Charles Stanley - Your Convictions About Money
Well you know, money is on most peoples' minds today. Am I going to have enough to pay my bills this week? Am I going to have enough to keep my kids in college? Am I getting further behind on my payments? What am I going to do about all this debt? So, when you think about money in your life, everybody has to have some. There's nothing wrong with money and there's nothing evil about it. Depends on how we use it. And so, when I think about where it is, and all the politicians today are saying, "You know, we're going to have more jobs," and the implication is you're going to have more money, "things are going to be better". It's a promise that they can't really and truly prove, but they're saying it.
So, what I want to talk about is your particular personal conviction about money in your life. If somebody says, "Now, where in the world is that in the Bible"? You'll be surprised to know how often God talks about money in the Scriptures. For example, over half the parables in the Bible deal with money. Now, you wouldn't think about that, half the parables. Secondly, there's more in the Bible about money than heaven or hell. And there's more about money than prayer and there are hundreds of verses in the Bible that deal with our personal finances.
Now, whether I were a believer or not, if somebody said to me, "In this Book, all of those situations are true," then I'd think, "I think I need to read it. It just might be that it'll be able to help me". And the truth is, God's Bible, the Word of God, is the best guide for finances of any book ever written. You can't go wrong if you obey what He says. And so, when I think about that, I think about, "Well, this is the world's viewpoint".
The world's viewpoint isn't God's viewpoint. The world's viewpoint could probably be described in one word: accumulation. How much can I get? How much can I have? How much can I save for? How much can I have of the future? What about my retirement? It's receive, receive, receive, receive, receive because the primary interest is self-interest. It's all about me and what I want to do, what I want to buy, what I want to have in life, and the focus is on personal needs, personal pleasure, personal security. How do I get it and then how do I keep it and protect it? That's not the emphasis of God at all.
And so, that viewpoint promises what? It does not promise joy, happiness, peace, prosperity, or anything else. When it's all about self, it's heading in the wrong direction. So, the question is what is God's viewpoint about money? The world's viewpoint about money does not promise any security whatsoever. Have it today, and people used to say, "You can lose it tomorrow". No, have it today and you can lose it shortly: today. And so, God's Word about money is very, very important. And this is one of the messages in our series on our convictions. What are your convictions about money? What is your belief system? How does that handle the issue of money?
And so, when I think about what the Bible says about money, let's start where God starts, and that's in the twenty-fourth Psalm. Look at that, if you will. And here's what He says in the very first verse, "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it". So, God's viewpoint is this: I own it all. He's the only one who can say I own it all. But that's where the basic truth about wealth, about money, comes; and that is that God owns it all. He owns all the lands, all the stars, and everything between. And so, watch this. If everything belongs to God, those of us who have the privilege of handling any part of it become automatically stewards of God's money. I'm not talking about just dollars and bills, but everything that He gives us.
And so, when I think about the fact that God owns it all, then what's His key word? Well, the key word for the world is accumulate, accumulate, accumulate. God's Word is distribute, distribute, distribute, distribute. And those two simple words describe where we are. Those who want to get all they can and those who want to give all they can. Let me ask you, who do you think's the happiest? Those who are working to get all they can, or those who are working to give all they can? Well, the picture here is, while on the one hand, those who are trying to keep it all, they have this reservoir. But those who are trying to give, they're like a channel. It just comes through us and wherever God wants it, that's what we do.
And so, God blesses and blesses and blesses. And I think about, there are two aspects of giving here: one of them is encouragement; that is, the encouragement about giving. And a second one is a warning. And usually, when God gives an encouragement, He gives a warning. So, I want you to let's look at the encouragement, first of all. And let's look at Luke chapter 6 and verse thirty-eight, one that you know well. And I want you to listen carefully, whoever you are and wherever you may be listening. Here's what the Word of God says. And when I read this verse, look at this. He says, "Give," watch this, "Give, and it will be given to you," whatever you give, it's coming back, "They will pour into your lap, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return".
Look what He says, "Give, and it will be given to you". Now, who is this doing the talking? This is God doing the talking. He says, "If you give, I'm going to see to it it's coming back to you. And it's going to be," watch this, and this is how God emphasizes things, "They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return". Here's what He says. The way you handle your money, that's the way you're going to get it. If you're chinchy with it and if you're selfish with it and if it's all about me, myself, and I, my three favorite friends. If it's all about me, I'm going to get what I can do. If I do it the way God says do it, I'm going to get what God gives, "Give, and it shall be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together".
God's going to turn it to you. That's His encouragement. You cannot out-give God. For the simple reason that's what God said. He said, "Look, I own it all". And if God owns it all, watch this, He controls it all. And if I give to Him adequately, as I should, as the Bible says very clearly, we're going to talk about it in a moment. if I give, then He's going to see to it that I, you and I are rewarded for our obedience to Him. Because you see, giving is a matter of obedience to God. It isn't what's the church going to do, what's this going to do? That's not the issue. The issue is am I obedient or am I not obedient? And so, here's a word of encouragement. Then look at God's warning. Because He does have a warning about failing to give.
