By Nicole George
One of my favorite hobbies at the end of the day is working out with friends from work. It’s a time where the guys invite me in and we have compelling conversations that work hours or other peers just don’t make room for. Yesterday for example, two of them asked me, as they did hamstring curls and squats, how I spent my money.
We started talking about where our money disappears to, had a resounding agreement on groceries costing more than we expect each week, and then they gave me the weirdest look when I brought up tithing. One of the guy’s girlfriend also tithes and I could tell he didn’t understand the practice.
“How else do you think churches will operate?” I asked.
“God,” he said quite simply.
I smiled wryly and said, “Well a pastor has to eat too.”
And then we started talking about investments.
Wealth and Stability Are Not My Own
The conversation got me thinking on money. I’m blessed to have a job with plenty of security, a recent raise and fairly low costs of living. It means that amazingly have an abundance of wealth relative to my situation. At 22, I’m even financially able to consider buying a house (a small, inexpensive house mind you) this summer!
This wealth and stability though is not of me, though. The launching point of stewardship is remembering that what I have is not mine to begin with.
Who created the world? God.
To whom do all things belong and by whom were all things made? God.
My wealth did not actually come from me, but rather is a gift from God. I can’t give him anything that isn’t already his because he is the one to whom all things belong, including me and everything I have.
Stewardship of my wealth and my stable, comfortable state isn’t me giving back to God.
Hugh Whelchel writes in “The Four Principles of Biblical Stewardship” that “stewardship expresses our obedience regarding the administration of everything God has placed under our control, which is all encompassing. Stewardship is the commitment of one’s self and possessions to God’s service, recognizing that we do not have the right of control over our property or ourselves.”
So where do I administer what God has placed under my control?
Trusting the Church
This is a crazy idea, especially since many people my age do not love their local church and feel alienated by it. But God loves the church and calls us to tithe.
Don’t trust the people who administer money in the church? Well of course, they’re sinners like you. But God has entrusted you with the Gospel, a job, money and skills just like them.
That’s pretty crazy, huh? He’s given you and me, little sinners that are really good at loving anything except God, the best gift of all—the joy of eternal salvation and reconciliation to him!
And we are STEEPED in sin! Still he’s entrusted us with a job, skills, money and the Gospel all to be used for his glory.
To not trust the church with the 10% tithe the Lord calls you to give is not trusting God to use resources he already has a right to in the way that he wants to.
Investing in Growth
I love how Dr. Anne Bradley explains that not all of us will acquire massive wealth, but whatever we are given in our abilities, time and money are resources that the Lord asks us to invest. And not as obligation, but as a joy to serve a loving, generous master who entrusts us with much when we’re deserving of nothing! Bradley points out that Jesus’s parable of the talents calls us to invest what we have so that it may grow for the Lord for the day that he comes back.
Practically, I consider that investing my time and money in:
- Growing my money to invest in little disciples one day (my children) for their learning and health. I do this by saving for their college fund already and investing in stocks.
- Growing the Kingdom of God by investing in missionaries, their spiritual growth with the Lord, and the outreach they do in the nations
- Growing the Kingdom of God by investing time in peers and coworkers who do not know the Lord with the prayers that they will be brought into the kingdom of God
- Growing my own skills and abilities to work well that I may earn more money to invest in future, little disciples, missionaries and the growth of the Kingdom of God
Those are just some practical examples that any Christian can do as we seek to administer the distribution of the wealth God has given us!
We are not to hoard our wealth of talents, money or time, but rather seek to give what we have to those who have not. This is the beautiful functioning of the diverse Church body that it may continue to grow and reveal God’s glory to the world who desperately needs him!