Is Greed Idolatry?

In the 1987 movie, Wall Street, Gordon Gekko declares, “Greed is good!” Thankfully, not many agree. However, more would say that ambition is good or acquisition is good. They defend wealth and riches, and these are certainly better than poverty.

I disagree that greed, ambition, and acquisition are good. Greed is commonly understood as placing money or something else in front of God. This is a direct affront to the God who has told us, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” – Exodus 20:3 NKJV.

Continue reading “Is Greed Idolatry?”

How Ingratitude Keeps You Poor

Americans are blessed financially when compared to the rest of the world. According to the website mic.com, “someone at the poverty line in the United States is in the top 14% of the global income distribution.” But, if you are living at the poverty line, you probably don’t feel like you’re in the top 14% of anything. Despite the biblical commands to be content, we are likely to be malcontents concerning our financial lot in life.

Even when we have a lot, we tend to focus on the people that have more than we do and feel as if God has somehow not given us our fair share. But can ingratitude actually contribute to our poverty? I believe it can and I want to make the argument in this article that it does.

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul says this, “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools,” – Romans 1:21-22 NKJV, emphasis added. When we are ungrateful for what God provides, it starts to affect our thinking. We fall more and more into rebellion against God.

When we fall victim to the sin of ingratitude, we reject the Holy Spirit’s influence over our lives. We are told in the epistle to the Thessalonians, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19 NKJV emphasis added. I’m sure some would argue that following God’s will in thankfulness and not quenching the Spirit are two separate, unrelated commands. I’m not so sure. I believe their placement following each other in scripture is not coincidental.

When we lust after the things of this world, we reject the Father’s care and suppress the Sprit’s influence over us. When we submit to the Spirit, he renews our thinking and implants the mind of Christ in us. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:2 NKJV.

When we are thankful and content with God’s care for us, we don’t have to worry about having enough to eat or something to wear. God is pleased to provide for us. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV emphasis added. Don’t worry. Be happy, thankful, and prayerful for the things we need. Less anxiety means that we can make better money decisions.

So, to recap, here’s what ingratitude does to us. First, it produces what my friend Shelley Hitz calls, “stinkin’ thinkin’.” We can’t make good decisions when we’re ungrateful. Second, it limits the Holy Spirit’s power to affect our lives. The Spirit’s power is limitless, but ingratitude will quench his power in our own life. He doesn’t force himself on us. And finally, it robs us of peace and makes us stress about our circumstances. Unless we are grateful for the good that God gives, our prayers our weakened.

If we seek God’s blessing over our finances, we must develop an attitude of gratitude.

Would you like to watch a couple of great videos on this subject? Here are links to a couple of my favorites.

11-12-17 Life. Money. Legacy – Pride Poverty and Gratitude – Dave Ramsey Series

The Four A’s for Expressing Gratitude – Brian Tracy

The Earth’s Purchase History

At the beginning of time itself, God created the heavens and the earth. As Creator, God is the ultimate owner of both the heavens and the earth. We read King David’s declaration in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.” – Psalm 24:1 NKJV. We also see this proclamation from Moses to Pharoah in Exodus 9:29. Paul also reiterates this truth in 1 Cor., “for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.” – 1 Corinthians 10:26 NKJV.

On the sixth day of creation, God created man and woman and gave them this charge, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:28 NKJV. By assigning dominion to mankind, he essentially gave the deed of the earth to humans. This, however, did not rescind God’s ultimate ownership of anything. As Abram declared to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth,” – Genesis 14:22 NKJV.

Tragically, Adam and Eve instead of listening and obeying God, followed the seductive song of the serpent. They took the deed of the earthly paradise and subjugated it to Satan. By obeying the devil and rejecting God, they placed themselves under sin and evil. Satan became the “prince of the power of the air,” “the ruler of this world,” and “the god of this age.” (see Eph. 2:2, John 12:31, and 2 Cor. 4:4). Because of this, when the devil sought to move the man, Jesus, from his preordained purpose to save the world from its errant ways, Satan could truthfully say, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” – Luke 4:6 NKJV. Satan’s lie wasn’t that the kingdoms of the world had been delivered to him, but that Jesus could take them as his own by worshipping him.

