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God's Money and You: Part One

By Pastor Philip Howle
web posted August 16, 2012

RELIGION – Finishing up the series on how to get the most out of church, there is one last topic to hit: giving financially to support your church. I realized while writing, that this topic of God and your money, or more correctly put God’s money, may need more than just one week. So for the next few weeks we are going to be looking at money. Not just money and your church, but how it is that you can obtain financial health and what the Bible has to say about how you handle God’s money.

I read this week an interesting story about debt, something we all probably know too well. Here is the article from World Magazine “The U.S. national debt stands at about $16 trillion. Some say the German capital of Berlin owes about six times that much—to one tiny German town. Back in the 16th century, the small town of Mittenwalde in what is today eastern Germany loaned 400 Rhenish guilders, a popular currency of the time, to Berlin to help the growing town meet its financial needs.

According to the terms of the loan, Germany would someday pay back the 400 guilder note with a 6 percent interest rate tacked on. But when authorities in Berlin failed to repay the note in a timely fashion, the debt slipped from the minds of Mittenwalde's inhabitants, only to be found hundreds of years later by a town clerk. Today, with the debt still collecting interest and with a Rhenish guilder still fetching .88 euros, the German capital owes the town of fewer than 9,000 residents more than $106 trillion. And just as they have in the decades since the note was uncovered, Berlin officials recently disavowed the debt.”

Now you have to love being a government, you can just default on loans with no problems at all. This is not reality for you and I. But the reality is, money matters. New Testament scholar Craig Blomberg calls stewardship of material possessions “the most important test-case of one’s profession of discipleship,” He further names materialism as “the single biggest competitor with authentic Christianity for the hearts and souls of millions in our world today.”  As a pastor, I want to see our church—and all churches—filled with people devoted to Jesus, not money.
 I know some of you are thinking, great a preacher begging for money. If you want to think that fine, I do like getting paid and I do like being able to use money in church for the service and blessing of people in our community. But what I want most of all is for people to be joyful! Men and women, rich and poor, young and old—everybody has something that they treasure, and “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34) If your heart finds ultimate satisfaction in anything other than Christ, it is a false God and an Idol.

David Powlison writes that “We are meant to long supremely for the Lord Himself, for the Giver, not His gifts. In our idolatry we make gifts out to be supreme goods, and make the Giver into the errand boy of our desires.” I want to point your heart, your treasure, and your life to the source of all joy, goodness, and love: Jesus. I sit with many couples in marriage counseling and most share common issues with money. A husband works too much, wife spends too much, and they both give the kids too much.  Now maybe you are in good financial health, debt free and enjoying the fruit of your labor. But you still may be guilty of loving money more than God. Alistair Begg says that we are guilty of loving money when:

1.    Thoughts of money consume your day.
2.    Others’ success makes you jealous.
3.    You define success in terms of what you have rather than what you are in Christ.
4.    Your family is neglected in your pursuit of money.
5.    You close your eyes to the genuine needs of others.
6.    You are living in the paralyzing fear of losing it.
7.    You are prepared to borrow yourself into bondage.
8.    You are content to give God your leftovers, rather than your first fruits.

So over the next few weeks, I implore you to be willing to make hard decisions about your money. There are no quick fixes, but you don’t want to live your life is a financial hell and work and worry yourself into an early grave! Remember as the old Puritan Thomas Fuller wrote “Riches may leave us while we live, we must leave them when we die.” 

Pastor Phillip

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