Bible Teaching on Finances
This teaching is not about promoting a FALSE prosperity and self-help gospel, but rather about encouraging ministers with genuine God-given visions to trust that God will provide the necessary resources to carry out these visions. The resources God provides must be used to further His Kingdom and reach out to the poor, widows, and orphans — while teaching sound doctrine; NOT as a means of self indulgence.
- "Brethren, be followers together of me, and
mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things" (Philippians 3:17-19).
- "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:12-15).
- "Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof [a life of holiness and obedience to God]: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 3:4-7).
- "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:17-18).
- "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words" (II Timothy 4:14-15).
- "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world..." (II Timothy 4:10).
- "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake" (Titus 1:9-11).
- "A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;" (Titus 3:10).
- "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-10).
- "Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully..." (Jeremiah 48:10).
- "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thessalonians 2:9-12).
- "But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (II Corinthians 11:12-15).
When God gives you a vision to minister the Gospel to the nations, more than likely that vision will be far greater than your present resources. But God is not limited by your finances; He is concerned with your faith. For without faith it is impossible to please him" (Hebrews 11:6).
As you keep your eyes on Jesus and trust Him, the Lord will direct you step-by-step in the vision He has put in your heart. "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Psalm 37:4). If the task before you is within your scope currently, it will not require faith and you can get the glory. But if the assignment is from God and you have to trust Him to make it happen, then God will get the glory, and you will get the joy of participating in His work (see I Corinthians 3:9).
Provision for a God-Ordained Vision
Ministries that are truly God-ordained will not need to beg and plead for money. They will not need to entice people to give or use worldly methods to raise funds. Instead, those ministries know that as they walk by faith, God will provide for the vision which He initiated.
When Jesus fed the 5,000 men plus women and children, He tested the faith of His disciples by asking them to provide food for all the people (see Luke 9:13). Of course this was impossible for the disciples, but such a task was easy for the power of God. Remember that God specializes in the impossible. "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible"
Here are some suggestions to help direct you into the fulfillment of a God-given vision.
||Know that God's timing is not your timing.|
Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." When God gives you a vision for ministry or a life calling, it very well may require many months or years of waiting and praying before the vision actually comes to pass. You may even experience the "death" of the vision. In his youth, Joseph had two dreams related to his future rulership (see Genesis 37). But those dreams did not come to pass for Joseph until he had gone through many years of slavery, imprisonment, and servitude. In the fullness of God's timing, Joseph's God-ordained vision was accomplished. Ecclesiastes 5:7 says,
"For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God." We are not to rely on human intuition to make our dreams and visions come to pass, for it is God Who changes the times and the seasons (Daniel 2:21).
||Be faithful with little so God can entrust you with more.|
Jesus said, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" (Luke 16:10-12). Later, Jesus told a parable about stewards and talents, in which the faithful servant heard his master say, "Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities" (Luke 19:17). Whatever God has entrusted to you, know that it all belongs to God. You are simply a steward of the money and possessions under your care, and "it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful" (I Corinthians 4:2).
||Don't fall into the trap of longing for more money.|
It's relatively easy to believe the lie that if we just had some more money, our problems would be solved. However, the Bible says that "godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Timothy 6:6-10). The fact is, you cannot trust in God while you are trusting in money, because no one can serve two masters (see Luke 16:13). Those who walk according to the ways of this world will usually covet prosperity and delight in self-indulgence. But
Jesus said, "that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15).
|| Walk out your faith in the area of finances.|
We live in a culture that urges us to feel discontent — to always long for more, for bigger, for better. We are told to "buy now, pay later." The problem is, such a heart attitude (known as greed) is a dangerous and deadly trap. Even the apostle Paul was on the lookout for greed, choosing to earn his own living as a tentmaker rather than living off the generosity of others (see Acts 20:33-38).
- Get out of debt, and stay out of debt. "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7). "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:8).
- Give to the poor and needy, orphans, and widows. "He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor"
(Proverbs 22:9). Don't give when you feel like you are being manipulated to give. Rather, give cheerfully and generously. "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver" (II Corinthians 9:7).
- Stop giving to the rich. This includes donations to wealthy ministries, prosperity preachers, and gifts for well-to-do friends. "He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want" (Proverbs 22:16).
- Provide for the needs of your own family. "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (I Timothy 3:5).
- Live within your means. Be content with basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter) and say "no" to superfluous purchases. "He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not" (Proverbs 21:26). "Give us day by day our daily bread"
(Luke 11:3). "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content" (I Timothy 6:8).
