Genesis 1 through 3 tells us that God created all things, including men and women, for His own glory, and that human beings have the honor of being at the very top of His creative order. This means human beings, while inherently sinful, are infinitely valuable, and should be treated with dignity, respect and compassion.
Since the beginning, God has given humanity the great gift of dominance over all living things, but also a responsibility to be good stewards of His creation. Therefore, we owe it to our Maker to use our money wisely. We should do nothing to hinder His Kingdom and instead advance it. We should not invest in ventures that promote or traffic in sin and thus are destructive to people.
Good stewardship begins with acknowledgment of Who really calls the shots.
"I believe the most dangerous misconception is the idea our money and possessions belong to us, not God," says Randy Alcorn, author and founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries. "Many of our problems begin when we forget that God is the Boss of the universe. But, in fact, He is more than the boss; He is the owner.
"When I grasp that I'm a steward, not an owner, it totally changes my perspective," Alcorn added. "Suddenly, I'm not asking, 'How much of my money shall I, out of the goodness of my heart, give to God?' Rather, I'm asking, 'Since all of 'my' money is really yours, Lord, how would you like me to invest your money today?'"
Money itself is a dynamic instrument. In a sermon about the proper uses of money, John Wesley said this:
I. We ought to gain all we can gain but this it is certain we ought not to do; we ought not to gain money at the expense of life, nor at the expense of our health.
II. Do not throw the precious talent into the sea.
III. Having, First, gained all you can, and, Secondly saved all you can, Then 'give all you can.'
Jesus warned against the folly of being content to sit on cash or any bounty from God without putting it to good use. In the Parable of the Talents (a form of money in Jesus's time) He praises two servants who invest their master's money and reap dividends, but sharply rebukes a third servant who merely hid the money he was given and so there was no increase.
The third servant desperately tries to explain:
"And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.' But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.'"—Matthew 25:25-29
Of course, this parable is about more than money. It reflects concern for good stewardship in all areas of life. But Jesus chose to base it on money for a reason.
Money, like other material things, is good because God made it. Money allows us to take care of ourselves, our families, and our neighbors who have legitimate needs. Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
But we have to have resources to give, which brings us back to John Wesley's admonition to "gain all you can, save all you can and give all you can."
Robert Knight is an author and Communications Advisor for Timothy Partners. Some of this material was drawn from a curriculum from the Timothy Plan for family economics called "Stewardship: God's Plan for Financial Success." Written by Timothy Plan founder Art Ally, the 112-page workbook, which, along with brief video segments of a couple discussing their income and giving, offers a Gods-eye view of money, investing, giving and cultural impact. Learn more at timothyplan.com.