Stewardship Best Practices
At SJBC, we believe that giving is a Godly principle that demonstrates our faith. God has called us to faithful, fruitful and financially healthy. We are urged to be generous, cheerful givers as we invest in God's Kingdom. Here are some best practices when participating in Stewardship.
INVESTING IN GOD’S TREASURY FUND:
Proverbs 3:9 says, "Honor the Lord by giving Him the first part of all your income."
We invest in God’s treasury fund by using some of our money to express worship, there’s nothing we can give God that he needs, and God certainly doesn’t need our money. But when we give an offering to God an undesignated, planned and proportional offering where and when we worship we’re saying, “God I love you.” This is the #1 purpose of life: To know and love God. You’re planned for his pleasure. We honor God when we tithe God wants you to give to this fund before you invest in any other funds.
He wants our hearts more than anything else.
He doesn’t want our money;
He wants what it represents.
Wherever we put our money shows our priorities and values. This week, let us look through our checkbook, bank account statements, and our allowances. What do they say about where your heart is today? “Honor the Lord by giving Him the first part of all your income.” Invest in God’s treasury fund.
God and Money
God says that if we pray for anything in His will, believing, it will be given to us. But God’s will and His ways are not always coincidental with ours. So, when we turn our finances over to God, we also must be willing to accept His direction. Too often we impatiently seek our own way without any clear direction from Him, sometimes even borrowing money to do His work. We forget that God says He will not frustrate His work for the lack of money (see Luke 22:35). There is nothing wrong with asking God’s direction, but it is wrong to go our own way without waiting for God’s answer. In order for us to recognize God’s directives, it may be necessary to first understand God’s view of money and how He uses it to enhance our relationship with Him.
How and for what purpose God uses money
Money is neither good nor bad: it is merely a medium of exchange. It is the misuse and abuses of money that cause the problems. Because God is so good, He uses money and for our benefit in several different ways.
- God uses money to strengthen our trust in Him. It is often through money that God can clearly and objectively show us that He is in total control, if we will trust Him and accept our positions as stewards and managers of His possessions (see Matthew 6:32-33).
- God uses money to develop our trustworthiness. This principle is important because our lives generally revolve around making, spending, saving, and using money. If He can trust us with money, then He can trust us with greater responsibilities and His true riches (see Luke 16:11).
- God uses money to prove His love. Scripture tells us that God assumes the responsibility of providing the basic necessities for everyone who trusts in Him (see Matthew 7:11). By transferring all money to Him, He many times uses money to meet those necessities of life.
- God uses money to demonstrate His faithfulness. Moses reminded Israel that it was God who would give them the power to make wealth. Our security is in God, not our bank accounts. Discovering His faithfulness though financial needs encourages reliance on Him.
- God uses money to unite Christians in blessings. God will use the abundance of one Christian to supply the needs of another. Surplus money in our lives has been given by God for the purpose of helping those who are in need.
- God uses money to provide direction. There is probably no way God can direct our lives more meticulously than through the abundance or lack of money. Too often we believe God directs our lives through the abundance of money, but He also will lead us down His directed path by withholding money.
- God uses money to cultivate self-control. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control, a key aspect of successful money management.
- God uses money to clarify spiritual maturity. Many temptations clamor for Christians’ attention. A great deal can be learned about our personal character and spiritual maturity by noticing how we handle money and determine financial priorities.
Areas in which God does not use money
Just like there are several ways in which God uses money for our benefit, there are several areas in which God never uses money to influence our lives.
- God never uses money to worry us. If Christians are worried, frustrated, and upset about money, God is not in control. God said that wealth without worry is His plan for our lives. In addition, He promises to meet the needs of those who trust in Him (see Matthew 6:25).
- God never uses money to corrupt us. Many Christians have fallen into Satan’s trap and are being corrupted. Christians whose financial life is characterized by greed, ego, deceit, and other worldly snares are at enmity with God and His plan.
- God never uses money to build egos. Frequently, Christians are trapped by financial ego in that they use money in an attempt to build self-worth and ego. However, in Christ all are financially equal because all wealth will pass away. What will remain will be those things that have been laid up in heaven—the true wealth.
- God never allows money to satisfy our personal whims or desires. God does not expect His people to live in poverty; however, He also does not endorse lavishness. Surplus is provided so that God’s work can be funded and those in need can be helped. If the surplus is hoarded or wasted on lavishness rather than used for His plan and purpose, chances are the surplus will be removed.
God offers countless financial principles, intended to make our lives meaningful, because He’s interested in us and how we earn and spend money. Once we understand how God uses money and why He chooses to use it in a particular way, we generally become more familiar with His plans and purposes for our lives and are able to recognize and comprehend His directives.
- Larry Burkett, Your Finances in Changing Times, Moody, 1975, p. 43
- Larry Burkett, Your Finances in Changing Times, Moody, 1975, pp. 45-47
Top ten list
As the flurry of holiday spending ends and Americans look to a new year, Crown Financial Ministries has a practical Top Ten List of Things You Can Do to Find Financial Freedom.
