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One of my favorite things about the New Testament epistles is the personal moments, the personal interactions between the author and his audience. I love to read Paul’s “don’t forget the milk” list at the end of 2 Timothy. I love to read his warm greetings and remembrances at the end of Romans.
One great moment comes in 2 Timothy 3. Paul writes to Timothy and reminds him of the privilege he had as a young man. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
Paul reminds Timothy of the two most influential people in his young life—his mother and grandmother (see also 2 Timothy 1:5). We learn that Timothy had had the distinct privilege of being raised in a Christian home, and Paul wants him to consider what this had done to him and in him.
What was it that Timothy’s mother and grandmother had done that earned Paul’s praise? What did they do that had made such a difference in his life? It was not having Timothy study and memorize his catechism. It was not teaching him systematic theology. Paul didn’t commend him for all the Bible verses he had memorized or all the songs he knew. He didn’t even mention Timothy having a male mentor or someone who took him under his wing. Those are all good things, but they are not the things that interested Paul here.
Paul says only this: That Timothy’s mother and grandmother had introduced him to the Bible, to what he calls “the sacred writings.” And the Bible had done its work in Timothy. The Bible had made all the difference. It had made Timothy wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. It had saved his soul and turned him into the man he had become.
I find this such a sweet and timely encouragement. There are so many ways in which I feel my failure as a parent. There are so many things I hear other parents doing and find myself wishing that I was doing them as well. But in Paul’s words I am reminded that my primary task as a father is to simply expose my children to God’s Word. Whatever else I do, I must do this. And I do. Day by day we read God’s Word together and week by week we hear it preached and taught together. As much as we can, we make our home one where the Word is present and honored.
I am more convinced than ever that nothing will make a greater difference in the lives of my children than this—than exposure to the perfect, powerful Word of God. If I do that, I am doing the right thing. I am doing the best thing. I am doing the one thing that matters most
I do not remember when or how I first came across the 4 questions that John Wesley proposed we consider when spending money, but it was probably in a Randy Alcorn book. Wesley believed in the value of introspection, perhaps to a fault, but understood that he was accountable to God for the way he used each and every penny. These questions guided him and I think they merit our consideration as well.
His first question was a foundational one. “In spending this money, am I acting as if I owned it, or am I acting as the Lord’s trustee?” In other words, he always wanted to check his own heart to make sure that when he took out his wallet, it was with an understanding that he would be spending God’s money on God’s behalf. He wanted to always remind himself who actually owned the money.
The second question was this: “What Scripture passage requires me to spend this money in this way?” He did not just want to know that the Bible allowed him to spend it that way, but actually required him to do so. He wanted to spend every bit of money in a way that God had commanded, not just permitted.
The third question he would ask is this: “Can I offer up this purchase as a sacrifice to the Lord?” Wesley wanted to be able to let go of anything he purchased and make it an offering to the Lord. He wanted to be able to say, “I made the purchase, I completed the sale, but I did it for you. It’s yours to use as you will.”
Wesley’s final question was, “Will God reward me for this expenditure at the resurrection of the just?” He wanted to know that when he stood before the Lord and this purchase was weighed in the balances, he would hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Those are 4 great questions that bring biblical wisdom to bear on the way we use our money.