The Good Steward

What is your view on money?

Is it good or bad?

Is it something to be desired or to flee from?

What should we use money for?

I think money is good. Because money is a tool developed through man’s wisdom, and like any other tool created by man, such as the computer, hammer or knife, the wisdom to develop these tools comes from God. The Bible not only teaches that these tools are good, it also teaches us how to use them! We read in 1 Tim 4:4-5 that “…every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused…if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer”.

We are highly dependent upon this tool in our daily lives! Without money, how many of us would be able to provide for our bodily necessities? If you lose your income, would you be able to grow rice, make bread or raise chickens to provide for your daily needs?

However, despite the importance of money, we must remember that it is but a tool. It is more important to emphasize that it is God who provides. And God may provide for our needs even without money! God provided for his people in the wilderness by smiting a rock and causing water to gush out, overflowing the streams (Ps. 78:20 and Ex. 17:6). He provided meat for Elijah through a raven while he was hiding by the brook Cherith (1 King. 4).

“…Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” (Matt. 6:25).

When we realise that money is but an earthly tool, and the provision of our needs ultimately comes from God, one will realise that the relentless pursuit of money does not profit one’s salvation. Instead, the Bible clearly warns against that (1 Tim 6:10). And the warning is well placed, as the secular world has been very successful in portraying material wealth as happiness which is worth working very hard for and even glorifying this as the “pursuit of happiness”.

In the relentless pursuit of affluence, men have come up with new structures, institutes and innovations. One such notable development is the field of enhancing fertility. The first major point in one’s career is usually in the early 30s. Hence, working women would be at a huge disadvantage if they were to have children in their 20s, as that would include the necessary time and effort sacrificed to raise a child.

The solution was a medical procedure to freeze one’s eggs. Through such a method, women would be free! Free to pursue their careers, no longer limited by a biological clock should they desire a child. Once they are satisfied with their status on the corporate ladder, they can then thaw their frozen eggs, have them fertilised and transplanted back in their womb. With this new means of fertility, couples or single women may choose to postpone the setting up of a family, sacrificing all the time of their young adult life on something perceived to be more important than anything else, their careers.

The continuous effort and sacrifice made to achieve wealth is materialism. Materialism is a great evil, for it is a denial of God and of His sovereignty. It is the worship and service of mammon. Do not be deceived by the materialism of this world for it does not bring happiness, and such a covetous pursuit is sinful and brings only strict condemnation (Matt. 19:24). True happiness requires a life with God (Ps. 1:2, 119:2, Matt. 4:4).

How does God distribute this tool to His people? Certainly not through unlawful means that will break His commandments. Neither through legally abiding methods that contradict the teachings of the Bible. One “creative” example of such a method is the development   and   commercialization of synthetic substances that replicate the effects of addictive drugs created by scientists (Gray, 2014). These are newly created substances that can be sold legally as they are not banned by legislation . But each sale results in the harm of the neighbour and his family.

God instead provides money to us through an honest day’s work (2 Thes. 3:10-12).

How should money be used? The use of this tool is governed by the “Principles of Stewardship”, which are:

(1) God is the absolute owner of all things (Ps. 24:1 and Hag. 2:8),

(2) God gave us things that we may use for a time (Job 1:21),

(3) Gifts should be used in the way the Lord prescribes and

(4) We remain accountable for the use of the gifts.

How specifically does God prescribe the use of the money given to us? The Bible only explicitly gives instruction on one’s use of money:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).

God requires us to make His kingdom the first priority, giving cheerfully and liberally to the church, seminary, the poor and to the Christian schools. It is a blessing for us to give (Acts 20:35)! Remember that this requirement is by no means easy to fulfil, as the demands of these two passages of scripture defy our very nature. Our depravity is self-centred and self-seeking (Ps. 51:5). What we wish to do, is to give the minimum 10%, and to keep the remaining 90% for ourselves. To fulfil the calling to use money in the God- prescribed manner requires constant attention and prayer.

As a conclusion to this article, let us meditate on Proverbs 30:8-9, which would best articulate the attitude that a Christian should have towards money.

“Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.”

I also leave with you statements to ponder upon and discuss their validity:

Statement 1: “Luxury brands serve only to fulfil the vanity of men. Making purchases of such goods only serve to fuel the pride of men by being a symbol of their wealth, affluence and power.”

Statement 2: “The church is to do its best to lift its members from poverty. What love would it be to enjoy affluence while watching another member of the church toil in poverty?”

Statement 3: “Spiritual callings of the Bible should dictate our actions even when it defies worldly prudence (E.g. Speaking up for the truth even if it brings persecution). So the family should also obey God’s calling first to multiply even if financial prudence is against having more children.”

Written by: Ivan Chew | Issue 43