Do you find yourself stressing out over money? You’re a Christian, you trust God to supply all of your needs, and yet still sometimes even the strongest Christians can find themselves stressing out.
When it comes to stressors in life, few things rank higher than money. Since the invention of currency, people have been stressing over having enough money, and how to get more money. Unfortunately, Christians are not immune to this stress.
Trying to find a balance between managing money and still honoring God can often feel like a daunting task. This is not an impossible task, though. God does have a plan for our money. God understands that in the society we live in, money is just part of it. There is no getting away from it. So, what do we do? How can we manage money without falling down at the altar of mammon?
What is Mammon?
At some point in your life you might have heard someone say, “Money is the root of all evil.” Although many people do not realize it, this is actually being misquoted. 1 Timothy 6:10 does not say that money is the root of all evil. Here is the verse in its entirety.
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)
Notice the verse says “the love of money” is the root of all evil. There is a big difference here. Obviously all of us must use money. If money were the root of all evil, then we would all be guilty of handling something evil every day. The Lord knew what He was putting down in His word when he put, “the love of money,” is the root of all evil.
The love of money is where the idea of mammon comes in. In Matthew 6:24 we read:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)
Mammon is defined as, “riches, wealth or the god of riches.” In the New Testament it is understood that mammon simply means an unholy devotion to wealth and riches. When we love money, we turn our devotion away from God and toward money. This is what is meant by serving mammon over God.
The Trap of Mammon
People fall into the trap of serving mammon, when they misplace the wrong among of importance on money. Money is an easy substitute for faith in God, because money can give us the false sense of taking care of things on our own.
For instance, our physical or material needs are often something that brings us to our knees in prayer. God provides for us, and we return in prayer to give thanks. But what if you never felt that need? What if every time you ever needed something you just whipped out your check book or bank card and could simply pay for it? Would you still feel the need to go to God in prayer about your needs? Probably not.
For most of us, on almost a daily or weekly basis we must meet God in prayer over some physical or material need. However, there are many people who really do have plenty enough money to never have to worry about that. They are given a special challenge concerning their faith. This is why Jesus said of the rich in Matthew 19:23-24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Notice Jesus did not say that a rich man could not enter the Kingdom of God, he was simply saying that it is more difficult because it is hard to exercise faith if you are never in need of anything.
So, mammon, or riches poses a trap for most people, because very easily the money can take the place of faith in God. Here is when someone begins to “serve mammon.”
The Rest of Us
For those of us who are not wealthy, we can also fall into the trap of mammon. Mammon will hinder those who do have money by tempting them to serve money rather than God, to depend on money rather than God. For the rest of us, the trap of mammon comes in a different form.
If you do not have a lot of money, if you are often in need, then money can become an obsession in a pursuit of how to have more money. People often fall into the trap of thinking, “If only I had this amount of money all my problems would be solved.” This is how many gambling addicts think.
Serving mammon can come in many forms for the less than wealthy. Devoting extra time to our jobs and careers instead of to God. Being greedy of the money we do have and not giving as God has instructed us. Stressing over money instead of going to God in prayer. Some people may even fall so far into the trap of mammon that they begin to be dishonest or even get involved in illegal activities all in an attempt to have more money.
Why do people go to these extremes? The answer is simple. The pull of mammon is the idea that if you just have a little more all your problems will be solved? It is an addiction just like any other. Those who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction are constantly bombarded by the idea that if they just get one more fix, they will be okay. It is the same with mammon.
What God Wants for Us
Serving mammon is clearly not God’s will. So, what how does God want us to deal with money? Money is not going away, although many of us may wish that it would occasionally. The truth is God does have a plan for our money, we simply must get on board with His plan, and then we can begin to honor God in this area of life as well.
