Spiritual growth objective
Use one’s wealth
as a steward of God’s gifts
to serve the mission of God’s kingdom.
Introduction to Money & Possessions
No plan for spiritual growth can be complete without giving serious attention to one’s money and possessions. This claim might seem strange to modern people. What do mundane financial matters like buying, selling, budgeting, saving, and giving have to do with spiritual life? But according to the Bible, how we relate to material wealth both reveals and shapes our ultimate beliefs, values, and loyalties. Money decisions are always spiritual decisions.
Jesus himself affirms this important connection between money and faith. In his teaching, Jesus addresses our temptations and responsibilities regarding money than any other ethical issue. Why is this such an important issue to Jesus?
Power for evil. Money and possessions are forms of power, and in the hands of sinful people they have great power for evil. For the sinful hearts of broken people, wealth easily becomes an idol and rival Lord (Matthew 6:24; Colossians 3:5) for which some are willing to lose their very soul (Luke 12:13-21; Mark 8:36). Thus, the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim.) that leads to destruction (1 Timothy 6:9-10). Moreover, sinful love and trust in wealth often results in greed, pride, and the accumulation of possessions in ways that harm the poor and vulnerable (1 Kings 21:1-16; Amos 2:6-7; 4:1; 5:10-16; Ezekiel 16:49; Revelation 18).
Power for good. In the hands of good, humble stewards of God’s gifts, the wealth of creation accomplishes great power for good. Indeed, wealth comes from God, and it is his gift to humanity. God gave human beings dominion over a world brimming with abundant resources (Gen. 1:26, 28), and he promises to continue providing resources for his people (Matthew 6:25-33). In hands of people who walk humbly with God, wealth makes God’s worship glorious (Exodus 25-31; 1 Kings 5-8). It feeds hungry people (Genesis 41; 2 Corinthians 8-9), helps heal the sick and wounded (Luke 10:25-37), provides for the poor (Luke 18:22; Ephesians 4:28). Money supports the ministry of God’s people and the mission of God’s kingdom (Luke 8:1-3; Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37). It builds cultures that display the glory of God (Isaiah 60; Revelation 21:9-24). Thus, Jesus even uses investing money wisely as an example and metaphor for faith in God and the faithful use of all of God’s gifts (Matthew 25:14-30).
Resources for Study
Bible study guides
Carolyn Nystrom, Money and Work (InterVarsity Press, 2011).
This 10-lesson study covers how to understand and manage God’s gifts of money, time, and work. It confronts our struggles with contentment and anxiety about resources and teaches how to be stewards of God’s gifts with wisdom, contentment, and generosity.
Tony Payne, Cash Values (Matthias Media, 2009).
This 5-lesson study covers several Bible passages about money and clarifies how important this subject is for our relationships with God and other people.
This four-session study covers a Christian view of money, seeing all of our wealth as a gift from God for the purposes of his kingdom in the world. It covers the close connections between the faith and loyalty of our heart toward God and our values and practices regarding money and possessions, our struggles with contentment and anxiety, and the joy of sacrificial generosity and giving.
This six-session study aims at developing the spiritual virtue of generosity in all dimensions of life. As the website describes it, “Generosity is about far more than money. God is lavishly generous towards us in a thousand ways, and most of all in the grace of the gospel. God’s powerful generosity through the gospel not only saves us, but sets us free to live a new, big-hearted life—a life which is no longer turned inwards on ourselves, but which flows out to others with an open, generous hand. The Generosity Project is a set of resources to help you discover and live this new, generous life.”
If you would like to learn some additional practical skills in personal money management, these videos from Crown Financial Ministries are a good place to start:
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Books and Articles
Randy Alcorn, Managing God’s Money: A Biblical Guide (Tyndale, 2011).
This study provides a Christian view of money from the perspectives of creation, sin, and salvation both in the present and in eternity. Alcorn strongly emphasizes our need to see God as the ultimate owner of all wealth and all of our money as a gift from our Creator to be used for his purposes for us. After highlighting the spiritual danger of making money into an idol, the study concludes with practical chapters on giving, debt, helping the poor, supporting the church’s ministry, saving, and investment, all with an eternal perspective of the kingdom of God.
If you would like a guided study of Alcorn’s book, see this seven-session study with key Scriptures and discussion questions and supplementary readings by Paul Tripp (chapter 6, chapter 8, chapter 9), Tim Keller, and Reggie Kidd.
1. Check your understanding
How should knowing that God is the Creator of all things affect how we view our wealth and our ownership? How would we feel and act differently if we really took the truth of God’s ownership to heart?
Why is wealth such an important ethical topic in the Bible, and why does Jesus teach about it so frequently?
How can wealth be a danger to us?
How can wealth be a great blessing and power for good? What virtues and spiritual disciplines are necessary to handle wealth in a way that honors God and serves his mission?
2. Do a study on a biblical view of wealth, and review your beliefs and values about money. Review your use of money and possession in dialogue with your growth group or other Christian friends. How do your current beliefs and practices line up with biblical principles about wealth?
3. Make a plan for growth in areas where you need to change your use of wealth. Some general questions to consider as you review and make concrete goals and plans:
How are you seeking to spending, saving, and investing with wisdom?
How are you seeking to cultivate the virtue of generosity and the practice of hospitality in the way you use your wealth?
How are you observing the principle of the tithe in your giving to the church?