The “deed,” however, was still being managed and controlled by man. Man is still the steward of the earth. If mankind wanted to live under the despotism of Satan, God would not renege on his promise to man even if man abused his stewardship. This is what is meant in Psalm 115, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men.” – Psalm 115:16 NKJV.

Therefore, it can be rightfully said of Job, “ …his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East.” – Job 1:3 NKJV. Job had been given stewardship over God’s sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys. And Job acknowledges that all he possessed came from God. “And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.’” – Job 1:21 NKJV.

If God was to reassert his control, he could only do so by getting mankind to give him control again. This seemed impossible since by “one man’s (Adam’s) offense, judgement came to all men,” (Rom. 5:18). All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Though God should be evident to us, men ignore him and worship the creation rather than the creator. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” – Romans 1:20-23 NKJV.

There was a hope, though. If a man was born who was not tainted by rebellion, a man born of the “seed of the woman,” he could resubmit mankind to the authority and blessings of God. I hope you can see that Christ had to come as a man. The promise was to mankind and only by a man could the promise be restored. If one could live completely submitted to God, that one could impute his righteousness back to mankind by submitting to the death sentence man had been placed under.

Since Jesus Christ was not under the penalty of death as was every descendant of Adam, death could not contain him. To show that he had authority over death and hell, Christ was raised by the Spirit. Thus, he could now declare, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” – Matthew 28:18 NKJV. Jesus Christ has become Daniel’s rock that smashes the kingdoms of this world and grows to become a mountain that covers the whole earth. (See the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision in Daniel chapter 2.) Soon we shall shout with the voices of heaven, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” – Revelation 11:15 NKJV.

Until that day, we are still stewards of the world and all its possessions. We are not its owner, but we are called to manage it until Christ returns to take possession of what is rightfully his. If we continue to hoard and selfishly possess the treasures of this world, we do so to our detriment. Like the rich young ruler, we are called to willingly forsake our possessions and follow Christ. “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.” – Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV. Our possessions are not what’s real. Only that which is carried into eternity, that which we have done in Christ’ name, will last. That is what Jesus called “treasures in heaven.”

I don’t believe Christ is calling us to poverty. I don’t see that in scripture. He has called us to be stewards of his possessions. He has called us to contentment. If we receive anything from him, it is to be received with thanksgiving. But striving after what others have and discontentment with our own lot in life shows we are not seeking first his kingdom, but are seeking what the nations (Gentiles) seek.

I have a friend who argues that good stewardship is taking what God has given us and using it produce ten-fold, or a twenty-fold, or a hundred-fold. I agree! We should make the most of what we are given. But if we are keeping score with the balance in our bank account, we are missing the point. “The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up.” – 1 Samuel 2:7 NKJV. We should make as much money as we are given the grace to make, but we must learn to be satisfied with the Lord, whether he gives us much or gives us little. “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” – 1 Timothy 6:6 NKJV

What did Jesus mean when he said, “For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” – Luke 18:25 NKJV? This doesn’t mean that all rich people are outside the kingdom. We all, particularly in America, are rich by the standards of this world. Thankfully, what is impossible with men is possible with God. Rich people are saved just like poor people are saved — by trusting in the Lord. If you care for your soul, make sure that God possesses you and your heart is not owned by your possessions. You cannot serve God AND mammon.

For more about attitudes toward money, see the second chapter, “The Real Prosperity Gospel,” in my book, Financially Faithful.

Are Christians Supposed to Be Poor?

Should Christians be poor? Should Christians be rich? I hope to show over the next couple of weeks that, as followers of Christ, we shouldn’t seek poverty and we shouldn’t seek exorbitant wealth. We should instead be content with what God gives us. This week, let’s focus on the question of poverty.

There is something that seems pious about “forsaking all to follow Jesus.” There are pastors and teachers that declare we are not truly disciples if we live “normal” lives. If we live in a house or drive a car, we must, in our hearts, be serving these things and Jesus told us we couldn’t serve both God and money.

For centuries, monks and priests have taken vows of poverty to show their devotion. Modern-day priests and monks, however, are seen driving nice cars and living in comfortable homes. Their vow of poverty does not forbid their access to these material blessings, only their ownership of them.

Jesus once told a wealthy man who pushed for Jesus’ assurance of his worthiness that he should, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” – Luke 18:22 NKJV. When the man rejected Jesus’ invitation, Jesus exclaimed that it was harder for a rich man to the enter the kingdom than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. So is Jesus telling us we must all be poor instead?

