MAXIMUM IMPACT, MINIMUM STRESS
I want to invite you to daydream a bit. Picture your future. Picture what life will be like.
Imagine that you always have money left at the end of the month, rather than too much month left at the end of your money.
I’m talking about a life in which you’ve forgotten what it feels like to have worry or stress about your finances. When confronted with a purchasing decision, your first thought is, “Lord, should I buy this?” rather than, “How can I afford this?”
Imagine a life of daily peace, laying your head on your pillow at night with a satisfied soul. If you’re married, you and your spouse routinely pray about spending priorities but never fight about money.
Picture a life in which you get to bless others whenever and wherever the Spirit moves you. This is a life turbocharged with energy, purpose, and fulfillment because you get to consistently invest in people and causes that mean the most to you.
In this imagined future, you live with the assurance that you are, in the words of Jesus, laying up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).
Imagine a life of Maximum Impact & Minimum Financial Stress
Listen, I understand that we struggle with finances: the super-majority are eye-ball deep in credit card debt, we’re eating out way too much, and struggling to make ends meet.
I get it.
I’ve been there.
And I know that you can become the new you!
Wherever you stand right now, however ill equipped you may feel, however overwhelming your challenges may seem, YOU CAN take the first crucial steps TODAY — then follow through ALL THE WAY to a life beyond blessed.
Now that we’re done imagining what could be and what should be in our lives, let’s look at your future dream.
Allow me paraphrase something Henry David Thoreau once wrote:
If you’ve built a castle in the air, that’s okay — just put a foundation under it!
The castle of that life without financial pressure we imagined together a moment ago may seem like it’s hovering just beyond your reach — so let’s build a foundation under it. That foundation is managing God’s stuff wisely (in church world, it’s sometimes called stewardship).
Establishing a foundation requires some effort. So let’s get started.
Settle the Ownership Issue
So where does the process start?
How do I begin the journey toward being a wise, faithful steward?
To build a foundation for your new life of maximized impact, we’re going to have to dig down into the very bedrock of how we understand God and His ways.
Ask yourself these questions:
Whose am I?
To Whom do I belong?
If you are a follower of Christ, the answer is easy: I belong to God, of course!
Saying yes to Jesus and following Him every day means laying down our lives and completely surrendering everything to Him.
As Jesus once told His disciples, “Whoever seeks to SAVE his life will LOSE it, and whoever LOSES HIS LIFE will preserve it” (Luke 17:33).
The broad principle Jesus is teaching us is simply this: we will lose the things that we try to cling to. When we are selfish or insecure or greedy, we miss out on the life Jesus has for us.
Once we settle the issue that we belong to God, there are related ownership questions we must settle in our hearts and minds:
What about all the stuff we have?
Who owns this world and all it contains?
Who owns your stuff?
Who owns your money, home, car, furniture, electronics, clothes, and all the stuff you casually refer to as ‘mine?’
God makes the answer plain for us in Psalm 24:1.
That’s pretty clear, don’t you think?
Yet God Himself gets even more direct and specific when, out of His own mouth, we hear:
It is God’s greatest joy to give gifts and bless
It all belongs to Him and yet God isn’t greedy.
God is extravagantly generous. It is in His nature to give gifts and bless.
This stands in sharp contrast to the fallen nature you and I were born with. It seems that one of the first words any infant learns to say — right after “da-da” — is “MINE!”
We’re all born with a broken, fearful, grasping spirit. We dread not having more or running out.
So, the big question you must answer is:
Whose declaration of “mine” is valid — yours or God’s?
They cannot both be valid.
If I belong to God, than everything I possess is ultimately His.
If God owns you, then you don’t own you.
God owns me and I manage His stuff
Yes, it all belongs to God. Once you realize the truth - God owns you and you just get to manage His stuff - your view of the world shifts.
This is the foundational truth that everything else is built upon going forward.
You are not an owner.
You’re a manger - a steward - of many things entrusted to your care by a loving, generous God.
This leads to the next question:
If I am a manager, what kind of manager am I?
Burdens vs. Blessings
Managing God’s stuff can be fun and lead to a happy life.
The problem is when our life is ground down by the soul-piercing pressures of worry about money, debt, or lack.
God wants you to enjoy a life without fear of the unexpected!
Our unhappiness is largely rooted in poor stewardship — we don’t manage God’s resources wisely.
This is ultimately rooted in a deeper issue within our hearts: failing to put God first in our lives.
When we don’t believe that everything belongs to Him, we choose to not put Him first.
Now, there’s an Old Testament term for having something other than God first in your life. Idolatry. This isn’t just an Old Testament issue. The apostle John closed his first letter to believers with these words:
If putting God first in our finances produces so many benefits, why is this so hard to do?
Why is it such a battle to loosen our white-knuckle grip on our money and hold it with an open hand instead?
Why do we resist so fiercely God’s kind, benevolent, for-our-own-good instructions about tithes, offerings, generosity, and submission to Him in our spending decisions?
I believe the answer is two-fold:
A scarcity mentality
When we don’t have a revelation of God’s faithfulness and love, we feel personally and solely responsible to be on the look-out for danger and threats.
When we don’t understand God is the Creator who multiplies and blesses, it’s easy to live with a constant assumption that whatever little bit we have is all there really is.
Putting God first and recognizing that is all belongs to Him LIBERATES US from fear of loss and insufficiency!
This is why the tithe is so powerful in your life.
When you realize that you own nothing and simply manage Someone else’s stuff, God becomes first in your life.
It’s not up to you. You don’t have to work harder or try harder. You can let go now.
When you return to God what’s already His, you lock down a deep conviction inside you that God is absolutely, definitely, 100 percent real and active in your life.
Your faith in Him suddenly has skin in the game!
You’ve put your money where your heart is.
This is the foundation of becoming a good manager or a good steward.
This is who you want to be because the hard, hash truth is that God cannot bless a bad steward. His goodness and love prevent it. His blessings upon a poor steward will destroy the person and inflict damage to others.
Wise stewards, on the other hand, find all of heaven’s power and resources deployed to help them.
Are you ready to build upon that foundation?
The first step was spiritual in nature.
The next one tomorrow is immensely practical.
1) How did today’s session impact you? What is something NEW you discovered?
2) What parts of today’s session helped you better understand your current financial situation?
3) Do you believe that you belong to God? Why or why not?
4) Do you understand that everything belongs to God? Why or why not?
5) Do you want to become a good steward or a bad steward?
6) What is one thing that God is pressing into your heart right now?
Take time to pray - thank God for walking you through His Scriptures. Ask the Holy Spirit to continue to massage your heart and mind as we continue this journey together.