@robertkwendt || lead pastor
Life has a way of throwing a lot of things our way. Often we feel behind, lacking funds, a victim of events, and short on time. One word to describe the feeling we often face...OVERWHELMED.
It doesn't have to be that way. What if there was a way that we could reclaim the territory we felt we had lost? What if we could conquer life with confidence and a healthy swagger? When we follow the teachings of God, we can.
Look at this proverb from the Bible for example:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
This verse is often quoted in churches and by followers of Jesus, but that doesn't mean it comes without challenges. In fact, living out the practice of trusting in God with all of our hearts is actually quite difficult.
Trust takes sacrifice. It requires humility. It forces us to say that we can't do things on our own. Here's the thing...The more we focus on our plan, the less we focus on God's plan. If we want to truly have freedom, then we have to begin focusing more on God and less on us.
The Proverb will walk us through various scenarios, but the first deals with finances.
Honor the Lord with your wealth
So what does honoring the Lord with our wealth look like? Here are three steps to get us started.
1. focus on what you have rather than what you don't.
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells a story of a land owner and three people that he entrusted with various talents. To the one, he gave five talents. To the other, two. And to the third, one. Each of these servants did various things with their talents (we'll get to that in point two). We also know that they were also given different amounts according to their ability.
Far too often, I come across conversations with people who express that it seems like life's not fair. Friends make more money, have better jobs, and over and over again seem to have "more talents" than us. They smother Instagram and Facebook with pictures of their success, and it seems to build up more and more resentment and frustration within our own selves. We become critical of our situation and begin to get frustrated with what we have.
I know this all too well. After eight years of college and two degrees, I often compare what I do to what those around me are doing. In the same amount of time, I could have become a doctor, a lawyer, or even just skipped college and made good money working in the trades. I would be lying if I didn't admit to playing the "what-if game." However, those are ways that Satan tries to pester me and tear me down.
What builds me up is focusing on what I have rather than what I don't. God provides me with food on the table, a bed to sleep in, and a family that I honestly don't deserve. When I change my focus, it changes my attitude.
In the story Jesus told, each servant was given something. From wealthy to the poverty line, they were each given a portion. The battle begins with how we treat what we've been given.
2. healthy habits now lead to healthy habits later.
Habits are just that. Habits. They're the ways in which we do things because we've become accustomed to doing things in such a way. The habits we have now (unless broken) will be the same habits we have later.
Back to our story of the three servants that Jesus talked about...
The first two men "invested their talents." So, the one with five ended up with ten. The one with two ended up with four. We don't know the exact details of how they did this, but the end result reveals they both had healthy habits. While they were given different amounts, they still applied what they knew and developed to what they were given.
The third servant, however, buried his talent under a rock. In other words, he didn't want to lose what he was given, so he held onto it for dear life.
How often do we do this with our finances? I've talked with both multi-millionaires and people living paycheck to paycheck. I've heard countless stories and can say there often seems to be one thing in common: we never have enough.
Why do athletes need bigger and bigger contracts? Why do rich people play the lottery? It's because they constantly feel as if they don't have enough.
When we feel this way, we often hold onto what we have. We don't want to lose it, so in turn we do nothing with it.
God doesn't want us to live that way. Look at our Proverb again...
"Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the best part of everything you produce.
Then he will fill your barns with grain,
and your vats will overflow with good wine."
Did you catch it? When we honor the Lord with our wealth, we have more than enough. It's an amazing thing.
In fact, God designed us from the very beginning to give up a portion of what we have been given (see Genesis 4). He did this so that we would not only honor him, but so we would establish a healthy habit.
A tithe means "tenth." All throughout the Bible, we're told to give up our first fruits and to tithe to the Lord. While this helps in expanding His Kingdom around the world, it also helps us to develop a healthy habit.
Through tithing, we literally begin to sacrifice. We give up what we've been given. We now go from living on 100% to 90%. What if we then took this another step further? What if we not only tithed 10% but also saved 10%? What if we lived on 80% and then saved for our future retirement, education, etc.?
When you practice healthy habits now, you actually make life easier later. Think about it. Often, when you feel as if you need all 100% to live on, you don't save. And if you do, you save what's left over. However, the more you give, the more that you begin to establish a healthy habit and lifestyle.
3. give out of joy, not obligation.
So you're at dinner with some friends, and that awkward moment happens again. The bill comes. What do you do?
I always love this moment, because no one wants to be the first to grab for it. And heaven forbid the waitress can't just split the check up either. When people then pay out of obligation rather than joy, it sends a strange message. They paid more than they wanted to and everyone knows they aren't happy about it. The cheap ones still think it's great they saved a buck, and the generous party wonders how it happened.
But whenever I've been around someone who wants to give away something out of pure joy, the mood is completely different. Joy fills the room, and the moment usually ends with hugs rather than an awkward handshake.
I love what Paul says to the church in Corinth:
Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NLT
When we give, it's not about an obligatory amount, but about the joy that comes with it. Giving should be something that makes you happy, not shrug.
Do you think God wants us to be a people that reluctantly pays the bill, or a people that grabs the check before it even reaches the table with joy?
Here's the thing. Generosity breeds generosity. It becomes an amazing thing and not only makes the lives of others better, but it breathes joy and freedom into our lives as well.
|| challenge ||
Download the Mint App and use it to start establishing healthy habits. (Click here to learn more.)
Try giving for the first time to God. Or maybe try tithing that 10% for the first time. You can partner with what He's doing through Fellowship by clicking the button below.