Money management is one of those concepts that dawns on us in waves of revelation. As children, we learn how to count money. When we start out, it's just coins and paper. If an adult gives a child one piece of paper with a 100 on it and gives their friend three pieces of paper with 20's on them, the child with the $100 bill will most likely get mad. "Why did they get three dollars and I just got one?" That is, until they learn the difference in value.
After the stage where we learn about denominations (of money, not religion) comes the stage where we figure out what money means. I heard my pastor teach many years ago from Luke 16, where Jesus states the following:
"One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant 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." (Luke 16:10-13)
This passage teaches that money is not 'true riches.' Money is just a measuring stick to show how you treat spiritual things. Spiritual gifts that God places in your hands, spiritual treasures like friends, anointing, wisdom, and favor. A few years ago, when I first heard this concept, I thought I understood it. My savings account was doing ok. I had a 401K and had managed pretty well. We had the cars, the house, a good job and opportunities to minister to others. But things change, and as my calling shifted, so did my relationship with money.
Instead of being a master of money, it became clear that money had become the master. I would not look at bills, even though I still gave money to others. I would hold on to savings, not as preparation for the future, but out of desperate fear in the present. The mindset gripping my mind was scarcity and poverty. In my mind I knew God had a bunch of money, but I accepted that I would always be poor. I accepted a poor life as my calling, and my spiritual life mirrored my thinking.
This mindset revealed itself in my actions. Instead of setting the temperature in the house for comfort, I set it for savings. Instead of dressing in nice clothing, I refused to shop or I went to thrift stores. Instead of eating what I wanted, I ate just enough. I clipped coupons, traveled less, and grumbled about folks that preached about the wealth God has for His children. Let me just say, that life is miserable.
A few years ago, God began a transformation on my thinking. Rather than seeing myself as the source for my financial success, He showed scriptures that pointed to His sovereignty over money. Wealth comes from Him. He puts clothes on the lily and feeds the sparrow. This was a revelation.
Another revelation was that he gives us spiritual and natural gifts to invest. He is happy when we spend what He has given, because there is more where that came from. Remember the story about the pounds? (Luke 19:20-23) The only guy He was mad at was the one who put the pound in a safe, hiding place. The nobleman wanted his servants to take some risk, fail a little, trust their instincts. God is much like a venture capitalist. He is very interested in growth, but understands you may lose his investment from time to time. This is all part of the learning process.
Christians in the Western world have grown wealthy and have entered a mode that esteems saving. This is good on some levels, however the danger this mindset is we take that same mentality in spiritual things. Instead of taking a chance in the spirit, we choose the safe route. Instead of seeking out our calling, praying new things, reaching out to new people or coveting the best gifts, we can get into the savings mode.
Serving God is not about saving. It is about being saved. It is not about showing how well we can manage the same parcel of spiritual dominion, it is about using what we have been given and asking God for more. How many of us serve God for years and never make any real progress? Often, our finances mirror this supernatural state of affairs. We content ourselves with comfort over chance and rob ourselves of learning that God can supply all of our need. He has great riches in heaven and on earth.
The breakthrough for Western Christianity will be in our finances. When we really trust God to take the money He has given and use it, we will find new spiritual freedom. When we return to a confidence in Christ for supplying our every need, we will notice a breakthrough of faith in other areas. In fact, I believe the signs and wonders many wish to see are connected to our finances. A lady was speaking about our family a few days ago and told a friend, "I'm just amazed at the miracles God is constantly working in their lives." The truth is, I am too. I keep making investments; some bad, some good, and God keeps adding to our account.