So do you know how to handle money? Do you know how to be a good steward? Do you think you own it? Do you consider it God’s money and try to be a good steward of it? Has God provided you with money so that you are able to be a funding source for His good works? How do you decide how much to save? to spend? to give? Do you always take away from consideration the tithe and give that 10% to God and then work within the 90%?
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
–from Timothy 6
Ever considered how many people who win the lottery end up back where they started or worth? If you don’t know how to handle money when you have a little will it change if you win a lot? If you don’t have the right perspective on money and your role as a steward then you won’t handle a large amount any better than a small amount. After asking the first question in this paragraph figured I would do a search and the first link called out that 70% of the people who win the lottery end up bankrupt. Ever realized how many people can’t handle the wealth and end up dying? Imagine the stress… Imagine the trust issues… Imagine the pressure of everyone who may start knocking on your door… Imagine your own desires and how responding to them could impact you… Some think that money will make them happy but the reality is we need to be able to be content in every situation! You’ve heard the song, Money can’t buy you love right? Money won’t buy you salvation because Jesus already paid it all! Without the wisdom to know how best to handle money and how to prioritize your management of it money will come and go and you won’t know where it went.
Why not take time now in whatever state you are in to learn how to be a good steward of your money in order to use ir properly? Why not turn to God’s Word and consider how you are doing when it comes to honoring Him and being obedient to Him? Obedience is better than offering! And it isn’t about the size of the offering but the heart behind it! Are you giving out of your excess or out of your need? Consider the widow’s mites and how it was valued higher than others!
So let’s turn to God to learn how we handle our money! God’s Word is filled with incredible wisdom! Jesus even speaks about money and finances! So why not go to the one who is the answer to everything else and give it up and hear from Him how to handle our money?
Today’s devotional starts in proverbs on the topic of Prioritise relationships above money (Proverbs 31:10-20):
10Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
11Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
14She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar.
15She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
16She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
18She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.
19Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
20She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
–from Proverbs 31
With the 3 key points from our devotional:
As John Wesley said, ‘Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.’
‘Earn all you can’
She is hardworking and diligent in earning a living: ‘She gets up early and provides food for her family’ (vv.12–15a). She is a good steward. She invests her money wisely. She trades profitably (vv.16–18a).
‘Save all you can’
She enjoys her work and the good things of life (v.13). She saves some of her earnings. She puts money aside (v.16, MSG).
‘Give all you can’
She is generous. ‘She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy’ (v.20). Generous giving is the appropriate response to God’s generosity and to the needs of others. It is the way to break materialism.
Continues into Do not put your trust in money (Revelation 18:1-17)
1After all this I saw another angel come down from heaven with great authority, and the earth grew bright with his splendor. 2He gave a mighty shout:
“Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen!
She has become a home for demons.
She is a hideout for every foul18:2a Greek unclean; also in each of the two following phrases. spirit,
a hideout for every foul vulture
and every foul and dreadful animal.18:2b Some manuscripts condense the last two lines to read a hideout for every foul [unclean] and dreadful vulture.
3For all the nations have fallen18:3 Some manuscripts read have drunk.
because of the wine of her passionate immorality.
The kings of the world
have committed adultery with her.
Because of her desires for extravagant luxury,
the merchants of the world have grown rich.”
4Then I heard another voice calling from heaven,
“Come away from her, my people.
Do not take part in her sins,
or you will be punished with her.
5For her sins are piled as high as heaven,
and God remembers her evil deeds.
6Do to her as she has done to others.
Double her penalty
She brewed a cup of terror for others,
so brew twice as much
7She glorified herself and lived in luxury,
so match it now with torment and sorrow.
She boasted in her heart,
‘I am queen on my throne.
I am no helpless widow,
and I have no reason to mourn.’
8Therefore, these plagues will overtake her in a single day—
death and mourning and famine.
She will be completely consumed by fire,
for the Lord God who judges her is mighty.”
9And the kings of the world who committed adultery with her and enjoyed her great luxury will mourn for her as they see the smoke rising from her charred remains. 10They will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will cry out,
“How terrible, how terrible for you,
O Babylon, you great city!
In a single moment
God’s judgment came on you.”
11The merchants of the world will weep and mourn for her, for there is no one left to buy their goods. 12She bought great quantities of gold, silver, jewels, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet cloth; things made of fragrant thyine wood, ivory goods, and objects made of expensive wood; and bronze, iron, and marble. 13She also bought cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle, sheep, horses, wagons, and bodies—that is, human slaves.
14“The fancy things you loved so much
are gone,” they cry.
“All your luxuries and splendor
are gone forever,
never to be yours again.”
