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The Christian and His Finances

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
September 20, 2021 4:00 am

The Christian and His Finances

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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September 20, 2021 4:00 am

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Money itself is amoral.

It's not good and it's not bad. But depending on how it is used, it either becomes good or becomes bad. And so money really then either has righteous ramifications in your life or unrighteous ones.

And thus becomes very important. Well, if you've ever thought of supporting your church as a chore to be tolerated, you need to see why giving can and should be an act of joyous worship. John MacArthur begins to explain that today on Grace to You as he launches a study, God's Plan for Giving. Now, John, this subject is one that churches and pastors often steer away from, and certainly we know that the world has faced challenging economic times, particularly since the COVID pandemic. But really, it is always good as Christians to be reminded that whatever our financial situation is, the issue of stewardship is always relevant and it never ceases to be important.

You're absolutely right, Phil. Pastors avoid this subject, and they avoid it because they think it offends people. Because critics say, I don't want to go to church. All they ever do is ask for money. They're just in it for the money. And, sad to say, there are a lot of people in religion, and even in quote-unquote Christian religion, who are in it for the money. Yeah, Scripture acknowledges that as well. Yeah, false teachers do it for filthy money. That's why the Bible says that.

So we get that. But in spite of the counterfeit, and by the way, that should be an indication that there is a true kind of giving where there's a counterfeit kind of giving, because people only counterfeit what's genuine. But we can't back away from giving because it's been corrupted by false teachers. We have to teach the people of God the correct way to give.

Why? Because, and here's the bottom line, Jesus said this, it is more blessed to give than to receive. That ought to be literally poured down the throat of every prosperity preacher.

It is the words of Jesus. It is more blessed to give than to receive. So, how do I give? How can I give as an act of blessing? Giving can and should be joyous. It is an act of worship.

It is a path to blessing. And the Bible, frankly, is very, very explicit on how we are to give. That's why we titled the series God's Plan for Giving. I kind of have the feeling in the back of my mind that people are starting to turn off the dial, change stations, because they're saying, there you go again, they're going to talk about money. We're not talking about money you give us. We're talking about money God gives you and what your responsibility is to be blessed by giving that.

Look, we've made it pretty clear for half a century. We don't want people's money. We're not trying to figure out ways to divest you of your money. We're not trying to con people and promise them something that's not legitimate if they send us their money, as so many false teachers do. But we do want to tell you, as we do with every other subject in the Bible, what the Bible says about your giving and how you can enjoy the blessing of being a biblical giver.

That's what this series is about. You think about money every day. You think about money many, many times every day. The Bible says a lot about money. This is what God wants you to know about the money that He provides for you, what you are to do with it, how you are to give it, how you are to invest it, how you are to be blessed by it. Stay with us. Yes, giving can be one of the greatest joys in your life if you understand why God blesses you with money and how to use it for His glory.

So let's get to the series now. Here's John to show you God's plan for giving. Now when we talk about money, we're talking about life. Money in a sense is life, for you spend all your life to get money to stay alive. So in one sense, money is life. Money itself is amoral.

It's not good and it's not bad, but depending on how it is used, it either becomes good or it becomes bad. And so money really then either has righteous ramifications in your life or unrighteous ones and thus becomes very important. We're going to consider these categories. One, the right to possess money. Two, the way to regard money. Three, the way to use money. The right to possess money, the way to regard money, and the way to use money.

Now first of all, let's begin with the right to possess money. It's interesting to me, and I suppose you've come across this too, that there are some people in the world, even who call themselves Christians, who say that it's wrong for a Christian to have any money. And they advocate a kind of a Christian communism. And they usually defend Christian communism on the basis of Acts chapter 2. And they say in the early church that they had all things in common. And therefore, all Christians, upon becoming Christians, should get into some kind of community thing where they give out everything to some central source and it's doled out on an equal basis according to need and the Christian has no right to possess money. Well, we ought to see what the Bible says. Does the Christian have the right to possess money?

Well, let's look first of all at this thought. All money belongs to God. In Haggai 2.8 it says this, the silver and the gold are mine. And God was talking about all of the nations of the world.

And He was talking in reference to all of these nations and He was saying all of their silver and all of their gold is really mine. So it's all God's. In Deuteronomy 8.18 the Bible says, But you shall remember the Lord your God, listen, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth.

Notice two things. All money is God's. Secondly, God grants to men the power to get that which is His in terms of wealth or money.

In 1 Corinthians 4.7 the Bible says, And what do you have that you did not receive? Now all money belongs to God. And you can only give to somebody else what belongs to you. If God gives it to us, then it was His to begin with. So all money is God's.

