In a previous blog, we discussed stewardship and budgeting. We discussed that all money in the world belongs to God, including the money you earn (1 Chronicles 29:11, Psalm 24:1, Psalm 50:9-12). Since God owns all the money, we are but stewards of it. You may have worked 40-60 hours last week, but that was through God’s power, wisdom, health, and providence. With that in mind, we must be good stewards who budget how we spend money. This article will delve into how important it is to be content with the money God has given us to steward.
We refer to one as content when they are fully satisfied with knowing God (Psalm 73:25). God is our ultimate joy, and knowing him through Jesus Christ is such a blessing that you, like Paul, can say: If I have food and clothing, these will be enough (1 Timothy 6:8), or like Job you say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21). A financially content Christian is one who desires to pursue righteousness and godliness above being rich. It is far more rewarding to be found nearer to the Lord than being rich and far from him (1 Timothy 6:6, Matthew 5:6).
The world says that we need money to be secure and happy. The more you have, the more content you will be. However, a content Christian will say, “I have the Lord, and he will never leave me” (Hebrews 13:5-6). With the Lord on my side, I am not afraid of lacking money because I have all I need in God, and he brings me greater joy than money ever could (Hebrews 13:5-6, Psalm 16:11).
Contentment in Poverty
Whenever we’re struggling financially, thinking of being content with what we have becomes hard. It can even sound hollow and uncaring to be encouraged towards contentment whenever we’re broke. But being content does not necessarily mean being satisfied with poverty. It is finding joy in the fact that we have a relationship with God, who helps us in our times of need (Hebrews 13:5-6) and gives peace in hard circumstances (Philippians 4:6-8). Being content whenever we’re struggling is trusting that God is a God of grace who will change our circumstances at the proper time (1 Peter 5:10-11). In our moments of lack, we must remember to cast our burdens unto the Lord because he cares for us and can lift us out of our poverty (1 Peter 5:6-7), whether now or in heaven.
Healthy View of Money
Contentment also doesn’t mean that you don’t work hard and strive to bring a return on your investments (Proverbs 14:23, 13:4, Ecclesiastes 9:10). Being a steward of money means that you work hard to make good use of what God has given you (Matthew 25:14-30). Still, you must be content with whatever God provides for you because he is enough. Being content also means finding joy in God no matter your life or financial circumstances (1 Peter 1:3-6). The apostle Paul had plenty to brag about in his life, according to Philippians 3:4-6. However, he counted his successes in life as rubbish for the sake of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8). This tells us that even an abundance of money or prestige cannot be as satisfying as knowing the Lord. If you’re struggling with contentment in your financial circumstances, money will not solve your problems.
I remember many years back when one of the sons of a wealthy politician died by committing suicide. As in many places in Africa, there is a slum near an affluent neighborhood where wealthy people and politicians live. Youths from the church I attended were from both rich and poor communities. The youths from the slums, in particular, were downright mad at the politician’s son who committed suicide, saying things like, “What struggles did he really have? He came from a rich family and could get the best education, food, and clothing, and would never lack financially for the rest of his life.” They could not logically understand why the young man committed suicide. According to these youths from the slums, money was the answer to all of their problems. Such ideas about money quickly make money a god. That is why many easily compromise their faith for the sake of money. People view money with much greater esteem than God, which is idolatry (Exodus 20:23, Micah 1:7). Contentment is the remedy that helps us to turn our eyes to worship God instead of money (Isaiah 30:22-23, 1 Timothy 6:6).
Contentment versus Idolatry
Consider what the rich man Zacchaeus did when he met Jesus (Luke 19:1-10). He found so much joy and contentment in the Lord that he was willing to part with half of his wealth and give it to the poor. He also readily refunded everyone he had defrauded four times (Luke 19:8). Salvation had truly come to Zacchaeus (Luke 19:10). This is the total opposite of the rich young ruler who was unwilling to depart with his money to help the poor. He had loved money to the point that it was an idol (Luke 18:18-30). The rich young ruler was unwilling to lay down his idol of money in exchange for contentment in Jesus. Therefore, salvation was not something he could partake in (Luke 18:22-25). Contentment in the Lord, as opposed to the love of money, is a sign of true Christianity.
Habakkuk, just like Zacchaeus, said even if “the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the field yield no food, the flock is cut off from the folk, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). Paul echoes the same thing, saying even if he’s rich or poor, he’s learned to be content because the Lord strengthens him (Philippians 4:11-12).
Borrowing from Habakkuk and Paul’s assurance, we must reckon that we don’t need money to be content. What is important is our relationship with God, who does provide for our needs (Matthew 6:33). We can trust that his grace is sufficient for us, whether he allows for us to be wealthy or not (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, 1 Timothy 6:8, Luke 3:14). God cannot, by any means, compare to money. Money can never be what God is to us, nor can it give what God gives us in him. Jesus says that you either love God or money (Matthew 6:24). If you struggle to find contentment in God, it shows that you haven’t gotten to know Jesus as the faithful provider he is.
Money or God’s Blessing?
In conclusion, I’ve seen pastors and churches with differing opinions. They make fancy statements such as, “You must have money to survive!” which provide leeway for false preaching that encourages the love of money. An example is a church that had a very wealthy man for an elder. In a shocking turn of events, this old man was reported to have sexually abused a few young ladies in the youth ministry. Upon finding out, the lead pastor chased away the young ladies and any other person who complained about the old man’s behavior. The pastor wanted to protect the wealthy elder because he would give huge amounts of money to support the church. He also gave tithes regularly, which helped line the pastor’s pockets. In summary, the lead pastor was serving money, which is idolatry, because he would rather have the rich old man’s money than God’s blessing for being faithful.
Whenever we feel our hearts being drawn towards money in an unhealthy manner, may we be discerning enough to realize that we’re committing idolatry. Take a moment to repent of idol worship towards money, ask the Lord to give you contentment in him, and live in gratitude for what he’s given you.