15The merchants who became wealthy by selling her these things will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will weep and cry out,
16“How terrible, how terrible for that great city!
She was clothed in finest purple and scarlet linens,
decked out with gold and precious stones and pearls!
17In a single moment
all the wealth of the city is gone!”
–from Revelation 18
Take a look around at the world around us and what is taking place in it! Today’s devotional speaks to the truth of money this way…
In the Bible, there is no ban on making money, saving it and enjoying the good things of life. What is warned against is selfish accumulation, an unhealthy obsession with money, or putting your trust in riches. This leads to perpetual insecurity and takes you away from God.
Money is not a neutral, impersonal medium of exchange. Jesus said you cannot serve both God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). ‘Mammon’ was the god of wealth in Carthage. Money has all the characteristics of a god. It seems to offer security, freedom, power, influence, status and prestige. It is capable of inspiring devotion and single-minded preoccupation. Yet, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, ‘Our hearts have room only for one all-embracing devotion, and we can only cleave to one Lord.’
In this passage, John is given a vision of an event that must have seemed inconceivable to his readers – the fall of ‘Babylon the Great’ (Revelation 18:2). In the immediate context, this is a prophecy of an event that will not take place for another 320 years – the overthrow of the Roman Empire in AD 410.
When John was writing, the empire seemed invulnerable. It was at the height of its power. It was enjoying peace and security. Yet, John sees that the characteristics of the city were the seeds of its own downfall.
‘Babylon’ here also represents any power that sets itself up apart from God. John highlights a series of fatal weaknesses that lie behind any society’s downfall:
‘She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit’ (v.2).
‘All the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her’ (v.3a).
‘The merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries’ (v.3b, see also v.7 and v.9). It is probably her great riches that led to arrogance (v.7b).
‘And slaves – their terrible traffic in human lives’ (v.13, MSG). John appears to be pointing out that slaves are not mere carcasses to be bought and sold as property, but are human beings. In this emphatic position at the end of the list (vv.11–13), this is more than just a comment on the slave trade. It is a comment on the whole list of cargoes. It suggests the inhuman brutality, the contempt for human life, on which the whole empire’s prosperity and luxury rested. Today, the resurgence of slavery (it is estimated that there are about 30 million slaves in the world today) and human trafficking points to something desperately wrong with our society.
Riches, splendour and luxury are transient. They come and they go. John warns the people of God not to be contaminated by the sins of Babylon: ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins’ (v.4). The glories of ancient Rome may have long passed, but this challenge and message are as relevant to us today as they were then.
We need to realize that others are looking at us and to us to see how we handle money. As our devotional today puts it, we need to Set an example in handling money (Nehemiah 5:1-7:3).
Nehemiah Defends the Oppressed
1About this time some of the men and their wives raised a cry of protest against their fellow Jews. 2They were saying, “We have such large families. We need more food to survive.”
3Others said, “We have mortgaged our fields, vineyards, and homes to get food during the famine.”
4And others said, “We have had to borrow money on our fields and vineyards to pay our taxes. 5We belong to the same family as those who are wealthy, and our children are just like theirs. Yet we must sell our children into slavery just to get enough money to live. We have already sold some of our daughters, and we are helpless to do anything about it, for our fields and vineyards are already mortgaged to others.”
6When I heard their complaints, I was very angry. 7After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, “You are hurting your own relatives by charging interest when they borrow money!” Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem.
8At the meeting I said to them, “We are doing all we can to redeem our Jewish relatives who have had to sell themselves to pagan foreigners, but you are selling them back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?” And they had nothing to say in their defense.
9Then I pressed further, “What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations? 10I myself, as well as my brothers and my workers, have been lending the people money and grain, but now let us stop this business of charging interest. 11You must restore their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes to them this very day. And repay the interest you charged when you lent them money, grain, new wine, and olive oil.”
12They replied, “We will give back everything and demand nothing more from the people. We will do as you say.” Then I called the priests and made the nobles and officials swear to do what they had promised.
13I shook out the folds of my robe and said, “If you fail to keep your promise, may God shake you like this from your homes and from your property!”
The whole assembly responded, “Amen,” and they praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.
14For the entire twelve years that I was governor of Judah—from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of the reign of King Artaxerxes—neither I nor my officials drew on our official food allowance. 15The former governors, in contrast, had laid heavy burdens on the people, demanding a daily ration of food and wine, besides forty pieces of silver. Even their assistants took advantage of the people. But because I feared God, I did not act that way.
