One of the greatest strongholds today is irresponsible debt. Why? Because debt literally makes one a slave to the debtor, and unfortunately, there are few role models we can look to for leadership in this area, including our government. Clearly debt is only a symptom of a deeper issue. For many, the obsession for possession stems from believing the more they have, the happier they will be. However, materialism and greed is like drinking salt water, it only creates more thirst. Therefore, we are faced with an epidemic that is depleting us from maximizing the three primary areas of stewardship God has entrusted to us all – our time, talent and treasures. Rather than being used for His Kingdom expansion, we now use them in a vain attempt to expand our own. As a result, most of our resources are spent working in order to pay for more stuff and more debt. This of course leads to less intimacy with our family, more stress and less of our time invested for God.
I have a lot of passion concerning stewardship because my prior lack of it nearly cost me everything I care most about. I was caught up in the lie and convinced myself that my selfish behavior was somehow good for my family. Until we acknowledge God’s ownership and authority over all things, our efforts are in vain and lasting joy will always elude us (1 Chronicles 29:11-12). Thankfully, the Bible teaches how we can properly steward His resources in order to free our finances, restore our families and promote His purposes (S.E.T.):
Set Aside: In comparison with other prosperous nations, Americans tend to rank among those who save the least. We spend much of what we earn and largely neglect preparing for future responsibilies. Yet, the principal of setting aside also applies to time. In addition to financial reserves, we must also be diligent in how we allocate our time. Consider – how much uninterrupted time do we invest with our families? More importantly, how much time do we invest with God? Do we rush through our prayer, skip church, or even bother to read our Bibles? When God is first, He maximizes whatever is given in His name, including our time (Luke 6:38). As such, we are sustained and empowered to maintain our priorities so that we can offer our best to Him, our family, our work and share His blessings with others.
Eliminate: Just like irresponsible debt is destructive, so is anything that distracts us from our highest priority – God. Therefore, in addition to saving, paying cash in lieu of credit and setting a plan to payoff our debts, we must also eliminate any distraction impacting our intimate walk with Christ (Mark 12:30). For example, what do we think about and desire the most? Where do we invest the majority of our time, money and energy? There are many bright and shiny objects to allure our attention from what truly matters – let’s not take the bait. Remember the recipe for J.O.Y. – Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last.
Tithe: Very few Christians tithe. In fact, most don’t, or contribute very little to God’s storehouse. Why is this? Do we not trust God will meet our every need? If we don’t pay the government what’s due, there are consequences. So, why do we think God, who establishes governments, overlooks our negligence in returning what’s His? Clearly, He doesn’t need the money, and there’s no legal obligation since we are free under Christ, but God does continue to seek grateful hearts who acknowledge His authority, ownership & supply in their lives (Malachi 3:7). Therefore, let’s put the money where our mouth is. If we believe, let’s act on it and give in faith to the only sure thing there is – His Kingdom.
Application: “Return To Sender” – Psalm 50:14-15
We are the creature – He is the Creator. There is a distinction and when our hearts acknowledge this reality, rather than seeking the position for ourselves, heaven moves. We’re either contributors to what He’s doing by actively participating and investing in it, or not; but if we opt out, we shouldn’t be surprised when we also miss out on His Kingdom blessings. The truth is there’s nothing we truly own. It’s all on loan – but what a freedom that is! Just think, if God owns it, He’s also responsible for it. This means He takes full responsibility for us as His children and in guiding us to properly invest the resources entrusted to us. Therefore, as we realign our priorities placing God at the helm and applying His truth in our lives, we get the benefit of living under His authority, participating in His plans and being used for His purposes. Now, that’s living the good life – no amount of money can match!