Nothing, it seems, is more cliche than a Baptist preacher talking about money. According to our members, money is the only thing we talk about. That’s not true, but that’s how it feels to them. Why does preaching or even talking about money bring such an emotional response in our members?
Because money is close to our heart. Jesus reminded us that wherever our money was, our heart would be in the same place. Notice what Jesus said. He didn’t say that we put our money where our heart is. He said we put our hearts where our money is. We spend money on the things and people we love. Show me how you spend your money, and I’ll show you your priorities. When people realize that our finances give us a real quick insight into our souls, they get nervous. There’s no getting around the hard truth that the ledger sheet reveals.
Most of us have a lot of anxiety about money. We watch hours of financial news to see if the market is going up or down. We worry about inflation and recession. We want to know if we’ll be able to retire comfortably and whether or not we’ll be able to put our children through college or buy our first home. We worry all the time and the loss of meaning and hope in our world is very telling.
God never intended for us to live this way. When Jesus promises peace, He means freedom from financial anxiety. How does this work?
First of all, the Bible introduces human beings into God’s story as stewards. Being stewards means that nothing belongs to us. We don’t own anything. Everything we have belongs to God. God has entrusted to us a part of His kingdom in order to invest and maximize what has been entrusted to us for the glory and use of the Master. This concept of stewardship impacts every area of our lives. Every husband is a steward of his wife. Every wife is a steward of her husband. Every parent is the steward of their child. We are stewards of our careers and our time.
And yes, we’re stewards of our resources. We are granted success in order to finance the work of God’s kingdom. As God blesses us, we bless others in the name of Jesus. We build hospitals, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked. We do this because we know stuff can’t make us happy. Stuff only makes us happy when we invest it in the work of the kingdom around us.
Stewardship usually involves a discussion about tithing. We talk about tithing because it’s an easy place to start. We get the idea of tithing from Abraham. After God grants Abraham a great military victory, Abraham celebrates by giving a tithe to the priest Melchizedek. So, we begin by teaching people to give a tithe of their income to God in celebration of His faithfulness to us.
People will often protest and say tithing isn’t mentioned in the New Testament. It’s not. The standard of giving in the New Testament is the cross. We don’t kneel in front of the cross and negotiate giving ten percent.
Stewardship relieves us of anxiety and worry because we know it’s not our stuff. We know stuff can’t make us happy but the greatest joy stuff can bring is when we’re investing what God has entrusted to us in the mission of His kingdom.
So, sit down with your family budget but look at it in a new way. Don’t worry about how much you make and how much you spend, but find out what kingdom work God wants you to invest in. Then, work your plan backward to see how you can best free up resources to make a kingdom investment.
Our budgets are focused on more than the next 30 days. We’re called to focus God’s resources on eternity.