Money Matters

Money in Pocket

Money is a matter of priority to many people in our society. As the economy is a concern in many places around the country, there is a tendency to worry about financial matters. As Christians, we must take heed to what God has instructed with regard to money. The Bible actually has quite a bit to say about the subject. We will consider some of God’s instruction that relates to our finances in this article.

Our Attitude Toward Money

Above all else, we must recognize that all of our blessings come from God: “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). Yes, we may work and earn money for the job that we do; but we need to remember that God is the one who allows us to have the blessings that we enjoy.

We must also learn contentment when it comes to the material things of this life. In writing to the Philippians, Paul said, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Philippians 4:11-12). Notice that Paul said that there were times when he was in need and other times when he was prosperous. Regardless of which category we might occupy at a given time, we must also to be content with whatever God has blessed us.

Paul also warned against the love of money: “But those who want to get rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). Paul did not say that money is the root of all evil, but the love of money is. Therefore, we should not limit the application of this passage to those who are rich. Paul was primarily talking about “those who want to get rich.” No matter what our financial situation is, we can be guilty of having the love of money. This occurs we place too much emphasis on the material things of this life. In the parable of the sower, Jesus warned that this attitude would make one worthless in His service. In describing the seed that fell among thorns, He said, “As they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14). We must guard ourselves against the love of money. Instead we need to learn to be content with the blessings we have from God.

Our Responsibility With Money

After considering our attitude toward money, we should also see what God’s word has to say about our responsibility with money. God has blessed us. He has also instructed us to use these blessings for certain things.

  • Care for self – “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). This verse does not speak of those who are not able to work, but those we are unwilling to do so. Paul told the brethren that in order to show them the proper example, he “kept working night and day so that [he] would not be a burden to any of [them]” (2 Thessalonians 3:8). The first responsibility we have – when we have the ability – is to provide for ourselves so no one else has to provide for us.
  • Care for our own – “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Not only are we to care for ourselves, but we have the responsibility also to care for those of our household. This is a serious matter. Notice the consequence of not providing for one’s own: “He has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” This care extends beyond just one’s immediate family, but also to parents and grandparents who are in need (1 Timothy 5:4).
  • Help the needy – “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). One of the reasons why we work and earn money is to be able to help those who are in need. This is something that, as individuals, we can do for “all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
  • Give to the local church – “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). This passage teaches the importance of a regular, weekly collection to be taken up by the local church. This was not to be done only when a need arose, but regularly so that there would be money saved up to be ready for a need and no special collection would have to be made. Paul later wrote to these brethren about the attitude one must have in giving: “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
  • Help support gospel preachers – “The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him” (Galatians 6:6). When we think of the support of preachers, we typically think of the responsibility of local churches (2 Corinthians 11:8). This is certainly something local churches are to do, but this passage speaks of what an individual is to do. As individuals, we can support men for preaching the gospel. We often think of our responsibility to help the needy. Let us not forget this as well.
  • Pay taxes – Jesus was questioned about whether or not it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar (Matthew 22:17). Notice His response: “‘Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.’ And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then He said to them, ‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s’” (Matthew 22:19-21). We are to “render…tax to whom tax is due” (Romans 13:7).

All of these are things that we should do with our money. But what if we do not have enough money to do all the things which we may want to do in these areas? The Bible addresses this as well. The next section will deal with our accountability.

Our Accountability With Regard To Money

We must be good stewards with the blessings God has given us. This is the point of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14ff). In the parable, three men were given different amounts of money (talents). The ones who used their money wisely were rewarded, even though they started with and earned different amounts. The one who was foolish with his money was punished. The lesson for us is that we must use the blessings we have received wisely.

We must also recognize that there is a certain degree of judgment that we must exercise when it comes to the use of our money. In the early days of the church in Jerusalem, there were many who were in need due to the extraordinary circumstances that surrounded the establishment of the church. Therefore, many of those who owned property sold it and brought the money to the apostles to distribute to the needy saints (Acts 4:32-35).

Ananias and Sapphira did this as well (Acts 5:1-2); however, they did not bring the full amount and later were punished by being put to death. Why were they punished? Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:3-4). Ananias’ sin was not in keeping back part of the price. Peter said he was at liberty to do that if he wished. His sin was in lying – making it appear that he had given the full amount that he received from the sale. Were others doing a good thing in selling property to help those in need? Of course. But even so, Peter said that Ananias was at liberty to keep some of the proceeds or to not sell the property at all. We must use some judgment when it comes to the use of our funds, be good stewards, and not judge others too harshly for what we think they ought to do with their money.

We also need to understand that we will be judged according to how we use the money we have. As we noticed in the previous section, there are many things we could do with our money; but sometimes we are unable to do all of those things. The Bible teaches us that we will be judged according to our opportunity and our ability: “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). “For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12).

We may not be blessed with as many opportunities or as much ability as others. On the other hand, we may be blessed more than those around us. In either case, let us recognize our responsibility and use our money wisely in a way that would be acceptable to God.

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