So look, if you will, in first Timothy chapter six, a very strong passage of Scripture. First Timothy chapter six, and notice what He says. And you may be one of those persons whose goal is to get rich. You're not going to be happy about this verse. Look at this verse. He says, verse nine, "But those who want to get rich fall into," what? Temptation. You fall into temptation. Look at this, "And a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men," and women, "into ruin and destruction". Think about this. The desire for money causes people to be dishonest. It even causes them to steal. And worse than that, it even causes them to kill. Money is a dangerous item when it's not under God's control and in keeping with His will and purpose.
So, listen to what he says, "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many," He says many, "foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction". Watch this. "For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil". He didn't say money is evil. He says it's the love of it. I just got to have some more of it. "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". Now, it just can't get any stronger than that when it comes to God's warning. Here's what happens. When your attitude toward money becomes an ungodly attitude, He says what happens? Foolish and harmful desires plunge men into destruction.
Love of money is the root of all kind of evil. Longing for it, what happens? You're pierced through it. "But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue," what? Watch this. He says, instead of pursuing money, you pursue what? "Godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness". Now, it couldn't be any stronger than that. Because we have a choice. It's my choice to be obedient to God no matter what, do whatever He says, and then trust Him to provide what He promises to provide. So a word of encouragement, "Give, and it will be given to you," listen, this is God speaking, "good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over". Or, emptiness, dissatisfied, unhappy, because you and I know people... we put it this way: who have everything, but they're miserable.
And there is not a single verse in the Bible that says things are going to make me happy. What's going to make me happy is a right relationship with God. I want you to turn back to Malachi for a moment and look at this third chapter. And in this third chapter is God's, His blueprint, His master-print. It's His master financial plan for us, and I can tell you this. I have been practicing this plan since I had my first job, which was four dollars. And I didn't know any better, and I gave God twenty-five percent. Well, you say, "Well, why didn't you just give ten percent"? Well, as a kid, and I didn't have any money, and then God gave me a four-dollar job, I thought giving Him forty cents... no way, I gave a dollar! And I was grateful. I didn't know anything about tithing. Nobody ever said a word about tithing to me. And then, so then I got another paper route and I went from four dollars a week to sixteen dollars a week. God had multiplied my giving Him twenty-five percent.
And of course, I gave more than a tithe. I don't know how much exactly I gave then, but I'd learned a lesson. And I've never forgotten the lesson. And I can tell you I've been in situations and circumstances that only God could bail me out of. Not debt because I've always avoided that. And every single time I've had a need, God has been there to meet my need. So therefore, I am fully and totally convinced and persuaded that what He promises, He will perform. Now listen to this Scripture. He says in verse eight of Malachi three, "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed you?'" And God answers, "In tithes and offerings".
You know what that says? If a person doesn't tithe, they're robbing God. If it were not wrong, why would He use the word rob? Why doesn't He use the word deny? Something that makes it a little bit more palatable. "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How we are robbing you?' In tithes and offerings". And listen to what He says, "You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you"! Speaking of Israel. But the principle applies to all of us who are Christians. Now so, He says this is what I want you to do, "'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse,'" the church, the Temple back in those days, "'so that there may be food in My house, test Me now in this,' says the Lord of hosts, 'if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing until it overflows.'"
That's the promise of the sovereign God of the universe who controls all things, and we read while ago He owns it all. So now let's look at this verse, "Will a person rob God"? Yes, they will. He says, "You are robbing Me"! What are you robbing Me of? Tithes. Now, what is a tithe? A tithe is ten percent. He says, "You're robbing Me of both tithes and offerings". The ten percent is what God requires, and then the offerings, oftentimes He may require more than a ten percent. Somebody says, "I cannot, cannot, cannot live on that". Are you saying that God's a liar? You say, "But you don't know how much debt I have".
Well, you may be deeply in debt and be in real trouble. It's going to be hard for you to believe, but I'm telling you I've seen it over and over and over again. You want to get out of debt? Here's how you start. Start giving God ten percent of your income. "There's no way I can do that". Just try it. Just try it. Because here's His promise. He said, "Bring ye all the tithes in the storehouse, that there may be food in My house". He says, "'Test Me now,' says the Lord," and watch what I'll do. "I'll open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing until it overflows". You say, "Well, how is that possible"? I don't know how it's possible. Does it happen? Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes! God always honors His Word. And so, He says, "All right, some of you've not done that". "You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation. Bring the whole tithe".
Now, somebody says, "Well, I give a five percent tithe". That's like saying this is a five-cent dime. No, there's no such thing. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house". And then here's what He says. He knows we're going to doubt Him. The next word is, "'Test Me now in this,' says the Lord of hosts, 'if I will not open for you the windows of heaven,'" in the test, '"open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.'" Somebody says, "Well, I just can't do that". That's what He said. He said it's a test, and some of you won't do it. I have seen people in all kind of debts. And no person who's ever tried this has ever come back to me and said, "Well, you know, I tried what you said and it didn't work. Not one person. Here's the reason. Look, this is not my promise, this is God's promise. And God says if you will bring Me all the tithes into the storehouse, here's what I'll do. He says I'll, "Pour you out a blessing until it overflows".
