This is not my idea. Our pastor was talking about a couple of passages in the Gospel of Luke today and some of his main points really hit home.
1. You must change the measure of your life from gaining to giving. In other words, at the end of the year as you are doing your taxes don’t look at your adjusted gross income, look at your charitable giving to see how you are doing financially. This is more about motivation than about amounts. If you are motivated to gain more in order to give then you will handle your finances differently than being motivated to simply gain more money for the sake of “self”.
2. How I use my money reveals the state and direction of my heart. This ties in with the previous point. Where do I spend my money and more importantly why? Do I think I deserve the things that I purchase for myself? What about food selections? Do I think I deserve what I eat and don’t have to worry about what I put into my body? Is that being a good steward of the money I have worked for? What about clothes? Why do I need brand new shirts when I can get four shirts for the price of one at the local thrift store and look just as good (or at least I think I look good!)? Going out to the movies, dining out, entertaining with sporting events, etc… What about the hungry in the world or the missionary families who are sacrificing their Western comfort for helping others in their time of need? Who is going to help them? Guilty as charged. But I won’t do anything about it. Keep reading, let’s see some more of where I have missed the mark.
3. I must change my mindset from ownership to stewardship. Instead of how much can I get then it should be what can I do with what I have to help others. You might not have enough money to cover your bills but you might be able to give some of your possessions away or have someone over for dinner or do some sort of manual labor for someone in need. Am I being a good steward of not only my money but of the possessions I have?
4. My dream must change from an American dream to a Biblical dream. Why do I save money? Is it to work for thirty/forty years, then retire, and sit the rest of my life out in a cabin in the mountains drinking fresh spring water and eating some freshly grilled trout that I caught while fly-fishing earlier in the day? If that is the only dream that I have of where I want to be when I retire then it falls short of what God has designed me for and is preparing me for. Now if I do the above plus share that life with some kids from the community or a father who is struggling to provide for his family or bring the trout to a single-mom who is having trouble making ends meet then that would be perfect.
What is the point of maturing spiritually if when all is said and done I am doing nothing to promote the grace that I have been freely given? Enjoying the retired life is not a sin. Not sharing the love of Christ while you are retired is against God’s desire for your life. There are numerous ways to do this but the point is that I need to evaluate the long term goals in my life and make sure that they are centered on Christ and the principles of His teachings and instructions. If they don’t match then one of us is in the wrong and it won’t be Jesus.
A very key note within this post is that you can’t give what you don’t have. If you are not a good steward of the funds that you have then you can be giving more away than you are capable of. If you are not planning for the future then you can’t plan to give more in the future. You have to control your money, not your money controlling you. Proverbs 23:4 “Don’t wear yourself out to get rich; stop giving your attention to it. As soon as your eyes fly to it, it disappears, for it makes wings for itself and flies like an eagle to the sky.” Be a good steward of what you have and you will have exactly what you need to be content.
Boris the Illusionist