Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, teaches His disciples about how they should live in the kingdom of God. In our current section of this sermon, Jesus speaks of the importance of having a biblical perspective of possessions. If your perspective is not biblical, it is worldly. A worldly perspective is that all my stuff belongs to me and I will use it however I wish. A biblical perspective, however, is that all my stuff belongs to God and I am accountable to use it however God wills and for His glory. Art Rainer in his book The Money Challenge gives three helpful ways we can use God’s money for His glory: 1) Give Generously, 2) Save Wisely, and 3) Live Appropriately. Last week we learned about giving generously and this week we will learn about saving wisely and living appropriately.
Saving Helps Conquer Debt
One of the leading causes of debt is not having enough money saved to meet unexpected expenses. According to a recent survey, many Americans would not be able to pay for a financial emergency that costs more than $400. If a person were to consistently set aside some money in an emergency fund, they would have funds available to meet these unexpected expenses and not have to incur debt.
Saving is wise, and we are counseled in the Bible (Prov 6:6) to save for the future. God allows times of abundance and scarcity to come to all and God uses both to test and grow our faith. The test of abundance gives you an opportunity to prepare for scarcity. An increase in your pay is a blessing, but not necessarily a reason to increase your spending. Many times God will bless you in abundance now to provide for you for scarcity later. Take the opportunity to save because it is a demonstration of faith.
Saving Helps Conquer Lust
Saving also helps us fight against the craving for instant gratification. Saving requires us to intentionally choose not to spend money now in anticipation for spending it in the future. One of the dangers of our culture, which is consumed with instant gratification, is that we fail to think, plan, and consider the future. Our motto has become, “I want what I want and I want it now!” Instant gratification is not always bad, but it can be detrimental to your overall health and well-being. Even if you are not worried about your debt, your creditors are!
You may be thinking, “How can I give generously and save wisely if I don’t have any money?” This brings us to the third aspect of a biblical view of possessions: living appropriately. John Piper refers to this as a wartime lifestyle. It means having a mindset that, as a Christian, I must prioritize my life, money, possessions, etc. for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Everything I have (time, talent, and treasure) must be used for the glory of God and for the praise of His name. This includes having a biblical perspective of possessions. This involves giving generously, saving wisely, and living appropriately. Your living must be suitable for your circumstances as a Christian in this world. Consider, you cannot give generously or save wisely until your standard of living is based on godliness rather than worldliness. What does it mean to live appropriately?
It means having a realistic view of possessions.
One of the greatest challenges to living appropriately is our view of the items we purchase. We must be very careful on this point. There is nothing sinful with having a nice house, car, clothes, furniture, etc. Having said that, we must examine our heart and our motives. Why, for example, do you want a nice car? Do you think it will make you happy? Do you want to impress someone? We must manage our resources in a way that is both financially healthy and God honoring. Your lifestyle can either help or hurt your ability to give generously. The lifestyle you choose to live and the purchases you choose to make will have a dramatic effect on whether or not you are able to give and save.
It means knowing what you can (and cannot) afford.
None of us can afford everything, therefore we constantly make decisions about what we purchase. We must all live within our means or face the consequences. When you incur a large amount of debt, you live beyond your means and it comes at a cost (usually high interest rates). Debt cripples your ability to give and save while increasing your worry and fear. It’s also important to know what you can afford after you have given and saved, not before. Our giving and saving must take a higher priority than our purchases and we must adjust our spending accordingly.
It means finding fulfillment in advancing God’s kingdom (rather than building your own).
God has designed us to experience fulfillment when we seek out His purposes and are a part of His mission. The Bible teaches us to seek the Lord first and trust that He will provide for our needs. Sadly, far too many Christians spend more time worrying about their wants and needs and have too little time for the advancement of God’s kingdom. When this happens, we are sinning and find ourselves empty and unfulfilled. We must find our fulfillment in God’s kingdom and not our own.
So what is your perspective of your possessions? Are you the owner who uses his/her resources for his/her gratification? Are you a manager who will one day give an account of how you used God’s money? John Piper wrote: “The essential difference is, What are you trying to make much of? Do you want to make much of Christ in the world, or do you want to make much of yourself, your business, or your family? What are you passionate about seeing exalted, praised and enjoyed?” The Bible is clear on this matter and it is important that you surrender yourself and all you have to God. Only then will you be liberated from the slavery of money.