Growing up, I heard occasional sermons about stewardship. I learned that our time, talents, and treasure were given to us by God to be used for his glory.
I understood the time piece (even if I spent too much of it on video games). I got the talent thing; heck, I was always trying to improve as a drummer for our church’s worship band. But the treasure piece? Not so much.
Looking back, I think I know why:
- My family didn’t talk much about money. I had an appreciation for earning and saving, but I wasn’t taught to be financially literate.
- My church didn’t talk much about money (except for tithes and offerings). Courses like Financial Peace University hadn’t caught on yet. And youth programming focused on other areas.
- My schools didn’t talk much about money. K-12? Nada. College? Sign these papers. Turns out there was a personal finance course offered, but I didn’t learn about it until late in my senior year.
Then student loans kicked in. Suddenly, money management mattering a whole lot more. I began reading books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Your Money Counts, and Total Money Makeover. I was beginning to really think about my personal finances for the first time.
Still, what I did with my discretionary income seemed of little spiritual importance to me. I made impulse purchases, ate out quite a bit, spent a lot on entertainment. So long as I had enough to pay the bills, right?
People who knew a lot about money intimidated me. It seemed as if they had reached some sort of “stewardship zenith” while I was still trudging away at the bottom of the mountain. Still, at least I was focused on the basics – serving God with my time and abilities.
But that’s all different now.
Over the years, my understanding of God and his Word has gradually grown. I’ve come to see that being wise with money isn’t some sort of apex; it’s actually the starting point of good stewardship.
Jesus talked a LOT about money. In fact, he went as far as to say,
“if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” Luke 16:11
Yeah, so it turns out that if you look at the entire scope of Scripture – from God’s original design for mankind, to his teaching about how we’re to live now, to the life to come – it all points towards an eternity where we’re actually involved with God in his ongoing work, not just sitting around on clouds all day.
In essence, Jesus teaches that what we do with money is a key measure of our stewardship and has big implications. He’s like, “Let’s see how you do with the resources I’ve entrusted to you in this life, and we’ll let that determine how many resources I entrust to you in the next life.” Which makes sense, because that’s just smart management.
To be honest, I still have a long way to go when it comes to money management. I’m in process. But I’m so grateful that God’s helped me see how much my money decisions really do matter.
What about you? Have you tended to downplay the spiritual significance of money? Did anything in this post challenge you or prompt you to think differently? Any next steps you need to take?