As I've gotten older, some things have changed for the worse. My forgetter works better than my rememberer, I need glasses to find my glasses, and I've finally gotten to the point where I can comb my hair with a towel.
But some things have changed for the better. One good thing that I'm beginning to realize is that most of the time it's bad to go to an extreme on any issue.
As I present the No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar at churches around the country it thrills me to see people learn how to get out of debt, invest for college and retirement, and teach the kids to avoid their money mistakes. But something that I never want is to see a healthy, godly interest in money management devolve into greed. Keeping a balanced view of our money is tough to do.
You see, that's how the devil works. He takes the good stuff that God has given us and then he twists and perverts it just a little bit -- and tries to sell it back to us. Sex is a party in marriage. But outside of the marriage bond it's fornication, it's sinful-it san cost us our souls. Ambition is good if it inspires us to be at our best and excell. But if it becomes an excuse to crawl over other people to get what we want, it's a sin. I believe a healthy interest in our money is a good thing, too. It's appropriate to learn how to manage it, grow it, invest it, and give it. But if we allow an interest in money to morph just a little bit it becomes greed.
I get some very touching questions as I speak at churches. Sometimes these questions come from godly people who are trying to understand how to balance their money and material possessions. In some cases these are people who have been blessed financially and they are trying to do things God's way. "Is it okay for me to have wealth?" "Should Christians give it all away?" "What would Jesus do with this money."
Despite the best efforts of Christian extremists on both side of the debate to confuse matters, the truth is: Jesus wasn't for or against money. His focus was on our hearts. HE was more interested in our motives than our money.
The Difference in Rivers and Reservoirs
Accordingly, I believe Jesus wants us to be rivers instead of reservoirs. Just as a river allows fresh water to constantly flow through -- we need to hold God's blessings loosely. We can, and should, enjoy the material gifts God brings into our lives. But we need to "be ready unto every good work" (paraphrased from Titus 2:14) -- ready to share and pass what we have on to others.
Instead, too often I have been more like a reservoir. When blessings came into my life I hoarded them. I wrapped my arms around them and refused to honor God by passing those blessings on to others. Why? Sometimes it was borne of selfishness. Other times it was due to a lack of faith on my part that the same God who had given me the original blessing was able to continue flowing future blessings into my life. And, just like a reservoir, I became stagnant and dead in my heart.
The Fringe Benefits of Being a Steward
Back in the old days, say a couple of thousand years ago, being a steward in the king's palace was a plum job. Granted, the guy had a big responsibility. He had to keep up with the king's business and do his bidding. Also, the steward really didn't own anything of his own.
But, who cared? The fringe benefits were great! The steward got to live in the king's castle. He ate the same food as the king. His wardrobe was filled with princely suits. He was chauffeured in the king's own late model chariots with the six-way speakers pumping out tunes from the king's personal CD collection. All in all, not a bad life.
It's very much the same today. As Christians, we must remember Who really owns the money and the things we possess. They don't belong to us -- they belong to God. He owns everything. It's all His stuff! But, just like the stewards of old, we get to enjoy God's blessings in our lives. But the key is to always hold things loosely -- and hold God tightly.
One of the greatest challenges to 21st century Christianity in the Western World is to have a balanced, healthy attitude toward our wealth. It boils down to personal prayer and Bible study. It requires private soul searching. Each one of us must "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling." We each should wrestle with how we use and steward the monies God has loaned us. Ultimately, it's what we share with others and "send on ahead" that will count in that last Great Day.
Steve Diggs presents the No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar at churches and other venues nationwide. Visit Steve on the Web at www.stevediggs.com or call 615-834-3063. The author of several books, today Steve serves as a minister for the Antioch Church of Christ in Nashville. For 25 years he was President of the Franklin Group, Inc. Steve and Bonnie have four children whom they have home schooled. The family lives in Brentwood, Tennessee.
A complete financial compendium, 19 chapters
• What you can do today to get out of debt and kill the Debt Monster
• A,B,C's of handling your money God's way
• How to save, invest, and retire wisely
• How mutual funds work
• How to stop fighting over money
• What to teach your kids about money
• Learn how home & car buying, college financing and insurance work.
• How to develop a budget that works -- forever!
• Features simple charts, graphs, and easy-to-use forms.
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