“You can’t be slaves to both God and money.”
Luke 16:13c (Holman)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

The following ideas are presented in an effort to help us handle our money effectively, to help us serve King Jesus rather than King Cash.

First, don’t co-sign. “One without sense enters an agreement and puts up security for his friend” (PR 17:18 Holman).

If a bank won’t risk the loan, there’s no wisdom in our doing so. We would probably be enabling someone to borrow beyond their limit to repay. If we do co-sign, we must be willing and able to forfeit whatever it takes to pay the loan.

Second, pay your debts. “The wicked borrows and does not repay” (PS 37:21a Holman). A Godly person pays what he or she owes. Many spend years paying off debts, even after bankruptcy.

Pay your bills, and pay them on time. If you begin to have trouble, run toward, not away from, your creditors. Not wanting you to default on the loans, they will usually lend a listening ear and work with you.

If you have credit card debt, ask for the interest rate to be lowered. Remind them other companies are offering lower rates.

Third, give. Paul said, “each of you is to set something aside” (I C 16:2 Holman). Every believer is to be a giver, yet some give nothing. This contradicts what it means to be a Christian. Believers give! No exceptions!

Forty percent of church attenders give nothing. Another twenty percent give almost nothing. This is scandalous.

The average USA church donor gave $649 in 2000. Only twelve percent of born again Christians tithe.

Among 11 primary USA and Canada Protestant denominations, per-member giving is depressing. In 1921, per-member giving averaged 2.9 percent of income. In 1933, at the depth of the Great Depression, giving stood at 3.3 percent. By 2000, after 50 years of unprecedented prosperity, giving had fallen to 2.6 percent.

I’ve never been privy to people’s giving records. I’ve been told that one of the most painful parts of being a church financial secretary is knowing that some of the most vocal people give the least.

As a side note, I was shocked years ago, when politicians had to reveal their tax forms, that some politicians who scream loudest for social reform give little of their incomes to charities.

Fourth, give regularly. Paul said, “On the first day of the week, each of you is to set something aside” (I C 16:2 Holman).

Some give only if present in church. When we at Second cancel a Sunday night service, we always lose money. When absent, some never make up their offering. They reward themselves financially for missing church.

The offering plate is a receptacle, not a reminder. I’m confident none of us has ever missed a house payment because we were out of town on the first of the month. Regularly give God first fruits, not leftovers.

Fifth, we can’t out-give God. “Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure ( pressed down, shaken together, and running over” (Luke 6:38a Holman).

Sometimes God’s return on our investment is obvious. We give, and the money is replaced. Other times, God’s response is more subtle, a car keeps running, clothes and shoes don’t wear out. God often works behind the scenes.

Sixth, avoid two extremes, greed and overspending. Centuries ago, St. Augustine of Hippo preached on this. His thoughts are worth repeating. Two opposing mistresses can seduce believers, avarice and luxuriousness.

Avarice says, “Keep!” Luxuriousness says, “Spend.” Both mistresses woo us, especially when we begin to be unwilling to obey them. When we try to take a first step towards casting them off, since they have no power to command, they use caresses. These are more dangerous than their commands.

Avarice says, “Keep for yourself and your children. If you are ever in need, no one will give to you. Live not for the present, but solely for the future.”

Luxuriousness says, “Live while you can. Do good to your own soul. You must die, and don’t know when. You know not what your heirs will do with what you leave in your will. To save money would be to take bread out of your own mouth, and after your death, your heir may not so much as place a cup of wine on your grave. If he does place a cup there, he will drink himself drunk from it. Not one drop will come down into the grave to you. Therefore be good to your own soul, when and while you can.”

Avarice enjoins one thing; “Keep for yourself, think only of the future.” Luxuriousness says the opposite, “Do well to your own self today.”

O believers, we are saved to be free from bondage to King Cash. We are called unto the liberty of Christ. Be weary and wary of servitude to these two mistresses. Acknowledge your Redeemer, your Deliverer. Serve King Jesus. He enjoins easier requirements.

Seventh, sanctify your estate. Again we hear good advice from St. Augustine of Hippo. Leave the Lord an inheritance in your wills. Give Christ a place with your children. Add the Lord to your family; add your Creator to your offspring. Add your Brother to the number of your children.

A huge distance separated us from Him, but He condescended to be our Brother. He is the Father’s only begotten Son, yet has condescended to have co-heirs. How bountifully has He given! Will we in return give a small amount?

If you have two children, reckon God a third; if you have three, let Him be reckoned a fourth; if five, let Him be a sixth, if ten, let Him be the eleventh. Keep the place of one child for your Lord. What you give to Him will profit both you and your children. What you keep for your children wrongly, will hurt both you and them. In your will, reckon that you have one child more.

Eighth, give to God’s work. You’ll find few secular organizations doing anything not already being done by Christian groups. When there’s a choice, we should prefer to do the same benevolent work in ways that honor Christ. The most helpful cup of cold water is one offered in Jesus’ name. Invest in eternity. Put your money where your mouth is. Put your money also where eternity is.

Ninth, pray. As we ponder what our financial goals should be, take time to determine God’s goals for us. Many could be helped financially if they would let God redirect their thoughts.

David asked God to search his heart and test him, to show anything he needed to repent of and change (PS 139:23-24). We need to excise all financial skeletons from our money closets.

Is our attitude, “Why should I give?” or “Why shouldn’t I give?” Is the burden of proof on the side of giving or keeping. Am I clutching, needing reasons to let go, or am I giving, needing reasons to hold back?

When more money comes our way, pray. Ask God, is this a personal boon or a test, is this increase intended for God’s heavenly kingdom or my earthly kingdom, should I see the extra money as a way I can impact the world for Jesus?

Tenth, tithe. We are to give God 10% of our income. Matthew 23:23 settled it for me long ago. “You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law ( justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.”

Randy Alcorn said it well in “Money, Possessions, and Eternity” (page 176). “The tithe was recognized as God’s. Hence, people didn’t give a tithe but repaid it to the Owner of all things. This is why the Old Testament speaks of “bringing,” “taking,” “presenting,” or even “paying” tithes and firstfruits, rather than “giving” them. These payments were no more optional than paying taxes today. An Israelite paid tithes and firstfruits out of obedience, whether or not he wanted to.”

We give a portion of our income as a statement that we acknowledge it is all God’s. We don’t give God His tithe in the sense of the other 90% being ours. We give some in order to say all is His.