In 2016, a man in Normandy, France, inherited a home from his deceased relatives only to discover a hoard of treasure hidden throughout the home. They first discovered a tin box attached to the bottom of a piece of furniture with gold in it—but that wasn’t all! They found piece after piece of gold hidden throughout the estate—over 5,000 pieces weighing 200 pounds total! The man sold the gold for upwards of $3.7 million. His relatives had chosen to hoard their wealth instead of using it to do good. Biblically, they stewarded poorly.
You may never have heard of stewardship before. My definition of biblical stewardship is managing God’s resources entrusted to you for his glory. A steward doesn’t think of the assets under his management as his. He’s only there to watch over, take care of, and provide a return on what’s in his custody.
Similarly, the time, wealth, and possessions God’s given you aren’t for you; they’re to leverage for his glory. Think of yourself not as a consumer, but as a catalyst that wealth passes through. How are you stewarding what God has given you?
Let’s take a few minutes and do a self-assessment. Open your bank or credit union app. Scroll through your last month’s transactions—or pull out your bank statement and look through it. If you have your paystub handy, you’ll need that, too. Then ask yourself these three questions.
1. Do my finances show that I’m hoarding or giving?
Let’s do some math. Find all your giving transactions from last month. Total those up. Then add up your total gross income from your job and other sources. That’s going to be on your pay stub, not the net income coming into your bank account. Look at both numbers, your giving total and your gross income. What percentage of what’s coming in are you giving away?
You might say, “I give, Andrew. This doesn’t apply to me.” The reality is that most of us would say the same thing—and most of us are easily over-estimating the amount we’re actually giving:
- Christians in the United States give away an average of 2.5% of their net income.
- In comparison, during the Great Depression, Christians gave 3.3%.
Chronologically, giving should always come first—before savings, before taxes, and before our monthly living expenses. Yet our Christian testimony is filled with consumerism.
You might be asking, “Why should I change and steward my money differently? Why should I tithe?” The clear answer is: Because eternity is at stake. Invest in what’s going to make a difference in a thousand years—bringing people closer to Christ. Charles Spurgeon said, “Even if I give the whole of my worth to Him, He will find a way to give back to me much more than I gave.”
2. Am I operating financially with God’s economy in view or the world’s economy?
When you look at your account, do you see transactions where you spent on your own comfort and gratification that could have gone to someone in need? Maybe you gave yourself some retail therapy or treated yourself to a nice restaurant or got Starbucks every other day. I’m not saying it’s wrong to enjoy the money God’s given you. But where there’s a pattern of self-indulgence, there’s usually a vacuum of giving.
Jesus came born to a poor carpenter in the form of helpless child in small city of Bethlehem. He came during a time devoid of modern comforts and conveniences. We forget this. He had nothing that would have given him status, prestige, or power in our society. Yet he is the most influential person in history. How is that possible? He operated within God’s economy, not the world’s economy.
In the world’s economy, when someone gets a raise, the mentality isn’t, “Praise God! Now I have more to give!” No, it’s usually, “Now I can get a new TV or a nicer car or a bigger house where I can buy new stuff to fill it up with.”
In contrast, God’s economy is an upside-down economy for an upside-down kingdom. The Kingdom of God turns the world’s kingdom upside down. What do I mean by that? It’s all over the Bible:
- God chooses the younger son over the older son.
- The poor are rich and the rich are poor.
- God calls us to love our enemies instead of hating them.
- The best leaders are servants.
- Most kings ask their subjects to give their lives in battle, but Jesus (our King) gave his life for our salvation instead.
I could go on and on with all the paradoxes throughout Scripture. But in God’s economy, the only thing you get to keep is what you give away. Sacrificial generosity, which includes tithing, is an expression of how the Gospel has changed every area of your life, including your finances.
3. Does my attitude toward money show that I’m coveting or Christ-like?
Biblical financial stewardship means that godliness is your goal, not amassing earthly wealth for your own ends. The pursuit of Christlikeness is more valuable than the pursuit of riches.
Look at your bank account again and add up the total you’re saving. Your paystub will have what 401K deductions are coming out. Then calculate how many other transfers you’re making into savings or investment accounts, including retirement. Compare it to the amount you’re giving that you calculated earlier. If you’re saving 20% but giving 2%, then I’d rethink whether you have your mind set on eternity or your own future comforts.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to save—in fact, it’s a wise thing to do! But are you careful to budget so you can save but then take the opposite approach with tithing? Maybe you think, “If there’s some leftover, then I’ll tithe.”
Another way to say this is: Do you spend more time each week tracking your investment progress than you do participating in and learning about what your church is doing with the Gospel? Maybe it’s time to change your focus and start thinking biblically with your money. Be careful that your mind isn’t corrupted with the world’s way of thinking about money—but renew your mind with how God says you should handle your finances.
The Bible warns us about the dangers of loving money (1 Timothy 6:9-10). It’s easy to think more money is going to solve everything, but wealth comes with its own problems if it’s not leveraged for God’s glory. When you chase after riches, you’re blinded from seeing the people in need around you. It’s a tunnel vision of greed that leads you to ignore the needs of your church and those of gospel ministries because you’ve got retirement goals to meet.
If you’re struggling with living out true biblical financial stewardship, ask yourself: Does God have full control of your wallet? The real question is: Does he have full control of your heart?
It’s so easy to look around you at everyone else and say, “Well he needs to hear this. She needs this. My friend or child or spouse needs to hear this.” Put that away for a moment. What about you? What is God possibly dealing with you about? Maybe you’re not tithing at all, or maybe the Lord is convicting you to be sacrificially generous and give over and above 10%. I know it’s uncomfortable. But this is all about managing your money in a way that glorifies God. You’ll be surprised at the joy and blessing that come from that.
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