we are stewards over the resources God gives us

STEWARDSHIP IN GOD’S KINGDOM III

We should be very careful about the way we handle money, otherwise, we might end up replacing it with the God we serve. We may not think of that, but our actions depict what we truly believe. Jesus said it was very difficult for the rich to get into the Kingdom of God because the rich, with most of their basic physical needs met, often become self-reliant. When they feel empty in one way or the other, they think buying something new will dull the pain, instead of being driven toward God. Their abundance becomes their deficiency. The person who has everything on earth can still lack what is most important – eternal life. A man’s life is not dependent on what he has – it’s eternal life that matters. Sometimes people quote from Ecclesiastes 10:19, which states money is the answer to everything.

But Ecclesiastes 5:10 also says “Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness!” Money can deceive us into thinking that wealth is the easiest way to get everything you want. Scripture recognizes that money is necessary for survival, but it warns against the love of it (Matthew 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5). There are people who think they are rich in this life and that’s all. They go on to disbelieve in God, but one day, they will discover that they have nothing because they are spiritually bankrupt. Possessing wealth is itself not a sin. It’s how you handle it that matters! The young man came to Jesus wondering what he could do; he left seeing what he was unable to do. What barriers are keeping you from turning your life over to Christ? What does your money mean to you?

Your reaction may show your attitude toward money – whether it is your servant or your master. Although Jesus wanted the young man to sell everything and give to the poor, this does not mean that all believers should sell all their possessions. We have our families to cater for. You’ll realize that most of Jesus’ followers did not sell everything, although they used their possessions to serve others. Instead, this story shows us that we must not let anything we have or desire, keep us from following Jesus. We must remove all barriers to serving Him fully. Life without God is useless: “For what hope do the godless have when God cuts them off and takes away their life?” (Job 27:8, NLT). Such people have no hope; but the Lord has entrusted them to us. We must not stop preaching the gospel; that’s why we’re to give to support gospel ministers to effectively carry out this great commission.

The Word tells us to say to the rich not to be proud and trust in their wealth; they should rather trust in God, who’s the source (1 Timothy 6:17). Jesus asks about what profits a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul; what at all can a man give in exchange for his soul (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:37; Luke 9:25). God’s looking for people who want to prosper His Kingdom; people who are interested in partnering with Him to get all souls saved (2 Peter 3:9). God wants to transfer a great amount of wealth to people who are trustworthy; people whose hearts are committed to moving His Kingdom forward. There’s much to be done. Everything in the world belongs to God; He only needs good stewards who can effectively manage His resources. Are you ready? Have you been giving to God even from the little income you receive at the end of the month?

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

The Word says, “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s money, why should you be trusted with money of your own” (Luke 16:10-12, NLT). Some people give to God as though He doesn’t know how much they possess. Listen, God isn’t a fool! If He can trust you with the little you have, then He can entrust you with more. After the rich young ruler had left, Peter began questioning Jesus. He made it plain to them that no one who has left his possessions – no one who invests in His Kingdom would ever go unblessed. Such a person will receive a hundredfold of whatever he gives in this present time and in the world to come eternal life.

So, the young man missed out on this great blessing; he could have been a great steward over God’s resources. The more he gave, the more he would have received; but he missed out! I consider giving in general as a seed. When we give, it grows into a tree and bear fruits. This way, the Lord increases our seeds from the fruits he gives so that we can sow more. The more we sow, the more we reap. In the story of the servants of the king, it is clear that those who don’t use their wealth wisely will lose it to the wise. And in the story of the young rich man, Jesus made it plain: “sell and share what you have in order to have treasure in heaven.” Jesus is always concerned about our rewards in heaven because that’s eternal; what we have here is temporal. He tells us not to store treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty; where thieves also break in and steal (Matthew 6:19).

You’re sure of your treasure when you get it stored in heaven. He then makes another remarkable statement: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). Never trust in riches, for “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13, NLT). We cannot love God with all our heart and yet keep our money to ourselves. Loving him totally means using our money in ways that please him. The way we handle money reveals a lot about the state of our emotions and spiritual growth. The extremes: hoarding money on the one end and spending every cent of it on the other, show our fears and our focus on self, rather than on God. Of course, God wants us to be rich, no doubt about that.

But God also wants us to be responsible with the resources He gives us, including money. Often, those who love the things of the world are those who have no investment in heaven. All their investment is located here on earth. Paul writes give an important message to the believers in Corinth (2 Corinthians 8:1-15). Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity. The Corinthian believers excelled in everything – they had faith, good preaching, much knowledge, much earnestness, and much love. But Paul wanted them to also be leaders in giving. Giving is a natural response of love. Paul did not order the Corinthians to give, but he encouraged them to prove that their love was sincere. When you love someone, you want to give him your time and attention and to provide for his or her needs.