That's basic. Now you say, well then, what does that have to do with me? Well, God also gives men the power to gain that money which is His. So it is not assumed in the Bible that it's wrong to have money but rather that God allows men to make money. You see, you have to look at money sort of like one of God's gifts. All of God's gifts which He intends for man's good have been somehow perverted into evil.

Man has a way of twisting and perverting all of God's good gifts. Now God also gives men the power to gain money. In 1 Timothy 6.17 in a passage talking about money, that whole passage there is talking about it, it says this, God gives us richly all things to enjoy.

So God, the possessor of all monies, is willing to grant some to us. Now as we examine Scripture we find, first of all, that nowhere is money condemned. And if you were to go to Acts chapter 2, and I'll ask you to do that, let me show you something. Acts 2.45 says this. In the speaking of the early church, the church in Jerusalem, just at the time of Pentecost, and sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men as every man had need. Now people take this to be a sort of Christian communism, but that's because they really don't understand the Greek tense. The verb sold and the verb parted are both in the imperfect tense.

The imperfect tense is a continuous action. It should read this way. And were selling their possessions and goods and were parting them to all men as every man had need. It does not say that all at once they sold and all at once they parted. It simply says that all the believers were selling their goods and giving the money to those who had need as the needs arose. You see, it was a picture of giving, a picture of self-sacrifice for the need of another, not of pooling everything in a kind of communism.

And the verbs make that implicit with hardly any necessity for any deeper kind of exposition. They were all selling and parting as men had need. It's simply the principle of giving, not the principle of communism. The Bible nowhere advocates that all monies be put into a common pot and doled out by some hierarchy. The same thing appears in Acts 4.34. Neither was there any among them that lacked.

Why? For as many as were possessors of lands or houses were selling them and were bringing the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet. And distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. Now, so the Bible does not forbid money belonging to men. In fact, the Bible says all money is God's, and God actually desires men to gain it. God wants to bless men with a certain amount of wealth. Now let me go a step further. There are in the Bible certain biblical principles, now watch this, that are designed to increase a man's money.

Now hang on to that one. There are biblical principles designed to help you gain wealth. Now when I use wealth, I mean as opposed to nothing. Something as opposed to nothing. I'm not talking about being a rich man, I'm just talking about the term wealth as it's used biblically, that is having something as opposed to nothing.

Now there are some biblical principles in order that a man might gain a measure of wealth. You say, what are they? Alright, we're going to go through them, and I'll give you three at least. One.

You ready for this? Work. Work. Proverbs 14 23 says, in all labor there is profit, but more talk leads only to poverty.

Boy, that is practical. In all labor there is profit, but more talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14 23, God has designed that labor issue in a measure of wealth and prosperity. God has given us work in order that we might gain. Now in 2 Thessalonians 3 10 there's a very practical principle. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he what?

Eat. For we here, says Paul, that there are some who walk among you, disorderly working, not at all, but our busybodies. Work is a practical principle.

You know, there's a great illustration in the Old Testament of hard work. And if you can look up to an ant, here it comes. Go to the ant, thou lazy man.

Consider her ways and be wise. Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her food in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest. You lazy people, check the ant out. Doesn't have any kind of employer, just does the job. Gathers food in the summer, stores it away, prepared for the winter. Proverbs chapter 20 verse 4 says, listen, if you won't plow in the cold, you won't eat at the harvest.

Practical. Now work is a biblical doctrine. We don't preach a lot about it, but it's a biblical doctrine. In chapter 5 verse 8 of 1 Timothy, it says, if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever or an infidel. Work is designed by God to bring you profit. God wants you to have money because God knows that you have to have it to exist. Alright, there's a second principle in the scripture.

Not only work, too. Save. Save. There's a very, very poignant statement in Proverbs 21, 20. Listen, there is precious treasure and oil in the house of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up. You know what a wise man does? He sets aside some of his treasure and some of his oil for the unexpected. You know what the fool does?

He swallows it all up. You know, the Living Bible has a very good translation of that. It says, the wise man saves for the future.

The foolish man spends whatever he gets. Save. Now that's scripture. You know, one good way to think of saving is this, and this is something God is really teaching me in my own life, is always operate on a margin.

Always operate on a margin. If you don't, then you're presuming on the grace of God. You see, you have to be careful that you're not presuming on God, extending yourself to the place where there's no margin left.

And so if the crisis comes, you've got to presume on God to provide for your foolishness. David said, keep back thy servant from what kind of sins? Presumptious sins. Those kind of sins that are illustrated in Matthew chapter 4 when Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and said, cast yourself down, and then God will have to save you. And Jesus said, it is written, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Don't put yourself in a situation that you've gotten into by your foolishness and then demand that God extricate you. That's presumption.

