I have a confession to make. When it comes to money, it was the hardest, most difficult thing to learn about as a Christian until I learned the principle with the secret power. Are you ready for this? It's the oikonomia principle.
That's right, the oikonomia principle. You've got to learn it. It'll set you free. That's today. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. We're in the middle of our insightful series, The Genius of Generosity. Today we're going to learn the key to developing genuine lasting intimacy with God that begins in how we view money and possessions. But before we get into this message, if you miss a portion of this program, let me encourage you to catch up through the Chip Ingram app. It's a great way to listen to Living on the Edge anytime.
Well, with that, here's Chip for his talk, The Principle with Secret Power. I want to share a little part of my journey. I was very fortunate after I came to know Christ personally to have a bricklayer and an organization that was really helpful at teaching you to meet with God and not just go through the motions but really understand that he wanted to talk to you in the morning. And I was a pretty slow learner. It was really hard to get up. And learning to pray was pretty hard for me.
I was a little slow there too. But after a couple years and began to develop some really good habits and begin to grow spiritually and then later after I graduated from college, I found myself teaching and coaching basketball and then running a discipleship ministry on a college campus. And I lived behind the bricklayer. We both went there together to launch this ministry. And there was a garage apartment, so I had two roommates that I was discipling. And so, you know, I'm a school teacher.
Imagine this, making $1,000 a month. It was a while ago, but it was not much money even back then. I had a little Volkswagen Green Beetle. Do you remember those? It was my very first car.
I bought it used. And, you know, it just ran like a little top. And so little by little, I was beginning to learn. And so I learned to give the first portion of my income. And this group was great.
They weren't legalistic. They said, you know, a tenth is a good place to start. But if you want to go a percentage below or above, you know, make sure you keep your heart in the right place. And so as I began to grow, my OCD workaholic tendencies that I grew up in, they sort of shifted into my spiritual life. And I thought to myself, you know, if 10% is good, I don't have many expenses. And they were teaching about proportional giving. And not for all the right reasons that I decided, you know what, I'm going to double it. I'm going to go 20.
You know, the few, the proud, the Marines, the Ingrams. And, you know, and I'm pretty proud of myself. And, you know, and if it slipped out that I was giving 20% of my income, that sounds like a lot. But if you're only making $1,000, it may not be all that much, but it sounded good. And so I did that for a while. And then I thought, you know, I've only my expenses were like 120 or 50 a month. And so I still had margin and, you know, saved a little bit of money kind of learning the basics of, you know, give, save and invest a little, investing real small. And so 20% was good and God kept blessing. So I'm going 30. And so I was given 30% of my income away and I'm coaching and teaching. And, unfortunately, the Pharisee in me was growing, you know. More and more I thought, you know, if you give 10%, God loves you this much. If you give 20%, I bet he loves you this much.
And, man, go 30, who knows. And I was in this performance orientation where I was learning to give, but I was not at all generous. And so I'm driving my little Volkswagen.
I had a little commute of about 40 minutes where I coached and taught. And so I'm in my little green Volkswagen and it's early in the morning. And I hear this voice literally in my head. And I don't know much.
I'm pretty new Christian. So I don't know when it's God or when it's the Holy Spirit, what's going on or whether I'm having an illusion. So I hear this little voice in my head say, Chip, whose car is this? And I'm thinking, I don't know where that's coming from. The next morning driving to work, Chip, whose car is this?
Third morning, fourth morning, I realized I think this might be God. And I didn't want to answer because I thought he might have a plan for it other than the plan I had. Because I'd recently married Teresa and we were going to pack everything that we had and go to Dallas to go to seminary. And so she had a car and I had a car and hers was newer and nicer. And so I'm going to sell this little car, but the gas prices had started to go up and the value just skyrocketed.
It was worth more six years later than when I bought it. And so I was actually thinking, I bet I can get this for it. And then the next day I would drive, no, I bet I can get this for it.
And then even before Craigslist, I bet I can get this for it. And so as my greed inside my mind over here is working and I give 30% and I was a godly, godly man, of course. God, like morning number five, he says, whose car is this?
And I say, well, it's yours, Lord. Oh, good, Chip, I'm glad you know that. Because you know Nancy, the girl in the ministry? Yeah.
Well, you know how she's going to go with Wycliffe Bible Translators and she's going to go to remote tribe there in Thailand? Well, yeah. Well, you have two cars, right?
Yeah. How many does she have? And I thought, this is not good.
This is going in a totally bad direction. And I said, none. And she says, well, she's going to be traveling all over America to raise support and translate the Bible for those people. I want you to give your car to her because you have two and she doesn't have any.
