Good morning! I have great news for you today! Your Heavenly Father loves to give good gifts to his children. It’s true! In fact, the Bible promises that the Lord will “….meet your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus!” Phil 4:19 Have you discovered that to be true?
Notice the Bible doesn’t say God will supply all our wants! Nor does the Bible say how or when God will provide. That shouldn’t surprise us. Like a loving parent, God is generous, but he’s careful to give each child the right gift at the right time to help us grow to maturity.
This morning we continue our summer sermon series with “What the Bible says about money”. Martin Luther said, “The last thing to be converted in a man is his pocketbook.” I know that was true for me, in fact, I find that the Lord is still working on that in my life. How about you?
The vilest problems we are facing as a nation morally, socially, politically, religiously are all rooted in our confusion about the purpose and use of money. So what does the Bible say?
Sometimes difficult topics are best taught indirectly rather than directly so let’s begin this way. If I asked you to create a list of 10 commandments regarding the use of money to share with your children or grandchildren what would they be? Here’s some ideas…
1. Be thankful! Money and everything else we have including our bodies, minds, talents, abilities are all gifts from God. The right way to respond to a gift is by being thankful! The problem is we so easily become spoiled and begin to take these gifts for granted.
Gratitude is a decision of our will, a discipline of faith. Every penny in our pocket is a gift from God. So the first commandment we should teach our children about money is be thankful! Money isn’t the source of our life, God is! And money is a gift from him.
2. Be generous! The Bible says, “…You are not your own, you have been bought with a price, so glorify God with your body (money).” 1 Cor 6:19-20 Nothing is mine, it’s all THINE. It all belongs to God. Therefore, I can choose to be generous instead of stingy. I can choose to live with an attitude of abundance rather than an attitude of scarcity. No matter how much or how little I have, I can learn to be generous – with my tips, with my neighbors, with my tithe.
In Malachi stinginess is called “robbing God”. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me,” says the LORD Almighty, “see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room to store it.” Mal 3:10
God doesn’t need our money, but he wants to teach his children to be generous just as he is generous. We teach generosity to our children best when we model it for them.
3. Discipline your desires - live within your means! One of the most important lessons we can teach our children about money is to discipline their desires. It’s a vital lesson on the way to maturity. “I want” and “I need” are often in opposition to each other. I may want more ice cream. But what I need is to forgo the ice cream and exercise. There is a healthy rhythm between fasting and feasting and we need both to be healthy. We need to teach our children to discipline their desires and learn to live within their means! Would you agree?
4. Stay out of debt. “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Prov 22:7 The idea that you can buy now, pay later is true. The problem is paying later means you pay four times as much! I a pastor friend who once told me, “John, if it wasn’t for my credit cards, I don’t know what I’d do!” Credit cards are not our salvation, Jesus is! They can be a useful tool, but if we misuse them, they will quickly enslave us. We need to teach our children the cost of being in debt and then discipline ourselves to do the same.
5. Save for a rainy day. The Bible has some interesting things to say about saving money. First we must remember that our most important savings account is in heaven. The Bible says that every time we invest our time, talent or treasure in what God is doing on earth, we lay up treasure in heaven. The dividends on that investment are eternal. There is no IRA or Social Security that can compete with that return and no one will ever steal it from us.
But the Bible also tells us we are to save for the short term here on earth. For example - “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.” Prov 21:20
“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Prov 13:11
“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.” Prov 13:22
“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” 1 Cor 16:2
In the same way we teach our children to give, share, tithe, we should teach them to save part of what the Lord gives them for the future and then practice what we preach.
6. Make a budget, keep good records, have a spending plan and stick to it. No effective business is run without keeping good records and sticking to a budget. As stewards of God’s stuff, we need to keep good records. Some people are better at this than others, but none of us are off the hook. “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Prov 24:3-4
Teaching our children to deal with money involves helping them create a spending plan and then stick to it. Of course, we need to be willing to do that as well!
7. Work hard, there’s no other way to get ahead! Work is a gift from God. Jesus said, “My Father is working and I’m working too!” There is a holy rhythm to work and play and sleep. Work is not a curse, it’s a blessing. It’s harder now than it was in the Garden of Eden, but work has always been part of God’s plan for us. I think the Lord will have some wonderful work for us in heaven that will bring us joy and a sense of partnership in His kingdom.
We need to work with our children and help them gain skills and the joy of accomplishment that comes with a job well done. We need to help our children understand the relationship between work and wages and how to handle their paycheck.
8. Be absolutely honest. Cheaters never prosper. Money is dangerous because Satan uses it to tempt us to lie, cheat, and steal. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Luke 16:13
Cravings after wealth lead people to hideous evil as we see every night in the news. In our natural sinful self, the more wealth and power we have, the more we want. The Bible doesn’t say money is the root of all evil; it says the love of money is the root of all evil.
There is a wickedness in the human heart that is deeply rooted in the love of money. We mistakenly believe more money is the solution to all our problems, but Jesus clearly warns us that more money is most often the source of our problems.
Only God can change our hearts and teach us to handle our money so it doesn’t end up handling us! Without the Lord our children are helpless against the temptations of a world addicted to the worship of money and power. If we don’t teach our kids and grandkids to be absolutely honest and put God first, who will? Certainly not the world!
9. Practice Contentment The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Phil 4:12
He wrote to Timothy, “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Tim 6:8
In verses 17-19 he writes “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Tim 6:17-19
Contentment is a choice, a decision of the will, something we cultivate within us. It is also a fruit of the Spirit that is only possible as we allow Jesus to have first place in our hearts.
10. Attend church, keep the Sabbath, grow spiritually through studying God’s Word. You’ve probably heard this promise. “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11
God’s definition of “prosper” and the world’s definition of prosper are very different. Only God’s plan for prosperity leads to joy and happiness completely independent from the balance in our savings account.
The truth is, even the rich man is a pauper, because nothing he possesses is really his own. It all belongs to God. And the poor man is a king, wealthy beyond imagination. All the riches of heaven are his! But that’s a lesson we only learn as we follow Jesus.
Let’s teach our children that the riches of heaven are all theirs in Jesus, whether we have much or little in the eyes of the world. God has given us every gift of time, talent, and even money to use, to share, and to enjoy, all for the glory of God.