The first thing we need to remember when we are considering money and how God wants us to deal with money is that God already owns everything. Psalms 24:1 says, The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
So, before we go any further, we should really take a moment to consider this truth. In our pursuit of a career and money, we often think in terms of, “my money.” This is incorrect. None of the possessions you own, including the money in your bank account, is actually yours. Everything you own is already God’s. How is it already God’s? It is already God’s because He created everything. He created this good earth and all of the resources in it. Anything you have is made from the resources that He created, so it is all His.
When we think of our money and our possessions in this way, it makes it much easier to keep things in perspective.
Everything belongs to God. He is just letting us use His resources. He is not loaning them to us, because He does not expect us to pay Him back, but He is letting us use them. If God is letting us use something that already belongs to Him, then it only makes sense that He is has expectations on how we will use these resources.
The first expectation that God has of us concerning money is that we do our part to earn our money. Our society is set up in such a way that you need money in order to get the things you need. Will God supply what we need? Yes, but the most common way in which God supplies these things that we need is by first supplying us with a means of work so that we can earn money for the things we need.
Do not expect God to simply plop bags of groceries in your lap every week if you are not willing to go work. Do not expect bills to be miraculously paid if you don’t send in the payment for the bills. God is supernatural, but He often works through very practical avenues to accomplish His will.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:10 the Apostle Paul put it very elegantly when he wrote:
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
If someone cannot even get this basic truth down, then they will always deal with money issues. First, God expects us to be willing to work hard to earn the money we need.
Once we have earned the money, God expects that we tithe correctly. Tithing is an often misunderstood Bible doctrine. People often get very uncomfortable when they must discuss tithing. Why is this? The most likely reason is because we are greedy by nature. We want to make sure that we are taken care of first. God never works like this, though. God, throughout the Bible, always puts an emphasis on giving first. Here are a few verses on giving.
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 Corinthians 9:7)
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. (Proverbs 3:27)
He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor. (Proverbs 22:9)
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee. (Deuteronomy 16:17)
It is important to understand that tithing isn’t for God. Tithing is for us. God instituted the tithe to keep us from harboring greed. Every time you give, you are exercising a spirit of generosity. If you were not commanded by God to do this, it would be very easy to let greed and stinginess creep in. God knows the weakness of our human flesh, this is why He, in His divine wisdom, devised a way to constantly work our generosity.
Tithing to the church also helps practically. A church is a group of like minded people who all mutually benefit from the services and activities. It is only right that everyone pitch in to keep the expenses met.
Once we have tithed our money, God expects us to pay our bills. Even if you are not in debt, everyone has bills. Utilities, groceries, car upkeep and gas, clothing, necessities, all of these expenses are bills of one sort of another.
God expects responsible Christians to take inventory of their bills and provide for those second after tithing. Many people struggle to pay their bills because they fail to take inventory. We do not like to think about our responsibilities. It’s stressful. However, when we fail to take inventory each month, or week or however often we need to, then we can quickly lose track of what we have.
Although taking inventory of your expenses is not fun, and can be a little stressful, it is the single most important step in successfully managing your money.
This is all about self-discipline. If you can be diligent in this, you can begin to honor God with your money.
He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. (Proverbs 10:4)
This verse encourages us to be diligent in any task we take on. If you are diligent about organizing your expenses and paying your expenses first, then you will begin to prosper.
It is almost impossible to have a conversation about money without mentioning the importance of saving. Is saving really that big of a deal? Does God really even care about whether or not we save our money? The answer is yes and yes.
Saving is a crucial part of your money plan as a Christian. Saving money is not about hoarding it up, nor is it about placing your faith in your money over God. The Bible does have something to say about saving.
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. (Proverbs 6:-8)
Now at first glance you might think this verse is just talking about ants and food, but the writer is using a comparison here. The ant gathers what she needs early, puts it away, so that when she needs it it will be there.
The illustration is for people to learn that when it comes to money, you are going to need something later on. You are going to have something come up that is going to call for more than your weekly expense cash. If you do not have some laid up for that, then you will be in a bad situation. You will need to ask others for help, or you will need to borrow the money, which is worse.
Savings is not for “If” something happens later, it is for “when” something happens later, because things always happen.