Following Jesus’ encounter with the rich man, his disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” They understood that “rich” was pretty subjective. We are all rich compared with those that have less and there is always someone who has less.

Here are some things the bible says about the poor and poverty:

  1. The poor can be exploited by the rich. Both the rich and the poor are creations of God. He views them as equals and judges them according to their character not according to the amount in their bank account. However, this is not so with men. We tend to judge people according to what they could do for us. Thus, the rich are esteemed in our eyes, but the poor are ignored, or worse, abused. See Psalm 22: 2; Proverbs 14:20-21, 31: James 2: 2-3
  2. Lack of industriousness may cause poverty. Some cultic teachers out there claim that having a job is the same as serving money. But the bible teaches that idleness leads to poverty. We are to be diligent that we may provide for ourselves and have something to share with those in need. See Prov. 10:4, 13: 4; Eph. 4: 28, 1 Thes. 4: 11, 2 Thes. 3:10.
  3. A lavish lifestyle may cause poverty. Spending our money on fancy cars and flashy outfits is a quick path to the poorhouse. Learn to live a simple life and avoid reckless spending that you may have more to share with those in need. See Prov. 21: 17, 23: 21, 28: 19; Ezek. 16:49.
  4. God answers the prayers of the poor. It’s true thatGod hears all our prayers, but he is especially attentive to the prayers of the poor. Just as God provided manna in the wilderness and food from the ravens for Elijah, he provides for his people. See Psalm 68: 10; 102: 17;Isa 41:17.
  5. There will always be poor people. In spite ofwhat the politicians may promise, there will always be poor people. There will always be someone less fortunate for you to bless. See Deut. 15: 11; John 12: 8
  6. Whether we are rich or poor, we should always be content. We tendto be discontent with current status, always wanting more. But as Christians we are to be content with our lot in life as long as we have food and clothing. See Luke 3: 14; Phil. 4: 11; 1 Tim. 6: 6-8; Heb. 13: 5.

My conclusion is that given a choice between being a “have” or a “have not,” it is better to be a have adequate finances. Otherwise, we are positioned to be exploited. Wealth means freedom from financial oppression and this is not a bad thing. If we find ourselves financially burdened, we should consider if we have contributed to that by our lack of diligence. We also want to consider if we have foolishly spent our money on the trappings of wealth to impress others. God wants us to live simply.

If we find ourselves in need, God longs to provide. We should ask for our provision. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV. However, we will never be able have anything we want, not should we greedily seek more than we can use. Instead, we should be content with the little or the abundance that God provides.

Why Saving is Better Than Debt

As an American it is tempting to pull out your credit card and buy anything that catches your eye as you walk through the mall. If we can’t afford it, it seems logical to charge it now. “I could never save enough to get this without using credit!” we reason.

The truth is that if we could never save enough for the purchase, we certainly can’t afford to pay the extra for it that using credit obligates us to pay. If we buy a new television for $800 using credit, it will take us over 4 ½ years (56 months) to pay for it if we only make minimum payments of $24. Counting interest at 24%, we will eventually pay $1332 for that $800 TV. If instead we waited and saved that $24 each month, we could have bought that $800 TV after 9 months and could have used the extra $532 to buy something else.

Irresponsible credit use is one of the main reasons poor people stay poor in America. In 1970, Walter Mischel, a psychology professor at Stanford University conducted experiments with 4-year-olds. The children were given a marshmallow, which they could eat immediately. However, if they were able to wait a short while before eating it, they would get two marshmallows. Some of the children weren’t willing to wait and ate their marshmallow quickly. Others patiently waited, anticipating the satisfaction of getting two marshmallows. Following up fourteen years later, the researchers found that the youngsters who waited as toddlers were more competent, scored higher on their SATs, and were more socially adept as adults than their impatient fellow subjects.

What the researchers called delayed gratification, the bible calls “longsuffering,” “waiting” or “patience.” God’s people are told, “Those who wait upon the Lord, will renew their strength” (Isa. 40: 31) and “the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit,” (Eccl. 7: 8). And patience is one of the qualities identified as a fruit that is born from the Holy Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering …” (Gal. 5:22). Not only does patiently saving show our heart and builds our character, it is evidence that the Spirit has control of us.

