by Ryan Anderson
In Randy Alcorn’s book The Treasure Principle, he makes the statement “God owns everything - I’m his money manager”. I was taken aback when I first read that statement. I’ve always been very proud of the effort and hard work I put into school, landing a good job, and diligently working for my money. What I failed to realize is that everything, including the money He gives us, is God’s. I try to justify my ownership because I worked hard to earn an income, God was the one who gave me the desire and ability to work hard in the first place.
All the resources I have ever had, currently have, or will have are directly entrusted to me by God. And it’s the same way for you.
God has specifically chosen you to be the manager, or steward, of a certain piece of this world for a certain amount of time. This is a weighty responsibility. Every monetary decision we make should be seen within the overall context of a steward’s mentality.
Owners don’t give stewards anything, but rather entrust stewards with their assets. It’s a steward’s job to manage resources for the owners’ benefit without a sense of entitlement to those resources. If God is the owner of everything we have, our thought process for every spending decision needs to include the question, “Will this honor the Lord and be for His benefit?” It’s our job to find how we can best honor Him with what He has given us, and then actually do it.
One day, God is going to ask us to give an account for the things He has entrusted us with. I want to live my life today so that on that day He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
Jesus gives us some great advice in Matthew 6:19-21 on how to increase our chances of receiving this commendation:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I'd imagine that many reading this have heard that verse at some point. I heard that verse several hundred times before it really sunk in. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Jesus is saying, show me your credit card, your checkbook, and your receipts, and I’ll show you where your heart is.
I want my heart focused on eternity, and one of the best ways I can start to do that is to transfer my money from temporal to eternal things. God wants us to live in the present with a vision of the eternal; investing our resources, passions and prayers where they will last forever.
Jesus specifically addresses what can happen when our hearts are focused on the world and its riches rather than storing up treasure in heaven in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:
And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow…. Some seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Apparently the disciples didn’t have ears to hear, so Jesus explains it to them:
“Hear then the parable of the sower...As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
The cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. This is a weighty statement, and I don’t think Jesus chose these words flippantly. The deceitfulness of riches choke the word. I don’t want to be unfruitful because my heart is set on the cares of the world or its riches.
So what does it practically look like to use God’s money well?
Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 5:8 to provide for our families, both now in and in the future. So we know that as God’s stewards, we have access to a portion of what He has given us for that purpose. This amount will vary for everyone.
Beyond providing for our families, we should be looking to store up treasure in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy. But at what point are we as stewards paying ourselves too much and managing the rest of the resources we are given for His benefit?
We should constantly be asking ourselves “How much is enough?” and putting work into finding out rather than going with our gut. This is one of the most important reasons we need to be transparent with our brothers and sisters in community to make sure we are not turning a blind eye or being deceived in this area.
God is after our hearts. Money is about so much more than money. It’s a tool, it’s a test, and it’s a testimony*. Recognizing that everything we have is given to us by God and choosing to store up our treasure in heaven rather than on earth is about having a right vision of eternity and an understanding of where our real home is.
If we embrace our real home and focus on the eternal rather than the temporary, our view of money and the way we use it will change drastically.
* from Master Your Money by Ron Blue