We live in a time where “me” is god. Since the fall of man, we have had a propensity to follow our own way, but more than ever the prosperity in our country has lead to a culture of me. All the marketing we see puts me at the center. In this age of self-worship “me” deserves more.
There is a subtle truth to this in that the Bible says that we have all fallen short of the glory of God and we are all in need of a savior. We have a knowledge deep within us that something is wrong and we need saving. It is easy to see why we would fall for the trap that money is the way out. That I need to feel better about me then I need people to like me, be attracted to me, respect me. I need stuff to make that happen. More stuff! More stuff is the answer and to do more stuff I need money.
In his book, Counterfeit Gods, pastor Tim Keller explains it this way:
“More than other idols, personal success and achievement lead to a sense that we ourselves are God, that our security and value rest in our wisdom, strength, and performance. To be the very best at what you do, to be at the top of the heap, means no one is like you. You are supreme.”
The result is that we build shrines to our self. In this me focused, money centric environment, we can get sucked into the marketing machine. And it’s deceptive messaging is death to our souls. Truly without realizing it, we are worshipping a counterfeit god.
While most of us would never admit to money being our god, the truth is that your money flows easiest to highest priorities in your life.
Think about it for a minute. How do you respond to stress? How do you make your me idol feel better? If your me idol is satisfied in comfort, you might spend money on food. If your me idol is satisfied in status, maybe a nice car. If you me idol is satisfied in having provision, maybe a stable job.
That which is most loved will become our lord.
What we prize, we prioritize.
Matthew 6:21 (ESV) – For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
God is to be our first and primary affection. We need constant reminders that He is the source of all we have been given. And he is to be the one we serve above all else.
Matthew 6:24–25 (ESV) – No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…”
Do you think this applies to you? Just look at how you spend your money. It’s kind of a simple test. What we do with our finances reveals our hearts, priorities, and motives. If we want to grow in our relationship with the Lord, we sound wise to allow him to reveal our heart through our finances.
As believers, it is easy to have a pride and arrogance that says that I’m not like that, or I won’t fall prey to the consumer marketing machine. But maybe some of that messaging has seeped into our belief system.
Maybe it has created a little bit of an unhealthy understanding of money. In fact, I would say that there a quite a few lies that we inherit from our culture that don’t align with God’s culture.
Let’s take a minute and look at some of the lies we believe about money.
Lies About Money
Lie #1. Money isn’t a big deal to God.
Money isn’t connected to spiritual matters.
Truth – God cares about how we handle our money. This isn’t just a practical topic. It is a spiritual one as well.
The Bible is absolutely loaded with advice and instructions on how to handle our finances, and ultimately how we can honor God with our money. God knew how much our lives would be impacted by finances. So he included just a little bit of Scripture to help. There are 2300 scriptures on finances. This includes topics like wealth, possessions, greed, money mindset, contentment, investing, and more. Further, almost 1/3 of Jesus parables are concerning money. More than love. More than Heaven and Hell combined.
Luke 16:11-12(ESV) If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
Lie #2. I can do what I want with my money
I can decide what I want to do with my money. Maybe, I’ll give 10% but the rest is mine.
Truth – It’s all the Lords, it’s just that we get to steward 90%.
If you are an owner of something, you think you have rights. But God created everything and then created man, then gave man a role to care for everything he created.
Psalms 24:1 (NIV) – The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;”
Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (ESV) – Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
Matthew 19:21 (ESV) – Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.
Luke 6:30 (ESV) – Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.
Matthew 5:40-42 (ESV) – And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Lie #3. It will all work out.
I don’t need to have a budget or be careful about my spending. God will provide.
Truth – God cares about our finances. As a steward, we are called to be careful with what we’ve been given. It is a critical aspect of faithfulness. Inherent good stewardship is caring for the masters resources so that it multiplies.
Matthew 25:21 (ESV) – His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
Lie #4. I just have to give out of my abundance.
If I have the money, then I’ll give it.
Truth – It is when we are in need when we have the greatest chance to please the Lord in our giving.
Luke 21:3-4 (ESV) – And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) – And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Luke 6:38 (ESV) – give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
Lie #5. When I have money, I’ll be happy
When our satisfaction comes from external circumstances, it can easily lead to covetessness. We covet what we do not have for various reasons, maybe comfort or status.
Truth – our desires and joys need to be fulfilled in the Lord
Luke 12:15 ESV – And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Lie #6. I work for money
It is very easy to have our motivations in our work to be for money. The problem is that we can have money be the focus instead of service to people and more importantly to the Lord.
The truth – we serve the Lord and not money
Colossians 3:23 (ESV) – Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men
Luke 16:13 (ESV) – No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
God’s Development Plan – Save Diligently
Proverbs 21:5 (NIV) – The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Overcoming these lies about money is not easy, but in my experience it is critical to our maturity in the Lord.