16I also devoted myself to working on the wall and refused to acquire any land. And I required all my servants to spend time working on the wall. 17I asked for nothing, even though I regularly fed 150 Jewish officials at my table, besides all the visitors from other lands! 18The provisions I paid for each day included one ox, six choice sheep or goats, and a large number of poultry. And every ten days we needed a large supply of all kinds of wine. Yet I refused to claim the governor’s food allowance because the people already carried a heavy burden.
19Remember, O my God, all that I have done for these people, and bless me for it.
–from Nehemiah 5
Continued Opposition to Rebuilding
1Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies found out that I had finished rebuilding the wall and that no gaps remained—though we had not yet set up the doors in the gates. 2So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.
But I realized they were plotting to harm me, 3so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”
4Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply. 5The fifth time, Sanballat’s servant came with an open letter in his hand, 6and this is what it said:
“There is a rumor among the surrounding nations, and Geshem tells me it is true, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel and that is why you are building the wall. According to his reports, you plan to be their king. 7He also reports that you have appointed prophets in Jerusalem to proclaim about you, ‘Look! There is a king in Judah!’
“You can be very sure that this report will get back to the king, so I suggest that you come and talk it over with me.”
8I replied, “There is no truth in any part of your story. You are making up the whole thing.”
9They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.
10Later I went to visit Shemaiah son of Delaiah and grandson of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home. He said, “Let us meet together inside the Temple of God and bolt the doors shut. Your enemies are coming to kill you tonight.”
11But I replied, “Should someone in my position run from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save his life? No, I won’t do it!” 12I realized that God had not spoken to him, but that he had uttered this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13They were hoping to intimidate me and make me sin. Then they would be able to accuse and discredit me.
14Remember, O my God, all the evil things that Tobiah and Sanballat have done. And remember Noadiah the prophet and all the prophets like her who have tried to intimidate me.
The Builders Complete the Wall
15So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. 16When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.
17During those fifty-two days, many letters went back and forth between Tobiah and the nobles of Judah. 18For many in Judah had sworn allegiance to him because his father-in-law was Shecaniah son of Arah, and his son Jehohanan was married to the daughter of Meshullam son of Berekiah. 19They kept telling me about Tobiah’s good deeds, and then they told him everything I said. And Tobiah kept sending threatening letters to intimidate me.
–from Nehemiah 6
1After the wall was finished and I had set up the doors in the gates, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites were appointed. 2I gave the responsibility of governing Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah, the commander of the fortress, for he was a faithful man who feared God more than most. 3I said to them, “Do not leave the gates open during the hottest part of the day. And even while the gatekeepers are on duty, have them shut and bar the doors. Appoint the residents of Jerusalem to act as guards, everyone on a regular watch. Some will serve at sentry posts and some in front of their own homes.”
–from Nehemiah 7
And the devotional calls out these key points…
Nehemiah was a leader who set a superb example in handling money. Sooner or later, most of us will go through times of financial difficulty and lack of resources, either in our personal lives or in our churches. What do you do in these situations?
Nehemiah was facing such a situation. Some of the people did not have enough food to stay alive (5:2). Others had to mortgage their fields and homes (v.3). Still others had to borrow money to pay their taxes (v.4). What can we learn from Nehemiah’s example?
First, he thought about it very carefully: ‘I pondered… in my mind’ (v.7a). When facing a financial crisis, it is not wise to rush into hasty solutions. It needs careful thought.
Second, he called a meeting (v.7b). Some meetings are at best a waste of time, and at worst counter-productive. However, some meetings are important and necessary. Nehemiah had the wisdom to know the difference between these two kinds of meetings. In chapter 6 he refused to meet with his opponents, despite being asked five times.
However, here Nehemiah calls a meeting. He tells the people that what they are doing is not right. They should not be charging interest. ‘Let the exacting of usury stop!’ (v.10). He orders them to give back the ‘fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the usury you are charging them’ (v.11).
The meeting was successful. ‘“We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say”’ (v.12). The people did as they promised (v.13).
Third, and most important, he set an example in his own life:
Out of his reverence for God, Nehemiah did not act like the earlier governors who had placed heavy burdens of taxation on the people and allowed their assistants to lord it over them (v.15).
‘Neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor’ (v.14).
No personal gain
‘All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land… I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people’ (vv.16,18).
Generosity to others
‘Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table, as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations’ (vv.17–18).
Single-minded hard work
‘I devoted myself to the work on this wall’ (v.16a). He refused to be put off by the threats of his opponents who were trying to frighten him. Instead he prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands’ (6:9).
Nehemiah finished what he had started (v.15). Many people know how to start things. But often they lack what Pippa’s father used to call ‘carry-through’. Nehemiah had the stickability to complete what he had begun.
The success of the project was the perfect answer to the critics: ‘So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realised that this work had been done with the help of our God’ (vv.15–16).