Charles Stanley - God and Our Money
When you think about your finances, do you have a good feeling or a bad feeling? I didn't hear that answer but I heard a roar. A good feeling or a bad feeling? Well when you think about your money, for example, do you think about how much you have, how much you'd like to have, how much you don't have, what you spent it on? What do you think about it? Do you give it any spiritual thought? Has it ever dawned on you, for example, maybe you need to give? Or maybe you need to give more? Or would you say that you have a pretty good excuse not to give any because you don't go to church. That's not the only place you can give.
And so when people think about their finances, usually they think about how much they need and what can they do to increase their income. I understand that. That's sort of natural and normal. There's nothing wrong with questioning that or wondering why. Maybe you don't feel like you've been treated right. You don't make enough on your job, whatever it might be. So, what I want us to do is to find out what God thinks. It's not what man thinks, it's what God thinks. Secondly, what God says, what He promises. That is, God keeps His promise so I want to know what He promises and I want to know what I can expect if I'm obedient to God.
Now if I'm not obedient to Him, I can expect not to be blessed. So I want you to turn to one of my favorite passages in the third chapter of the Proverbs. Turn there for a moment if you will. And I want us to begin reading in this fifth verse. This is an awesome passage of Scripture. And we'll just read from five down to verse ten. So listen to this, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding". In all your ways acknowledge Him, In every aspect of your life, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. If you will, it will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. Then he says, "Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats or your barrels will overflow with new wine".
What an awesome promise of God. So when I listen to that passage, I think, "Well, according to that I shouldn't be worried about finances. If I do exactly what God says do, I have to decide whether I believe that He keeps His word or doesn't". Is God telling the truth or is He not? Yes, He's telling the truth. And oftentimes we're in financial problems because we've simply disobeyed God. He's not going to challenge us to do something that's not for our best benefit. So I want us to think for just a moment, when you think about your finances, consider the basic teachings of Scripture, they're very basic. And the very first one is this. Listen to the fiftieth Psalm and the twelfth verse. Listen, "For the world is Mine, and all it contains".
Well, that settles the issue to some degree, that everything that exists, God controls it. He is, listen, the world is Mine, and all it contains. Now there are a lot of people who think it's theirs. They think, "This is my money. This is mine to do with it what I choose". That's not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that God is the One who owns it all and He's given us the privilege of being caretakers of it, managers of it, stewards of it, but not owners. There's a difference. To recognize that what you have belongs to God, it came from God. You say, "Well, I worked forty hours or fifty hours last week". Well, you could have been sick and couldn't work. You could have been without a job. And so, when you consider the basic teachings of Scripture about giving, the first one is this.
The question is, "Are we a tither of our income"? He says in Malachi, better turn there 'cause I want to show you something. Look in Malachi the third chapter for a moment. And you've heard this many, many times and people have preached on it and you've listened to it. Some of you have listened to it, unhappily. And some of you listened to it happily. But listen to this passage of Scripture. He says, "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!'" Then He says, "Bring the whole tithe, ten percent into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house". Giving us a reason, "Test Me".
God says you can put me to the test, and says the Lord of hosts, "if I'll not open for you the windows of heaven pour out for you a blessing until it overflows". One of the purposes for His blessing us is to prove Himself to us. Then He says, "'I will rebuke the devourer for you, so you'll not, so he'll not destroy the fruits of the ground, nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,' says the Lord of hosts. 'All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightsome land,' says the Lord of hosts.'"
Now, what's He saying? He said, "Look. I'm the source of everything. My requirement is that you give a tenth of your income back to me for three reasons primarily. First of all, to provide for the work of the Lord. Secondly, to provide for the needs of others. And thirdly to prove His faithfulness". In other words, one of the reasons God requires us to give is, He wants to prove to us His faithfulness. That if I give, He's going to give back. If I give He's going to give more. That is, He wants to prove to us that He is everything He says He is.
Somebody says, "Well, now I don't need to give to prove that". Well, let me ask you a question. Are you tithing? More than likely anybody that questions, that's not a tither. Well, I give to God. How much do you give? Well, I give enough. What's enough? Well, I can tell you what enough is. Enough starts with one tenth. And somebody says, well in this day and time, God does not expect me to give a tenth of my income to Him. Well, let's look back and see what His reasons are, to provide for the work of the Lord. You want to get the Gospel out? Secondly, He says to provide for the needs of others. You want to keep everything for yourself? And thirdly, He says to prove His faithfulness. One of the reasons God requires of us and ask of us to give to Him is He wants to prove Himself.
So, for example, what else could He do to prove Himself? And this reaches the heart of a lot of people, their money. In other words, I work forty hours or fifty or sixty, or twenty, or whatever it might be and this is mine. No, it's not mine. God provided it for you. And to prove Himself to you, give Him a tenth and watch what He does. It isn't that God can't operate without us. That He's given us this awesome privilege of working with God so that He can prove Himself to us that He's who He says He is. Now, he says we're to tithe our income and secondly, we're to give cheerfully. And Second Corinthians chapter nine, look there for a moment. Second Corinthians chapter nine, and look if you will in these verses, beginning in verse six, "Now, this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully".
Now listen to that, watch this. This is how simple this is. I either believe God or I don't believe. This is not the words of preacher. This is the Word of God. If I sow bountifully, I'm going to reap bountifully. Watch this, "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver". And this is what He promises, "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed".
