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“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…”
A HEALTHY THEOLOGY OF MONEY: Created, Fallen, Redeemed
Money was created, or at least anticipated in the “cultural mandate.” The Cultural Mandate is the command that God gave Adam to exercise dominion over the Earth, subdue it, and develop it (Gen 1:26-28, 2:15).
- Genesis 1:26-28 –
- “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
When we subdue what God has given us dominion over (crops, livestock, etc), we create value of raw materials that becomes tradable and monetizable. In this command/commission that God put before Adam, God created value in the dirt, and created value in labor.
After the Fall, rather than using the value we have created to continue furthering God’s plan on earth, we used it for ourselves. Man’s plan for money includes our own security and comfort. Because of this, we become prone to placing our hope in the value/money we can create, keep, store, and trade. Our new Master has become our own desires, our own sin, and our money, thus replacing God
Paul Tripp has some incredible quotes in his book, Redeeming Money: How God Reveals and Reorients Our Hearts:
- “So our problem with money is first and foremost a moral problem. Every misuse of money is rooted in and driven by the iniquity, transgression, and sin that every single one of us came into the world with.” (THUS…THE FALL OF MAN)
- “Would you not agree that living for self rather than living for God is at the core of all kinds of evil? Well, that is exactly what the love of money is all about. When I, rather than God, am in the center of my world, I live an entitled, self-focused, demanding life marked by the discontentment that selfishness always produces. Self-glory is at the center of the original sin in the garden of Eden, and it is the soil in which all sin has grown ever since.”
- The love of money is not a little thing; it really is a portal to all kinds of evil because it connects us to foundational, life-shaping issues of the heart, such as contentment, identity, how we understand and relate to the world we live in, eternity, and worship. If we get these issues wrong, there is no way that we will live as God intended.
- “Here’s how suffering collides with your financial life. If suffering produces a vertical cynicism in you, if it causes you to doubt God’s presence and promises, and if you no longer believe, at street level, that you can rest in his care, then you will be very tempted to take your life into your own hands and to write your own rules. Taking your life in your own hands is essentially telling yourself that you’re smarter than God, and telling yourself that you’re smarter than God is never a pathway to money, peace and sanity. In fact, taking your life into your own hands is always a recipe for adding additional trouble to the trouble that you’ve already suffered. It is vital to remember that sin first infected this world because a husband and a wife questioned God’s wisdom, thought they knew better, and took their lives into their own hands. Every sufferer needs to run toward the comfort of knowing that the One who rules over all things is a fellow sufferer.”
Genesis 50:20 – “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,”
Because of what Jesus did on the Cross, we have access to the Kingdom of Heaven! The Bible mentions several “riches” or rewards in heaven that believers will receive:
- Eternal life with God (John 3:16)
- An incorruptible inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)
- A crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8)
- A crown of life (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10)
- A crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4)
- A white robe (Revelation 3:5)
- A new name (Revelation 2:17)
- Joy and rest (Matthew 25:21, Hebrews 4:9-11)
- Fellowship with God and other believers (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
- Seeing God face to face (Revelation 22:4)
- Inheritance of all things (Revelation 21:7)
- Isn’t it interesting that most of these “riches” and/or rewards that we will receive from God as His children are focused on God and our relationship with Him and not physical items of value! As citizens of Heaven, we can literally store up treasures in our future home.
Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Money used for temporary/earthly purposes (outside of the necessities of life) will fade and pass away. This passage in Matt. 6 speaks that when money is used for heavenly usage by bringing people to the Lord, helping them grow in the Lord and blessing those that are in need both as believers and non-believers…this money and assets used are eternal investments and will be compounded and grown as assets and riches in our coming life before our heavenly Father. And, these assets and riches and good works done in His name will be credited to our “account” forever more! We can invest for eternity, and God creates an infinite and eternal return on investment!
Have you processed that your physical dollars right now can be used to store up future glory in heaven?
HOW OUR STEWARDSHIP FITS INTO GOD’S PLAN FOR MONEY
You and I cannot escape the necessity of money. God has it “baked into” this world in how it operates. It is important to know that it is not money that is the problem, it is LOVE! What does a healthy theology of money look like in every day living?
Transfer ownership. become stewards, not owners
- We are not owners of what God has entrusted to us. (Easier said than done!) As soon as one gets a little more, they usually focus that increase on themselves (welcome the sin nature that still needs redemption and sanctification!) For many it is a daily “laying down” our “ownership” of the money and assets that are placed into our care. The replacement for “ownership” is “stewardship!” It is using that which God places into your care for His purposes, with His guidance and direction. Yes, it is taking care of yourself and family. This is one way that God cares for and provides for His children. However, it goes beyond that!
Learn Gratitude and Contentment
- “I am deeply persuaded that there is a direct connection between ingratitude and financial trouble. To the degree that we are content with what God has graciously and lovingly provided, to that degree we have immunized ourselves against the temptation to take our lives into our own hands and to use our money however we think best. A grateful heart focuses on the riches provided and not on the things that may be lacking” … “You simply cannot separate debt and ingratitude. Debt would be much easier to solve if it were just a matter of too little money; it is made much more difficult because it almost always involves the cravings of our unthankful hearts.” (Paul David Tripp, Redeeming Money: How God Reveals and Reorients Our Hearts).
- The Apostle Paul spoke so well that a thankful heart, a recognition of where everything comes from, is a learning process. It is not a normal or natural for our hearts to feel gratitude and contentment. Paul says it well in Philippians 4:11-13, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (see Philippians 4:11–13).
Invest into Eternity
“If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world…were precisely those who thought most of the next.”
Putting your earthly time, money, and assets toward eternal purposes while here on earth, is an eternal investment into others and future Glory!
A Proper understanding of money, and how God has designed it, is necessary for living out God’s plan for money. Listen to what Paul Tripp says about this in his book Redeeming Money…
- “Money really is one of the most frequent and powerful ways that you demonstrate who you think you are. Your use of money really does depict your sense of identity. And if you are carrying the identity of creature around with you, you know that you have been called to surrender all your understanding of money and your use of it to the wise counsel and purpose of your Creator. To use money however you want to use it, to get whatever pleases you, is a denial of your identity as a creature of God. How does your use of money portray who you think you are?” (Paul David Tripp, Redeeming Money: How God Reveals and Reorients Our Hearts (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018).
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