You know like one of those verses you memorize that 1 John where it says that if you know someone in need and you have more than you need and you don't give it, how can the love of God be in you? And I'm thinking, I wish you wouldn't have memorized that one. And I'll be honest with you, it was just one of those times where I mean reluctant, reluctant. So, of course, I tell Theresa and she goes, oh, that's great. Thanks, dear, you know. So, eventually, I mean, this is not, I want you to hear, you can give without being generous at all. I begrudgingly out of obedience decide, okay, I'm going to give my car. It's yours, God. I understand it.
I'll do it. And so, I'm out in the garage and this was the day, this will date some of you, but in the old days they didn't have nice stereos and cars and you could buy these stereos and I'd saved up and you put them in your car and you can unlock them and pull them out. And so, I'm out and the doors of the little Volkswagen are out and I've got my knee down and I finally, you know, I've got it all out of there and I pull it out like this and Theresa walks out and she goes, what are you doing? I said, what do you mean, what am I doing?
She goes, what are you doing? I said, I'm getting the stereo out of my car. God said the car. He didn't say the stereo.
And many of you men who are married, do you remember this pose? You know, and you're just shamed into, oh, you think the stereo goes to the car, you know, I stuck it back in there. Now, if you open your teaching notes, there's some real truth from these stories that I want you to get and I'm really a little embarrassed to share those but I want you to know that you can give but not be generous. When I told you early on, this is not about money. Money is always probably the most pressing symptom but I was giving 30% of my income and I wasn't generous. I gave it begrudgingly.
In fact, I sat down earlier this week and I wrote down my motivations and what was going on in my heart. Giving is an action. Generosity is a matter of the heart.
So you can give and not be generous but you can't be generous without giving. When I was giving, I was self-righteous. I was proud.
I had a works orientation. I thought God was going to, you know, do better for me if I, you know, could give more. I was negotiating with God. I felt superior when I heard of other people and what they gave.
I thought I was better than they were. I was rigorously religious but relationally challenged. So what I want you to know is that you can actually give and totally miss the boat. See, stewardship is not an obligation to fulfill but an opportunity to seize.
Now from a strict theological standpoint, it certainly is an obligation and we're going to learn why because of who actually owns what's been entrusted to us. But what I find is that when I hear the word generosity, I think of adventure. I think of joy. I think of something winsome. When I see generous people, I want to hang out with them.
They're the kind of people that, you know, life's exciting. When I hear the word stewardship, are you a good steward? That word has a lot of emotional baggage with it.
I've heard a lot of Sumerans that as soon as people start talking about stewardship, it feels heavy. Like you're spending too much. You're not giving enough. You could be doing more.
You don't measure up. And that sounds like getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick. And what I think is we've got a lot of misperceptions about stewardship and what the meaning of it is because it's a beautiful word too. I learned about stewardship from John Saville. He was that mid-70s man and I was a 28-year-old young pastor and he brought me down to his office and he owned this company, CPA firm down in downtown Dallas. And if you remember, he gave me this checkbook and it said, Pastor's Discretionary Fund. And he put $5,000 in it. And for five years, I put that in my back pocket every morning and I walked around and my only goal was to figure out who had a need that John Saville wanted to meet. And I was his steward. It was his money. And I just played Santa Claus for five years.
I mean way better than Santa Claus. It was God. Loving and caring and writing a check to get a bus ticket back for some young runaway teen or writing a check that someone gets their electric bill paid or an elderly couple that had their house infested with all these rodents and time after time after time. And then I would go down and have a lunch and then we would laugh and John would lean back and go praise the Lord and I would be embarrassed. And I was a steward and it was a blast.
It was an adventure. And what I want you to understand is when we start talking about the smartness or the genius of generosity, it's having the same attitude with what God's given you that I had with John Saville. It wasn't my money. I wasn't uptight about where it went. I mean I had to give an account for it and I wanted to make him happy and we did become best friends. But I mean when I gave it away, I wasn't worried like I'm not going to eat today or not. It's his money. And every time after we would meet, it was an amazing thing.
I'd get a bank statement and he would just fill it back up. So what you need to see, here's the bright idea. The bright idea is stewardship is the path. That's a path.
We are stewards and we'll talk about it and why. But generosity is the adventure. Generosity is a whole new way of living and it's way beyond money and it's even way beyond your time and way beyond your talents.
It's like this winsome, amazing adventure where you start walking around with this breakthrough concept. Everything I have is a gift to me from God and I'm his money manager. It's like my life is like a checkbook and God fills it and he's given me time and talent and brains and opportunity and people and friends and every single thing I have is a gift from him.
And what he wants me to do is spend it or invest it or use it in a way that pleases him. And as we do, we become best friends. And as we do, I get the joy of watching his resources flow through me and loving people. That's the breakthrough concept. The genius behind the in-depth relationship I enjoyed with John Saville is what God wants for you and me and every single follower of Christ on the face of the earth. Now, what I learned, even when I was giving 30% of my lavish income that I was getting, is that I didn't believe God owned it all. That's when life really changes. See, I was giving thinking it's mine and I'm better than people because look how much I'm giving.
