What Does the Bible Say About Stuff?
Working and making money are hard enough. Now we turn to the difficult subject of saving and spending money. That’s the 2nd part of the financial equation that has left many of us in a wake of confusion. There are various perspectives on this issue:
“If God would have intended for us to save money, He would have put handles on it”. And, some folks just seem to do better than others with making it AND spending it; not like this young gent:
Once a young man proposed to his girl as they sat looking over the beautiful lake. "Darling, I want you to know that I love you more than anything else in the world. I want you to marry me. I'm not wealthy. I don't have a yacht or a Rolls-Royce like Johnny Green, but I do love you with all my heart." She thought for a minute and then replied, "I love you with all my heart, too, but tell me more about Johnny Green."
--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 342.
When you think about it, there are really just five short term uses of money:
- Give it away
- Spend it to support a lifestyle
- Repay debt
- Use it for taxes
- Save or accumulate
Note that lifestyle, debt, taxes are all consumptive. Giving away or saving are productive. Lifestyle should be your last category, not your first! But, that’s the reality of the American lifestyle. Remember we said that God owns it all? Consider this definition of stewardship:
To manage the affairs of another is to be ready at any time to give account.
(for those of you with some equity sophistication, I take this to mean that you can’t “go short” with God’s assets!)
“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me” (I Corinthians 4:2,4)
What does the Bible say about stuff?
Your life is who you are, not what you own
“Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15)
I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess. (Martin Luther)
God gives us the power to get wealth
“But remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today” (Deuteronomy 8:18)
For the Christian, the bottom line can never be the bottom line. (Richard Foster in Money, Sex and Power. Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 2.)
Remember our definition! Wealth is who you are; riches are what you have. The Bible never promises riches…and that is the stake in the heart of the prosperity gospel. If the prosperity gospel is true, then millions of economically poor believers over the centuries have been deceived. On the other hand, if the poverty gospel is true, then God has been made a liar in the millions of economically rich believers who have faithfully stewarded the wealth and riches that God entrusted to them.