A successful businessman once confided in another businessman known for his wisdom. "I've made a lot of money. I will soon be able to retire comfortably and do just about anything I want." "John," the wise businessman replied, "I've noticed that every time someone thinks they've built a tree that is so tall it almost reaches heaven, God often decides to shake the tree."
The minute we start trusting in riches, God will, in fact, "shake the tree" to demonstrate who is the source of wealth to turn us back to trusting Him completely. He did it in my life, and He'll do it in your life too because He loves us too much to allow us to continue down this destructive path.
Because of the crises mentioned in the introduction, I learned that I had developed a generational stronghold of insecurity and fear that was sparked by some experiences in my early childhood related to financial need. You see, when I lost my father at age 14, this affected the finances in our home. For the first time we were forced to scale back our expenses and my mom would often say that we did not have enough money to do the things I wanted. Over the next several years I developed a subconscious belief system that said, "When I grow up I don't want to experience this kind of need for money." So, over the years I worked hard and built financial wealth. The only problem was I did not realize this would become a stronghold in my life. Like most strongholds, they develop at a subconscious level and we do not realize we are viewing life in a distorted way. The Bible speaks of strongholds. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). All of this was even after being a Christian for over twenty years and attending church every week. It is easy for a stronghold to develop if we are not aware of it because it occurs on a subconscious level. Once I discovered this, I was able to renounce its influence and become free to view finances in the proper way. As a result, I reviewed the many fallacies that I had fallen prey to and incorporated a new understanding of finances in my own life.
Called To Obedience
When Jesus came to earth, He came to do one thing-the will of the Father. Obeying the Father was foremost in His mind. His obedience was motivated by His love for the Father. Jesus expects our obedience to be based out of our love for Him.
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." (John 14:23, 24)
So, when we find that we are not seeking to obey God in the principles He has given us, we realize we have a love problem. We really have not come to the place where we love God enough to obey His commands.
Jesus understood that He was here on earth only to do the will of the Father. Jesus gave them this answer:
"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; He can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement He will show him even greater things than these." (John 5:19, 20)
As we look at our relationship to our heavenly Father and our use of money, it is clear from these passages that we, like Jesus, are here to do the will of the Father. This means seeking to live a life that is totally yielded to His purposes-even in the financial area. This is the context in which we must view these common fallacies held about money.
Money, independence, and security are often the reasons many start their own businesses or change jobs. There are five distinct wrongly held views about money that can get us into trouble. I discovered most of these first-hand.
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
My Money Can Be Used To Buy Anything I Want.
If we are having our basic needs met for food and clothing, we are then considered to have riches. Jesus cautioned us against living a lifestyle that required more than our necessities. However, it is clear that Jesus was not against wealth, but a dependence on wealth. Jesus continually taught that a dependence on anything other than God was evil. Whenever Jesus determined that money was an issue for an individual, He addressed it and found that the individual could not let go. This was true for the rich young ruler who Jesus told to do the one thing that would be the hardest to inherit the kingdom-to give away his wealth and follow Him. Jesus was not saying this was what every person must do, only the rich young ruler. Jesus knew this was the greatest stumbling block for him to accept Jesus fully. For others of us Jesus might ask us to give something else up (see Matthew 19:16-30).
Jesus also gave us another example of the problem money
creates for any follower of Jesus in the parable of the sower. He describes four types of people in the parable of the sower:
A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop-a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. (Matthew 13:3-8)
Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was done.(Matthew 13:18-23)
As a Christian, I felt as though I had been following Christ fully. However, I discovered that I had fallen into the category of the sower who was deceived, and I had the cares of the world ruling me. The deceitfulness of wealth had choked the Word in my life. I was not yielding fruit any longer. It was a subtle trap. Much like the frog who jumps into a pot of warm water but doesn't notice it's boiling until it is too late. I began to acquire money and walk the treadmill of material gain. Those around me expected more and more. Before I knew it, I was worrying about how I would take care of what I had acquired. I began to focus on what I owned versus my relationship with Jesus and His kingdom. One day I woke up and realized I had a cold heart toward God. Apathy toward the things of God became apparent. However, I was still going through the motions of service toward God, but I was powerless. There are many American Christians living this way today. The greater independence money gave me, the less dependent I was on God. God had to remove my money in order to get my attention. I'm thankful He did this for me. Christ talked a lot about money in the kingdom because He knew how much of a problem it was. That is why few Christians are bearing 100, 60, or 30 times what is sown. Our comfort zones prevent us from becoming real fruit bearers.
During my crises I tried to understand the reason for many of my trials. My answer came-years later while I was attending a conference on the
I am not saying that God cannot bless a Christian materially. The important factor is whether God has given us what we have or have we strived to acquire more and more out of the wrong motives. You might ask, "How can I really know this?" The best way is to pray individually and examine your motives for why you're working and earning money. Discuss the idea with your spouse or mentor, and ask God. Next, get into an accountable relationship with a few others who are also willing to submit their finances to the Lord. Ask them to confirm through prayer whether your finances are lining up with what they believe God wants for you in this area. If we truly want Jesus Lord over everything, we must start with our pocketbook.
We must also examine our motives for saving and investing. God may lead us to save and invest, but if we are hoarding out of fear, we may run into problems in our spiritual lives. James warns us against hoarding.
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. (James 5:1-5)
It's very difficult to maintain a kingdom focus if we are focused on building wealth. This scripture is a description of those who live in the outer rings as described in Matthew 13.
In summary, ask God if you are operating in a Spirit-led manner in regard to your finances. If not, confess your sins and begin today to move toward God's purposes for your life in this area.
Reprinted Chapter I with permission from The Purposes of Money by Os Hillman, Aslan Group publishing..
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Reprinted Chapter I with permission from The Purposes of Money by Os Hillman, Aslan Group publishing..