If we allow him, God will use physical world circumstances to teach us spiritual truths.
If we have humility to allow the Lord to train us, you’d be surprised with His ways. It’s a very vulnerable process because it requires us to go on a journey with him of trust.
Some of us have gone through seasons where the Lord is pressing us financially, when income is down but our expenses remain the same or even go up. This creates an opportunity for a faith journey. A journey that he brings us on to reveal more of His faithfulness. It also reveals more of his plans because the financial lack causes us to reconsider our priorities. When there is lack, it brings us to a faith crisis, it causes us to rethink what is important. And it causes us to trust the Lord for provision. These are the growth seasons and if we embrace them, we will see the Lord in fresh ways and will be met with abundance.
My wife Carrie and I live with our good friends the Bradleys in a discipleship house called The Mansion. We have 16 young adults that live with us and we do life together. We try to stay away from as many rules as possible in the house except for a desire to grow in Jesus. Over the past three years, we have taken note of the qualities of the people that grow the most in the house. To a person, they tuck into a relationship with us. They nuzzle in under our wing and build trust by being vulnerable. One of the signs that I look for in this process of vulnerability is opening up about their finances.
The guys in our house that really want victory in our house submit to the process we go through in finances. It has everything to do with visibility. You can’t even think about making more money until you learn to save. There is this very complicated formula for saving that we go through. It goes like this: Spend less then you make.
In the years I’ve been working with young men in gaining victory over finances, I’ve yet to have a case where they couldn’t save something at the end of the month.
But just because the formula is simple to understand, it doesn’t mean it is easy to implement. It takes diligence and carefulness to properly steward our resources. In order to spend less than you make, you have to track your finances. With the mansion mates, we create a simple budget in google sheets and they enter their income and expenses each week. The vulnerable thing is that if they are willing, they give me access to the spreadsheet so I can see if they are entering the transactions.
This is the extent of our financial plan: Make your finances visible to someone else.
God’s Development Plan – Giving Sacrificially
Proverbs 11:28 (ESV) – He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous shall flourish as the green leaf.
Luke 12:19-21 (ESV) – And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
For many of us, we can see other sins like anger, but we can fail to allow the Lord to use money to reveal our hidden desires.
When we have started to learn the lessons of the harvest and reaping what we sow. It is easy to get comfortable. We can even grow cold towards the blessing of the Lord and we may have started to see his resources as our own.
This complacency can allow me to take center stage again. The only solution is to give sacrificially. If you start to trust in riches, you will fall. Give generously.
Trust is the currency of intimacy
Paying attention to our finances allows us to be in a deep and intimate relationship with the Lord. Our money reveals how much we really trust him.
And when we truly trust in him, we get to see him move. Money becomes a conversation with god. It puts a high importance in being careful with the resources we have been given. And being free to give generously.
No matter if we are in a place of financial abundance or lack, God is asking us to take a step of faith to trust him more.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. In faith we believe for miracles, for salvations, for God to restore the broken of our city and our world. But do we apply this healing power to our finances?
Your money tells you who is your God.
Grace is the key. The definition of grace is unmerited favor.
Grace melts away your possessiveness because you realize everything is a gift from God.
The only condition is that you let go of all your conditions. Pride is the only block to receiving grace because we believe that God owes me something. Pride deceives you into thinking that you are your own savior.
If you have lack in your life, I’m fairly certain you need an encounter with grace. To receive the truth that you don’t have to do this alone and to receive Lords blessings over you. To receive Gods grace that there are people here in our church that love you and are committed to you and will guide you through sticking to a budget.
Would you be willing to take a step of faith today?
If you don’t have a budget, will you start one today?
If you have a budget but aren’t able to meet the budget, will you trust him to provide the gap of where you are falling short?
If you are sticking to your budget, will you ask the Lord how he wants you to give sacrificially today? This as well is a grace because sacrificial giving reminds you whose money you have and the unmerited favor you have received. And I’m not talking about the tithe, that is just a base line. I’m just going to assume that you are giving 10% to the Lord. Or if you aren’t that this will be a quick adjustment to your budget? But revisit your giving and consider what spending line items the Lord is asking you to adjust down so that you can be more generous. If you don’t know where that money will go, consider investing in the poor, in widows, or helping the gospel reach the next generation?
My comfort will no longer come from consumption.
My satisfaction will not longer come from spending.
My passion will no longer be for my possessions.
I’m blessed to be a blessing. I will be a conduit for God to bless our city.
Do you have a budget and are you tracking how you spend your money?
If you have a budget, are you able to meet this budget every week? If not, pray to receive the Lord’s grace and ask someone in the church for help.
When you look at your spending, ask the Lord if anything has become an idol in your life. Take this idol to the feet of Jesus this week.
Read Deuteronomy 8:17–18. Have you ever struggled to remember who the source of your income is?
How can you live out a life of faith in generosity. Is the Lord asking you to give more?