I've been thinking about money and its role in Christian Faith a lot over the last several years. I've come to realize that Christian teaching on money in the church falls into one of a few categories.
Non-existent: Pastors and churches that avoid the topic of money or rarely discuss it.
Weak Teaching: Pastors that don't know anything about money. You can't teach what you don't know. Don't feel bad, pastor. You're not alone. 70%+ are living paycheck to paycheck.
Bad Teaching: Believe it or not, some pastors actually teach money principles that are actually unbiblical! This usually happens when they take their eyes off Jesus and start counting those dollars. As Dave Ramsey says, "Money doesn't make you a bad person. It just makes you more of what you really are." The prosperity gospel falls into this category. As my experience has grown in my understanding of biblical finance, the prosperity gospel is an interesting thing in the scope of scripture. For now, let's just say that this teaching overall has been warped and misused in the Christian Faith. I'll touch on this a little more later.
Good Teaching: I say good in a relative sense because the bar is pretty low. With so many pastors not really understanding money and wealth, just teaching something well is better than nothing. Usually, this revolves around tithing.
Kingdom Empowering Teaching: In my opinion, this is a rare thing to find in the Christian community. Rarely do Christian leaders or pastors achieve this level of teaching in their domain. While they may live out good principles of money, it can be difficult to translate those life principles into teaching.
Why is this Important?
Why do pastors ask their church members to give but fail miserably in equipping and training them to give more? It's simple. They don't understand money. They've never studied money, and no one has ever taught them well about money. You can't teach something you don't know or understand. And many people in the church misquote and misapply scripture. For example:
It's common to hear someone say, "Money is evil." or "Money is the root of all evil." Both of these are incorrect statements. Unfortunately, these ideas are entrenched into the general population's psyche. Are they entrenched in yours? If they are, then you have a natural aversion to money and wealth. In a way, you could say that if you think this way, you actually repel wealth.
The truth is that money is not evil. Money is not the root of all evil. The love of money is the root of all evil.
1 Timothy 6:10 "10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
Money is just a tool. When it's taken from a proper perspective, it should be as natural as eating, drinking, or breathing. You could, in fact, equate it to any job you've had to learn to do. You had to be trained to do your job. It's the same with money and wealth. You need to be trained properly to handle money and to build wealth. Anyone can do it.
In my opinion, Christians have really missed the boat on money and wealth due to bad teachings from the Bible.
Growing up in Christian Schools and being in and out of church as a kid before heading off to Christian College. I've heard quite a few different preachers and even more teaching on many Biblical topics. After college, I spent some time in manufacturing before joining Dave Ramsey's company, a Christian business, where I listened to hundreds of preachers and speakers at our weekly devos and experienced Dave's teaching on finances for believers and the Church.
Money and Faith
I believe there are three gates to building wealth. Tithing. Testing and Purpose. Unfortunately, many people of faith don't make it past the first gate. So it's no wonder so many Christians are stuck struggling with money. As I learned to handle money and build wealth, I came across these three gates at different stages in my wealthy building journey.
level 1: Tithing: 10% for God
Tithing, my dear friends, is like a spiritual heartbeat. Just as your heart pumps life-giving blood throughout your body, tithing pumps spiritual life into your finances. The concept of tithing comes from the Bible, where God invites us to bring the first ten percent of our income back to Him. This act of trust and obedience not only reflects our faith but also helps support the work of the church and those in need.
It may seem daunting to part with 10% of your income, but remember, God is our provider, and He promises to bless us abundantly when we trust Him in this area. It's not just about the money; it's about the heart. Giving 10% is a declaration that God is the Lord of your finances, and you trust Him to meet your needs.
I must admit that for a long time, as I tithed, I did it because I'd been taught to do it. You might say I did it out of obligation. I don't think that would be far from the truth. Also, when I tithed, I had the mindset that as long as I tithed monthly, it didn't matter when during the month as long as I hit the 10% of what I made that money. I was sloppy. But then, I hit a turning point one day in church. I don't remember exactly when it happened, but I was in my late 20s or early 30s.
I'd heard 2 Corinthian 9:7 preached on several times over the years, but for whatever reason one day it just hit me. "God loves a cheerful giver." At that moment, I realized I wasn't cheerfully giving to God or His work. I was just giving.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7
"6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[a] will also reap bountifully.7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
That day, I made a change. I learned what it meant to be a joyful giver. Not giving out of training, obligation, or any other reason. My giving became part of my partnering with God on his work on a conscious level. It was an evolution on my wealth journey.
Level 2: Testing Your Heart
As you grow in your career and your income increases, it's essential to remember that God is testing your heart. He's watching how you handle the abundance He provides. The more you have, the greater the responsibility. The Bible tells us that whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.
When God blesses you with more, be sure to remain humble and faithful. Keep your priorities straight, always remembering that your ultimate purpose is to bring glory to God in all that you do. The test isn't about how much you can accumulate; it's about how well you can manage what you've been given while staying true to your faith and values.
Level 3: Giving your money a Purpose
Why do you work, and why do you make money? These are essential questions that should guide your financial journey. Money is a tool, not an end in itself. Give your money a purpose. Whether it's providing for your family, supporting charitable causes, or helping those in need, your financial resources can make a profound impact.
Determine your financial goals and align them with your faith. When you have a clear purpose for your money, it becomes easier to manage and allocate your resources wisely. Remember that God's blessings are meant to be shared and used to bless others. Your financial journey should reflect your commitment to being a good steward of the blessings God has entrusted to you.
In closing, dear friends, let's approach our finances with reverence and joy, understanding that money is a gift from God. Tithing, testing, and giving purpose to our money are not just financial principles but spiritual acts of worship. By embracing these principles, we honor God and grow in our faith while experiencing the true joy of Christian money management.
May your financial journey be filled with God's wisdom, grace, and abundant blessings. Keep your heart open, your wallet generous, and your faith steadfast. God is with you every step of the way.