If you love God, it will also show in how much you want His Kingdom prosperous. If you refuse to help, your love is not as genuine as you say. It seems I’m being too hard here but I don’t think so. If you’d actually consider what I’m sharing with you, it will have a profound effect in your life – a positive one. If you give to God even if you don’t earn much, He will give you more because you will be faithful in that also. Sometimes I wish believers would know how God wants to partner with them, prospering them in everything they do. Jesus wasn’t a poor man when he walked earth, even though we read He was rich and became poor for our sake (2 Corinthians 8:9). He was poor by giving up His rights as God and becoming human. In response to the Father’s will, He limited His power and knowledge. He became poor because He set aside so much!

Give generously, but not to the extent that those who depend on you (families, for example) must go without having their basic needs met. Give until it hurts, but don’t give so that it hurts your family and relatives who need your financial support. God calls us to be honest, even in small details we might think are unimportant. Heaven’s riches are far more valuable than earthly wealth. But if we are not trustworthy with our money here (no matter how much or how little we have), we will be unfit to handle the vast riches of God’s Kingdom. Guard your integrity in small matters, and it will not fail you in crucial decisions. God doesn’t want us to be overly concerned with how our offering is spent. For instance, when Jesus was observing how the people gave, the temple treasury was no doubt being managed by the corrupt religious leaders of that day.

Guard your integrity in small matters, and it will not fail you in crucial decisions

But Jesus didn’t mention in anywhere that the woman should not have given to the temple because it was the wrong place. Even though we should do what we can to ensure the churches and ministers we give to are good stewards of God’s money, we can’t always know for certain that the money will be spent correctly. We should not be overly burdened with this concern. Nor should we use this as an excuse not to give. It’s important for us to find a good church that is wisely managing its financial resources for God’s glory and for the growth of God’s kingdom. But once we give to God, we don’t need to worry about what happens to the money. This is God’s problem to resolve. If a church leader or ministry misuses its funds, God knows how to deal with it. Giving may feel like a huge sacrifice at first, but I’m confident you’ll eventually discover its rewards.

God wants us to be free from the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10). Giving honours God and allows His work to go forward. We may experience times of financial hardship when we can’t give as much, but the Lord still wants us to trust him in times of lack. He, not our paycheck, is our provider. He will meet our daily needs. Financial giving is not a way of raising money – it’s a way of raising His children” – Olga Hermans. If we don’t believe the church and minsters to whom we give our offerings, then it’s better we don’t give at all. We may not give willingly under such circumstance, which is sin in the sight of God. Do well also to provide for those who seek help from you. God wants us to care for people: “I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven” (Luke 16:9, TLB).

Why does the Word of God always tell us to store up treasures in heaven? It’s because the earth is a temporal place. All the estates, companies, gadgets, machinery etc will pass away: “All the fancy things you loved so much are gone,” they cry. “The luxuries and splendor that you prized so much will never be yours again. They are gone forever.” “…But you, O heaven, rejoice over her fate. And you also rejoice, O holy people of God and apostles and prophets! For at last God has judged her on your behalf” (Revelation 18:14, 20, NLT). Everything will pass away, but happy and wise is the man who gathers his treasures in heaven. Life is more than material goods; far more important is our relationship with God. When you love someone, you’d love to help him: “If one of you has money enough to live well, and sees a brother or sister in need and won’t help them – how can God’s love be in that person?” (1 John 3:17).

Consistently and generously giving away our money might be the most effective way to keep us from loving it. When we see what giving does in the lives of others, needs are met in us that material possessions could never satisfy. This kind of giving measures our Christian love. God urges us to be good stewards in earning, spending, and saving our money. He understands the importance of providing for the needs of our family and the future. But he also expects us to use our money generously to help others. As you give to help people, you’re actually lending to the Lord: “Mercy to the needy is a loan to God, and God pays back those loans in full” (Proverbs 19:17, MSG). Did you get that? And do you know how much God will pay you back? Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 9, as Paul writes to the Corinthians to prepare for the offering to be made for the Christians in Jerusalem. All quotes will be taken from the Amplified Bible.

In verse 6 he tells the people: “[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings.” Wow! People are blessed when you give to them and you also reap blessings in return. But you must do this cheerfully. “In verse 7, he tells them God’s view on generous people: “Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].” Cheerful givers are on God’s priority list; He can’t do without them. God wouldn’t come to this world to give for the advancement of His Kingdom, but He will freely channel His resources to people whose hearts are connected to moving His Kingdom forward.

Like the first two servants of the king, God calls such people trustworthy. They are the apple of His eyes. Hallelujah! God is a Giver Himself and no wonder He takes pleasure in such people. He goes on to say that: “And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]” (verse 8). I love God’s Word. The final part has even more for us; let’s keep studying.

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