One of the major sources of conflict — even in Christian marriages — today is money. Everybody has their own ideas how their money should be used. But as Christians, we need to realize that everything we have comes from God and belongs to Him. So in order to be good stewards of the money God has entrusted to our care, we need to know and understand God’s purposes for money. Knowing and applying God’s purposes for money results in financial freedom. An incorrect understanding of God’s purposes for money brings financial bondage and a host of consequences that have the potential of destroying your marriage, your health, and your testimony.
A man who has financial freedom can build his job around his family; a man without financial freedom is often forced to build his family around his job. If we have sleepless nights and ulcers worrying over financial decisions it is probably an indication that we do not have a correct understanding of God’s purposes for money, because God wants us to be financially free in order to serve Him.
Financial bondage is an immediate consequence of not understanding God’s purposes for money. God’s purposes for money are not to provide us with security, independence, or even to buy whatever we want. God’s purposes are, firstly:
TO PROVIDE BASIC NEEDS
If we build our lives around possessions, then we will be devastated whenever those possessions are lost or taken away from us. Recent banking and Stock Market scandals prove that even respected, financial institutions cannot guarantee absolute security. So that people who were trusting in bank or retirement accounts are now experiencing the consequences of financial bondage.
Security is only possible as we build our lives around that which can never be taken away from us. We can loose every possession, every person, and every position; but if we are building our lives around the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can loose everything else and still have security because He can never be taken away from us.
God wants to build into each one of our lives the quality of contentment. In 1 Timothy 6:8, Paul says, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” The person who is not content with God’s provision of food and clothing will always have deep financial and spiritual problems. Contentment with the basics enables us to resist the constant barrage of advertising that seeks to convince us that we are not able to enjoy life unless we buy some new gadget or service. Paul again says in 1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Is contentment a characteristic of your life? Are you content with your present salary or are you always trying to figure out how you can earn more money? Are you content with the size of your house or car, or do you secretly wish for something bigger and better? An attitude of discontentment is probably an indication that you are experiencing financial bondage.
A second purpose for money is:
TO GIVE TO CHRISTIANS
During the time of Christ, the Jews and Gentiles had no dealings with each other. But God was able to overcome this problem among Christians by using Jewish Christians to take the Gospel to the Gentiles and then using the Gentile believers to meet the material needs of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem who were experiencing famine. Paul explains this purpose for money in 2 Corinthians 8:14: “…that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want….”
Our generosity and willingness to give to meet the needs of other Christians is a reflection of our true spirituality. You can often tell how committed a Christian really is and where his priorities really are by looking at his cheque book.
Not long after my father accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour, he became very interested in missionary work. He was informed of a specific need for £5.00. And although he couldn’t meet that need himself (for in those days after the war, £5.00 was more than a week’s wages), he prayed that the Lord would provide. After he prayed, he lay down on top of his bed. And as he lay there thinking, he heard my grandmother — who wasn’t a Christian at that time — come up the stairs, past his door and into her room. A short time later, he heard her come out and stop at his door. Then she came in and said, “Here, I’m sure you can use that,” and put a large white £5.00 note into his hand. God uses the abundance of one Christian to meet the needs of others.
When was the last time that God prompted you to give to the need of another Christian? Did you obey God’s prompting?
God’s third purpose for money is:
TO CONFIRM DIRECTION
One of the greatest protections that every Christian has from making wrong financial decisions is purposing not to move forward on any program unless and until the funds are provided. Hudson Taylor said, “God’s work done in God’s way will not lack God’s support. He is just as able to supply funds ahead of time as afterward and He much prefers doing so.”
God will use the supply of money or the lack of it to confirm His direction for many of our financial decisions. If the funds are not available, it could be for several reasons: either we have misspent the money; we don’t need the item; or God may be testing our faith by providing the funds just when they are needed.
Before I left Northern Ireland to attend Bible college in the United States, my father sat me down and told me that they weren’t able to pay for my Bible school education for two reasons: 1) they couldn’t afford it, and 2) they wanted me to learn to trust God for the money without borrowing and without making my financial needs known to anyone but the Lord. Half way through one school year, I didn’t have enough funds to pay for the next term. I sensed the Lord leading that if the funds were not provided on a certain day by 4:00 p.m. then I would take that as his direction for me to return home. The day of the deadline arrived, and at 3:50 p.m. God had still not provided the money. Then the telephone rang and I was asked to go immediately to the school office. I was asked if I had all of the money to pay my school bill. I told them I hadn’t and how I sensed the Lord’s leading to put a deadline at 4:00 p.m. that afternoon. I was then told that before I even came into the school office, an anonymous donor had placed enough money in my school account to take care of my entire school bill. I looked at the clock, and it was just seconds before 4:00 p.m. God had confirmed His direction with the precise timing of a gift.
This leads us to God’s fourth purpose for money:
TO DEMONSTRATE GOD’S POWER
2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” God is a supernatural, powerful God, who wants to demonstrate His reality and power both to Christians and to an unbelieving, skeptical world. One of the ways He has chosen to do this is through the miraculous provision of money.
A miracle is a natural or supernatural event with precise timing that brings glory to God. Whenever a Christian or a church prays about a specific financial need, and they receive an unexpected and unsolicited gift from someone who didn’t know about that need, God’s supernatural power is demonstrated.
In Malachi 3:10, we read: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” God wants to demonstrate His power and bless us if only we will trust Him with our finances.
A young couple I know were challenged about tithing. They were deep in debt and experiencing all the consequences of financial bondage after stepping outside of God’s will and making some wrong financial decisions. When the husband received his next pay cheque, they first wrote a cheque for their tithe, and then paid the remaining outstanding bills. By the end of the week, they had no money in their bank account and the petrol tank in their car was nearly empty. On the way to church that next Sunday morning, the husband suggested not giving the tithe to the church as he needed petrol to get to work the next day; but the young wife insisted that having made the commitment to God, they should obey and trust the Lord to demonstrate His power on their behalf. The following day, the young wife expected the Lord to provide the money miraculously in the post. But when the post arrived and there was no provision of money, she became angry at God. Then just before the husband had to leave for work, a relative arrived with an unexpected cash gift enough to fill the family car with petrol. That young family saw a demonstration of God’s power, and they were then able to share with their children how powerful God is and how He was able to provide for their specific need. God delights in demonstrating His power so that we can report them to each other and to our children and to our grandchildren.
Outline taken from Men’s Manual Volume 2