FIRST Thoughts

Money management.

While it has always been a 'thing' during my lifetime, it seems that it is becoming more of a 'thing' in our lives today largely because few of us realize the important truth that as followers of Christ, we are not owners of anything. We are managers of everything that the Lord sees fit to entrust to us for His purpose and nothing more. Money is one of those subjects that causes most Baptists to seize their assets and squeeze their wallets ever the most tightly when mentioned. I was reminded the other day that Jesus spoke more about money than He did about heaven where money is useless. If you recall, those who see heaven because of His salvation will walk on gold. Money, on the other hand, is non-existent. Over the past few weeks, I, along with a dozen others have been diving a little deeper into the issue of money. What it is, what it does, what it isn't and what it can't do. Andy Stanley, Lead Pastor of North Point Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia has said this in reference to that--"Money is not the meaning of life. Money is 'the means' to a meaningful life." He goes on to quote Jesus' words that a person's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions (stuff) they possess that carries with it the potential to possess them (Luke 12:15). The difference between enjoying a meaningful life and enduring a miserable life with regard to the stress of and struggle over money is centered on the Biblical truth that what God provides, He demands a return on. Not for the purpose of making a profit but rather for the purpose of making our lives profitable. Case in point--the parable of the talents--Matthew 25:14-30. In this fictional story that communicates factual substance, God is pictured as the owner and the servants are pictured as the managers or stewards. The manager or steward owns nothing but is responsible to his/her Master for everything the Master entrusts them with. (When we realize something is not ours, but we are responsible for it, most are more focused on taking better care of it.) While the tendency in this passage is to point out the differences in what was given, the point is that each of these servant managers had nothing at the start and were given everything they had by the Master who owned it all. The point of the passage is not how much each received but what each did with what they were given realizing that each was responsible and accountable to their Master. Some strongly question why the Master was so harsh with the one who buried what God gave him and why what he was given was taken and entrusted to the one who had been given the most to begin with. Sort of sounds unfair to those who desire to make all things equitable in life. God is not about equality. He is not interested in making all things equal. He has designed each of us uniquely for a unique purpose in life. Some are given more responsibility and some are entrusted with less. And all are accountable to their Master for what He provides for them to manage. God is both fair and just. To invest wisely in what aligns with His purpose is to be rewarded with more responsibility to invest, not more 'stuff' to store. To hold onto what God provides for fear of loss is to see its potential removed from us and to suffer accordingly. There is a nugget of truth hidden in this passage that most overlook in this parable to their own detriment. The increase of what was invested wisely by the Master's managers didn't belong to the servant. It belonged to the servant's Master. The servant didn't take ownership of the increase. He returned all of it to the Master who supplied it. That is what good, godly servant managers do. The 'seed' talent (money) was never the servants to do with as he/she desired to do for themselves. At the end of the day and at the end of life when the Master returned for an accounting of His stewards, everything was returned because the Master was always the owner, and the servant was always the manager. You can't miss that important principle. The reward of the servant's faithful responsibility to his Master was 'well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in little things, I will entrust you with larger things. Enter into the joy of your reward." For those who might say, 'well, that's not fair, what's in it for me?' The answer to that for a genuine follower of Christ is simple--'that's faith and what's in it for my Master.' He is my Source, Savior and Sustainer for life. From the moment you and I gave our life to Christ as Lord and Savior, life has been about the Master's will and the manager's work, not the manager's worth. That is a life lesson better learned sooner than later IF you want to experience the joy of the Lord and miss some unnecessary judgment. Life doesn't need to be, nor should it be a miserable experience of one problem after another. Life should be a meaningful expression of praise to God for providing all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). And the difference begins with a proper understanding of the Master's plan of money management. Find a reason to praise God for giving life real meaning today! In doing so, you'll be reminded that He will take care of tomorrow! Pstr K Psalm 27:1