Learning to Master Money

Below is a devotional passage with a message about biblical finance from A.R. Bernard:

Countless books have been written about money – how to make it and how to keep it.

But if you’re a Christian, you probably already own at least one copy – and probably several copies – of the world’s foremost guide to financial security.  That book is the Holy Bible.

God’s Word is not only a roadmap to eternal life, but it is also an indispensable guidebook for life here on earth.  As such, the Bible has much to say about your life, your faith, and your finances.

“The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit, but anyone who is reckless only becomes poor.” ~ Proverbs 21:5 HCSB

God’s Word reminds us again and again that our Creator expects us to lead disciplined lives.  God doesn’t reward laziness, misbehavior, or apathy.  To the contrary, He expects believers to behave with dignity and discipline… but the world tempts us to do otherwise.

We live in a world in which leisure is glorified and indifference is often glamorized.  But God has other plans.  He did not create us for lives of mediocrity; He created us for far greater things.

Life’s greatest rewards seldom fall into our laps; to the contrary, our greatest accomplishments (including our financial accomplishments) usually require lots of work, a heaping helping of common sense, and a double dose of self-discipline – which is perfectly fine with God.  After all, He knows that we’re up to the task.

God’s Word can help you organize your financial affairs in such a way that you have less need to worry and more time to celebrate.

If that sounds appealing, keep reading God’s book and apply it to every aspect of your life, including the way that you handle money. When you do, God will smile upon you and your finances.

One simple step- Put God where He belongs – first.  Any relationship that doesn’t honor God is a relationship that is destined for problems – and that includes your relationship with money.  So spend (and save) accordingly.

 

In God We Trust

Recently, I had a conversation with someone on the subject of tithing.

I believe that was a divine moment arranged to encourage that person to develop more trust in God, in particularly in the area of finances.

Trusting God

For certain, it is not uncommon for most of us to be preoccupied with money and practical needs (which is valid). Hence, it is always unnerving for anyone to even consider tithing.

And it does not help that our human reasoning would alert us to the fact that it seems ridiculous to part with money in order to alleviate one’s financial security.

But that’s what faith or trusting in God is. It goes beyond our reasoning. However, we can trust in our Abba God’s word to us (c.f. Matthew 6:25-34).

Tithing by faith

When we tithe by faith, we’re simply acknowledging Him as our God who provides and protects us as He has with Abraham, Jacob and Isaac and Jacob.

More than just parting with a tenth of our monthly income, it establishes our relationship with our covenant-keeping God; placing our trust in Him to sustain us and not in money.

All of us need money in order to survive and make our livelihood.  But by tithing, we put money in its rightful position as our servant and not master.

More importantly, we put ourselves in our rightful position- in His Loving Hands- that declares out loud that “In God we trust!”

The “Million Dollar Sermon” Story

Here’s an interesting story extracted from “Think & Grow Rich”. It’s about noted preacher, educator, and pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, the late Frank W. Gunsaulus who delivered the “Million Dollar Sermon” to create money (in a creative manner) in order to make a difference in his society.


The late
Frank W. Gunsaulus was a beloved educator and clergyman who began his preaching career in the stockyards region of Chicago.

While Dr. Gunsaulus was going through college, he observed many defects in the educational system, defects which he believed he could correct, if he were the head of a college.

He made up his mind to organise a new college in which he could carry out his ideas, without being handicapped by orthodox methods of education. But he needed a million dollars to put this project across!

He didn’t have that large sum of money. And could not make any real progress for almost two years.

One day while in his room thinking ways and means to raise the money to carry out his plans, he daunted on him that he had done nothing but think. He finally resolved that the time had come to take action!

He made up his mind, then and there, that he could get the necessary million dollars within a week.

What happened next was he called the newspaper and announced he would preach a sermon the following morning, entitled- “What I would do if I had a million dollars.”

The next morning he rose early, went into the bathroom, read his sermon, then knelt on his knees and asked that his sermon might grab the attention of someone who would supply the needed money.

At the pulpit where he begin his sermon to the audience, he spoke with all his heart and soul of his dreams. He shared what he would do with a million dollars if that amount was placed in his hands. He described his plans in organising a great educational institution where young people would learn to do practical things, and at the same time develop their minds.

When he had finished and sat down, a man alowly arose from his seat and made his way toward the pulpit. That man approached Dr. Gunsaulus with an extended hand and said, “Reverend, I liked your sermon. I believe you can do everything you said you would, if you had a million dollars. My name is Phillip D. Armour.”

Next, Dr. Gunsaulus went to Mr. Armour’s office and the million dollars was presented to him. With that money he founded the Armour Institute of Technology, now known as Illinois Institute of Technology which has been a existing legacy till today.

