reFUNCTIONation suggestion # 44 : May we repent of poor, personal financial stewardship & its effect on our attentiveness as disciple-makers.

imageThose who consider themselves “churched,” possibly more than ever before, have a chance to make Christ known through wise stewardship and extreme generosity in a season of history when financial crisis plagues the globe.

When I suggest that we need to repent of poor, personal financial stewardship, I am:

:: NOT suggesting we have complete control over our financial circumstances, because we don’t control financial collapse around us nor do we control every financial crisis of our own.

:: NOT suggesting if we would just budget better we would have everything we need, because unexpected issues can wreck even the best-managed budget.

:: NOT suggesting our functioning as the church as Jesus intended depends solely upon our personal financial stewardship, although the Scriptures reference money and wise management of it over 2700 times.

I AM suggesting that poor, personal financial stewardship can affect our ability to pay full attention to His leading us as disciples who make disciples.

If we have managed our finances poorly, we will likely:

:: be limited in our ability to say yes to Jesus as He invites us along on mission with Him, because debt as well as obligations due to indulgence can hinder our openness to surrendering to follow no matter the cost.

:: be less attentive to the needs of others, because we are so concerned about our own situation.

:: be unable to give resources into the needs of others, because we are giving resources into our own wants.

:: without realizing it be thinking about and acting like our money is our own rather than having been entrusted to us.

The purpose of wise stewardship, according to the Scriptures, is not for individual comfort and personal gain. The purpose of wise stewardship is for beyond-me compassion and others-first generosity. When we are wise with what we have been given, we can give to make known the One who is wise. He gives that we may give. We give because we have been given to.

If we focus on wise stewardship for personal financial security, then we are not fully trusting the security we undeservedly have in Christ. If we fully trust the security we undeservedly have in Christ, then we will not fear managing our finances in a way that enables extreme generosity. In other words, we will not be afraid to give whatever God’s Spirit might lead us to give. We will open our hands and hearts freely, just like Jesus opened His heart and hands for us.

The key to all of this – two things.

1 – confessing our selfish ways with money to the selfless One who is the giver of all good things. Without Him and His presence and His Spirit with us, we cannot even come close to being wise stewards of personal finances. With Him, and with His help, we can think about and live like money is not ours personally but a gift we have been entrusted to manage.

2 – actually believing that what was posted in suggestion # 43 is important and actually applying it in ways that enable giving like we have been given to.

Paul David Tripp wrote in his book Sex and Money:

The big question of money is never, “Can I afford it?” No, it is always “How can I invest what I’ve been given in a way that gives honor to the One who has entrusted it to me?”

Those who consider themselves “churched” too often disable their function as the church because of how they think both of church finances and personal finances. May we beg Jesus to help us think of our finances in an “on earth as it is in heaven,” “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done,” grateful-You-have-provided kind of way.