Ten Global Financial Stewardship Tips
The Bible contains counsel for all cultures related to handling God’s money. During my recent trip to Hong Kong I learned that the biggest sin for Chinese people related to money for individuals as well as churches is hoarding resources on earth for personal and corporate security: storing them precisely where Jesus says not to.
We have issues too, just polar opposite ones. Collectively in America, we live beyond our means, spending more than we earn, and so debt has enslaved almost everyone. Sadly, our churches reflect the materialistic culture so most stewardship instruction in churches is linked to getting out of debt rather than growing faithful stewards.
At this point rather than saying What would Jesus do? we should ask: What did Jesus say to do? This list of ten tips for earning, giving, saving, and spending seeks to answer that question for global application. Don’t do them because I say so. Put them to practice because they help stewards steer clear of sins associated with money!
- Work for a fair wage to bring glory to God – Work is not a necessary evil to get money. God made us to work (Genesis 2:15) and diligent work glorifies God (Colossians 3:23). Labor has value and produces income in the form of wages (Luke 10:7; James 5:4). Faithful stewards get to work, and good employers pay fair wages.
- Help people in crisis by showing God’s love – Jesus defined love of God and neighbor by telling the Good Samaritan story (Luke 10:25-37). Later he says that shrewd managers use money to “make friends” who will welcome them into their eternal dwellings (Luke 16:1-9). Got a budget line for helping strangers and friends?
- Don’t give money to people who can work – Don’t give hand-outs. Give hand-ups. Laziness should not be rewarded with money, but we must still be generous with such people by helping them discern their gifts and find a job (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Allocate time to help the unemployed around you find fruitful work.
- Save and pay cash for purchases – Counting the cost for purchases requires discipline and planning (Luke 14:28). Saving, in biblical terms, is living on less than you make so you can buy items with cash and pay for unexpected bills. Life is uncertain. Living within your means allows margin for the expected and the unexpected.
- Support people in ministry and the poor – Stewards support those who minister for Christ and those who make Christ known (Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17-18; 3 John 6-8). Also, faithful stewards remember the poor who can’t work or care for themselves (Galatians 2:2; Mark 10:21). Give to your church and care for the destitute.
- Don’t stop working fruitfully (only fools do that) – Jesus calls a person “foolish” who ceases to labor and hoards assets (Luke 12:13-21). Don’t follow the “retirement” path rooted in entitlement and self-indulgence. Those who do, teach their kids to be self-centered. Don’t retire, re-hire! Find new ways to serve with your gifts.
- Care for the elderly and orphans – Live on less than you make so that you can care for your parents when they need assistance (1 Timothy 5:8). Show pure Christianity by caring for the elderly and orphans (James 1:27). Caring for aging parents shows God’s love, and be sure to care for the elderly and orphans as a church.
- Don’t try to find life in possessions; enjoy and share them – Riches can’t save you, satisfy you, or give you the security you seek; only God can (Psalm 49). If you enjoy food and clothing, be content as about half the world does not have them (1 Timothy 6:8; 17-19; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4). Build a budget. Live simply. Share richly.
- Avoid financial debt – Buying things with money you don’t have may reveal deeper spiritual issues. It also limits your ability to serve God today (Romans 13:8). Avoid debt whenever possible as it enslaves (Proverbs 22:7). Be careful before you go into debt as you are heaping a burden on yourself in presuming on the future.
- Don’t store up treasures on earth, store them up in heaven – If your individual tax return, bank statements, or corporate audit were posted publically where would it show your treasures are (Matthew 6:19-21; James 5:1-8)? I am not trying to rob you. I am trying to help you. Put God’s resources in play as His provision is abundant.
Here’s what it looks like in real life. We pray for daily bread (Matthew 6:11). God provides it through work and sometimes supplies through Christian sharing, like He did during my wife’s cancer journey. When we have more than enough, we are the ones that get to share. We’ve also learned that whatever we think we own, really owns us.
We live on a budget and find it freeing rather than limiting. As God provides we have found living, giving, serving and loving following His instructions is the only way to live. It takes us to a place of simplicity and generosity. Care to join us? We are preparing to give an account. Are you prepared?
Gary G. Hoag, Ph.D. (New Testament, Trinity College, Bristol, UK), serves as a visiting professor at TEDS and Northern Seminary and ECFA Press Author/International Liaison among other roles. He is known widely as “the Generosity Monk” because he has dedicated his life to encouraging Christian generosity. His most recent book published by the Institute for Biblical Research is Wealth in Ancient Ephesus and the First Letter to Timothy.
Be a good financial steward and register EARLY for the Outcomes Conference 2017, April 4 – 6. Take advantage of the best prices of the year. If you are a CLA member, you can register four and get the fifth free. Plan now to invest in your leadership in 2017!