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Posts Tagged ‘money’

Money and the Liberated Heart

Practicing Stewardship: Walking in Freedom 

If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:36

Spiritual bondage darkens our eyes, so that we do not see God for who He is.

Jesus liberates us by removing those cataracts.

Spiritual bondage deadens our hearts, so that we do not believe what God says.

Jesus rejuvenates our cold, lifeless hearts by giving His Spirit.

Salvation is freedom. Freedom from bondage, and freedom to heartfelt obedience.

What is financial freedom? It is not having a million-dollar retirement portfolio. It is not a six-figure job with a gold-plated benefits package. All of those things can disappear in an instant.

Financial freedom is “owning” nothing. Financial freedom = open hands to receive from God, and open hands to give to God and others.

The closed fist, wrapped around perishing earthly riches, is bondage.

When Jesus saves a man or woman, He opens their eyes. He opens their hearts. And, He opens their hands.

The liberation of the gospel moves from ear, to mind, to heart, to every part of our being – yes, even to our wallets.

If money is a competing god in your life, ask the Lord to break those chains. It is His purpose to set you free.

(this is the final post in the Stewardship series. Thank you for reading!)

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Practicing Stewardship: Giving Money 

According to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. – 2 Corinthians 8:3-5

Giving money to help others is good. But for Christians, that’s the end result of something greater.

First and foremost, we are giving ourselves (continually) to the Lord.

God doesn’t want our “sacrifices” apart from our heart devotion. If you give up 100 things for Lent, but don’t have a humble heart of love for God, it is just an outward show without substance.

Or, as the apostle wrote in the famous 1 Corinthians 13 passage, “if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

Giving money without self-giving to God is empty. But, when we put our very selves on the altar, and choose God above all idols and selfishness, our every gift is acceptable in His sight, through the merits of Jesus who gave Himself for us.

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Saving Money to Save Others

Practicing Stewardship: Saving Money 

Now concerning the collection for the saints…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 19:1,2

There were great financial needs among the brethren in Jerusalem, and the apostle Paul was asking the saints in Galatia and Corinth (and perhaps elsewhere) to set aside savings that could be brought for the relief of others.

And this is one of the reasons we save – for others.

The discipline of saving is not merely for our temporal security, or our later self-indulgence. It is so that we can help those less fortunate.

As with all matters financial, it all boils down to a matter of the heart. Are we living in faith, with a God-first mentality? Are our fists tightly wrapped around OUR money, or do we hold it with a loose hand, ready to do good for others?

One of our great motivators to earn, and save, and invest, and give, is to honor God by helping others. After all, we serve a generous God – does a careless or stingy spirit represent Him to the world?

It is good to save for large purchases (Luke 14:28). To save for a rainy day (Proverbs 22:3). And, it is good to save in order to save others from want. Those motivations have the commendation of Scripture; and, to adapt a quote from Eric Lidell – when we save, we’ll feel His pleasure.

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Where Your Treasure Is…

Practicing Stewardship: Saving Money *

Jesus warned people against having their hearts “owned” by money – that is, money becomes your highest treasure, your chief pursuit:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

In other words, if you just live for this world – its goods and pleasures and treasures – you’re in deep trouble. Because you are worshipping an idol – “stuff.” And that stuff decays and goes away – just as you will.

Instead, we are to seek God first and foremost, and our treasure is to be His smile. We live to please Him, whether that brings us wealth, or poverty, on earth. Because earth-time is very short compared to eternity.

Our hearts are made to treasure God. We are degraded and foolish when we seek to store up – selfishly and faithlessly – this world’s goods. If you live for stuff, your religious “-ism” is materialism.

So – does that mean we should avoid the practice of saving money? In a word, no. It means we are to avoid worshipping and loving money.

But that doesn’t mean a believer is reckless about money. The Bible is clear that an essential part of good stewardship is the practice of saving. Saving is driven by a wise and prudent understanding of the reality of life.

Biblical Saving

Here’s the main thing at the foundation of all of our practice – are we saving? Or hoarding? Is all that we are, and all that we possess, surrendered to God? The Bible is very clear on this – we cannot love God and money. It’s either/or.

The selfish miser is bankrupt before God (hello, Ebenezer Scrooge!). God saves us, first of all, from our idolatry. Only then do we become able to save money responsibly, for the right reasons and right motives (which we’ll discuss in subsequent posts).

Where is your treasure? Your bank account and your attachment to “stuff” will tell me the story of where your heart truly is.

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* This series is part of a 12-week study on the topic: Being Stewards of God <— (outline). We’re now in week 9, considering the role of prudently saving (though not hoarding) money. If you’d like to receive these posts in your inbox, just put your email address in the Email Subscription box on the blog’s right sidebar.

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