Money matters. It is after all what makes the world go round. Or so we are told!
The Bible warns about loving money and the idolatrous pitfalls of chasing after worldly wealth. However, God does expect us to be responsible custodians of the money that he has entrusted to us.
There is a truckload of advice out there about how we can make money, save money, invest money – all in the name of becoming "financially free". Some Christians argue that you need to be rich to be able to be charitable with money. While a cursory reading of the Gospel could possibly lead others to think that being poor is the only way one can truly serve God.
Just the concept of money (let alone filing your taxes) can be confusing.
But, as with everything else in life, the Bible also gives us clear guidance as to how we should deal with our finances.
The Bible is clear that money is definitely not the be-all and end-all. That place is reserved solely for God, as we see in Exodus 20:3. You shall have no other gods before me. God knows that what we esteem will captivate our hearts and so often we are tempted to look away from the Creator to the created – like money - to solve our problems. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:34)
The word shows us that the pursuit of money is a never-ending exercise in futility. It's big on promises but meagre on payout. Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
God also knows that our time and energy is limited and therefore we should choose wisely how and where we spend it. No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:24)
Money in and of itself is not wrong, it is simply a currency to facilitate trade. It is one of the many resources God has blessed us with; just like time, health and talent. Resources to be used to bless others, not for constant self-indulgence.
Choosing how you relate and use these resources thus comes down to your heart-attitude.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) If the love we should have for God, is wasted on money, we can be sure of leading a poor life, no matter how great our riches might become.
In the mad chase after money and worldly success people often become blinded to the many blessings they already have, killing any feelings of contentedness and gratitude, two qualities God views most favourably. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
He also issues a stern warning against putting one's trust in worldly possessions ... “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
The Scriptures also warn of the short-lived joy of retail therapy, pleasure and fruitless consumption.
Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich. (Proverbs 21:17)
When applied correctly money should be used to honour God and helping others. Honour the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)
The generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25)
And also, The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin. (Proverbs 10:16)
God values honesty, integrity and hard work. Any short cuts and ‘get rich-quick-schemes’ are therefore bound to fail. Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. (Proverbs 13:11)
God even provides instruction on how we should approach paying taxes and the government.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:6-7)
So, what is the bottom line then when it comes to money?
We can't make or create anything. Everything is a gift from God. He was, is and always will be our great provider. If we therefore spend our lives chasing after the gifts and not the giver, we will miss out on the rich life that comes from knowing God.
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen. (Romans 11:35-36)
Yes, most of us have at some stage thought, "If only I can earn a little more, my life wouldn't be as stressful. It's just bills, bills, bills!"
Yet, it is in these stressful situations when God wants us to turn to him. And when we do, it is often then when we see his hand at work. Little miracles that let us rediscover the awesomeness of this godly Father who truly loves us and only wants the best for us.
And that is something we can definitely bank on!