My good friend Mark has been mentoring three young men (19 and 20 years of age, one of which is my youngest son) in a number of spiritual and practical areas of life. He decided to treat them to a weekend at the beach where they would deal with the issue of money and asked if I would come and share. I had around three hours on Saturday morning and another hour or so after lunch.
I thought I’d share my general outline because I’m pretty passionate about the danger of consumerism, pursuing money, and wealth in general.
This is a sketch only because when I teach I only work from an outline. My sessions are highly interactive, discussion orientated and I fill in the blanks and reinforce or clarity points as we work through the material.
Point one is to lay a firm foundation of how they must understand who they are as a Christian. I’m pretty strong (and often use extreme contrasts) in making the point that as a follower of Jesus they have declared him their lord and master. They are now part of his kingdom, his slave and servant, with no rights or control. Granted, he is a kind, benevolent and caring master, but master he is. As servant and slave, permission and guidance must be sought from the master in the conduct most life affairs, particularly when it comes to the proper stewardship of the resources (money and other forms of wealth) he has entrusted to us.
We work through this concept using verses like the following:
Colossians 1:13: He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.
Ephesians 4:20-24: But that is not the way you learned Christ!– assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Romans 10:9: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20: You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.
Luke 9:23: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seatâ€”I am. (Same verse from The Message)
From this foundation, I move to three principles:
1. The Principle of Right Devotion
2. The Principle of Dependence
3. The Principle of Sowing
Principle of Right Devotion
Matthew 6:19â€“21, 24 is the key teaching passage. The point is that you can’t serve God and money, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. If you think you can pursue wealth and the “good life” as the world defines it and also walk in the way of Jesus you are sadly mistaken. Your all must be on loving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
I don’t suggest or teach that prospering is wrong, but that it must come from the master, not from making its getting our life passion and goal.
- God does not allow any competitors for the love due him.
We work through this principle using verses like the following:
1 Timothy 6:9-10
But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Luke 14:33 from a number of version:
(Phi) “Only the man who says goodbye to all his possessions can be my disciple.”
(TEB) Concluded Jesus, “none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up everything he has.”
(RSV) “Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
(The Message) “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.”
But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
- It is easy enough to “explain away” one or two verses to come to the conclusion we want. But what you have been reading (and many more verses) is more than one or two verses: Scriptural teaching about money is clear, consistent, and radical. All is required, and the flesh must die to obey.
Principle of Dependence
Matthew 6:25-33 is the key teaching passage. What I attempt to impart is the fact that we must learn to live in
udder utter dependence on our lord and master for all things and not do as those of the world do and put their faith and security in money and wealth.
We work through this principle using verses like the following:
So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Hint: What did he put his faith in?
- If poverty is accompanied by physical dangers, prosperity is accompanied by spiritual dangers. God will often move us through both for the purpose of conforming us more closely to his image.
Principle of Sowing
2 Corinthians 9: 6-11 is the key teaching passage. The resources entrusted to us by our lord and master are not for use to meet our never ending list of wants we can so easily lust after, but to be his conduit of compassion and justice in the world. He is very clear that if we expect to reap a rich harvest of righteousness now and treasure in heaven later, then we must sow richly today.
Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. Prov 30:8-9 (NIV)
Finally, we move to a couple of practical themes. The first being the poor and our unquestioning obligation and duty to help the truly needy. We work through many of the verses (Proverbs is rich with them) on the poor and our obligation.
Second, we look at the New Testament concept of giving. Hint: Tithing is not a NT concept. The point I make is that it is a great starting point and discipline (and to be encouraged), but if you think that by adopting the OT law of the tithe you are free to do with the remaining 90% as you please, you don’t understand your relationship with the lord and master and we need to go back and review the foundation point above.
Hope you find this brief outline useful. You’re free to use any part of it.