Well, wait a second. If 100% of it is God's and God says I like 30% of it or 22% of it or 9% of it or 100% of it, it's his, right? So you don't get any brownie points for just giving it where he says to give it. But when you begin to understand 100%, not just of your money, but all that you are and all that you have is his, it completely changes.
Instead of him having to pry it out of your hands and you feeling all this anxiety and being uptight about this and about that and how you're going to do it and the guilt, all of a sudden you realize, wait a second, this is yours. Where do you want your time to go today, Lord? Where do you want the money entrusted to me?
Where do you want these relationships to go? How do you, in fact, notice what the scripture says. I actually put them right in your notes. It says the earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. Do you live in the world? So you're the Lord's. It says the world and all who live in it. Later in Haggai, he goes, silver is mine and gold is mine declares the Lord almighty. Deuteronomy 8, remember the Lord your God for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth. I mean, it's almost like God was thinking that some of us would be saying, well, yeah, you might say it's all yours, but I worked really hard for it.
And he goes, yeah, well, who gave you the brains, the talent and the opportunity? Oh yeah, that's right, thanks. Even your body, it says you are not your own, you were bought with a price, 1 Corinthians 6, 19 and 20. The summary here is what I call, this is the principle that has secret power. I call it the oikonomia principle. Oikeo is a Greek word for house. You can almost hear the word, we get our word for economy. Literally the word has to do with being a steward. It's translated to being a guardian.
It's translated to being a manager. It's the picture, if you remember in the Old Testament, Joseph, we're in Potiphar's house. He put him over everything. He put him over his household workers. He put him over his money, put him over his crops.
The only thing Potiphar said was, hey, you know, I'm married, you take care of everything else, I entrust it to you. That's this word. And the oikonomia principle simply stated is, all that we are and all that we have belongs to God. And he is temporarily entrusted to us to manage according to his wishes. That's a big thing to swallow. I mean, think about if you actually, if that went from an intellectual, I don't even know if I agree with it, to a intellectual, I agree with it to a, I really believe this is true.
Now, can you imagine what that would do? Everything I have and everything I am belongs to God. And he's temporarily entrusted it to you to spend, invest according to his wishes with the promise that he loves you and he's good and he's kind. And what he really wants is to work in you and through you as he directs those things so you accomplish his purposes.
This phrase or this word or this concept of the oikonomia principle is way, way beyond money. Notice in Psalm 90, our time is a gift from God. If you're married, our spouse is a gift from the Lord. Your property in Luke 16 is a gift from God. Your spiritual gifts, it says they're given by grace, they've been entrusted to you, they're a gift from God.
God's truth, it says the gospel itself is a mystery entrusted to us. People in your life, Acts chapter 20. God gives people in your life that they're entrusted to you, they're a gift. Some of them, they're a gift that you watch over them and you're responsible for and others, they're people that, they're just a gift that he wants to enrich your life. But you steward friendships and you steward spiritual. Every good and perfect gift, everything you have, just in case we miss something, James 1 17, every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the father of lights with whom there's no variation or shifting shadow. Every good thing that ever comes into my life, the hand of God is behind it to express his love and concern for you and even your physical body. I mean, one of the strongest motivations for whether it's right eating or exercise or what you put in your mind is that you're not your own, you've been bought with a price. So, this isn't your body that you're deciding what to do with, this is God's body who says now, will you take good care of it?
Because I have a great plan for you. And so, at the heart of it, notice the passage there at the bottom, 1 Corinthians 4 1 and 2, here's the responsibility of a manager or of a steward. Let a man regard us, the apostle Paul says in this manner, as servants of Christ and here's our word, stewards of the mysteries of God. And then in the next verse, he gives the number one priority with God of a steward. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found, say it out loud with me, trustworthy, circle in your notes, will you? This is the issue. This is the issue in your life. God has given you time and talent and people and money and opportunity and leadership.
You live in a time of history that is, I mean, pregnant with possibilities. And he decided from eternity past to place you and me at this time and this place with this group of people with what you have and he's got a plan for you. And what he wants you to do is say, Lord, I want to fulfill that plan entrusted to me.
I want to be found trustworthy. I want to spend my time, my money in a way that I realize it's really not mine. It's your time. It's your money. It's your opportunity. And I want to honor you in it. And here's the thing, as we do that, God's promise is he's a heavenly father.
He wants the very best for you. And so the real issue when it comes to this, the real issue is not stuff. The real issue is not what percentage.
The real issue is trust. I mean, at the end of the day, I mean, if I would have gone into my friend John Saville and pulled out the checkbook and said, hey, John, I had a great time spending your money. Well, how much is left? I don't know. Where'd you spend it? You know, I really didn't keep track of it this time. I don't know. I got a real strong feeling that when I left that lunch, my checkbook was not getting filled up again, right?
