We are concluding our “It’s Only Money” trek in today’s Wisdom Note. We have explored a different trail over the past 7 weeks on our trek to true wealth. As we approach our destination on this important trek, the land of financial freedom is in sight, and I would like to share some concluding thoughts. So, let’s head out for another trek and accumulate the additional wisdom nuggets that we find along the path.
“Create the living legacy, not to honor ourselves, but to honor our creator.”
Our guiding map for our trek this week has primarily been the book of Proverbs, and we have learned that we must be willing to work in order to obtain wealth. There are no shortcuts on this trek of life. After you have done your part in planning, preparing, and executing your work, you must also realize that when you do prosper in any area of life, it is ultimately God that prospers you. When you forget where your material provisions come from, you start down the slippery trail of pride and arrogance thinking you have succeeded on your own. In reality, we are on this trek together, and we should do all that we can to assist one another.
“We must never forget that it is God that gives the ability and increase.”
Here are four areas to consider.
1. Material wealth does not come to everyone.
It is a gift that God has given some. In the eyes of most of the inhabitants of this world, all Americans are wealthy, and to a certain extent, we are. Many people, though, are living a false sense of wealth that is dependent on loans and credit cards. There are certain natural and Biblical precepts that, if followed, will allow anyone to be in a position where they can use their wealth, whether it is small or great to positively impact the lives of others.
If you have material wealth now or obtain it in the future by practicing the principles we have gathered this week, please take to heart this advice that the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to his Protégé Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:18-19, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
2. We should always look at our material possessions in terms of the principle of stewardship.
A steward does not own anything, but he has been put in charge of its use. This is hard for many to grasp, and I think it is more prevalent in America where we take great pride in ownership.
If you think about this principle, you will realize that all of life is this way. We come into this world with nothing, and we certainly cannot take anything with us when we die. At best, it is entrusted to us for a few short years. We are therefore responsible to be the best managers of all that we have – to maximize it and to use it to the benefit of ourselves and others.
These principles are clearly taught in the parable Jesus told and that is written in Matthew 25:20-21, “The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
3. God may make the area of finances a proving ground for your faith.
Because money cannot buy security, nor is it secure itself, you must learn to trust God in the area of finances. That brings me to a principle which defines the relationship between faith and finances. Financial faith is trusting God to provide for your needs consistent with the way He promised to meet your needs.
If a person expects to be blessed without having to work, then that is foolish and not consistent with being a person of faith. If you make hasty commitments financially and then look to God for the money, you are not acting in a way that is consistent with being a person of faith but rather a person who is unwise in handling money. This type of person may be unwise in many other areas of life also.
It has been said that many Christians seem to be addicted to danger. They leap off of the financial pinnacles of life, expecting God to catch them before they fall flat broke. Let us be careful to exercise genuine faith. God has established certain principles in His Word for every area of life. Let us do those things which God has told us to do – to work, to be generous to the poor, to save – and then leave the matter of accumulation of wealth to Him. Don’t expect God to make you wealthy in some miraculous, bizarre, or stupid way when you have not followed his basic principles for wealth creation and retention.
4. Let us not lose sight of the difference between grace and works.
As a basic principle, if we wish to make money, we must work for it. After all, that is what God said when he cursed the ground on account of Adam’s sin (Gen. 3:17-19). That being said, God is sovereign, and not everyone who works hard will become wealthy. Wealth is also a result of God’s grace, not just hard work. Hard work does not obligate God to bless us financially. It is simply those whom God has ordained to bless. We must follow God’s principles, to even hope to accumulate wealth, but the end result is up to God. Let’s look at it from the perspective of a farming analogy. We must plant, water, till, and fertilize the seeds in order to obtain any type of harvest, but God ultimately will control the amount of harvest.
“Do your work first, but God ultimately will control the amount of harvest.”
In all things, though, true wealth is a life filled with the good things that money cannot buy.