Thursday, August 30, 2018
Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
WARNING! Do not read this devotional if you love your money.
God’s eternal principle of financial management is this – “Do my work and I will pay the bills.” However, the world’s principle of financial management says, “Work harder for me so I can have more to spend on me.”
That last statement sounds so selfish that we would never consider that it defines our own life. But I want to challenge that defense mechanism. Please consider the following statements that I have heard over the years as people make excuses for their financial decisions.
- “If God would give me more money I would give Him more money.” First of all, it’s not God’s fault that you don’t have more money, so stop blaming Him. God has promised to meet all your needs if you are seeking His purpose. However, we have changed the definition of need to be self-serving, not God-serving. The foundational principle of God’s Kingdom is this – “Whatever you sow is what you will reap.” Give God a greater portion of what you have already and then He will trust you to manage more.
- “But I have to take care of my own needs first, and that takes everything I have.” For many years I have done counseling for people who are in a financial crisis, and I have yet to find one of them that was not able to give to the Lord if they made better decisions about how to manage their money. I am amazed at the ways people have tried to justify their spending habits. I have seen people who are emotionally addicted to buying and I have helped people who simply never learned good money management skills. But the one common flaw in all their thinking is this – Take care of my own needs first and then if there is something left, give it to God. Guess what? There’s usually nothing left to give to God, and there’s usually not enough to satisfy every desire they have for themselves.
- “When I get out of debt, then I will give to the Lord.” Believe me when I tell you that you will never get out of debt so long as you manage your money that way. You may get your current bills paid, but you will never change your belief system that has you convinced that every dollar you have is for you. You will continue to buy more stuff and incur more debt. At some point you must take a step of faith to put God to the test and ask Him to provide for you. Do you remember the poor widow that Jesus used as an example in Mark 12:41 – 44?
- Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 43Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
This woman knew what it was to manage her money with God as the priority and with faith in His ability to provide for her. She knew the principle of Philippians 4:19 and Matthew 6:33, and she lived it.
- “But there have been so many unexpected expenses and emergencies lately.” Really? Is God the God of the good times but not the bad? God is ALWAYS God, and ALWAYS good. He is working even in the tough times to bring the blessing of character development to us. The people in the prophet Malachi’s day tried to take away from God to meet their own needs, and God said this – “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me.”
- “I’ll gladly give more if it means I can get more.” Major “Oops!” Selfishness has once again reared its ugly head. Giving that demands more for self is totally wrong. God honors people who give sacrificially expecting nothing in return. In our minds it is so hard to separate this because we know that He also promised to bless us if we give. But we must remember that He only blesses giving if it is done from a pure heart that demands no return on the investment. Paul commended the people in Philippi for their gifts because they gave themselves to the Lord first.
Let me encourage you with a story of sacrificial giving. While I was eating lunch after the funeral for a 5-month old baby that died, I was approached by a young woman. She asked me if the family had insurance to cover the funeral expenses. I told her they might not, and they were waiting to hear from their health insurance company. She then said this – “I have an open checkbook, and whatever the need I will meet it.” I told her that it may be several thousand dollars, and she said, “No problem!”
The parents of the baby girl are the benefactors of God’s promise in Matthew 6:33. Those parents had prioritized their lives around serving Jesus Christ – they are CRU missionaries. God met all of their needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus, thanks to a sister in Christ who also decided to put the kingdom of God first in her personal finances.
Imagine what God could do in the local church if we all managed our money that way.