Debt, on the other hand, enslaves us and obligates us pay back what we have pledged. “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.” – Proverbs 22:7 NKJV. Pay back what you owe quickly. By becoming debt-free and building our savings, we open ourselves to experiencing the blessings God gives to his people when they are content to wait for him.

The Bible’s Formula For a Better Financial Life Revealed

Have you ever been suckered into a get-rich-quick scheme? You know, the ones that advertise on television in the middle of the night, promising that their method is guaranteed to make you wealthy. It usually involves purchasing an expensive course that puts money in the bank. The problem is that money goes in their account, not yours. These schemes are not the way to a better financial life.

The Bible does show a way to greater financial security. It is not a quick way to wealth, but by following these lessons, you can grow in your ability to a higher paying career and understand the mindset necessary to hang on to your hard-fought financial gains. When it comes to greater prosperity, your attitude matters greatly.

Step One — Measure What You Want to Manage

Here’s what Proverbs says about budgeting:

“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks and attend to your herds. For riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations. When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself, and the herbs of the mountains are gathered in, the lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field. You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household, and the nourishment of your maidservants.” – Proverbs 27:23-27 NKJV

Peter Drucker, the business management expert of the late 20th century, famously said, “What get measured, gets managed.” It’s very difficult to manage your weight if you never step on a scale. We constantly measure the aspects of lives. You may hope to be able to cut a few seconds off a task that you do regularly. Or strive to increase our bench press by another ten pounds.  We search for ground beef that is ten cents less than what we paid for it last week.

Likewise, if you want to manage your money, you must keep track of your income and expenses. You want to increase the money you are bringing in and reduce the amount you spend. Budgeting isn’t just a useless exercise for nerds. It allows you to see where your spending is out of hand and helps you think of creative ways to control it.

If you want to have money sufficient to do the things God has called you to do, you must understand and measure the money that comes in and the money that goes out. If you aren’t accounting for how much you have, how much you earn, and how much you spend, you are probably lying to yourself.

Step Two — Make A Decision

If you want to want to get control of your financial life, you must take a stand. As Joshua told the Israelites:

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:15 NKJV

You must decide and follow through. Draw a line in the sand. You won’t persevere through the difficulties unless you have decided that you are going to do it. Let me suggest that you don’t decide in your heart and keep it to yourself. Set a financial goal as to the salary you want to make, the amount you want to raise for a project or cause, or what you will need for retirement. Write this goal down and decide what the steps are necessary to achieve it. If you need further education or other people to assist, figure out how to do that. Write it in your journal, tape it to your bathroom mirror. Create a pop-up that appears every time you boot your computer. Find a way to keep your objective before you and central in your thoughts.

Make your decision public by posting it on social media or telling a few people who will keep you accountable. Allow the pressure of embarrassment for having failed to accomplish your objective spur you toward completion.

Step Three — Abide in the Spirit’s Presence

One truth I noticed some years ago is that Jesus tells us to abide in him because apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5). However, Paul tells us that he could do all thing through Christ who strengthens him (Phil. 4:13). The difference between doing nothing and all things is abiding in the presence of Christ’ Spirit.

Likewise, we can’t abide in the Spirit’s presence if we are disobedient. Our sin and disobedience separate us from God. We see this truth in the nation of Israel. God withdrew his presence from the people because of their disobedience.

“Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them, ‘Thus says God: “Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper?” Because you have forsaken the LORD, He also has forsaken you.'” – 2 Chronicles 24:20 NKJV.

The book of Hebrews tells us that Abraham obeyed by faith. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” – Hebrews 11:8 NKJV.

When we abide in Jesus and his words abide in us we have faith. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17 NKJV. The key to developing a strong faith is hearing the word of God. You can hear God by listening to sermons or reading Christian literature or even by just listening as the Lord speaks to your heart. However, you develop discernment and learn to recognize the Lord’s voice by reading scripture. Then you will be prosperous and then you have good success.

Step Four — Join a Helpful Community

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. but woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NKJV

God can use you to accomplish his will. However, each of you is responsible for accomplishing the part that God has specifically given you. As we serve others, we enable them to accomplish their purpose and others help us to accomplish our purpose by serving us as God leads them.