That's sin. So operate on a margin. I mean, just as a hypothetical illustration, imagine a couple, and I'm not thinking of any couple, just in general, it's just an illustration, a couple that didn't operate on a margin. And as so many couples did, they followed the great American way. You know what the great American way is?

It's this. You buy the things you don't need with the money you don't have from the people you don't even like. And so they get themselves in a situation where they are overextended. They have more obligations than they do income. And let's say along the way they've taken under their wing the support of the local church and perhaps some friends who have gone to the mission field.

What happens? Well, pretty soon they find they can't meet that missionary's need. And pretty soon they can't give to the local ministry what God has designed in their own life for them to give. And then maybe they get to the place where they face bankruptcy, the loss of the car, the loss of the house, the loss of the job, and the loss of the testimony. And now they are limited as to what they can do for God because they are having to pay for their foolishness with every dime they get. If God ever came to them and called them away to some mission field, they couldn't go.

They couldn't go. God wants every Christian to have money. Listen to this. In fact, He wants you to have more money than you need.

Did you hear that? Because God's principle in Scripture is spend some and what? Save. God wants you to have more money than you need. That's important.

Now let me give you a third principle of Scripture. Work, save, three, plan. Plan. You know, some people plan their budget like this.

Oh well, it'll all work out in the end. Now what do you mean by plan? Well, plan may mean for you a budget, maybe more sophisticated or less sophisticated. But I'll tell you one thing planning means, it means a priority list, doesn't it? Planning.

Keep records so you know where you are. You know whose money you're handling? Whose money? It's God's money. You say, oh, but I give Him His money, His tenth. Now wait a minute.

Wait a minute. Tenth of that money you have isn't His. I don't even believe in tithing so that isn't totally irrelevant. How much of it is His?

All of it is His. You say, well, where do you get this idea about keeping records? Listen to this. Proverbs 27, 23, and 24.

Don't bother to look it up. Just listen. Proverbs 27, 23, and 24.

Write it down if you need it. Know well the condition of your flocks and pay attention to your herds, for riches are not forever. Boy, is that good advice? You ought to know how many flocks you have.

You ought to know what condition they're in because your money's not going to last forever and you didn't know where you are at all times. Listen to this one. Proverbs 24, 3, and 4. Proverbs 24, 3, and 4. And this is, again, the Living Bible, which normally I don't prefer, but in this case has a very accurate paraphrase. Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts. That's Proverbs 24, 3, and 4.

Any successful venture is one where you keep abreast of the facts. That's basic. So you not only work, but you save.

And then you plan. In addition to this, let me give you a couple passages. Romans 13, 8. Owe no man anything but to love one another. The only debt you ought to have is love.

You can't ever unload that one. Just keep paying, paying, paying love. Just don't get in any other debt. Owe no man anything. You know what happens when you owe somebody something? Now, I'm not talking about when you're making your payment on your house, and you're making it faithfully, and I'm talking about when you're overdue, when you're owing money, when you can't pay it, when you're overextended.

Listen to this. Proverbs 22, verse 7. The borrower is servant to the lender.

Did you hear that? You become the slave of that man to whom you owe something. And I'll tell you something. When you become the slave to some financial situation, you violate a biblical principle.

Listen to it. 1 Corinthians 7, 23. You are bought with a price. Be not ye the servants or slaves of men.

A Christian should always be free enough to respond to whatever God wants him to do at any moment. You know what we need to have in this world? Here's a good phrase. We need to have a pilgrim mentality. A pilgrim mentality. Well, God has some other principles that are very interesting. One other one in Scripture that appears and just really interests me is don't become a loan company.

You know, if you've got, well, there are some exceptions. If you've got some guy who just bugs you to death, he bothers you incessantly. You know the best thing to do to get rid of him? Loan him money.

You'll probably never see him again. And in some cases, you may figure it's worth the investment. You say, well, what about if a person comes to me and says, I have need here.

I want some money because I want to get that. And you say, well, that's not a necessity. If it's not a necessity, don't loan it to him.

You say, well, what if he comes, John, and he says it is a necessity? Then don't loan it to him either. Give it to him. Give it to him. If any man sees his brother have need and shuts up his bowels of compassion, the love of Christ isn't all that he claims it is, right? Sure, 1 John.

If he needs it, give it to him. Give me another interesting statement. Did you know this is in Proverbs 17, 18?

