On a rainy November morning Allen and Jean Hitchcock arrived at my office to work through their financial problems in an attempt to save their marriage.
Allen and Jean were Christians, but they had never been exposed to the Bible’s perspective on money and possessions. They appreciated their beautiful two-story brick house in suburban Orlando, their two late-model automobiles, and their other possessions. Both felt that they had worked hard for what they had and that they had earned the right to enjoy the “good life.” However, after financial pressures threatened their standard of living, their lack of contentment surfaced in a major marital crisis. A serious lack of communication existed about their family finances. Allen and Jean each had their own opinions on how to spend the family income, and they had never been able to discuss the subject without ending up in an argument.
They were close to losing everything to their creditors. That, coupled with the possibility of divorce, had jarred them from their complacency. So when I sat down with Allen and Jean on the Friday after Thanksgiving, they were motivated to learn what the Bible says about money.
Scripture teaches there are two distinct parts to the handling of our money: the part God plays and the part we play. I believe most of the confusion relating to the handling of money arises from the fact that these two parts are not clearly understood.
God’s part is the foundation of contentment. In Scripture, God calls Himself by more than 250 names. The name that best describes God’s part in the area of money is Master. This is the most important truth to be understood because how we view God determines how we live. For example, after losing his children and all his possessions, Job was still able to worship God. He knew the Lord and the Lord’s role as Master of those possessions. Similarly, Moses forsook the treasures of Egypt and chose to suffer mistreatment with the people of God. Both Job and Moses knew the Lord and accepted His role as Master.
To learn to be content, you must recognize God as the owner of all your possessions. If you believe you own even a single possession, then the circumstances affecting that possession will be reflected in your attitude. If something favorable happens to that possession, then you will be happy. But if something bad occurs, you will be discontent.
After Jim Seneff went through the exercise of transferring ownership of everything he possessed to God, he bought a new car. It was just two days old when a young person drove into the side of it. Jim’s first reaction was, “Well, God, I don’t know why You want a dent in the side of Your new car, but You certainly have a big one!” Similarly, when John Wesley learned that his home had been destroyed by fire, he exclaimed, “The Lord’s house burned. One less responsibility for me!”
Yet it is not easy to maintain this perspective consistently. It is far too easy to think that the possessions we have and the money we earn are entirely the result of our skills and achievements. We find it difficult not to believe we have earned the right to their ownership. I am the master of my fate, the humanist says. I alone own my possessions. Obviously, this view of ownership is the prevailing one in our culture.
Here’s the incredible mercy and privilege that come with this reorientation of our perspectives on money. When God owns it all and we are simply the stewards and managers of His infinite wealth, then we get to partner with Him in blessing the whole earth! Nineteen years ago, God wanted North Wake to have a place to gather and worship together. He could have sent the resources via Gabriel and instructed other angles to lay the foundation and erect the walls. Instead, He allowed the members of North Wake to give out of what they had been given. We then employed a bunch of hard working, skilled laborers who poured our footings and ran the electrical wires. God blessed those laborers by putting food on their tables and money in their bank accounts, but He did it through us.
After our new worship center was completed, we threw a big banquet for all the tradesmen who had worked on building it to thank them for their work and let them know that the Lord who loves us loves them too. We wanted them to know that we were blessed by them, and we hoped they were blessed by us because ultimately all of us are recipients of blessings. Naked we all come into this world and naked we shall return. Physically and materially, we come into and leave this world with nothing, so everything we receive in the intermediate is a blessing.
As fellow North Wakers, I pray this liberates you and excites you for what we get to participate in through our GEN12 giving. Ask the Lord how He would have you be a blessing through the stewardship of His gifts to you.
Adapted from “Your Money Counts” by Howard Dayton. p. 15-16