Every Thought Captive to Messiah


Gain All You Can, Save All You Can, Give All You Can

Money is a huge part of our lives, but in the Church we don’t talk very much about it. It tends to be an embarrassing topic. We may feel guilty we’re not giving enough or that the pastor is just in it for the money. We may be living paycheque to paycheque and not have a lot of space to consider how we should be spending our money. We may have lost a job recently, and our monthly cash flow may be way down. We may be fine living off government welfare or receiving the Working for Families tax credit and not want to think too hard about money. We may fear running out of money and so want to build up a huge nest egg to shelter us from any financial catastrophe that may occur. We may believe doomsday is the horizon and be building up a stockpile of supplies to live off the grid. In a word, money takes up a lot of our thinking as human beings.

As believers and as a local church, we must not shy away from talking about money. How we use money is an important part of our discipleship. It tells a lot about where our heart is really at. So this morning, we’re going to have an adult conversation about money. As Martin Luther said, “There are three conversions necessary to every man; the head, the heart and the purse.”

Our subject is going to be gaining, saving, and spending money in a way that corresponds with God’s character and biblical truth. This is a topical study, so I will be jumping around the Bible. There is no one dominate text. There are four main points: (1) Biblical perspective on money and possessions; (2) Gain as much as you can; (3) Save as much as you can; and (4) Give as much as you can.

By the way, I "borrowed" the title and structure of this message from John Wesley.

Biblical Perspective on Money

Money is important. How we spend our money indicates much about our outlook on life. Money is a huge test for each of us.

Richard Halverson says: “Jesus Christ said more about money than about any other single thing because, when it comes to a man’s real nature, money is of first importance. Money is an exact index to a man’s true character. All through Scripture there is an intimate correlation between the development of a man’s character and how he handles his money.”

Randy Alcorn says: “Our use of money and possessions is a decisive statement of our eternal values. What we do with our money loudly affirms which kingdom we belong to.”

It is imperative as Christians that we have the right perspective about money. In this regard, Randy Alcorn’s books, Money, Possessions, and Eternity and The Treasure Principle, are the best books on the biblical doctrine of money I have come across. They are excellent!

In The Treasure Principle, Alcorn offers six bedrock biblical principles:

  1. God owns everything. We’re his money managers. 
  2. Our hearts always go where we put God’s money (see Matthew 6:21).
  3. Heaven, not earth, is our home (Hebrews 11:6).
  4. We are to live for the line, not the dot.
  5. Giving is the only antidote to materialism.
  6. God prospers us not to raise our standard of living but to raise our standard of giving.

On the fourth point above, Alcorn's quote from The Treasure Principle is classic:

“I think of our lives in terms of a dot and a line, signifying two phases. Our present life on earth is the dot. It begins. It ends. It’s brief. However, from the dot, a line extends that goes on forever. That line is eternity, which [believers] will spend in heaven. Right now we’re living in the dot. …The shortsighted person lives for the dot. The person with perspective lives for the line. This earth, and our time here, is the dot. Our beloved Bridegroom, the coming wedding, the Great Reunion, and our eternal home in the New Heavens and New Earth…they’re all on the line. The person who lives for the dot lives for treasures on earth that end in junkyards. The person who lives for the line lives for treasures in heaven that never end. …Foolish people live for the dot. Wise people live for the line.”

I’d like to add a seventh principle to Alcorn's six: We can trust God to take care of us. This is because God never abandons the righteous:

Psalm 37:25-26 "I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing."

We are not to be anxious about tomorrow:

Matthew 6:25-34 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? …Therefore do not be anxious saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Gain As Much As You Can

Gaining money is not evil, though the love of money is. There is nothing inherently evil about money. Money is neutral.

Moreover, blessing and prosperity from God are a good thing. Consider:

Deuteronomy 6:10-12 "And when Yahweh your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, houses full of all good things that you did not fill, cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget Yahweh…."

Psalm 112:3 "Wealth and riches are in [the] house [of the righteous], and his righteousness endures forever."

In fact, it is God who gives us the power to make wealth:

Deuteronomy 8:18 "You will remember Yahweh your God, for it is he who is giving you power (כֹּחַ) to make wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day."

As Christians we are to work hard so that we are in a position to help the weak:

Acts 20:35 "In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."

We are to do honest work so that we are able to share:

Ephesians 4:28 "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need."

