A couple of weeks ago I was talking with one of our church members about the potential answer to prayer that we have in receiving a grant from a ‘work for the dole’ to do maintenance and development work around our property. It is no secret that we have been struggling financially over the last few years as a congregation – but the last twelve months has pushed us to a place where we are unable to manage without help. So many of us prayed! And in answer to that prayer, along came this project money…that we didn’t go searching for. On the surface it appears to be coming to us without any (financial) cost. But rest assured there is a cost! All journeys of faith and discipleship have a cost!
But what will it cost us? Time, effort, commitment, freedom, comfort…God is wanting to see more than our building painted and a few sheds built – this is the first step towards new ministries; new levels of faith; new relationships; new people entering into our community…God is wanting us to embrace these changes and in the process expect that they will transform us from where we are today – to where God wants us to be in the future.
It’s amazing that when we are stretched financially and the church prays and responds using God’s financial principles then we often get much more than we expect. Today we listened to the story of the ‘rich young ruler’ (Mark 10:17-22) who had a heart to serve God, but his great wealth got in the way of what God wanted to do in his life. He was faced with a choice – follow Jesus or hang onto his comforts and his wealth. How we handle money – whether we have a lot or a little – gives a pretty clear indication of our relationship with God. It can be a source of blessing for those who are fully committed to God; but it can also be a deadly trap to those who think that their future and happiness will be secured because of it.
Money – or the lack of it, is one thing that Satan uses to separate people from God. Millions of people, and sadly many Christians, live in miserable financial bondage because of greed, fear, discontent, debt, materialism and selfishness. True financial freedom only comes when we yield our finances to our heavenly father. Jesus said, ‘No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve both God and money’ (Matthew 6:24). More importantly – God knows our heart!
When it comes to money, the Bible presents the concept of stewardship. We are entrusted with our masters (God’s) wealth and we are expected to use it wisely (and prayerfully) for God’s purposes. The motives of God’s financial principles are very different to those of the world’s system. Acts of sowing and reaping; buying and selling; giving and receiving are common to both. However, God’s system is driven by integrity, generosity, stewardship and faith – while the world’s system is often driven by selfishness, greed and materialism. Jesus warned his followers not to trust in earthly riches – because they will fail. Instead he challenges us to live a life that seeks first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and promotes his character and ways in all our actions and relationships. It is then that we can have a peace that God will provide for our needs.