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 (Manna 37: Marriage)
Whose Money Is It?
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You came into the world with nothing, and you aren't going to take anything with you when you go. What makes you think that the assets that you get in the time between the snipping of your umbilical cord and the closing of your casket belong to you?

The Bible has an interesting perspective on finances. It says that everything belongs to God.

The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness; the world and those who dwell therein." (Ps 24:1)

Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all... But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You." (1 Chr 29:12,14)

However, the government certainly doesn't adhere to this position. It requires income taxes from you because your name is on the paycheck.

So where do you fit into the "God owns everything" scenario? That can be answered with one word: oikonomos. Although this sounds more like the name of a prescription ointment for athlete's foot fungus, it is a Greek word that translates into English as "stewardship."

The term implies a manager of a household who administers someone else's property. God has made us the stewards of His possessions: "You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet" (Ps 8:6).

If what we have belongs to God, then we should manage it according to His principles. This perspective means that every decision we make about our money—from how to spend it to how to invest it—has spiritual ramifications.

We are not just accountable to God for the few bucks we might toss into the offering box at church, and we are not off the hook with God so long as we pay Him a surcharge of a certain percentage of our earnings. If God owns it all, then we must be faithful stewards in handling all of it.

There are eight areas in which we should be faithful as financial stewards:

We should work diligently. (Prov 12:24, 13:4, 20:4)
We should spend wisely. (Isa 55:2)
We should save consistently. (Mt 25:15-30)
We should avoid debt. (Rom 13:8)
We should give generously. (Prov 11:25, 22:9; 2Cor 9:5)
We should deal with others honestly. (Rom 13:13; 1 Thess 4:12; Heb 13:18)
We should seek wise counsel from others. (Prov 19:20; Judg 18:5; 2 Chron 10:6)
We should teach our children how to manage money properly. (Mt 25:15-30; Deut 4:10)

If you believe the Bible when it says that everything belongs to God, then you can believe the Bible when it says that God will take care of all of your needs. Our part is to be good stewards of what God has given to us; God's part is to make sure that we have everything that we need:

Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. (Mt 6:31-33)

If we approach our finances as belonging to God instead of ourselves, it will make us more responsible in how we handle our money, and it will change our perspectives about what is important in life.

Living in Sacred Simplicity

If we handle our finances as if they belong to God and if we trust Him to provide all of our needs, then we don't have to panic when the stock market drops or the price of Oreos at the supermarket rises.

God is in charge, and we don't have to worry about our future:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)

There is the real secret for shedding feelings of being a financial failure. When you live with a divine perspective about your finances, it simplifies your life. Instead of fretting about your money, you can enjoy a feeling of sacred simplicity. Approaching life with a view of sacred simplicity works something like this:

God will supply all of your needs, so you don't have to worry about them.

You can be content with what you have now, and you can be content in the future if God increases or decreases your net worth. The amount doesn't really matter because God has promised to give you everything you need.

You don't need to worry about the future. There may be times of increase and decrease in your financial position. Either way, God is in charge. In both circumstances you are to trust Him. You don't rely on your cash reserves in the good times, and you don't worry about insufficiency in the tough times.

The concept of sacred simplicity is foreign to our culture. It goes against the prevailing thought of becoming self-sufficient and independently wealthy with a plump retirement account. So it is natural that you might misunderstand the applicable principles of sacred simplicity.

Don't get the wrong impression:

Sacred simplicity is not devoted deprivation. You aren't required to give all of your money to the church or mission works. You don't have to cancel buying presents and gifts for your family and friends.

Sacred simplicity is not pious parsimony. God doesn't want you to blame Him for being a cheapskate. You don't have to stiff the waitress out of a fifteen percent tip and you don't have to sneak soda and treats into the movie theater just because you are trying to be a good steward of God's money. He wants the waitress to get a generous tip, and he doesn't want you to smuggle M&M's in your socks.

Sacred simplicity is not ardent austerity. Good stewardship does not require selling all of your possessions and wearing a trash bag instead of clothes from the Gap. You don't have to sell your 2002 Lexus and replace it with a 1980 Pinto (if you can find a Pinto that is still running). God doesn't object to money or the things that it can buy. But He does want you to have the proper perspective.

Sacred simplicity is not sanctimonious sluggishness. Don't think that you can quit your job and live on the beach because God has promised to provide everything you need. Stewardship requires you to be a diligent worker.

Sacred simplicity has nothing to do with the quantity of your money. But it has everything to do with the quality of your heart.

If you want to move from failure to success in your finances, then change your perspective and attitude. Realize that everything belongs to God and that you are responsible to Him as a steward for what He has given to you. Then relax and stop worrying because God has everything under control.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church