Make Your Money Count!

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Various Scriptures

INTRODUCTION: Our message series is called, “Lord, Make My Life Count”, and we have been looking at various areas of life that we want to make count. You only get one life, so you want to make sure that you make it count. So far we have looked at work, rest, faith, and prayer. Today we come to the subject of money. How do you make your money count? We will be looking at a variety of Scriptures this morning, but we will begin by reading Luke 16:10-15. (Read Luke 16:10-15)

So that’s our question this morning. How do you make your money count? Not how do you count your money, but how do you make your money count? We all make money in this life, but what you do with your money once you make it makes a huge difference in your life and in the life of others. Money is a tool for some, a resource for others, an idol for many. Money can bring either a blessing or a curse. Money is neutral itself, but how you view it will determine how you handle it, and how you handle it will make all the difference in your life.

So how do you make your money count? The world has different theories about that. Some say whoever makes the most money is the one who makes their money count. Others say whoever saves the most money is the one who makes their money count. Still others say whoever spends the most money is the one who makes their money count. And still others say whoever gives the most money is the one who makes their money count.

So what does God say? Today we will look at three vitally important principles from the Bible that will help you in this whole matter of making your money count. If you want to make your money count, you must understand and apply the following three Biblical principles: the principle of ownership, the principle of stewardship, and the principle of generosity.

I. The principle of ownership

So let’s begin with the first principle: the principle of ownership.

   A. God owns it all (Psalm 24:1-2)

There are two parts to the principle of ownership, and the first part is this: God owns it all. Look at Psalm 24:1-2: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” (Psalm 24:1-2)

I don’t think God could have put it more plainly. God owns the title free and clear to planet earth and everything in it. God owns every mountain, every ocean, every island, every stream. God owns the sea and the land. Every acre of every continent belongs to him. The whole earth belongs to God. Why? Because “he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” He is the creator, and therefore the whole earth belongs to him.

But God doesn’t just own the planet itself. He also owns everything in the planet. That means God owns all the resources we have that come out of the ground or the sea. And God doesn’t just own the material things that are in the earth. Psalm 24 also says, “The world, and all who live in it.” God owns all life on the planet as well. All the animals on the land or in the sea or in the sky belong to him. And yes, all the people who live in the earth belong to him also.

Psalm 24 is a title deed without any restriction. This planet, this world, this universe, is God’s. He made it; he owns it; it’s that simple. And because everything you have comes from the earth, everything you have belongs to God too. God owns your house, your car, your clothing, your collections, your electronics, and your art. And yes, he owns your money too.

God owns it all. Everything comes from God, and therefore everything belongs to God. That’s the first part of the principle of ownership. God owns it all.

   B. God trusts you with his wealth (Luke 16:10-12)

Now here’s the second part of this principle: God trusts you with his wealth. Look at what Jesus says in Luke 16:10-12: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? (Luke 16:10-12)

Wow! Have you ever thought of your possessions that way? God owns it all, and therefore everything you have is on loan from God. Whatever you have, whatever you “own,” really belongs to God, and he has entrusted all these things into your hands. And this especially applies to your money, because what you do with your money will determine whether you have done a good job managing God’s wealth or not.

How do you make your money count? You begin with the principle of ownership. If you don’t get this principle, then you will never make your money count. So that’s our first principle this morning – the principle of ownership: God owns it all, and God trusts you with his wealth.

II. The principle of stewardship

That leads us to our second principle this morning: the principle of stewardship. If God owns it all, and if what you have is a trust from God, then you have a responsibility to be a good steward of God’s wealth. It’s one thing to manage your own money. But it’s another thing to manage someone else’s. So what does God tell you about being good stewards of the money he entrusts into your care?

   A. Spend carefully (Luke 12:15; 1 Timothy 6:6-8)

First of all, God tells you to spend carefully. Jesus said in the gospel of Luke: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Did you catch that? It’s a warning. Watch out! Be on your guard! Don’t be tricked into thinking that the more stuff you have, the happier you will be.

This runs counter to everything the world tells you about your money. We live in a spending culture. We think money is for spending. We put bumper stickers on our cars that say, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But Jesus puts it all into perspective. Your life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions. Take it all away, and you will find out who you really are.

A spending problem is really a desire problem. We get into trouble with spending, because we think more stuff will make us feel more fulfilled. But it doesn’t work that way. You are made in God’s image. You are far too valuable to be fulfilled with stuff.

You were made for God, and only God will fulfill your life. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 says, “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.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8) Godliness with contentment is great gain. You are managing someone else’s money so you need to be careful how you spend.

This is where budgeting comes in. Now I know the word “budget” is not a very popular word in our culture, but every family, every business, every individual, every church needs a budget. If you don’t like the word budget, then just call it a spending plan, because that’s all it is. A budget is simply a plan for telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.

So if you don’t have a budget, then let me encourage you to take some time to put a spending plan together. If you’re not sure how to do this, we have some great resources for you in the church library. But that’s your first step in being a good steward of God’s money. Spend carefully.

