Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg – Bible Study material on Financial Stewardship (Luke 12:15)
This write up looks at the Christian’s financial stewardship mandate. Having looked at the power and limitation of money, this material provides some biblical principles needed to be very good stewards of money.
The power of money
The power of money in the life of people and its place in the Church cannot be overemphasised. No wonder Solomon simplifies that by saying money answers all problems (Ecclesiastics 10:19). Money provides some physical needs such as food, shelter and clothing. Money is needed for providing good environment of mental development such as going to school. Money plays key roles in our spiritual growth and in the Church. Essentially, the Bible points out that we are to serve God with our money. And money is needed in our part of worship. Our good attitudes towards money show our faithfulness in fulfilling our stewardship mandate as individuals.
The limitation of money
The above influence of money has the potential of leading people into the belief that we exist only for money. It is clear in the Scriptures and in life that although money can buy a house, it cannot buy a home. For example, money cannot give or produce children. Similarly, although money can create happiness and amusement by way of organising parties, it cannot give joy. Money can give external happiness but it cannot give internal peace. That is why Solomon in spite of his riches could say that life is meaningless.
Moreover, the influence of money is limited in that it cannot buy the grace of God. Money can influence people into standing by your side such as in times of political elections, but not the grace of God such as forgiveness of sin and long life. Thus, money only has a temporal dimension. On the discourse on eternity, money plays no eternal role.
In the context of the local church, money is needed to pay off the bills of the church, to buy some equipment needed for worship such as set of musical drums, projectors, pews and to embark on missionary trips. In today’s technological world where the gospel travels on the wheels of various forms of media technology such as radios, television broadcast and through the internet, money plays a key role.
Biblical Principles of Financial Stewardship
1. Recognize that God owns everything: Including Silver and Gold
As the idea of stewardship implies, taking good care of other person’s property, the original owner of all that we have including money is God (Psalm 24:1; Haggai 2:8). If God owns all that we have, then we are just stewardship of God’s possession. We shall therefore give account to the owner as to how we manage his resources. Hence, one of the greatest errors when it comes to issues of money is lack of the recognition that God owns it. When that happens, God is not included in our plan of expenditure. That was the deception of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21. In his planning, he excluded God.
2. Recognize that God gives power to acquire wealth
Money must be worked for. This means that hard work pays. This truth about the acquisition of money has the potential of making one to think that the amount of money that one has relates to one’s own ability or hard work. But the Bible says in Deuteronomy 8:18 that it is God who gives strength to acquire wealth. The implication of this is that the rich is not to boast over his riches. Neither should the poor be condemned and undermined. Also, the one who gives us power to acquire or make wealth deserves to be praised and worshipped and not the money.
3. Be a person of integrity in money matters
One of the tests of true spirituality of a person relates to one’s attitude towards money. God expects his people to be men and women who have an attitude of integrity concerning how they acquire and use money. In this case, how one receives money is more important to God than the money itself.
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary states, “Integrity implies trustworthiness and incorruptibility to a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility, or pledge.” God wants his people to be distinguished by financial integrity. The English have a saying, “A gentleman is one who uses the butter knife when he is alone.” The true character of a person is seen by what that person does when no one is looking at him or her. Integrity in money matters has to do with being honest and upright when you are alone. It means constantly acting according to biblical principles, even if you think you’ll never be caught. This comes as a result of the awareness that God is watching and that you want to please him.
4. Manage debts
The Bible enjoins Christians to stay away from debts where possible because the borrower or the debtor becomes a slave to the creditor. Inasmuch as in some cases we will have no other option than to be under debt, managing debts is therefore necessary if we are to fulfil our financial stewardship mandate. This can be possible when we make a saving plan towards the payment of our loans or debts. Another crucial way is by desisting from the habit of continuous borrowing, especially when we have not paid off the previous debt.
This discipline of managing debt applies not only to individuals but also to some organisations and nations. Some developing countries such as Ghana have the culture of borrowing in order to meet their development needs. Against this background of indebtedness, the third government of the fourth republic of Ghana had no other option than to apply to belong to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPIC). It appears that, even after some years of been dismembered from the HIPIC countries, the culture of borrowing has resurfaced.
5. Being content is crucial
Writing about financial stewardship will not be complete without making mention of Paul’s teaching about contentment. That is the quality of being contented with our financial status and not being covetous. In speaking about the subject of contentment in his letter to Timothy, Paul encourages us to desist from the love of money by saying that, it is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:6). It is worthy of note that Paul did not say that money itself is the root of evil, but the love of it.
It must be understood that contentment does not mean one must not apply principles of wealth creation in order to acquire wealth for godly purposes. It is about avoiding all forms of unhealthy competition for wealth and also avoiding all forms of jealousyness of other people’s financial status and material possessions.
Contentment is not therefore about becoming satisfied with one’s status of poverty. For nowhere did Jesus magnify poverty or criticize the legitimate getting of wealth. God made all things, including food, clothing and precious metals. God has declared that all things that he has made are good (Genesis 1:31). God knows that we need certain things to live (Matthew 6:32). In fact, God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). It is therefore not wrong to possess things, but it is wrong for things to possess us.