This is not the time in my life when I am making the most money. I am a Shelter Manager in a Rescue Mission; we definitely do not make a whole lot of money. Just 4 years ago I was making $9.00 an hour more than what I am making right now. However, because I am a better steward of what God has given me, I have more money in the bank. I am totally debt free and, I am working on something that I thought it was impossible, to have enough emergency savings for six months. I am now ready for God to release more into my life because I am learning how to live within my means. I thank God for Dave Ramsey; he has been the instrument God is using to transform the way my wife and I approach our finances.
As I focus on the topic of this small article, I will be dealing with answering the following question, is prosperity achieved through giving or through good stewardship? You will never be prosperous by giving only, without stewardship; but you will always be prosperous if you embrace biblical stewardship. In 3 John 1:2 the Bible tells us,
Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. (NASB)
Let me start by stating that, it is God’s will for us to prosper. The word prosper is the Greek word, euodóō; meaning, “Easy to travel through. To lead in a good way, to prosper one’s journey. Figuratively, to make prosperous, give success to; to be led in a good way, to have a prosperous journey.”As we can see, prosperity goes beyond money; on this verse the Apostle John attaches health and the condition of our souls to true prosperity.In our souls we have our minds (the way we think) our will (Decision-making) and our emotions (the way we feel). However, it seems that when it comes down to prosperity, as explained by the average church, the focus is strictly on material things. The theology of the prosperity Gospel apologist goes only as far as Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (NASB)
For some, prosperity is only achieved if we just give our tithes and offerings or, better yet, if we give beyond that. However, this message is incomplete if we don’t deal with this thing called stewardship. Proverbs 21:20 tells us,“There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up.” (NASB)
Prosperity is found as the result of divine wisdom. We can give, but if we are not good stewards of what God has already provided us with, if our giving is irresponsible, we will not prosper. We will find ourselves one bad situation away from a financial disaster. For example, the Lord is blessing you with a good job. Let’s imagine that this week you made $1000.00; you go to a church service on Sunday and the preacher is talking about sacrificial giving, faith and planting seeds, etc. The preacher is talking about how the Lord is going to bless you if you give a $500.00 offering. Apparently, the Lord told him that there were 50 people that were supposed to give $500.00 each. Now, you just made $1,000 that week by working hard. You have bills to pay, your car needs gas and your house is in desperate need of groceries. You have enough money to cover all of your financial responsibilities; God really provided all you needed for that week; but this preacher is still talking… What would you do?
I have a word for you, DON’T LISTEN TO THAT FOOLISHNESS.” You have the God-give responsibility to provide for your family. First Timothy 5:8 tells us, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (NASB) Understand that here the Apostle Paul is placing folks who do not provide for their families, in the same category as folks who deny their faith.
Your biblical responsibility is to take a look at that $1,000.00 you made that week and understand that, 1) you must make sure you pay your debt, because it is a sin to be in debt. Romans 13:8 tells us, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” (NASB) This is not a recommendation; this is a Biblical mandate. 2) Living within our means is actually biblical also! Make sure you are addressing your debt and that you are providing for your family. Believe me when I tell you, that preacher is not delivering a Godly message to you or anybody when he speaks about giving a $500.00 offering. As soon as preacher speak of a particular amount, he is clearly in violation of Scripture. This is a demonic tactic that is keeping God’s people in bondage. First Peter 4:10 tells us, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (NASB)
You give according to what you have received. According to First Peter 4:10, when you give according to what you have, you are a good steward of God’s grace upon your life. Giving out of what you do not have or, giving what you are supposed to use to provide for your family, is irresponsible and ungodly giving. What about those preachers that encourage folks to place their giving on credit cards? Again, a total violation of Romans 13:8. The same goes to those missionaries with families who abandon their jobs to go and serve the Lord with no income. While the Senior Pastor enjoys a salary and house allowance, the Missionaries have to live “by faith.” Again, we all have the biblical responsibility to provide for our families. The Apostle Paul is our best example, even as he was a single man and even as he was an apostle, he still work and make his own living.
In Matthew 25:21 the Bible gives us another powerful insight into stewardship, “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave (employees). You were faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (NASB) I am not saying that giving is not biblical; as Christians we must give. What I am saying is that the Bible is very clear that stewardship is required for prosperity. In Matthew 25:21 we see that prosperity came as the slave (employee) proved himself faithful to his master. The master is a typology of God.
To be good stewards of the blessings God gives us is a Biblical theme. The secret to prosperity is not in giving alone, but in faithful stewardship. You can give a $1000.00 expecting that the Lord will bless you with $10,000, but the reality is that is not going to happen. God is in the business of teaching you how to manage that $1000.00 before he can bless you with more. If we are faithful in the little things God will indeed bless us with more. That my friend, is a biblical promise.
Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
In our souls we have our mind (The way we think), our will (Our decision-making process) and the seat of our emotions (The way we feel). The way we think, and act will affect our emotions. The Apostle John wants us to prosper in our mindsets and make decisions according to God’s will; the result of that will be the enjoyment of joy and peace.