Every Friday night at GFI, we gathered together to study God’s word in small groups. The graduates’ groups had just finished looking at the topic of Cash Values over the last 5 weeks. You may ask: why discuss on the topic of money? Christians, just like the non-believers, can struggle with materialism and greed and how to use our money well. We also may have a love-hate relationship with money because it gives us the power to do things and allows us to have the things we want, but at the same time we recognize it as God’s generous gift to us.
The bible studies have been very helpful in answering questions like:
What should be our attitude towards money?
What is God’s view on money and richness?
How much should we give away, and to whom?
I am going to share what I have learnt from the studies and hopefully it will be encouraging and beneficial for us all :)
First of all, we need to go back to the very beginning which is the creation. The bible says everything in this world belongs to God. The silver and the gold is His (Haggai 2:8). This means that everything, including money and possessions, are created and owned by God. And everything that God created is good and is to be enjoyed by His people. However, it is so easy to think that the money I have belongs to me but yet again, I am reminded that my money is NOT mine but God’s and I can have it only because God gives it to me and that I should receive it with thanksgiving.
If money is a blessing from God and is to be enjoyed, what’s wrong with having it? The problem is not in having money itself but our wrong attitudes towards it. This comes from our sinful heart. It is our love of money and our greediness that is the root of all evils. We can be ‘seduced’ by money to turn it into our idol, our alternative God. In other words, instead of serving the living God who is the creator, we can turn to serve money, the creation. But the bible reminds us that no one can serve two masters, because he will either hate one or love the other. Therefore, we cannot serve both God and money.
We have learnt that money is a blessing from God, however, the bible’s warning are also very real. This is the warning: Money is seductive, it is dangerous, and it can lure us away from God. Make sure we don’t chase after it.
So then, how should we earn and use our money? Instead of giving ourselves a list on how to use and earn money, we should focus more on the godly attitudes to money. The book of proverbs has taught us that we ought not to be lazy, but to work diligently and honestly to earn money. And God wants us to be prudent and wise in managing our money, to think carefully before spending it. We are not to value money too highly as it cannot buy us a place in God’s kingdom but we are to be generous to the needy and the poor. In summary, the godly and biblical attitudes towards money are to be content, be diligent, be generous and be ready to share. We are told to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, not on earth.
On top of that, Christians have financial responsibilities too. Yes we are responsible to look after ourselves and our families, but to support our church financially is equally important. We are to give to our pastors and the work of the gospel. This is not an option or a matter of Christian freedom but it is our responsibility. Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:9 says that “you shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grains”, likewise we are to provide for our pastors who are working for the gospel’s sake and for our spiritual benefit.
How much and how often should we give? The answer is not how much we should give but to give faithfully, regularly and generously. The bible teaches us that each one must give as he has decided in his/her heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). Our motivation for giving should be shaped by our understanding of the gospel and the sacrificial love of Christ, who, though he was rich yet for our sake he became poor so that by his poverty we can become rich. Thus, I believe it is more of a joy and privilege rather than an obligation to be able to share in the partnership of the gospel. Nonetheless, our gospel partnership is not limited only to our own church but to all the gospel ministries around the world, in order that Christ may be preached to ends of the world.
So brothers and sisters in Christ, let us keep encouraging one another to be thankful of God’s providence, to be content, to be generous with our money and to keep supporting the work of the gospel. And let us keep encouraging one another to be responsible in using God’s money for His glory. Amen.