When the Corinthian Christians became contentious over the different personalities they followed, Paul criticized them for their carnality. The human vessels God used were only responsible for the part they were called to play. Each does his or her part and God uses their collective service to accomplish his will.

Paul explained, “For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” – 1 Corinthians 3:4-6 NKJV.

Step Five — Give Thanks for What God Provides

When you see God working in your life, it is appropriate to appreciate. We struggle to know God’s will in a matter, but scripture says  plainly that God’s will is that are thankful for the things he provides. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV.

A few years ago, a young friend of mine, Hannah, taught our bible-study group about Ebenezers. In Hebrew, Ebenezer means “stone of help.” When God gave the Israelites victory over the Philistines, Samuel, who was the judge over Israel at that time, set up an Ebenezer stone to remember the victory that God provided. “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.’” – 1 Samuel 7:12 NKJV. Likewise, when God provides victory for us, we should thank him and set up something to commemorate his help. It could be as simple as an entry in our journal or diary or as significant as a thermometer poster you hang in your house and color in as you reach each new milestone.

The point is, that we should have a record of the things God has done for us in the past. If we sense that God is being silent or elusive in our lives, we should have a memorial to his faithfulness that we can refer to and remember the things he has given us in the past. With this knowledge, we are assured of his faithfulness toward us in the present and future.

Four Money Sins You May Be Committing (Part 2)

The four money scripts were identified as money avoidance, money worship, money status, and money vigilance. These can be compared to the money sins of ingratitude, greed, covetousness, and selfishness. If you are guilty there is a way of escape. Follow these suggestions to change your attitude about your finances.

To overcome the money sin of ingratitude, thank God daily for his material blessings.

People who avoid money are essentially telling God that they do not want his gift. They are ungrateful for God’s blessing. However, Paul tells us that we should give thanks for everything. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV.

More specifically, Paul tells this to the church at Corinth. It was a time of difficulty for the Christians in Jerusalem and Paul tells the Corinthians to prepare a monetary gift to help them. He explains that this will cause thanksgiving from the givers and the receivers. The givers are thankful that God has given them an abundance from which to share. Those that receive the gift are thankful that God provides for them. “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God,” – 2 Corinthians 9:10-12 NKJV.

Be on the lookout for financial grace. Did you get a larger paycheck than you expected? Were you able find a great grocery coupon that helped reduce your food bill? Did you get a refund in the mail for a bill you overpaid? If you are looking for these, I believe you will find more reasons to thank God than you realized you would. Start keeping a praise journal and list all of these money graces God gives you.

To overcome the money sin of greed, trust God to supply all your needs.

Jesus made it clear that just as God feeds the birds and clothes the lilies, he will care for you, also. We shouldn’t worry and constantly be making money our highest priority. “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” – Matthew 6:31-32 NKJV.

Instead of worrying that we won’t have enough money, we should instead trust God to provide what we need. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV. If you need something, ask God to provide for you. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” – Philippians 4:6 NKJV.

God wants you to depend on him and not on your money. Money comes and goes, but God is always near and hears us when we call. “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6, 19 NKJV. So, develop a habit of remembering to rely on God, who fills your barns with plenty and overflows your vats with new wine, anytime you begin to feel anxious about having enough.

To overcome the money sin of covetousness, understand your self-worth is how God sees you and not how people judge.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” – Exodus 20:17 NKJV.

When God created his list of Top Ten Commandments, he concluded the list with “Thou shalt not covet…” God tells us specifically not to covet houses, wives, servants and livestock. These items were not mass produced. The only way you get a wife like your neighbor’s is to take his. Of course, the command concludes with, “…or anything that is your neighbor’s.” That doesn’t mean you can’t like your neighbor’s new car and go buy the same model. But you must be careful with your heart.

Coveting your neighbor’s possessions is wrong in two aspects. The first concerns intensity. It is not sinful to admire the things your neighbor has. It is wrong when that admiration turns to the type of want that goes to the extreme to get it. You may like your neighbor’s car. But, if you go to that intense desire to get a car like his just because he has one, you are guilty of covetousness.

The second aspect where you are guilty is when you are keeping score and competing. You must have a bigger house because your neighbor’s house is big. Never compare wives. You are stepping over a line even if you simply are admiring your neighbor’s wife.

To overcome covetousness, you must learn the secret of contentment. Paul tells us, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8 NKJV.