- Build a budget—Figure out why there’s always more month left at the end of your money. Develop a monthly budget and make it your guide to financial freedom. “Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3).
Whatever you think your financial goals may be, you will not successfully achieve them without first understanding God’s financial principles found in the Bible. When you do understand, then develop lifestyle goals that reflect God’s principles and work out a written plan to do so. It’s called a budget, and will lead you to financial freedom.
- Give it away—Set your priorities straight by first making some contributions. Give to God’s work; it’s His money anyway. Loosen up those purse strings; it will help loosen the grip money might have on your heart. “Be rich in good works. . . be generous and ready to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).
Don’t give in order to get. However, you’ll find that when you do give, God will provide you with more to give. “Let us not love in word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).
- Reduce your use—don’t use your credit card so much. Develop discipline in your spending habits. Take away any security you might be using in case of emergencies, like credit cards or other avenues of borrowing. If needed, cut up a few credit cards. Commit to go no further in debt and you will begin to reverse the process that produced your debt. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Proverbs 22:7).
Remember that the problem is not credit cards but the misuse of credit cards.
- Get a grip—Spending (especially for indulgences) doesn’t lift depression. In fact, after the initial rush it can make things worse. (Yes… like right after Christmas.) “He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not become rich” (Proverbs 21:17).
It’s not the cost of an item that determines whether it’s an indulgence. However, its utility does. Do you really need it?
- Look at your paycheck—Write the bottom-line number down, and then spend less than that. Personal savings rates are lower now than during the Great Depression. You can’t spend 104 to 112 percent of your income and continue to get away with it (despite what the government thinks). “I spoke to you in your prosperity; but you said, ‘I will not listen!’ This has been your practice from your youth, that you have not obeyed My voice” (Jeremiah 22:21).
Staying out of debt is no secret. Don’t spend more than you make, don’t borrow, and you’ll be on the road to financial freedom.
- Cook a meal—Discover the kitchen occasionally and reduce the number of restaurant visits. Your spouse might enjoy meal preparation more at home if some help were provided (is that you?). “Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, but he who regards reproof will be honored” (Proverbs 13:18).
Almost everyone enjoys eating out occasionally. So make it part of your “entertainment” budget; but then stick to it. Save to eat at a nice place for special events rather than squandering it on fast food non-events.
- Get in the car—Take a local vacation this year. Cancun may be calling you, but there are also interesting things to see and fun things to do within a day’s drive of where you live. “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
People spend hundreds of dollars they can’t afford to travel thousands of miles to see things they might not remember next year. Has it occurred to you that people are doing just that as they come to visit areas within a three-hour drive of where you live? Go local this year. Use the road to Financial Freedom.
- Don’t keep up with the Jones’s—They’re in debt, too (and you can be sure they won’t make your payments for you)! “Every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:4).
Envy is the desire to achieve based on the observation of other people’s successes. Don’t set your goals based on what others have. In the long run envy and covetousness will still leave you empty, because you’ll never have enough.
- Keep the “ultimate driving machine”—You know…the one that’s paid for. Most people buy new cars because they don’t budget car-maintenance money for the car they own; when it breaks down they can’t afford to repair it. You may say, “But it’s zero money down!” But remember, those new car little- or no-money-down financial gimmicks require some budget-destroying payments. “Which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28).
Average monthly maintenance for most cars on the road (about seven years old) is about 5 percent of a family’s budget. If you compare a monthly 5 percent of your budget for maintenance on an older car to about 15 percent to buy a new car, it’s no contest. Poor gas mileage? Forget it! It takes lots of gas to make up the cost of payments.
And the number one thing you can do to find Financial Freedom in 2001:
- Pray each day before you pay—Emotional and spiritual balance will lead to Financial Freedom. So ask God to guide you and give you strength to follow the first nine steps; they are expanded and explained further at our Web site crown.org. “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Don’t be resentful for what you don’t have. Instead be grateful for what God has provided. Financial Freedom will bring contentment; and contentment grows out of an attitude of gratitude.
“This slightly tongue-in-cheek list is nonetheless a serious introduction to principles and practices that can lead to greater balance in your life in the New Year,” said Crown Financial Ministries co-CEO Howard Dayton.
Dayton said: “With an already heavy debt load and some ominous clouds on the economic horizon, many people will be looking for ways to get a handle on their finances. We not only want to provide hope to those who feel over their heads financially, but to also provide practical tools and resources to help them achieve financial freedom in their lives.”
“Many people will search for freedom in their use of both time and money, so that they can set priorities to ensure that they can do the important things in life,” said Dayton. “Clearing up our financial confusion is similarly empowering. This list and an array of our personal money management tools, offer the means to find and maintain financial freedom, which means having priorities for managing money that are reflective of emotional and spiritual health. We realize that achieving financial freedom is a long-term process so that’s why we offer these tools and resources to help the person or family through it.