Listen, God's blessing won't trickle in, it overflows. You say, "Well, I'm in need". You're in need? Start tithing. "Well, I just..." you know what? What did He say? He says, "Test Me". So, God acknowledges that for you to start tithing is a test. And you've not heard me say one word about giving money to the church. Cause that's not what this is about. This is about you being obedient to God. If I will tithe to Him and bring to Him that which belongs to Him, He says, "Here's what I'll do. I will," "Pour out blessings upon you," He says, "until it overflows". And you know what? Watch this, you won't be able to figure out how it happens. You won't. You won't be able to figure it out. If you did, here's what you'd do.
Well, here's what I did. I started tithing and I did this and I did that. No, you didn't. You took God at His test. You obeyed Him, and here's what He did. Watch this, not only will He provide what you need, and not only will He show Himself strong and plentiful, "Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground, nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes," says the Lord of hosts. Here's what He says. "Not only," watch this, "not only comes with obedience that which I have required, but I'm going to protect you". He said, "I'm going to protect your crops".
In other words, what He's saying is this. When you put Me to the test and you give Me the tithe that belongs to Me, because I own it all, and that's what I'm requiring you to give back, here's what's going to happen. You're going to find God protecting you. Watch this, God isn't begging for money because He needs it, because remember where we started? God owns it all. He owns it all. So, it's not that God needs anything. He wants us to love Him and obey Him and follow Him because that's the wisest way to live and it's the life He has for us.
And so, when you look at what the world's doing versus what God says, I can tell you, God is not going to come up short anywhere. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse". "Here's what I'll do. Put Me to the test and see what I'll do". You know what this all boils down to? A choice between two words: obey, disobey; that's my choice. You say, "Well now, but you just don't know my circumstance". I heard that so many times. Let me ask you, I don't need to know your circumstance. Listen, God knows your circumstance.
And think about this: God placed in His Word, knowing all the circumstances that will ever begin to exist, and He says, "Here's what'll happen. You do what I tell you and I'm going to bless you. In fact, I'm going to bless you in such a way other people are going to be wondering about it". But you know what? If you obey Him, you trust Him, you do what He says, He is going to bless you personally and protect you personally, no matter what happens to everybody else. That's His promise. He didn't make this promise to Americans or some other nation. This is a personal promise to the people of God.
So, let me ask you a question. Are you a tither? Let's put it this way. Do you want God's best for your life, You believe God tells the truth. He owns it all. He asks for a tithe. He promises to run over with goodness and protection, watch, care, and blessings in your life. It's a matter, do I believe Him or do I not? And I can tell you in all of these years, He keeps His Word every single time. He does. So, He knew that you would have your own way of working your finances, but He knew you weren't going to be happy.
I think about how many people get divorced over money. And people lose their jobs over money. And people lose relationships about money and don't pay off their debts. In other words, when you and I obey God, we're going to have enough. We may have more than enough. We're going to have peace and happiness and contentment in our life. And most of all, we're going to be living in a relationship of obedience to our Heavenly Father. It is a choice we make. And my prayer is that you'll make a wise choice.
You say, "Well, I'm not a Christian". Well, the first choice you need to make is this. You need to acknowledge that you were created by God, and that He wants you to have the best, which means the first most important decision in your life, you trust Him as your personal Savior. You ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins. You surrender your life to Him. And when you surrender your life to Him, you surrender your whole life to Him and ask Him to save you. He said, "If you confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God's raised Him from the dead, you'll be saved". Your eternal future will be set.
And then ask the Lord to give you the desire of your heart, to obey Him in every area of your life. You cannot lose obeying God. And that's my prayer for you: that you obey Him. And wherever you are financially, you go home today and you say, "Okay, Lord, I can't get this to work". Watch this, "When I look at what I owe and what I need to do, I can't get this to work. And then go back to Malachi chapter three and at one word, I'm going to test You".
So you have to decide. Watch, just think about how simple this is. You have to decide: am I willing to believe the God who created this whole universe and keeps it going? Am I willing to believe the Word of God that's absolutely true? Am I willing to believe all that? Or do I think I'm smart enough to do this without Him? And you're not smart enough to do it without Him. And you know, I think about sometimes people say, "Well, you know, I just don't think I have to do all that". You don't have to. But if you're wise, you'll choose to.
Father, how grateful we are that You made it so simple. If we can count to ten, we can tithe. And if we really want to be obedient to You, You've promised to run over our cup, full, overflowing. And so, we just come today to say thank You, Lord, for giving us clear direction, simple instruction. And give us the wisdom, dear Father, to obey You and watch You work. And we pray this in Jesus's name, amen.