Making $ense out of Money

Like it or not, all of us need money.

We need money to meet our personal or family needs, to run a business, to fund a humanitarian project and even our missions work.

Clearly, money is not merely an ethereal felt need. It is a real need. And whether poor or rich, there is no denying that everyone needs money.

Though not life’s most important need, it’s significance should not be taken lightly.

More about money

Money originated as a commodity; it is a medium of exchange and a means to an end.

The truth about money is that it is inanimate; neither good or bad. In other words, it is morally neutral.

Money takes on the character of the person who owns it and controls it. It amplifies what is in the heart of the owner.

A car in the hands of a responsible and careful driver would make it a good mode of transportation, but in the hands of a reckless and drunk driver, the car becomes a mode of destruction endangering lives.

Similarly, a rifle in the hands of a soldier is a tool for security, but placed in the hands of a terrorist, it becomes a deadly tool of terror and evil.

In other words, whether money is branded evil or good is determined by who owns it and how it is used.

Creating money to do more

Imagine with me- “What if most of the existing wealth or money in the world were in the hands of God-fearing people?”

Think about the ease churches would have in sending out missionaries to other countries or the readiness to set up businesses to create employment for the needy or what about just feeding the poor and hungry. The list goes on and on.

Take 48-year-old Mr. Petrus Carstens as an example. His desire to truly make a difference with ordinary lives convinced him to make a drastic decision to become a full-time investor over his pastoring duties for a 4,500 strong church in South Africa.

According to the Sunday Times’ (dated 16 May 2010) article- “Ex-pastor turns evangelist of wealth”, Mr. Carstens was a pastor in South Africa for 15 years till 2002. But later, he realised that besides praying for the poor, he could actually do more by creating wealth to better and further help the people.

“I want to use this money (generating from his investments) for economic empowerment programmes in the developing world,” said Mr. Carstens who has successfully built up an asset base exceeding US$2.4 million within two years since he started investing in 2004 and currently owns 10 companies.

I believe there are many other Christians like Mr. Carstens that are stepping up for the Church into the marketplace in reaching its rightful potential as the Head and not the tail.

God is never opposed to us prospering or getting rich, it is only the wrongful attitude towards handling and using money that He condemns.

With a kingdom mentality and an understanding of the role of money in view of God’s perspective as a means to an end and resource to make a real sustainable impact, we ought to be bold to seek the Lord in prospering us for the sake of the gospel and the many lives that we can potentially be a blessing to.

Debunking some myths about Money

When it comes to the subject of money, there’s no denying that many Christians and even churches expressed divided views and adverse attitudes towards it.

It seems that this subject or the biblical relationship we ought to have with money, is mostly and widely misunderstood.

I believe that this misunderstanding or misconceptions arise as a result of us having tainted personal perspectives towards money that are largely shaped and influenced by our different upbringing and environment.

The common misconceptions

Before we uncover more truths related to money and us, let us first address some of the common myths about money that can be found in the Church.

The following are the common myths or misconceptions about money that majority of the Church has:

  • Money is the root of all evil
    God is never against us having more money. He just doesn’t want money to have us and rule our lives. Money is a good servant, but a bad master.

    Whether rich or poor, it will be impossible for us to serve God wholeheartedly when money becomes our master. It is the love for money that is the root of all evil (c.f.
    1 Timothy 6:10).

  • Desiring to be rich or prosperous is sinful
    Our motive for desiring to be rich is the most important factor in receiving God’s intended prosperity upon our lives. It has to be stemmed from a “receive so I can give” motive where we desire to be blessed to be a blessing (c.f. 1 Chronicles 4:10).

    Therefore, desiring to be rich is not a sin. It is our motive that determines if our desire to be rich is sinning against God. Make no mistake that God delights in prospering us. The better financially positioned we’re, the better we’re positioning ourselves to help more people.

  • Being rich makes me less spiritual
    This belief that a true Christian should be poor has been with us for a long time, and it is a deception from the enemy to keep the Church feeble. Without financial resources, much of our efforts to accomplish God’s will are impeded.

    In other words, being poor doesn’t make us more spiritual than if we’re rich. Our spirituality is primarily determined by our obedience to God and not whether we’re rich or poor (c.f. Matthew 6:33).

Money is a spiritual subject

Money is a very spiritual subject. The fact that it actually represents our lives; how we manage and use it does matter to God, makes it an important spiritual subject. And our enemy knows this.

For too long the Church has been deceived where we’re now mostly living in insufficiency, poverty and debt. This has resulted in us being displaced from our rightful position where we’re not fully experiencing His abundance.

Though money or rather prospering financially is just one of the aspects in our development in God, but it is nevertheless a key aspect. And I think this is especially so living in today’s modern world.

