pile of american paper money on black surface
Dying to Live (Short Stack), Living Dead

Dying to Live (Day 3): Dying to Your Riches

For all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had. Luke 21:4

Then I will say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take it easy. Eat, drink, and be merry!” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be for anyone who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:19-21

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done. Proverbs 19:17

Have you surrendered your riches to the Lord? I don’t mean your 10% tithe. I mean all of it. Your money belongs to you to do with as you wish. But did you know that you will be held accountable for how you spend your money? (Luke 12:19-21). Did you know there is a way God wants you to use and invest your money, and none of it has to do with your personal security?

Jesus taught a lot about money, maybe more than any other subject, but I could not see it at first because I lived in a relatively affluent community that valued personal wealth and the sense of stability and safety that can bring. I can recall multiple sermons of the Parable of the Talents (a measure of silver) which never spoke of investing money into the Kingdom, but only of applying our abilities and efforts to the Kingdom of God! What a disservice we are doing to the body by NOT be teaching the Messianic principles of finances!

I always thought it interesting that many Christian finance programs drew a lot from the wisdom literature of Old Testament, but very little on the actual teachings of Yeshua regarding money. Many of them actually teach to “build wealth” before you start to give generously! The New Testament teachings on money teach clearly against hoarding wealth and clearly in favor dispensing your wealth to God (whether in lavish worship (Luke 7:36-50) or in ministry to others (Luke 8:1-3) or in an offering to God at the place of worship (Luke 21:1-4)), even to the last little bit you have and even in your poverty! Not once does Yeshua teach to build wealth so we can give more later. Meanwhile, He teaches in DOZENS of different parables and interactions with people that giving up your money and possessions (even to the point of poverty) is a way to enter the Kingdom, honor God, or avoid judgment on the issue of fiscal stewardship (this is especially a theme in the gospel of Luke).

Why are your finances a matter of importance for your relationship with God?

  1. The discipline of giving freely kills the “fear of lack” and “fear of poverty” and demonstrates a person’s faith and dependency of God. Money forms the assurance many people have for well-being, emergency plans, satisfaction, comfort, and future security. What if He asked you to give your money away? What excuses would you use to explain that away? Be honest about this hypothetical question and don’t be offended. The purpose is not to judge you, but to help you identify blind spots and ways that we deceive ourselves. Jesus says you cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
  2. The discipline of giving freely automatically takes us into obedience and into the realm of miraculous provision. Jesus, Moses, Paul, Abraham, David, Gideon, Samuel, Noah modeled a prophetic step-by-step following of God, inquiring of the Father along the way, regarding direction, battle, leadership decisions, finances, and resources, even within a broader vision of the Father’s purposes, HIS goals. In doing so, you are obeying a core command of God not to covet what your neighbor has (Luke 12:15). Whose lifestyle are you trying to emulate…Someone you know or someone you follow on social media? A family member or a co-worker? What quality of life factors are you not willing to lay down? Could this be an issue of coveting? Then simply repent.
  3. The disciple of giving freely releases us from a contractual religious thinking. If you think God’s plans and hopes for your future include insuring your own wealth and optimal health, you need to confront your fears because they could be causing you to live financially in a way that limits your investment in the kingdom and purposes of God. What God is asking you to give over to Him is your security, your self-sufficiency, and your safety. If you were raised in church, you’ve might have been told that God has plans to prosper and not harm you your whole life (Jeremiah 29:11). But those of us who have lived long enough know that scripture also says the route to your “good” future may include pain, poverty, suffering, rejection, and even physical death. Elijah was chased and starving. Jesus suffered rejection from his own hometown and family. Paul suffered a thorn in his flesh. He was thirsty, beaten, hungry, homeless, imprisoned, and finally killed. All of these are actually indicative of a blessed life according to Jesus. And we will prosper and make it safely to our heavenly home, where we will experience God’s glorious pleasure as our portion and be rewarded for all we have entrusted to Him. (2 Timothy 4:18)

You may be thinking, ‘But I DO trust God with my safety and security–what do these things have to do with money?’

Great! But allow me to simply and gently offer the reminder that the heart is deceptive. Ask God to search you. In what ways is your sense of security based in an inheritance, property holdings, a retirement account, a savings account, or a lucrative job salary? Maybe it helps to imagine if all that disappeared out of your life, how you would feel? Exposed? Vulnerable? Would you be able to buy a house in the area with the good schools and “safe neighborhood” or would you have to live among poor people? How would you feel about that? Do you believe self-sufficiency is a moral virtue? (I am speaking mainly to the American church here.) It’s not. Align with the word of God. All of these culturally and historically rooted false beliefs about money, and security are grounded in human wisdom not Godly wisdom, and if you don’t question them and align with the truth of Gods’ word, it will absolutely affect what you feel is important enough to spend your money on.

By and large, we spend money on our family’s own self-indulgences, self-protection, security, and safety. And we rationalize our expenditures based not on what the poor have, but on what the wealthy have. After all, when compared to what the wealthy do with their money, our expenditures seem quite modest. Beloved, not only will God hold us accountable for how we spend our money, but HE will also bless us if we die to the false sense of supposed “security, safety, and self-satisfaction” hoarding and wasting money can give and put our money to work in the kingdom.

God invites you to rely on Him for your satisfaction and provision, to see every gift, every salary check, every bonus, every meal made for you as from His hand. And when you loose a job or an investment fails, Your Father is not punishing you or withholding blessing or long-term security from you. Remember His purposes. He is FOR you. He wants you to find your long-term security in Him. He wants you to be able to rely on others when you need it and give freely when they need it (Hebrews 13:16, Romans 12:13). He wants children to take care of their parents and parents to take care of children (1 Timothy 5:4-8). He wants intimacy with you and for you to have close inter-dependent, mutually beneficial friendships in your life (Acts 4:32). He wants you to need Him and others, and contribute to Him and others because that’s how Shalom community is formed. We were made to be a family.

By dying to riches, we come alive to hospitality, family, and community in the Body of Messiah! This is not a sort of religious socialism, it is a spirit-filled, joyful generosity that is not forced upon you, but that flows from the Holy spirit inside you. Let Him discipline and draw and allure your heart by asking Him for only next steps and putting your financial security in His hands. Give to those who ask you (Luke 6:30) Be bravely generous to God by giving to the poor, even in hard times. Provide for people who God tells you to with reliant generosity, like Elijah’s widow (1 Kings 17:7-16) and the widow Yeshua saw putting her small coin in the offering collection (Luke 21:1-4). Give and it shall be given to you, good measure pressed down and shaken together and running over! With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you! (Luke 6:38)

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