Financial Liberty

God has an intended design for many areas of our lives. After visiting a young father in the hospital after having a massive heart attack, I walked away asking myself if this was God’s intended design for this dear brother. The Lord has a design for us to live physically and also financially. In fact, Jesus talked much about money. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, an amazing one out of ten verses (288 in all) deals directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,350 verses on money and possessions. In fact, 15 percent of everything Jesus ever taught was on the topic of money and possessions — more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined.

Dave Ramsey, a popular Christian financial advisor, says, “The wallet is the great window to the soul.” This is because there is a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money. There is a direct link between our freedom and stewardship. The Lord knew it was finances and possession would be such a big deal and that our lives would be so impacted by it, that He didn’t want us to miss His intended design for them.

Matthew 6 has some key truths for us to consider. Verses 19-21 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Consider what Jesus is saying: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.” Why not? Because earthly treasures are bad? No. Because they won’t last. He wants us to know that we can’t hold onto them, but we can invest them now, and send the reward ahead. By investing our treasures in heaven (tithing, giving to the poor and needy, generosity toward others, etc.) we actually send the reward ahead into eternity awaiting our arrival.

We also see that where our money goes, our hearts will follow. If we give to something, we are going to pay attention to it. This means our hearts will follow our money. Our attention will follow where we put our money. Our affection and passion will follow our resources. This is why it has been said, “Show me your checkbook, financial statements, and receipts and I will know where your heart truly is.” We should steward our resources soberly and wisely knowing that our hearts will follow them.

This command to lay up treasures in heaven is followed by an equally powerful command found a few verses later in verses 24-25 which says, “No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money. 25“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?” When we lay up treasures in heaven, we do not need to be anxious about anything because the Lord is in control. “Do not be anxious about your life” will mark a person that is living in God’s intended design for their resources.

The third command that jumps out to me in Matthew 6 is verse 33 that says,” But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” As I read through Matthew 6 I see these three commands working together. Those that lay up treasures in heaven will see a dramatic decrease in anxiety because they are seeking God first and making Him the Lord of their lives. I also believe the converse to be true. When we do not lay up treasures in heaven, anxiety will accompany our lives which may be a sign that Jesus is truly not the Lord of our lives. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (6:21).

In Matthew 6 there is a simple statement that deserves some attention. “You cannot serve God and money” (6:24). In the New King James, this word money will show up as mammon. Mammon is not just money but possessions and property. Another definition for mammon is, “Something in which we have put our trust.” How do we know if we are putting our trust in mammon? You know you serve money when you are never satisfied and can never get enough of it. Like food, lust, and finances…no matter how much you accumulate, it’s never enough. You are never satisfied and always needing more. A pastor once said, “Mammon promises us those things that only God can give—security, significance, identity, independence, power, and freedom.” We think, “If I just had that, then I would be satisfied.” What are you doing? You are putting your trust in an inanimate object which therefore makes it a god.

Something that doesn’t have life in it can’t give us life. Money will never satisfy us. This is why we make bad financial decisions. There is a force behind finances that can never satisfy. Jesus takes finances that are neither good or bad, but if we put our trust in them, they become the god we serve. It is the way we create a god and remember we become like what we worship. We give it control of our lives. Ecclesiastes 5:10 says,” He who loves money will not be satisfied with money.” As long as we serve the god of mammon, we will never be satisfied.

I remember listening to a preacher at a conference who held his hand up with his palm toward the audience. He touched the tops of his fingers and said they represent the breakthrough moments in our lives that we all love like salvation, a breakthrough in a sin issue, practical relief. He went on to explain that only 1-2% of our lives are spent in these places. He said most of our lives are spent between these mountaintop moments in a thing he called “process”. The process leads to a breakthrough which leads to a process that leads to a breakthrough, etc. He said that most of our lives are spent in a place of process, so we should learn how to enjoy and cooperate in the processes of life.

Throughout the years I have come to believe that one of the prime keys to thriving in the process requires the crucial factor of trust.  We’ll never do anything successfully without trusting God. We must understand that our trusting God is the main thing He is pursuing as He develops us into His image.  Trust is what God is building through the process and trust is what will get us through the process. This means we need to learn the basic elements of trust such as intimacy and dependence. God leads us into places of vulnerability where the deep things in our hearts are exposed and where He gets to reveal Himself as our protector and the One who fulfills our deepest desires.

God cannot lie and is faithful to be with us. He is a perfect Father that is loving and kind. However, the enemy of our soul is dedicated to convincing us that God is either withholding good things or failing to protect us from bad things. He is constantly trying to trick us into mistrusting God, taking matters into our own hands, putting ourselves on the throne of our lives, and ultimately destroying ourselves. Who are you putting your trust in, God or mammon? Who are you depending on, God or mammon? We cannot serve God and money. Choose today to store up treasures in heaven and trust the Lord.

Martha Berry lived in the early 1900s. She started a Sunday school class on her family farm which soon grew into a school for boys and girls. Pretty soon it grew into a much bigger school and she needed money, so she went to Henry Ford, an auto manufacturer worth millions of dollars. She asked for a million dollars to build buildings but instead of millions, he gave her one dime. She took that dime and bought peanuts from the local feed store. She and the students planted a field and reaped the peanuts that fall and didn’t eat any of them. They planted them again that year and then once more. Finally, after a few years, they started selling the peanuts and made enough to buy a piano for their music program in the school. She was excited and wanted Henry Ford to know she was a good steward of that little dime he gave her. She wrote him a letter and back came a check for a million dollars. That school became a college which today is called Berry College in Georgia. There are about 2500 students in their undergraduate program, Christian Liberal Arts school founded on Christian principles. It all started with a dime! She was faithful with what was entrusted to her. She stewarded it well and that dime became her legacy. What will you do with your “dime”?