices. But you’re not going to find Bible verses telling you to brush your teeth, stop eating at McDonald’s, or to take advantage of an HSA if you’re eligible.

       Scripture does contain many verses teaching us the importance of wisdom in handling our affairs. Here are a couple examples:

       The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.

Proverbs 14:15 (WEB)

       The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

Proverbs 21:5 (WEB)

       Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.

Proverbs 21:20 (WEB)

       The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

Proverbs 22:3 (WEB)

       In fact, the entire book of Proverbs points to the importance of wisdom and its place in the life of those who follow God. But what about all the times Jesus told us not to store up treasures on earth? Or when He taught us not to worry about what we’ll eat and drink and wear?

       Tell me, what did Christ mean when He said do not worry or be anxious? What does it mean to worry or be anxious? Those words mean to be distressed, uneasy, and tormented with care about something (material things in this case). Christ’s solution was for us to “seek first the Kingdom of God”. Instead of being worried about how we’ll meet our material needs, we should be worried about how we’ll meet our spiritual needs – how will we serve God and draw closer to Him.

       You can be worried and anxious about material things whether or not you wisely plan ahead. I can have an emergency fund and still be worried about material things. I can not have one and still be worried about material things. Even if I have an emergency fund, I can stop worrying either because I have that money saved or because I trust in God’s provision. That brings us to the other main teaching of Christ about money.

       When Jesus taught about storing up treasures and serving Money what did He mean? What does it mean to be wealthy or rich or to have treasure? All those words denote an abundance, which means having much more than what is sufficient or needed. Jesus’ warnings about wealth were not to tell us that we should never use money appropriately to meet our needs. Jesus warned us instead of the danger in accumulating more than what we really need. He told us not to become consumed with money and wealth.

       There is a vast difference between being consumed with accumulating an abundance of wealth and planning wisely to have enough to meet our needs. In the same way, there is a huge difference between being occupied with worry and prudently foreseeing needs and dangers and preparing to face those situations. These two teachings that Jesus gave us are so often stretched to mean that we should never save anything at all for the future because that demonstrates a lack of faith. The truth is that Jesus taught us to:

  1. Give God and His Ways priority in our thoughts and lives.
  2.        

  3. Avoid storing up more money than we will need. (That is, not to let becoming rich be our priority in life.)

       Proverbs commends wisdom and many New Testament verses speak to the importance of providing for your own family. We are not taught to make ourselves a burden to others when it is within our power to care for ourselves. Instead, we are taught that if there are any among us who cannot provide for themselves it is our responsibility as fellow Christians to care and provide for those people. Jesus’ teachings combined with the rest of Scripture in no way preclude us from saving for the future, using insurance, or utilizing money in any other wise manner. What is forbidden is making Money our god – giving priority to accumulating more money than we really need instead of serving God.

       The real issue then becomes finding contentment in Christ and determining our true needs. The danger we face is allowing the world to dictate our needs and success (a bigger house, a fancy car, expensive clothes, etc.) instead of learning to live on enough (our daily bread). That is the bigger issue here and the battle all of us Christians face. Once we have submitted to God in our discontentment and covetousness, we will be able to make Money serve us and God’s Kingdom instead of allowing it to be our master. But these are all topics worthy of their own discussion (contentment, defining needs, and avoiding covetousness).

       Please share your thoughts on this topic in the comments. I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you!