We do not make financial decisions in a vacuum. Instead, the way we interact with our resources has profound effects on our own hearts and on our brothers and sisters throughout the world. If you want to get your financial life in sync with God's global purposes, here are the top ten steps to get you started:
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48). Or as the Spiderman comics say, “with great power comes great responsibility.” We are each responsible before God for how we manage what he entrusts to us.
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3). As we strive to develop lifestyles in light of global realities, we must be careful not to think more highly of ourselves than others. Any faith we have, and any actions that come from that faith, are God’s gracious gift to us.
We must not let our hearts get hardened when we see others in need (see I John 3:16-18). Matthew 25:31-46 reminds of the severity of judgment on those whose hearts became callused and indifferent to the poor. Compassion fatigue is real, and we need to be vigilant to not let apathy (literally, no feeling) creep in. To build compassion, we’re reminded to see every poor or isolated or disadvantaged person as Jesus himself.
“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (I Timothy 4:4-5). There is a time for feasting as well as a time for fasting. God gives us a life filled with joy. Choosing a lifestyle in line with global realities does not mean a life of perpetual gloom and guilt.
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:6-7). God loves to see us be generous towards others, and he promises greater fruitfulness to those who “sow generously.”
Be free from debt.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another” (Romans 13:8). God doesn’t want us to give our freedom over to indebtedness, because, as Proverbs 22:7 reminds us, “the borrower is slave to the lender.”
“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything” (I Corinthians 6:12). We don't discipline our appetites, or defeat the consumerism of our age, or rise above the lies of marketing in order to earn God's love. God already loves us. However, we do need to be disciplined in our lifestyle and thoughts if we are going to be able to swim against the current of a culture ready to be mastered by anything but God.
“[G]ive me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’” (Proverbs 30:7-9). The concept of living simply appears throughout the Scriptures. We should live with the simple faith of a child, and with God-empowered simple desires so that we can be content regardless of the circumstances (see Philippians 4:11-13).
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (II Corinthians 8:9). Giving at personal expense is exemplified in Jesus and commended throughout the Scriptures.
Take the first step.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). In all of our life situations, God notices. What we do in terms of giving, or cutting back a materialistic lifestyle or choosing simplicity might not be world-changing or globally significant, but the God who knows every sparrow who falls will know when we intentionally choose to bring our lifestyles more in line with his global purposes.
Adapted from an article by Paul and Christie Borthwick which originally appeared in Discipleship Journal in November 2005.