By following God's principles in the area of finances, we can avoid the traps of greed and store up treasures in heaven (Mark 10:21).
|| Get godly counsel and prayer support regarding your vision.|
Proverbs 15:22 says, "Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established." Since faith is required in carrying out a God-given vision, it is helpful to have other like-minded people stand with us as we seek God's direction about a vision. "And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." (Mark 11:22-24). Indeed, there is power in the prayer of agreement (Matthew 18:19).
When the time is right, the Lord will "birth" the vision He has put in you and it will become a reality. He will also provide the necessary resources and people to make it happen.
The Blessing of the Lord
Modern prosperity teachers love to preach about financial increase, but they neglect to preach the whole counsel of God's Word on this matter. They entice their listeners with exciting "testimonies" of financial prosperity (which they always assume is God's blessing) and claim that God wants all His children to be materially rich. But they are in error.
First of all, there is a greater accountability placed upon those who receive prosperity. "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke 12:48).
Secondly, riches are a stumblingblock to entering the Kingdom of God, and very few rich folk will enter in (Mark 10:24). In fact, many people will fall away from the faith as a result of being "blessed" with prosperity (James 5:5).
Thirdly, God's people are called to live as pilgrims and strangers on earth, not seeking their "best life now" but rather looking for an inheritance in a heavenly country (see Hebrews 11:32-38). "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23-24).
Finally, God wants His children to be spiritually rich. We are to abound in faith, hope, and love (Romans 15:13; I Thessalonians 3:12). We are to abound in generous giving (II Corinthians 8:7), abound in our walk with God (I Thessalonians 4:1), and abound in every good work (II Corinthians 9:8). This is what it means to be spiritually rich.
Here's the whole truth about financial increase.
"If riches increase, set not your heart upon them." Just because someone gets rich easily or quickly does not mean that person is blessed by God. On the contrary, those riches could be that person's downfall if his or her heart is not right toward God (see James 5:1-5). "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:34).
- Financial increase is NOT NECESSARILY the blessing of God. Instead, it could be a test to see where your heart is. Psalm 62:10 says,
When the Israelites were in the wilderness, "they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust" (Psalm 78:18). Did God give them what they wanted? He did, but along with the quail they got "leanness" unto their soul (Psalm 106:15). Furthermore, "While their meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel. For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works. Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble" (Psalm 78:30-32). So you see, what might appear to be "blessing" may actually turn out to be a curse if God gives people what they want.
Financial increase is NOT for indulging our own lusts. James 4:2-4 says, "ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
Proverbs 13:11 says, "Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase." We also read in Proverbs, "He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him" (28:22), and, "Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven" (23:4-5).
God's blessing is NOT NECESSARILY financial. There are many ways that the Lord can bless His people. "The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow"
(Deuteronomy 28:12). In this verse, we see that rain from heaven, productive work, and freedom from debt are three ways God can bless His people. Ephesians 1:3 says that God blesses His people with all spiritual blessings in Christ. In addition, James 2:5 says that the poor of this world are rich in faith. You may not have a dime in the bank, but you can be rich in faith! All of these are blessings of God. Can the Lord bless His people with money? Of course He can, and many times He does. But know that "the blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it" (Proverbs 10:22).
God's blessing comes by giving to the poor. "When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands" (Deuteronomy 24:19). "Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee" (Deuteronomy 16:17).
God's blessing comes by meditating on His Word day and night. "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalm 1:3).
God's blessing comes by obeying Him. "A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day" (Deuteronomy 11:27). "He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation" (Psalm 24:5).
Those who receive financial increase are accountable for how they use it. The church at Phillipi gave to the apostle Paul to bless him. Paul told the church, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus"
(Philippians 4:19). Those believers certainly had financial needs, yet they gave sacrificially to Paul. Paul was accountable for how he appropriated the funds entrusted to him, and so are all the ministries that receive people's donations today.
Don't doubt for a moment that God has the resources to provide for all your needs. He is more than able to make the vision He has given you come to pass. "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Corinthians 9:8).
However, understand this: we must be emptied of ourselves and sanctified through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit before we are ready to carry out the callings God has set before us. "If a man therefore purge himself from these [ungodliness, iniquity], he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (II Timothy 2:21). The Lord uses and fills empty, pure vessels for His works of honor.
Financial increase can certainly come from the hand of the Lord, but let us make it our goal to seek the face of the Lord more than we seek His hand. "When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek" (Psalm 27:8). "Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore" (Psalm 105:4). Let us also be faithful in the little He has entrusted to us. Then, when financial increase comes, we will be able to correctly appropriate it for the vision He has given us.
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