We have everything we need. The question is not whether or not there is abundance, the question is whether or not we are proliferating that abundance. Time and time again God has shown himself more than capable to provide us with whatever it is we may need. Hebrews 13:5 says:
Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed—be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!”
Who we are is not tethered to what we have (Luke 12:15).
We are all called to be good stewards of whatever it is God gives us and in whatever capacity. Proverbs 13:22 says:
A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
These biblical principles almost always refer to how we manage our money. I want to suggest that our money problems are not stemming from a lack of money but rather is stemming from a lack of worship in how we handle our money.
Jesus taught us to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). This means we are to adopt worship as a lifestyle. We are to exude worship in all that we do (Romans 12:1). As it relates to money, this means that we are called to be godly money managers.
Jesus gave us this illustration on good stewardship:
14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money. 19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money.
20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ 21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!
22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’ 23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate.
25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ 26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’
28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’Matthew 25:14-30
Now there is a lot we can extrapolate from this text but I want to specifically and simply focus on what aspects of this parable demonstrate good stewardship, what aspects do not, and what we can learn about money and its correlation to heaven.
The Kingdom of Heaven
I think one of the biggest conundrums we see in the Bible is the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. I say conundrum because when the character of Jesus was on the scene, when he talked about the kingdom of heaven he often used parables.
The distinction in him using parables is that not everyone understood what he was saying. He did this on purpose. In Matthew 13:10-13 Jesus has the following interaction with his disciples:
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:
Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
As this relates to how we manage our money, the first thing we see in the Matthew 25 parable is that money is the foil. We become godly money managers by recognizing that money is a commodity. And we manage our commodities with our mindset.
The three servants demonstrate this perfectly. The first two servants were appreciative of the money they were given and sought ways to increase it. The third servant was appreciative but his mindset was not ready to receive what he was given.
The first two acted on faith under the premise of abundance. The third one had multiple character flaws in comparison to the first two, one of which being a limited mindset. The common thread amongst all three servants is that they all knew who their master was and made a distinct decision about his character.
In Mathew 25: 24-25 the third servant says the following:
Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’
Based on these two verses alone we can learn so much about the human condition. The third servant questioned the master’s lordship. We know this because in the next verse the master says this:
But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’Matthew 25:26-27
When we know who our God is in correlation to our money, we become godly money managers. One of the first commands we receive from God while in the garden is to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28).
Contrary to popular opinion, God wants us to have ‘treasures’. He is not concerned about the stuff we have as much as he is concerned about where we put it:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:19-21
Being a godly money manager means that you understand that your abundance is connected to your network and not your net worth. This is a 21st century business principal. Show me who you are connected to, and I can appraise your value.
As children of the most high God we are connected to everything that this world and the next has to offer.
The first two servants understood the same as the last one, the difference was their mindset. They knew their master was an investor and as such wanted to produce a return on investment.
It is the sole purpose of a godly money manager to produce a return on God’s investment. We are all given our own gifts. It is our job to cultivate those gifts (Romans 12:6-8).
The first two servants went to work to produce an ROI in two distinctly different ways, so unique in fact, that Jesus does not even take the time to explain how. What we do is not as important as who we do it for.
The first two servants were celebrated for their due diligence with their portion. As a godly money manager you should be constantly looking for ways to grow. Proverbs 13:11 says:
Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,
but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.
Good money managers are tactful, resourceful, and operate from a growth mindset. A godly money manager does all of that with the added benefit of doing so with the Kingdom of God in mind.
I believe it is essential that we talk about our money right now. Everyone is seeing some challenge in their financial life due to the coronavirus pandemic.
I think that if we are tactful in this season we will be blessed in the next. And regardless of where we may find ourselves the way we manage our money should be an ingrained way of life not a fly by night practice.
Let us all aspire to be godly money managers, but more importantly let’s focus on being good stewards of our commodities period, by:
- Being enterprising
- Operating in a place of abundance
- Deliberately seeking out growth opportunities
This is a foundational piece for a project I am working on concerning proper money practices. It’s not enough that we have, its about what we do with what we have.
What did you notice about the three servants? What about money would you like to learn more about? Do you think there are practical ways for us to be less risk adverse in our finances?
Join the conversation and share your perspective in the comment section below!