By Daniel Bramlett
Why is it when preachers mention the word “money” people in the pews roll their eyes and check out? I have an idea. Too many high profile Christian names have abused funds given to them in terrible ways too many times. That’s one. Another idea sounds like this: people don’t like the church poking around in their business. There’s only one problem with that. The Word of God is constantly poking around in our business! Did you know there are nearly 2,000 verses in the Bible concerning money? That tells me God is concerned with how we handle our funds. I want to share a beautiful thing with you today. Money can either be a gift or a curse. It is only a gift when it is given away. Of course money is one of the means by which we care for ourselves. I understand that it takes money to buy food, clothing, and a roof over your head. But it does not take money to survive. For the person who belongs to Jesus, our survival is not resting on our backs. He is our caretaker. He is the One who provides for us. You say “I worked for this money!” I say He gave you the ability. You say “I bought this bread!” I say He caused it to grow. You get the picture.
Listen. Every other voice in your life is telling you to make as much money as you can, spend most of it, and put a little in a 401k for the future. I believe the Word takes issue with the first two. I believe it encourages the latter. Here’s what I mean.
When we read about celebrated offerings and offer-ers in the Bible, we most often see the regular people giving until it hurts. We see poor people giving everything they have. We witness working class people giving up their jobs to follow Jesus. We hear of government officials giving away their ill-gotten gain. We watch church people selling property and giving the money to the poor. Never do we see a celebration because someone threw $20 in the plate and considered their due paid. Never do we see a legacy forming over someone who gave their 10% and considered the 90% theirs to do with as they pleased. Sacrifice is what carries the day. And most of what we give would never be considered sacrifice.
I feel a huge burden to share this word with you for at least two reasons. One, God commands it. Two, I’ve experienced the benefits of giving sacrificially. I know firsthand the joy that is to be found therein. I’ve uncovered with my bare hands the surprise gifts God gives us when we give sacrificially. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched God provide for me when I’ve obeyed Him by providing for someone else. We’ve done things with our money that would make any financial advisor cringe, like giving our savings away or deliberately refusing a raise. This was never done on a whim. We would explain in detail why God led us to those decisions. Nevertheless, we get led to those decisions often!
I’ve determined to not let money control me. It has in the past. I’m sure if I’m not careful it will in the future. I want to do my best to not woo it, date it, and fall in love with it again. That trap is deadly for me and for the people around me. The best way I know of to stay free of its gritty grasp is to give it away. Everybody else says “Make it! Spend it!” I say “Give it away!” Everybody else says “Save it so you can enjoy an easy life when you retire!” I say “Save it so you can give away more later.” I say “Sacrifice hurts. If your giving doesn’t hurt, it’s probably not sacrificial.”
I first saw the Kingdom perspective on giving at work in my own life when I was in college. I was making $50/week and my expenses were about $75/week. I watched God provide for every single one of my needs. I never broadcast my deficit, but random people would send me checks in the mail. This scenario has played itself out again and again in my adult life. I am not speaking theoretically about sacrificial giving. God WILL meet your needs. I know this first hand.
Don’t just listen to my voice. If I do nothing more than rattle your cage a little and cause you to examine the Word, I’ve done my job. Just don’t resign yourself to the lie that God intends you to be rich solely for your enjoyment. Whatever the amount you earn, make your money count.