FOUNDATION OF THE GOOD $ENSE MINISTRY
Cultivate a steward’s mindset.
GOD CREATED EVERYTHING
In the beginning there was nothing, and God created (Genesis 1:1).
GOD OWNS EVERYTHING
“The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty” (Haggai 2:8). “Every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10). “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” Psalm 24:1 NLT).
Flowing out of the fact that God created and owns everything is the logical conclusion that whatever we possess is not really ours, but belongs to God; we are simply entrusted with our possessions. Therefore, we are trustees, not owners. Although 1 Corinthians 4 (quoted below) does not directly refer to material possessions, its counsel is applicable to this aspect of life as well.
WE ARE TRUSTEES
“A person who is put in charge as a manger must be faithful”
(1 Corinthians 4:1-2 NLT).
WE CAN’T SERVE TWO MASTERS
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24 NLT).
USE RESOURCES WISELY
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”(Matthew 25:21-28).
PURSUE BIBLICAL, FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE
“Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).
MEASURABLE GOALS AND REALISTIC PLANS
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3).
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (Luke 16:10-12).
The Diligent Earner—One who produces with diligence and purpose and is content and grateful for what he or she has.
God established work while Adam and Eve were yet in the Garden of Eden. God invited them to join him in the ongoing act of caring for creation. Work before the fall of Adam and Eve is a blessing, not a curse. All work has dignity. Our work should be characterized by the following principles.
BE DILIGENT; SERVE GOD
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).
PROVIDE FOR OURSELVES AND THOSE DEPENDENT ON US
“Those who won’t care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers” (1 Timothy 5:8 NLT).
BE GRATEFUL; REMEMBER FROM WHOM INCOME REALLY COMES
“Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18).
ENJOY YOUR WORK; BE CONTENT IN IT
“It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work—whatever they do under the sun—for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 NLT).
BE TRANSFORMED WORKERS
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart” (Ephesians 6:5-6).
EARN POTENTIAL, SHARE EXCESS
“If you are a thief, stop stealing. Begin using your hands for honest work, and then give generously to others in need” (Ephesians 4:28 NLT).
The Generous Giver—One who gives with an obedient will, a joyful attitude, and a compassionate heart.
WE ARE MADE TO GIVE
We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). God is gracious and generous. We will lead a more satisfied and fulfilled life when we give to others.
GIVE AS A RESPONSE TO GOD’S GOODNESS
“Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). Therefore, we give out of gratefulness for what we have received.
GIVE TO FOCUS ON GOD AS OUR SOURCE AND SECURITY
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
GIVE TO HELP ACHIEVE ECONOMIC JUSTICE
“Our desire…is that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14). Throughout Scripture, God expresses his concern for the poor and calls us to share with those less fortunate.
GIVE TO BLESS OTHERS
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. And I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2-3). If we are blessed with resources beyond our needs, it is not for the purpose of living more lavishly but to bless others. We are blessed to be a blessing.
BE WILLING TO SHARE
“Command them [the rich] to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).
GIVE TO BREAK THE HOLD OF MONEY
Another reason to give is that doing so breaks the hold that money might otherwise have on us. While the Bible doesn’t specifically say so, it is evident that persons who give freely and generously are not controlled by money but have freedom.
GIVE JOYFULLY, GENEROUSLY, IN A TIMELY MANNER
“Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
“We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift” (2 Corinthians 8:20).
GIVE EXPECTANTLY AND CHEERFULLY
“The one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NLT; see also verses 10-14).
MOTIVES FOR GIVING ARE IMPORTANT
Unless our motives are right, we can give all we have—even our bodies as sacrifices—and it will be for naught (1 Corinthians 13). We can be scrupulous with tithing and still not have the right motives. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his day for this very thing: “You hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23).
The Wise Saver—One who builds, preserves, and invests with discernment.
IT IS WISE TO SAVE
“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but [the] foolish. . . devour all[they have]” (Proverbs 21:20). “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers it food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:8).
IT IS SINFUL TO HOARD
And he gave them an illustration: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. In fact, his barns were full to overflowing. So he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store everything. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?’ Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (Luke 12:16-21 NLT).
CALCULATE COST; PRIORITIZE
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if there is enough money to pay the bills? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of funds. And then how everyone would laugh at you! They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and ran out of money before it was finished!” (Luke 14:28-30 NLT).
AVOID GET-RICH-QUICK SCHEMES
“The trustworthy will get a rich reward. But the person who wants to get rich quick will only get into trouble” (Proverbs 28:20 NLT).
SEEK WISE COUNSELORS
“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance” (Proverbs 1:5).
ESTABLISH A JOB BEFORE BUYING HOME
“Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that build your house” (Proverbs 24:27).
DIVERSIFY YOUR HOLDINGS
“Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster will come upon the land” (Ecclesiastes 11:2).
The Cautious Debtor—One who avoids entering into debt, is careful and strategic when incurring debt, and always repays debt.
REPAY DEBT AND DO SO PROMPTLY
“The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously” (Psalm 37:21). “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow’—when you now have it with you” (Proverbs 3:28).
AVOID THE BRONDAGE OF DEBT
“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).
DEBT PRESUMES ON THE FUTURE
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13-14).
DEBT CAN DENY GOD THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK IN OUR LIVES AND TEACH US VALUABLE LESSONS
God may wish to show us his love by providing us with something we desire but for which we have no resources. If we go into debt to get it anyway, we deny him that opportunity (see Luke 12:22-32). In the same way that parents refrain from giving a child everything the child wants because parents know it isn’t in the child’s best interest, incurring debt can rob God of the opportunity to teach us through denial. Ecclesiastes 7:14 reminds us: “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.”
DEBT CAN FOSTER ENVY AND GREED
“Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own.” (Luke 12:15).
GIVE AND PAY WHAT YOU OWE
“Give everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and import duties, and give respect and honor to all to whom it is due” (Romans 13:7 NLT).
“Do not co-sign another person’s note or put up a guarantee for someone else’s loan. If you can’t pay it, even your bed will be snatched from under you” (Proverbs 22:26-27 NLT).
DEBT CAN DISRUPT SPIRITUAL GROWTH
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:23-23).
The Prudent Consumer—One who enjoys the fruits of their labor yet guards against materialism.
BEWARE OF IDOLS
“You shall not make yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” (Deuteronomy 5:8). Materialism—which so saturates our culture—is nothing less than a competing theology in which matter (things) is of ultimate significance; that is, things become gods or idols. “They…. worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).
GUARD AGAINST GREED; THINGS DO NOT BRING HAPPINESS
“Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own” (Luke 12:15).
“Give 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? Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9)
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).
“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
DON’T WASTE GOD’S RESOURCES
“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted” (John 6:12).
ENJOY A PORTION OF GOD’S PROVISION
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and wiling to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
WATCH YOUR FINANCES (BUDGET)
“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations” (Proverbs 27:23-24).
Duplicated with permission,
Good Sense Budget Course by Dick Towner and John Tofilon,
Copyright 2002 by Willow Creek Community Church.