   B. Save wisely (Proverbs 6:6-8, 22:3; Genesis 41:28-38)

Secondly, save wisely. Proverbs 6 says this: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8)

Now an ant is a tiny creature with a tiny brain. I’m guessing most of us have brains bigger than the average ant. And yet God made the ant incredibly wise when it comes to saving for the future. In fact God sets the ant before us as a role model when it comes to the art of saving. The ant works hard all summer long saving and storing for the troubled times of winter when food will be scarce. God says, “Go to the ant … Consider its ways and be wise.”

You may remember the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis in the Bible. Joseph was living in Egypt at the time, and God gave Pharaoh some disturbing dreams about fat and skinny cows and fat and skinny stalks of grain. Joseph interpreted the dream for Pharaoh, informing him that God was foretelling seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. And then Joseph gave Pharaoh the following advice:

“And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food.

This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.” The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” (Genesis 41:33-38)

Joseph knew that famine was coming, and so he wisely recommended a savings plan to prepare for the troubled times ahead.

Proverbs 22:3 says: “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 22:3) Do you want to be a good steward of God’s money? Spend carefully, save wisely.

   C. Keep out of debt (Proverbs 22:7; Romans 13:7-8)

And then thirdly, keep out of debt. Proverbs 22:7 says “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)

There’s a great saying: “When your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep becomes your downfall.” Now in the old days, your outgo was limited by your income. If you didn’t have, then you had to do without. But with credit cards and easy debt today, you can easily let your outgo exceed your income. And it will become your downfall.

Debt is slavery, and God wants you to be free. Once again, this is not our money we are playing with. God owns it all, and we are just stewards. And debt is poor stewardship of God’s money.

Now there are times when you will need to borrow money, for example to purchase a home or to start a business, but those are really examples of investments rather than debt. You are investing in something that has value. However, you should still be careful in how you invest, and make sure that you can handle the payments that go along with the investment.

So what do you do if you find yourself in debt? Apply yourself diligently to paying down your debt, so you can be free to serve God with your money once again. Romans 13:7-8 says: “Give everyone what you owe him … let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:7-8) There’s only one debt you should keep on your books, and that is the debt to love one another as God has loved you. But in order to be a wise steward of God’s funds, you need to do all that you can to keep out of debt.

Once again, if this is an area of difficulty for you, we can help. We have resources and teaching materials and worksheets that will help you pay down your debt and regain your freedom. If you need help, please just ask. And we will be glad to help you.

III. The principle of generosity

How do you make your money count? Understand and apply the biblical principle of ownership. Understand and apply the biblical principle of stewardship. And then thirdly, understand and apply the biblical principle of generosity. There are three things to cover here.

   A. God loves a generous heart (Proverbs 11:25; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7)

First of all, God loves a generous heart. Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25) God is a generous God, and he expects us to be generous too. In fact, he encourages us to be generous by promising rewards for those who are generous with their money.

We read about the law of the harvest in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 – “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7) Any farmer knows, if you sow seed sparingly, you will reap a small harvest. But those who sow generously will reap a rich harvest.

Now this is not like the prosperity preachers you hear on TV. I am not saying give all your money away and God will make you rich. It doesn’t work that way. But you can’t outgive God. God will reward you in one way or another, if not in this life, then certainly in the next. God loves a generous heart.

   B. Money is a tool for blessing others (Acts 20:35; Ephesians 4:28)

Secondly, money is a tool for blessing others. Acts 20:35 says, “By this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35) Ephesians 4:28 says: “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” (Ephesians 4:28) This is the whole reason for our careful stewardship of God’s funds. We work hard and earn money. Then we spend carefully and save wisely so that we will be able to take care of our families and give generously to those who are in need. Remember, your life does not consist in how much you have. Rather your life consists in how much you love and serve God and other people.

   C. Store up treasure in heaven not earth (Matthew 6:19-21; Proverbs 19:17)

There are three parts to this principle of generosity: 1) God loves a generous heart. 2) Money is a tool for blessing others. And 3) Store up treasure in heaven, not earth. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) Whatever you keep for yourself, you leave behind when you die. Whatever you give for God’s kingdom you send on ahead for eternity.

Proverbs 19:17 says, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.” (Proverbs 19:17) Now let me pull this all together for you so you can see how amazing this is. God owns it all. Then he entrusts it into your care. Then when you lend God’s money back to him by helping others, he rewards you for what he has done. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t God amazing? That is the principle of generosity in action.

CONCLUSION: John Wesley once preached a three-part sermon on money that went like this. “Earn as much as you can; save as much as you can; give as much as you can.” Earn as much as you can lawfully and within God’s purpose and calling for your life. Save as much as you can by spending carefully and investing wisely. Then give as much as you can to God’s work and to help those in need.

I believe his three points are very similar to what we have looked at today. How do you make your money count? Understand and apply these three biblical principles.

1) The principle of ownership: God owns it all, and he entrusts his wealth into your care.

2) The principle of stewardship: It’s not your money. Therefore, spend carefully, save wisely, keep out of debt.

3) The principle of generosity: God loves a generous heart. Money is a tool for blessing others. Store up treasure in heaven, not earth.

Follow those three principles, and I guarantee you will make your money count, both now and for eternity.

© Ray Fowler

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