To overcome the money sin of selfishness, give generously.

Selfishness is your problem if you hide and hoard money. Jesus tells this parable:

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.’ And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’

But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:16-21 NKJV.

So, unless you want God to call you a fool, don’t hoard God’s blessings.

Instead, be generous and give. Paul says, “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” – Acts 20:35 NKJV.

Giving affects more than just our attitude. Generosity opens the windows of heaven. The more we give, the more with which we are entrusted. “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6 NKJV. Hiding your money is like saving a handful of water. It just won’t last. Give it away and trust that another will supply you in your time of need. Generosity is the cure for selfishness and God will reward our stewardship. “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance… “ – Matthew 25:29 NKJV.

Concluding Remarks

To learn more, see Part One of this article here.

Or you can purchase the book that started it all, Financially Faithful, on Amazon.

As always, we love to hear from you. Leave a question or comment below.

Four Money Sins You May Be Committing (Part 1)

Psychologists are beginning to recognize the money sins that the scriptures have spoken of all along. In 2011, Brad Klontz and a team of researchers from Kansas State University conducted a survey and identified 4 abhorrent mindsets associated the accumulation of wealth and money. These were designated as the “Klontz Money Scripts.” Their findings were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Financial Therapy.

These Klontz Money Scripts, as they are called, can be associated with four sins the bible identifies that are associated with money. The four money scripts were identified as money avoidance, money worship, money status, and money vigilance. These can be compared to the money sins of ingratitude, greed, covetousness, and selfishness.

Continue reading “Four Money Sins You May Be Committing (Part 1)”

Six Bible Characters Who Discovered Their Purpose (and what you can learn about finding your purpose)

Joshua, Moses Jeremiah, Solomon, Paul, and Timothy are six characters we know from the scriptures. Of course, all the heroes from the Bible were called by God to something. We can learn from all their examples. I have highlighted these six because there are clear lessons you can emulate for finding your purpose.

Joshua

After Moses, the servant of the Lord, died, God chose a new leader for people of Israel. He called Joshua to lead them. Moses previously had been the spokesman for God, but God commanded Joshua to follow the law that Moses had written down. “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:7 NKJV.

Joshua prospered and accomplished God’s purpose by following the Book of the Law, the only Bible available to him. Likewise, we accomplish God’s purpose for us by following the truth he has already revealed through the law, the prophets, the gospels, and the rest of his word. Anything agreeing with the scriptures is truth and anything contrary to the revealed truth is not from God.

Finding your purpose from God begins with the scriptures. If you want to know and follow God’s will, you do well, like the Bereans, to search the scriptures daily and make sure that the things you think you know are true.

Moses

But even Moses didn’t start out by writing the Bible. First, he had to learn to trust God to do what he said. You probably know the story. Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites. Moses was born an Israelite but adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. He saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Israelites. He killed the Egyptian and fled Egypt to avoid the consequences.

After he fled Egypt, Moses married a Midianite girl and was tending his father-in-law’s sheep. He saw a bush that was on fire, but the bush didn’t burn. God spoke to him from the burning bush. God told him to go back to Egypt. God was going to use Moses to free the Israelite slaves.

Instead of responding with, “Yes, sir!” and taking off toward Egypt, Moses thought it would be a good idea to argue with God. He made all the excuses he could to tell God why his plan wouldn’t work. “I’m the wrong guy.” “The Israelites won’t believe that I talked to God.” “I am not an eloquent speaker.” “There’s has to be someone else you could send.” Moses just couldn’t believe that God would use him. The purpose to which God called him was simply impossible.

God finally got angry at Moses. When God calls you, don’t make him mad. Remember who he is and what he does. Jesus told his disciples, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27 NKJV. Does finding your purpose seem impossible? Trust him and let him stretch your faith.

Jeremiah

When God called Jeremiah, he specifically told him, “’Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,’ says the LORD.” – Jeremiah 1:8 NKJV. Years later, Jeremiah must have forgotten this caveat. He caught flack for the “doom and gloom” he prophesied. Finally, he had an idea. “What if I just don’t tell them what the Lord is telling me?” However, this didn’t work. He tells the story, “Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.’ But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.” – Jeremiah 20:9 NKJV.

