Reflections on Christianity and Money

Part 2:

God’s Five Goals for Our Lives Regarding Money

(By Dr. Ron Woodworth)

[Author’s Previous Foreword for Part 1…Rather than overwhelm anyone with an extensively profound and clever article about money [which you can purchase from my website if you’d like1!, I just thought I’d share some of the biblical truths which have helped shape my personal conviction at the precarious intersection where the issues of faith and finances cross. Also, I encourage you to read the article or at least the verses out loud since faith is quickened by God’s spoken Word (Romans 10:17). I do. Enjoy!]

A Little Humor…

  • Work fascinates me…I can sit and watch it for hours!
  • Hard work may not kill me, but why take the chance?
  • The reason worry kills more people than work is that people worry more than they work.
  • I spent all of my life vigorously climbing up the ladder of success only to find that when I reached the top of the ladder…it was leaning up against the wrong building!
  • Bumper Sticker: My boss is a Jewish carpenter.

Introductory review…too much or too little concern about money…

There are two extreme attitudes about money from which God wants to deliver all believers. The first is when we have too much concern about money. The second is when we have too little concern. As we covered in Part 1, too much concern about money can lead to either anxiety or idolatry. Anxiety causes us to continually worry about our provisions of life. Such worry can turn to an obsessive fear that torments our thoughts distracting from the freedom and joy God intends for all those who are his rightful heirs. To these souls struggling with fear Jesus assures us that our heavenly Father will provide all of our earthly needs (!) if we but seek first his kingdom (his divine purpose) and righteousness (live by grace and faith) (Matthew 6:31-33).

Idolatry is when we place money equal or above our devotion to the Lord himself. Idolatry regarding money leads to materialism—where life’s main pursuit is the acquisition of tangible possessions leaving little to no room for spiritual or eternal matters. Jesus warned about such a life in the parable of the rich fool—who stored up enough goods for a life time of ease but died young without preparing to meet his Maker   (Luke 12:16-21).

If too much concern about money leads to anxiety or idolatry then too little concern about money can lead to laziness or unfaithfulness. Laziness is an aversion to work, or, in scholarly termsJ, a numbing disinclination to exert sustained effort to produce income. Unfaithfulness, on the other hand, would imply a squandering of one’s resources, or a lack of good stewardship with income one has earned. Needless to say, both laziness and unfaithfulness are to be resisted by the sincere follower of Christ Jesus. Consider these verses…

“Slothfulness casts one into a deep sleep, and the idle person will suffer hunger”(Proverbs 19:15)

“A slothful man is too lazy to roast his prey, but the diligent man will increase his possessions.” (Proverbs 12:27)

“But his master answered him, ‘You wicked, lazy, and idle servant! …take the talent away from him and give it to the more faithful servant.’” (Matthew 25:26-28)

“And Judah was carried away into captivity because of their unfaithfulness to God.”(1 Chronicles 9:1)

“The one who is faithful in a very little thing, is faithful also in much; and he who is unfaithful in a very little thing, will also be unfaithful in much. Therefore, if you have not been faithful with money and other earthly possessions, who will entrust to you true spiritual riches?” (Luke 16:10-11)

Understanding the need to avoid the two extremes of either too much or too little concern for money is actually the first of five goals that God has for us regarding money. And, rather than talk about how to achieve your financial goals (as most seminars do), why don’t we discuss how to achieve God’s financial goals in our lives instead? In favor of this approach, the rest of this article will provide a list and brief explanation of each of these goals.

As you read, ask yourself if you are truly cooperating with God in accomplishing his goals for your life regarding money. It might help to assign yourself a grade (letter or number) for each goal so that you can make comparisons to see which goals need more work than others. And, as we are discovering areas of weakness this would be a good time to acknowledge our need and ask God for his grace to obey as the Spirit leads us into God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the area of our finances! (Romans 14:17)  

Near to the heart of God

(Public Domain)

There is a place of quiet rest,

Near to the heart of God.

A place where sin cannot molest,

Near to the heart of God.

There is a place of comfort sweet,

Near to the heart of God.

A place where we our Savior meet,

Near to the heart of God.

There is a place of full release,

Near to the heart of God.

A place where all is joy and peace,

Near to the heart of God.

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,

Sent from the heart of God,

Hold us who wait before You

Near to the heart of God.

God’s Five Goals for Our Lives Regarding Money:

  1. As has already been mentioned: God wants to deliver us from the two extremes of too much concern (anxiety and idolatry) or too little concern (laziness and unfaithfulness) about money. On a scale of 1 to 10, how are you doing with allowing the Lord to help you overcome worry, idolatry, laziness, or unfaithfulness regarding your finances?

 

  1. God wants to perfect (or mature) our faith and character as we deal with our financial needs and affairs. (See Romans 4 & 5 below)

If we are to live life as God intends we must understand that only tested faith can produce godly character. [Say that three times out loud to yourself] It’s easy to “say” we believe something with our words, but much harder to back up our faith by our consistent actions. Furthermore, whenever our faith is tested it produces suffering and pain. In other words, it is very uncomfortable to keep believing when you don’t see instant results. But then that’s what we need faith for isn’t it?J

It’s the time-factor that throws us for a loop. After all, it’s not hard to wait for an hour, a day, a week, or maybe even a month for a promise to be fulfilled, but if the time stretches to a year, a decade, or maybe a life time—now that is definitely a test of one’s faith! In fact, one of the best measurements of maturity is the length of time one can faithfully wait between the promise and the fulfillment.

Personal story: When my daughters were fairly young children and I would promise to take them to get an ice cream they would jump for joy! I was their hero and they let me know with hugs of affection and shouts of praise for dad. That is until I told them that we first needed to get dressed before we go out in public. And then, weeping and gnashing of teeth was the best biblical description of their reaction. They were obviously in such pain at having to wait 5 minutes more that they simply had no strength to cloth themselvesJ. And there they lay on the floor hoping for a reprieve from such cruel punishment.

Now, before we adults laugh too loudly at such childishness, let’s think about Hebrews Chapter 11. For it is here, in the “faith hall-of-fame” that we find a number of people (Noah, Abraham, Moses, et al) who all “died in faith” without receiving what was promised. But, somehow they could “see” (in faith) what was to come—even enough to stake their lives on it. Of course Hebrews 11 leads to Chapter 12 and the greatest example of enduring faith—the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, leading of course to the victory of his resurrection (Hebrews 12:1-3).

The point is that it will require greater character on our part, which is only forged in the fire of tested faith, in order for us to inherit the promises of God—in this life and in the one to come. Can you and I wait without wavering? For how long? Selah.

“Yet he [Abraham] did not waver in unbelief regarding the promise of God, but grew strong in faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:20-21)

“And now only should we rejoice in our justification by grace through faith, but we also have learned to rejoice in our sufferings as well. This is because we know that suffering produces perseverance; and perseverance produces character; and character produces enduring hope—which will never be a disappointment!” (Romans 5:3-5a)

Enough for now my friends…

Lord willing, we will cover the remaining three goals next time

Let the Lord be magnified

Ron      


[1] The series is entitled: The Kingdom of God and Money and is available online.