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Overcoming the Challenges of All Things Financial

Updated: Mar 25

“Money is a good servant, but a poor master.”  Francis Bacon

 

One of the things our congregation is graced with in these days is a number of young singles, young couples and young families. They face many challenges, not the least of which is how they handle and steward money and material things. I want to dedicate this post and perhaps one or two that might follow on this subject to them. They give me great hope for the future of our region and State and beyond.

 

Having been a young single man living far away from my family for four years before I got engaged; and then having been a young couple for five years before we had our first child (mostly living far away from our families), and then having been a young family for a number of years with two children (again mostly living far away from our extended families) – Anne and I know a little bit about financial struggles and challenges.

 

Over these last 45 years or so of ministry I have seen first hand the challenge it is for most believers to thrive and overcome in all things financial. So in this post I want to begin at least a discussion about some of the specific challenges money and finances and material things present, and see if we can find God’s truth and way of overcoming these challenges.

 

Before you grapple with this first post, if you have never read my two posts on knowing God as our gracious, faithful and generous provider I would encourage you to read these per the links directly below. They are foundational for all that is to come in this post.

 

 

 

The first challenge all of us need to learn to overcome that is rife in our culture (probably every culture) is Greed and Covetousness.

Greed can be defined as  “acquisitive or selfish desire beyond reason....Having a voracious or ravenous appetite for money and all it buys.”

Covetousness can be defined as "A strong or inordinate desire of obtaining and possessing some supposed good; usually in a bad sense, and applied to an inordinate

 

King Solomon spoke to the consequences of greed, “The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.”  Prov. 11:6  Sooner or later greed catches up with us.

Jesus warned against greed,  “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15

 

There is so much more to life than what we own, and greed has a way of blinding us to that reality. As Jesus said, greed comes in many forms. And it is to be avoided at all costs. Interesting that the context of this verse is Jesus is responding to a man who asked Him to tell his brother to give him his rightful share of their family inheritance, something which seems justified by a few scriptures in the Old Testament, but hardly any in the New.

 

Have you ever noticed what the apostle Paul equates greed with? “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, ….and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” Colossians 3:5   Greed is basically idolatry. It is the worship of idols such as one’s image in the world, financial “security” and prosperity, and all the things money can buy.

 

Elsewhere in Ephesians Paul speaks of the awful but just punishment for unchecked greed and covetousness, “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”  Ephesians 5:5

 

The opposite of greed and covetousness of course would be contentment. Paul calls us to a lifestyle of contentment with these words, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” I Tim. 6:6-8

 

The Wall Street Journal had it right when it opined, “Money is an article which may be used as a universal provider of everything, except happiness.”

 

The second challenge Jesus wants and expects us to overcome by His grace and power is Worry/Anxiety – “For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life….Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?”  Matt. 6:25-34 First Jesus commands us to not be anxious. Then He gives us the reasons why we shouldn’t be anxious. (BTW - Our congregation has been greatly helped in believing and standing on these reasons or truths by the song "Jireh" by Maverick City).

 

The Psalmist spoke to this when he stated,  “It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late…For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” Psalm 127:2  Now there will be times where we have to stay up late to finish a project. And early rising is a practice seen throughout scripture by those who love and count for God. But doing either out of anxiety and worry is futile and displeasing to God because we are doing it as if He is not good and doesn’t care and can’t and won’t provide for us.

God has no problem providing for us and even blessing us with wealth. But it is crucial that we know that it comes from Him and comes out of His abundant goodness. “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it.” Prov. 10:22      

 

George MacDonald wisely stated re: worry, “No man ever sank under burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today, that the weight is more than a man can bear.”

 

A third challenge that we are warned against often in the Proverbs and elsewhere is Lack of Integrity – “Ill gotten gains do not profit…” Prov. 10:2; There sometimes is a temporary gain financially when we cheat or bend the rules. But sooner or later our lack of integrity and uprightness will catch up with us.

 “Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles,…” Prov. 13:11; Again the dwindling may not be immediate, but it will eventually kick in.

 “He who profits illicitly troubles his own house, But he who hates bribes will live.”  Prov. 15:27  While illicit profits might increase one’s cash flow, it does great damage to the soul and the atmosphere and spiritual and emotional and even mental health of a family and home. Integrity and uprightness on the other hand breed fullness and abundance of life.

“…he who makes a fortune, buys unjustly; In the midst of his days it will forsake him, And in the end he will be a fool.” Jeremiah 17:11   One of the characteristics that is crucial to walk in integrity and uprightness is the spiritual ability to see and think long range, not just live for the moment as so many in our society do.

 

A fourth challenge that disciples of Jesus are called to overcome is Hoarding or Selfishness.

King Solomon wisely stated, “There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more, And there is one who withholds what is justly due, but it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered.” Prov. 11:24,25   This is a needed reality check for those who cling to their stuff. And a great promise to those who generously share it with others.

 

A surprising number of Jesus’s parables have to do with our stewarding of what He has entrusted to us. His purpose for believers is so that we can be free from all of the things that would keep us from stewarding His money and material possessions well, and thus reaping the blessing of such .  “And He told them a parable, saying, the land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do; I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will tore all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”   Luke 12:16-21 For those who do not know God as their Faithful and Generous Provider, no amount of money and things will help them relax and rest in their spirits. There can never be enough. They often think about worst case scenarios regarding their finances. They think about it when they go to bed and when they wake up.,


In this life we will all either strive to be rich for or toward ourselves, or we will strive to be rich toward God. The former brings much pain and misery and ultimately judgment. The latter brings great blessing from God.


“The spirit of poverty is not so much the state of having as it is the fear of not getting, which causes us to hold on tightly to what we have.” James Ryle

 

 So what is the opposite of hoarding and selfishness?  Generosity - “There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more,…  The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered.” Prov. 11:24  There is no better investment strategy on the planet than this one. It is time tested, proving true generation after generation. And it is not dependent upon the Dow Jones!

 

He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor.” Proverbs 22:9  This is a promise you can take to the bank with you! Especially as you learn to share your wealth as a lifestyle to the poor in your own region and in the most desperate places of poverty on our planet.

 

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35  It truly is, but you have to buck the powerful world system to see this, believe this, and to live like this.

 

May your life increasingly by the power of the Holy Spirit be a testimony to the reality of this statement. God bless you. More to come on this subject as I’m able.

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