Now, how does this apply to our faith? Some might say that you are putting your faith in your savings instead of in God to provide for your needs. Like in many other situations, this is where leading of the Holy Spirit is crucial. Even with your savings, you must pray and ask the Lord to lead you to the amount He wants you to save each week/month. For some people it requires a great deal of faith just to put this amount into savings each week. So either way you are exercising your faith.
The Holy Spirit will reveal to you the amount. If you wind up having a need that is greater than the amount you have saved, then you will need to depend on your faith in God to provide for your needs. It is still faith. How much you should save is a very personal thing. This is why it is good to give this much prayer and obey the voice of the Lord concerning your particular situation.
The Sins of Money
When we are not honoring God with our money, the devil can use this as an open door to pull us into all sorts of sins. The most common sin of money is obviously greed. Greed can affect anyone, rich or poor. Greed is simply closing your heart to the idea of helping others. This can come in the form of money, resources and even time. Many people are greedy with their time more than their money.
Deceitfulness is another sin that is often associated with money. People will be tempted to lie, cheat and even steal so that they can have more money. Lying and cheating over money comes in many forms. Sometimes it can be something major like robbery, but more often than not it is small, subtle things like cheating someone out of a few dollars, or not being honest on taxes. It could be not giving someone a fair deal so that you can make more money.
A Personal Story
When you already feel like you don’t have much, you might be very tempted to hesitate to help others. If you are yourself already stretched very thin, you might think, “How in the world can I afford to give?” This is a very real fear. It can affect people of all income levels.
I would like to share a personal story concerning this. A few years ago, I found myself in a difficult situation. I was a newly single mom with four children. I had always homeschooled my children, and wanted to continue that even though my husband and I had separated. Although, my children’s dad was and has always been very faithful to provide child support, it would not be enough for all of our monthly expenses.
I was using government assistance and working from home. I could pay the bills each month, but only barely. Then I got the news that my landlord would not be renewing my lease for the year. I had to move. The Lord led me to the perfect house, very close to my parents and family, but it was more expensive. I knew the Holy Spirit had led me to the house, so I signed the lease honestly wondering where the money would come from.
For the first year in that house I struggled. Even after getting a better job, I struggled. There was a missing piece in my financial puzzle. Something I had always struggled with. That was tithing. Because I had always had very little money, I never felt like I could tithe faithfully. I always felt guilty about this, but just did not see how this could work.
In January 2017 I was praying about what my New Year’s Resolutions should be. Very plainly the Holy Spirit led my heart and mind to my tithing. In 2017, God wanted me to tithe faithfully, on every paycheck for the next 52 weeks. Feeling very nervous, I made the commitment to God.
Here is what happened. I wrote the checks faithfully, sometimes wondering how the budget could possibly line up by the end of the month. All my needs were always met. In fact, the more cheerfully I gave, the more God began expanding my opportunities to make more money. He brought in more clients, more writing projects, overtime opportunities at my other job and a raise. I got off government assistance. I could feel my excitement rise, not just because I was getting more money, but because I was watching God’s promises in action.
Luke 6:38 says:
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:38)
This verse became a living, breathing truth in my life. In addition to tithing, God helped me save more money as well. I won’t lie and say I have perfected the savings, thing, but I’m certainly farther along than I was 5 years ago.
The point is, if God sees you put in a little effort, He is going to come behind you and put in a huge effort on your behalf. What He wants is to see us make that move of faith. Obey His command to put our money in order. The greatest gift of my experience with tithing was not the joy of having more money, but rather it was the peace of knowing that my God was supplying all my needs just like the Apostle Paul wrote about in Philippians 4:19
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
God does care very much about our money. He understands the psychological effect that money can have on the human brain. For this reason, He lays out guidelines of how we should handle the money so that we can overcome these weaknesses. God is also the owner of everything anyway. He is in control of the economy of the world and our own personal economy of our home. He will supply our needs according to His riches in glory, but we must first be willing to obey His commands concerning money.