Are you ready for this? It is poor judgment to countersign another's note. Well, that's pretty practical to become responsible for his debts. Well, the Bible says a lot more about it.

Let's go on. The Scripture then says that there are three principles by which God has designed that you make money, work, save, and plan carefully. And isn't it exciting that all of those things imply that God really does want us to have a certain amount of money? Not just the bare necessities, but a little margin so that we can just be sensitive to the Spirit, and when the Spirit says, hey, John, there's a need over there, we can say good because I've got this margin and I can take and I can supply that need. Boy, that's being free to be responsive to the Spirit, isn't it? You say, John, I'm glad to know that I have the right to possess money.

That is wonderful, but I am always short. I'm so glad God wants me to have it, but he doesn't really understand my situation because I never have enough. Listen, when you don't have enough, let me give you a little test. One, do you need more?

Need, not want, need more. Need, is it a need? Second question, is God testing my faith? Third question, did I already misuse what he gave me?

Oh, that's a practical one. Fourth question, have I violated biblical principles? You say, well, what do you mean violated biblical principles? Well, listen, if God gives you a certain amount of money and he knows that's enough for all your needs and a margin, and he does know that, doesn't he? And you don't have enough, then maybe you violated biblical principles. You say such as, one, here's a biblical principle you may have violated, stinginess. Proverbs 11, 24, there is one who scatters yet increases all the more.

And there is one who withholds what is justly due and it results only in want. Or maybe you violated the principle of hastiness. You got in a big hurry.

Boy, you know, some people get all excited and all energetic and they've got to have it and they've got to have it now, see? But you know what Proverbs 21, 5 says about hastiness? Everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.

Boy, that's straight talk. Everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. Be patient. And you can claim a wonderful promise, Philippians 4, 19, but my God shall supply all our needs.

Just be patient. There's another one, not stinginess, hastiness. Here's another one you may have violated, stubbornness.

You're just going to go out and do what you want with your money. Proverbs 13, 8 has a verse that's very, very good. It says this, poverty and shame will come to him who neglects instruction. Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects instruction or the word discipline. Stubbornness. There's another word, laziness. Maybe you don't have any money because you are lazy and you're not earning enough. You say, is that in the Bible?

Lots of places. Let me give you one, Proverbs 20, 13. Do not love sleep. Listen to the next statement. Lest you become poor, open your eyes and you will be satisfied with food. Get up, that's half the battle. You know there's a great statement in Proverbs 23, 21.

You know what it says? It says drowsiness will clothe a man with rags. Drowsiness will clothe a man with rags. Maybe you violated the principle of laziness. There's another one, indulgence.

If you don't have enough money, maybe you've been indulgent. Proverbs 23, 21 says, for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty. The heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty.

The last one. Another biblical principle that can be destructive is craftiness. Proverbs 28, 19. He who tills his land will have plenty of food. Hardworking people do well, but he who follows empty pursuits, oh, he who buys a pig in a poke or he who pulls off some shady deal will have poverty in plenty. A faithful, trustworthy man will abound with blessings.

I heard a man say the other day that most con men, he felt, if they were honest, would make ten times more than they make being dishonest because they're sharp. Listen, God wants you to have money. He wants you to have enough to live and have all your needs, and He wants to give you more than that so you'll have a margin to be available to the Holy Spirit.

Isn't that exciting? And if you don't have enough, then you need to backtrack and find out what's wrong. You have violated a scriptural principle, or maybe you've already misused what God gave you, or maybe the facts are you don't even need it at all. It's just something you want, or maybe God is bringing you through a time of tightness to test your faith. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. Today's lesson was the first installment of John's series, God's Plan for Giving, and is a look at how the Lord wants you to think about money and how to glorify Him with it. Well, considering how much the Bible has to say about money and giving, this series is one you're going to want to review again, and it's available on CD, or you can download the audio and the transcripts for free at our website.

Contact us today. To order the six-CD album, call toll-free 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org. Again, the website is where you'll find the MP3s and the transcripts, and they are available free of charge.

Look for the series titled God's Plan for Giving, as well as any of John's 3500 sermons. All of them are available to download for free at gty.org. Also, let me encourage you to send us your feedback, drop us a note, and let us know how God is using Grace to You in your life. Our email address is letters at gty.org. That's letters at gty.org.

Or you can reach us by regular mail, and that address is Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. And to keep up to date with what's ahead on our radio and TV broadcasts, follow us on Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram, and check out our YouTube channel as well. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for starting your week off with Grace to You, and make sure you're here tomorrow when John shows you the most important truth you need to remember about money. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Tuesday's Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-22 02:17:47 / 2023-08-22 02:29:04 / 11

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