Why? The wisest venture capitalist in all the universe is the God of all eternity. The reason some of us don't have opportunities, the reason some of us have relationships that break down, the reason some of us are not experiencing, even financially, all the things God wants for us is, you know what?
We're not faithful with what he's given us. And you're a parent, right? You have one of your kids, they wrecked the car three times. Do you give them the keys to the next car or not? No.
Why? Because they've already demonstrated. Well, they demonstrate they can be faithful with what you gave them here. You're not going to trust them with. And so here's the question for believers, for followers of Christ.
Can God trust you? You've been listening to part one of Chip's message, The Principle with Secret Power. He'll be right back with his application for this teaching from his series, The Genius of Generosity. In this insightful teaching, Chip helps us understand that being generous is more than making thoughtful financial decisions.
It's following a completely different lifestyle. And if we do that, we'll dramatically improve our relationships with God and others. Stay with us as we learn some simple practices to be both wise in our giving and generous in how we live our lives. To get more plugged in with this series and our resources, visit livingontheedge.org.
That's livingontheedge.org. Well, I'm joined in studio now by Chip. And Chip, I know you've got a really challenging observation that you'd like to share with our listeners. So why don't you take a minute and do that?
Thanks Dave. After decades of focusing on programs, building budgets and strategies, I am convicted that the church has failed our masters one last instruction, to make disciples. God wants us to be disciples who make disciples. Helping Christians live like Christians is the core purpose of Living on the Edge. To that end, God has called us to produce teaching, training, and tools to help Christians actually live like Christians. I'd like to invite you to give a gift today, and every dollar you give between now and December 31st will be matched dollar for dollar, doubling your impact, as we help Christians here and across the world. Thank you for praying and giving whatever God leads you to. Go to livingontheedge.org and please make a gift today. Well, as you can hear, our heart is to disciple and teach Christians what it means to authentically walk with God. So if you believe in that mission too, let me encourage you to partner with us financially by going to livingontheedge.org or by calling 888-333-6003. And now is a perfect time because every gift we receive until midnight on December 31st will be matched dollar for dollar. That number again is 888-333-6003, or go to livingontheedge.org. Atlas Nurse Tap Donate.
With that, here again is Chip to share some helpful application. As we wrap up today's program, this is one of those days that not only do I wish I could sit across the table from you with a good cup of coffee, but I wish that we had like three or four years in a Bible study together so we felt comfortable, we knew it was safe, and we could kind of talk almost about anything. And I would sit down and I would look you in the eye and I'd say, you know something? This is a very sensitive subject and most Christians never talk to one another about money. I mean, we can talk about struggles and pain and sex and all kind of stuff, but I mean like money is really taboo. But I've observed as a pastor for now, you know, a little over 30 years, that money either has a hold on us or God has a hold on us. And I would love to look you in the eye and just out of a heart of compassion say, you know today we learned that God owns everything and we're his money managers.
How are you managing his money? I mean, do you really get that? Because what I've experienced over and over and over, literally with scores and scores maybe hundreds of people in the last 30 years, is that this seems to be a roadblock. It seems like the enemy. One of the last things as people were maturing is they let loose of their money. They begin to give the first percentage and then they go on the generosity journey. And I know a lot of people that really love God, they read their Bible, they go to church, they want to be good people, they want to be good parents, they really long to love one another. And yet when you look at their finances, they really are not generous.
They don't give the first portion. The idea of a tithe is foreign and there's lots of reasons and denial and excuses and all the rest. But here's what I'd like to say. Would you just ask the most generous being in the universe, God, what he would like you to do with his money that he's entrusted to you? And would you consider for the next 90 days of saying, you know, this is scary and I don't know how to work out, but I'm going to take a big step of generosity and I'm going to obey what the Bible says about giving, not just my money, but that's where I'm going to start. And I will tell you what, it will be scary, but you'll experience God and have joy like never before. And if you happen to take a step that is pretty scary and you see something kind of neat happen, I would love you to email me chip at livingontheedge.org and tell me your story. I have a file folder of stories that's super thick that it always just brings amazing joy to my heart because here's what I'm going to tell you. God will show up in amazing ways because this is one of the few places he says, test me in this.
And when you test him, he's going to show up. So, hey, I know this will be a challenge, but it is one that as you take it, you will never regret it. Great word, Chip.
Thanks. Before we go, we are so grateful for the opportunities God has given us to minister to people all around the world, especially in the difficult times we're living in. And listeners who partner with us financially make that possible.
But if you've never supported us, right now is the perfect time. Every gift we receive until midnight on December 31st will be doubled dollar for dollar. To make a donation, go to livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or visit livingontheedge.org. App listeners, tap donate. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. Well, for Chip and the entire team here, this is Dave Drouie saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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