If God calls you to do something and it becomes hard, don’t think that you can just ignore finding your purpose. God is not going to let you off the hook that easily. When you decide to tell God, “Nope!” be ready for your bones to combust! God will not give you peace until you decide to obey him. You might as well just do it.

Solomon

When God called Solomon, he did so in a dream. God asked Solomon, “What shall I give you?” Essentially, God handed Solomon a blank check and said, “Fill in the amount.” Solomon knew God had called him to be king in the place of his father David and God was offering him whatever he wanted.

However, Solomon knew that God wasn’t a fairy godmother or a genie from Aladdin’s lamp. He knew to be careful and not ask for material things. What he asked for was wisdom and knowledge so that he could lead the people well.

This pleased God. So, in addition to making Solomon a wise leader of the people, he also gave him the things he could have asked for and didn’t. He gave him riches, peace from all his enemies, and a long, prosperous life.

Similarly, when God calls you, he isn’t calling you to the material things of this world. God knows you need the material things of this world to fulfill your calling, but that is not to what you are called. God calls you to help his people. You may have a purpose of working with machines, constructing buildings, or baking cakes. But God isn’t concerned with machines, buildings, or cakes. He cares about the people whose life is made easier by the machines. He wants the people to have a building in which to live and work. His desire is to satisfy the people with cakes and other delicious things to eat.

Whatever God calls you to do, finding your purpose will ultimately serve people. You may make money doing it, but don’t think God has called you to make money. He is calling you to serve people, so always be mindful of how to serve others well.

Paul

God didn’t only call people in the Old Testament, he called them in the New Testament too. And he still is calling people today. I believe he has called us all. If you want to know more about why I believe this, see my article on finding your purpose here: Growing on Purpose: Spiritual Growth through God-given Pursuits.

Consider Paul’s purpose. God called Paul through Ananias. The 9th chapter of Acts tells the story. God gives this word to Ananias, who was a little fearful, concerning Paul, “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.’” – Acts 9:15-16 NKJV.

God called Paul to suffer for the sake of the gospel. The persecutor became the persecuted. But through it all, Paul learned to be content despite the hardships. While he languished in a Roman prison, he wrote this, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4 NKJV.

How does someone have such a disposition while going through difficulty? Paul knew his suffering was only for a short while. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NKJV.

In the same way, finding your purpose has eternal consequences. It won’t just affect this world. Your purpose will affect people for eternity. Everything done in this world will someday be a distant memory except for that with eternal ramifications. We must consider whether we are hearing God correctly if he calls us to a temporal pursuit.

Timothy

Our final study of biblical characters is of Timothy, Paul’s protégé. His call to purpose came through the imparting of spiritual gifts by the laying on of hands. We read of his call in Paul’s first letter to him. “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.” – 1 Timothy 4:14 NKJV. Paul also refers to this, what I believe is the same incident, in Timothy’s second letter. “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” – 2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV.

On Paul’s second missionary journey, he and Silas came to Lystra and Derbe. There they found Timothy and it was revealed to them his future significance. Paul and Silas gathered the elders of the church and laid their hands on Timothy and prophesied over him. The Holy Spirit fell upon him and a spiritual gift was imparted to the young man. He became a proclaimer of the gospel and a companion of Paul.

Just as Timothy received a spiritual gift, we are told that spiritual gifts are normal and all believers are given these abilities and gifts. Paul tells us this, “For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.” – 1 Corinthians 7:7 NKJV.

Peter also tells us that we each have a spiritual gift. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” – 1 Peter 4:10 NKJV. Your purpose, your calling, is given to each in accordance with the gift you have received from God. Finding your purpose by discovering your spiritual gift is the way you are to minister to the body of Christ, his church.

Finding Your Purpose

Our calling, our purpose, our ministry, is something that all Christians have. Just like Joshua, we will come to know our purpose as we read and meditate on the scriptures. In the same way as Moses, our purpose will take faith. Like Jeremiah, God will make us uncomfortable until we step out to fulfill our purpose. Just as Solomon, our purpose will be for people, not things. In the same manner as Paul, our true purpose will have significance beyond this life, and like Timothy, God has gifted us with the abilities we need to live out our purpose.

Jesus has told us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7 NKJV. Let me encourage you to ask God to reveal his purpose to you. And when he does, resolve to yield to his will and walk according to the purpose that he gives you.

To study this topic more deeply, refer to my book, Time for Every Purpose.