Therefore, if we truly desire to live out our fullest potential in advancing His Kingdom, then we need to learn how to adopt a biblical IQ in handling money.

Without it, we can never be a master to money but a slave; constantly susceptible and limited by it.

Passions over ‘prosperity gospel’: Was Jesus wealthy?

It is interesting how the Church has been mostly divided in viewpoints towards money; wealth or prosperity. In the coming weeks, I’ll make an attempt to present a series of entries that aim to put this controversial topic of prosperity in (biblical) perspective. In the meantime, enjoy this article below:


Many Christians see Jesus as the poor, itinerant preacher who had “no place to lay his head.”

But as Christians gather around the globe this year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, another group of Christians are insisting that Jesus’ beginnings weren’t so humble.

They say that Jesus was never poor — and neither should his followers be. Their claim is embedded in the doctrine known as the prosperity gospel, which holds that God rewards the faithful with financial prosperity and spiritual gifts.

The prosperity gospel has attracted plenty of critics. But popular televangelists such as the late Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin and, today, Creflo Dollar have built mega-churches and a global audience by equating piety with prosperity.

The prosperity gospel, however, clashes with the traditional depictions of Jesus as poor. That’s because the traditional image of Jesus as destitute is wrong, says the Rev. Tom Brown, senior pastor of the Word of Life Church in El Paso, Texas.

Read the full article here>>>

The Principle of Financial Sowing

I am a firm believer in the universal principle of sowing in the aspect of finances.

This principle of sowing is biblical and similar to that of contribution- an overriding principle of societal trust.

It’s the intent to create value instead of destroying, and to give back instead of take.

We are owners of nothing

It is a fact and reality that all of us are born on this earth with nothing and eventually, we will also leave this earth with nothing.

Nothing on this earth ( which includes our finances) truly belong to us as we will leave them all behind upon our demise.

Since that is true, it leaves with us with a logical response to use whatever we have, especially our finances wisely and purposefully during our lifetime.

Our approach in living life should be one that aims to take advantage of our God-given “window” of opportunity to make difference and impact in our generation by readily giving back.

Going against conventional wisdom

For most of us, this principle of giving clearly goes against conventional wisdom that teaches us to hoard and splurge on ourselves.

This has led us in becoming willing slaves to consumerism in our modern society.

Evidently, we have allowed consumerism to define who we are; which equates to our personal happiness with the consumption and the purchase of material possessions.

Therefore, an effective cure towards unhealthy consumerism is adopting the principle of sowing in one’s lifestyle.

Living a life of giving

William Colgate, the founder of the Colgate-Polmalive Company, maker of soaps and dental-care products was a regular giver.

Throughout his long and successful business career, he gave not merely one-tenth of the earnings of Colgate’s soap products; but he gave two-tenths, then three-tenths, and finally five-tenths of all his income to the work of God in the world.

During the later days of his life he revealed the origin of his devotion to the idea of tithing.

Since his death in 1857, he left behind a company that is successful to this day and a college that bears his name.

In 2006, Warren Buffett announced that he would give $37 billion (85 per cent of his net worth) to charity.

Two years later in 2008, Forbes ranked him as the richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of approximately $62 billion.

Clearly, his net worth did not deplete with his generous giving, instead he reaped more from what he had sowed and remained massively wealthy.

This is the universal principle of sowing at work.

Reaping from the giving

Many of us (including myself) are no where near Warren Buffet’s net worth, but I believe we can still start sowing whatever little ‘seeds’ of finances we may have.

Personally, I started sowing nine years ago. My main practise of this is in the form of a monthly tithe to my local church.

Since then, I have experienced steady and accelerated growth in my personal finances with promotions and salary increments.

I know I’m have been blessed as I do not have any material lack. Now I also do not need to borrow on occasions like I had to in the past, just so that I could tide through the rest of the month.

A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Proverbs 11:25

I had also experienced many miracles of practical providence from various avenues that helped me to be where I am today.

For instance, my fully-sponsored degree education and love offerings when I was unemployed whilst transiting between jobs.

Start sowing your ‘seeds’ of finances

Having experienced this principle at work, I realised that my earning capacity and value-add does increase with my desire and my readiness to give generously.

However, please do not be misunderstand that I’m promoting giving to help others with the intent to gain something back or to expect  financial returns.

My reasons for citing those examples including mine is to attest that giving isn’t that horrifying as one might think.

In fact, it is so…ul rewarding.

Even if one is not a Christian, I believe this principle is universally applicable. And for instance, anyone can start sowing regularly (a tithe or one-tenth) towards a humanitarian cause or some charitable programme.

True living comes from real giving. We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.

Let’s start sowing!