We are to work our land and not follow worthless pursuits:

Proverbs 28:19 "Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty."

In sum, as Christians we are to gain marketable skills and expertise that will enable us to make money. It's okay to get a second job. It's okay to be ambitious for more responsibility and higher pay. Keep working. Be creative. Be flexible. Be willing to work at anything.

Save All You Can

Gaining money doesn't mean spending money. We are to save!

The first rule of saving is live within your means. Don’t be a “big hat, no cattle” type of person. Be content with what you have. The Bible has a lot to say about contentment:

Proverbs 30:8-9 "Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full, deny you, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, steal, and profane the name of my God."

Hebrews 13:5-6 "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you."

Second, keep your possessions to a minimum.

Third, budget every month. Someone has wisely said, “You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”

In the area of saving, Dave Ramsey’s seven “Baby Steps” are gold!

  1. Save $1,000 for your starter emergency fund.
  2. Pay off all debt (except the house) using the debt snowball (see Proverbs 22:7 and Psalm 37:21).
  3. Save three-six moths of expenses in a fully funded emergency fund (see Proverbs 21:20).
  4. Invest 15% of your household income in retirement, choosing mutual funds with a good track record (5-10 years) in these four areas: growth, growth and income, aggressive growth, and international. The average annual return should outperform the S&P.
  5. Save for your children’s university fund.
  6. Pay off your home early (check out New Zealand's Liberty Trust).
  7. Build wealth and give.

The early church had patrons that were in a position to give very generously. Let's be like Phoebe:

Romans 16:1-2 "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well."

There is a big caveat here. Save and build wealth, but don’t put your ultimate trust in your savings. God is to be our strength, not our wealth:

Proverbs 18:10-11 "The name of Yahweh is a strong tower. The righteous man runs into it and is safe. A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination."

We are to be rich toward God, not to lay up treasure for ourselves:

Luke 12:16-21 "And [Jesus] told them a parable saying, The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops? And he said, I will do this. I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years. Relax, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."

Give All You Can

Having gained all we can and saved all we can, we are then to give all we can. There are many biblical passages dedicated to the principle of giving generously. My favourites are:

Proverbs 11:24-25 "One gives freely, yet grows all the richer. Another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered."

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 "[God] who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God."

Lending at no interest to our brothers and sisters is a great way of giving.

Psalm 37:25-26 "I have been young, and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, and his descendants are a blessing."

Psalm 112:5-9 "It is well with the man who deals generously and lends, who conducts his affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be moved. He will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news. His heart is firm, trusting in Yahweh. His heart is steady. He will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. He has distributed freely. He has given to the poor. His righteousness endures forever. His horn is exalted in honor."

How much should we give? When giving to our local church, we should be challenged to give at least 10% of our before-tax (gross) income. Above and beyond that we should give to individual missionaries or mission agencies, as well as to the poor.

For our own church, in the short-term, I’d like us to get to a place where we:

  • Have no debt except our homes.
  • Can fund a lead elder-pastor at $36,000/year.
  • Can fund a church administrator at $6,000/year.
  • Save $24,000/year toward building purchase or church planting.
  • Give $10,800/year to local, national, and global missions.
  • Give $6,000/year to local families who really need it.

In the mid-term, I’d like to see us:

  • In a new building.
  • All saving 15% toward retirement.

In the long-term, I’d like to see:

  • Our children entering the workforce with no debt and a strong work ethic.
  • All our homes paid off.
  • Giving super abundantly.

Final Charge

If you are not a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the issue for you is not how you spend your money. They issue for you is simple: will you trust in the person and work of Jesus. Will you believe that he the Messiah, God's one and only Son, and that he died for your sins 2000 years ago and rose from the dead on the third day? Will you believe in his finished work on the cross for you? You can do that right now in your heart and mind, telling God you believe the gospel. This is a far more impotent decision that how you spend your money.

But for those of us who are already believers in Christ, how we spend our money is hugely important. God wants us to be generous as he is generous. He is like an ever-flowing fountain. We are like rivers. We are channels of God's blessing to others. God is a giving God. We are to be giving people:

Proverbs 11:24-25 "One gives freely, yet grows all the richer. Another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered."

If we are open-handed (rather than close-fisted), God will be open-handed with us.

The final charge is this: let's get our finances in order so we can get to the place where we can give very generously! Gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can.


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