Money, Stewardship, and Tithe
When I worked in the church as a youth pastor, I realized that people didn’t like the pastor to speak about money. They would say it is a private and personal topic, but Jesus sure didn’t have a problem talking about money. The Bible says a great deal about it; scholars tell us that there are around 500 verses on prayer, 500 verses on faith and more than 2,350 verses on money!
Whether we like it or not, much of our world and our family decisions revolve around money. This definitely doesn’t mean that materialism is the answer to family problems. On the contrary, our focus on finances will be a major determining factor for a successful family as well as for the financial health and stewardship of our children and family.
The decisions we make as parents about our financial health often play a major factor in our family’s overall lifestyle. Jesus summarized it so well in the Sermon on the Mount: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). A few sentences later in that most incredible sermon, He went on to challenge His listeners with these words: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (v. 24).
Basically there are two economic value systems battling for our family’s soul. The world’s value system places emphasis on things and stuff. God’s value is invested in people, stewardship and beauty. The problem lies in the fact that the world system influences all of us; the balance of money and things of the Spirit is not only a problem for parents but for children as well. According to Jesus, we pay most of our attention to whatever we treasure. Our hearts are drawn to our treasure.
I like the story my pastor told of a Catholic priest who was approached by thieves who came into his beautiful cathedral to steal some of its valuable treasures. With a gun pointed at the head of the priest, they said, “Show us your valuable treasures.” He agreed. They walked into the cathedral, past the golden altar and out the back door. He pointed to a group of 20 orphans playing ball in the back. He said, “These are the treasures of this cathedral.”
The answer to the money-pit issue is to be a faithful steward of your resources. Financial counselors Ron and Judy Blue define stewardship as “the use of God-given resources for the accomplishment of God-given goals.”1 The Blues list four stewardship principles to live by:
- God owns it all.
- There is always a trade-off between time and effort and money and rewards.
- There is no such thing as an “independent financial decision.”
- Delayed gratification is the key to financial maturity.2
Stewardship is a spiritual issue. Someone once said that a man or woman can enrich his or her bank account at the expense of empowering his or her soul. Martin Luther is known to have said that a person cannot be truly converted unless his or her heart, mind and pocketbook are converted. Isn’t it true that the amount of light that gets into any room depends on the state of the window through which the light must pass? With this in mind, the light that gets into our soul depends on our focus.
1Ron and Judy Blue, Money Matters for Parents and Their Kids (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1988), p. 47.
2Ibid, p. 45.