Lets face it: Money is a seductive mistress! You cant live without it, and you continually run the risk of it, like a charmed snake, reaching up and biting you to your destruction. Consider a vexing issue presented by John Wesley over 300 years ago, which serves as a sobering warning for you and me:
I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore, I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of true religion to continue for long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches. How then is it possible that Methodism, that is, a religion of the heart though it flourishes now as a greed bay tree, should continue in this state? For Methodists in every place grow diligent and frugal; consequently, they increase in goods. Hence they proportionality increase in pride, in anger, in the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life. [I Jn. 2:12,16]. So, although the form of religion remains, the spirit is swiftly vanishing away. Is there no way to prevent this-this continual decay of pure religion? We ought not to prevent people from being diligent and frugal; we must exhort all Christians to gain all they can, and to save all they can; that is, in effect, to grow rich. 1
If God has blessed you financially to the point that you have excess, you may want to consider these action steps:
Craft a mission statement for yourself and your family that will insure that you leave an eternal legacy relative to the building of the Kingdom of God. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19-21)
Surrender your earthly holdings to God, making him the owner and you the steward: Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (I Cor. 4:2). Carefully analyze Luke 12:16-21.
- Determine to be a generous giver: Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful [hilarious] giver (2 Cor. 9:7). (See Deut. 15:7-11)
- Choose to be content with Gods level of provision and get off the upward mobility treadmill. Carefully study 1 Timothy 6:6-10 and Philippians 4:11-13.
- Set limits on your work to insure that the pursuit of wealth does not crowd out your nurturing relationship with your spouse and children. It is all too easy for gifted and driven people to violate family relationships by their physical or emotional absence: If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim. 5:8). That little word provide means to look out for your family, which includes the financial but is all encompassing in scope.
- Choose to live under your income. Put a cap on your standard of living. Prayerfully consider giving away your excess. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Lk. 12:48b). Keep in mind you have two important responsibilities beyond providing for your family:
(1) To participate in the work of building the Kingdom of God: Jesussaid, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations
(2) Helping the poor of this world. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (I Jn. 3:16-18) Carefully study Deut. 15:7-10, Proverbs 14:31 , 19:17 , Isaiah 58:6-12, and 1Timothy 6:17 -19.
CONCLUSION: Immersed as we are in a money-mad world of materialism and affluence, may God grant us his wisdom on handling wealth. If God has blessed us financially, there is no reason for guilt (Pro. 10:22 ), but we clearly need to understand that we will indeed give him an accounting as to how we handled this seductive mistress. (See 2 Cor. 5:9, 10)
1 Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Dover Publishing, Inc. Minpola N. Y. 2003, pg 175