So, God doesn't put pressure on people to give. He says, "Here's the opportunity". Here's, in other words, here's what God says. "This is the way I operate". God says, "The way I operate is that I want you to have all your needs met and I've chosen to do this. I've chosen that as you count your dimes, ten of them, you take one and give it to me, you have nine". Somebody says, "But, but nine and ten are not the same". Not with you, but with a sovereign, omnipotent God, He can take a little bit and multiply it far beyond anything we imagine.
You say, "Well, I don't know whether I believe that or not". Well, I'll tell you when you'll believe it, when you try it. One thing for certain, when you obey God, God is going to honor your giving You say, "Well, I don't know whether it'll work or not". Well, God is simply saying, "You don't have to wonder about it. Just try Me". Imagine trying God. I love that idea, try God! He's not going to ever come up short and we're not going to ever come up needing anything because that's who He is. He's a God of grace and love and mercy.
If I should ask you if you believe that God is a God of goodness and love and mercy, you'd say, "Yes". I say, "Well, if you believe He's that, would you give Him one tenth of what you have? It's just one tenth". Think about what He said. I'm going to bless you thus so and so. All I want you to do is to set aside one tenth of it, one penny out of every ten, just line them up, one penny out of every ten, and see what I do over here because of what you've done. God is a God who keeps His Word. And when I think about the simplicity of that promise and what He's willing to do if we're willing to trust Him.
So I want you to turn to this very important passage. Go back to the Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament and go back to two books. That's the quickest way to find Haggai. I want you to listen to this awesome passage of Scripture which should be a warning to you about not giving to God. Listen to what he says, verse five. Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, watch this. "Consider your ways! You have sown much, but you harvest little, you eat, but there is not enough to satisfy you, you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk, you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough, and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes".
Now is that not an awesome passage of Scripture or not? You know what He says in one sentence? No matter what you do, it's not going to work. Listen. People can gain millions and millions in their income, just as miserable when they lie on their bed at night. You can't buy a bed anywhere that takes away the burdens of the day. You can't. You can't have a room that's so absolutely beautiful and peaceful and everything is just right and relieve you of guilt. God says that you and I are managers. We're caretakers. We're people who are responsible for every aspect of our life. And money is an area in which we're responsible.
God is the giver of every good and perfect gift, and listen. Who gives you the strength to get up in the morning and get to work? Who gave your house to live in? Who gave you a car to drive? Who's given you good health? Who's the source of every blessing you have? That's right. Listen, giving to God is not just appreciation. It's obedience. It isn't just being good and being kind and being thoughtful and being sort of generous. It's either obedience or disobedience. And either I believe what He says or I don't.
So think about this. Is God omniscient, knowing all? Let's, let's say it like you mean it. Omniscient, knowing all? Omnipotent, having all power? Well, why don't you give to Him? That is, if He's all of that, can you trust Him with ten percent of what you have? I'm just saying, "Are you practicing a principle? And many of you do not even go to church or many of you do. And you may listen to whatever it might be, morning and not even on Sunday. But what about your money? What are you doing about your money and your relationship to God? It is an opportunity to obey God and watch Him work. God is always at work in people's hearts who will obey Him. If you ignore Him, God's not going to force Himself upon you. God gives some people great abilities and talents and skills and reasoning in business and so forth, make lots and lots of money, and what are they doing? They're strutting about what they've done.
Well, I want to go back to Haggai. According to Haggai, you got a hole in your pocket, buddy, and you don't even know it's there. You can lose quicker than you made it by far. And people spend their whole life making money, accomplishing more, achieving more, putting away more and one heartbeat, it's all over. One heartbeat, it's all over. Imagine spending sixty or seventy years doing your best to become a multi, multi-millionaire, go to bed at night and wake up facing God. I don't think so. So would you say that you are a spender? Or would you say you're a good caretaker of what God has given you?
The reason people get in trouble financially is real simple. Disobeying God and Haggai is a good example. When you got all that money, does a hole in your pocket. Have you ever felt like there's a hole in your pocket? Somebody says, "I felt like there's a hole in my whole finances". You can lose it, you can lose it quicker than you can have it. Amen? Okay, so consider God's plan for our giving to Him. and if you'll just jot them down for your sake and then I want to read the Scripture. That is, God's motivation for blessing us and causing us to tithe is love. First Chronicles twenty-nine, twelve, "Both riches and honor come from You and You rule over all and Your hand is power and might, and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. For all things come from You".
You ought to write that in your Bible, underline that Scripture. "Both riches and honor come from You. You rule over all". The second is not only His motivation, but here's His plan. We read it a while ago, "'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, test Me, put Me to the test now,' says the Lord of hosts, 'if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.'" Get that last part. He's not saying, "I'm just going to bless you up to the rim. I'm going to bless you till it overflows".
Now, my best example of this, and I love it! Hm-hm-hm! And that's oatmeal and Raisin Bran. I like them both. And the other day I bought a large carton of Raisin Bran and it had two bags of Raisin Bran in it. Ha! Fifty percent air, fifty percent Raisin Bran. So, I bought a big container of oatmeal, right up to the tiptop. And the truth is we don't like opening a bag and it's fifty percent air. Thank God that's not the way He works. Then look at this, because that's His plan, His promise. Listen to His promise. He says, Proverbs three, ten, "Your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats, or barrels, will overflow with new wine". And so, that's what they were concerned about most, what to eat and what to drink, that's His promise.
Then what about His protection? Of whatever we have, listen to what He says. He says in Malachi three, eleven, "I will rebuke the devourer of you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground, nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes before they're ripe". What He's saying is this. Now remember, this is an agriculture life He's talking about. What about today? What He's simply saying is I'm going to protect what you do have. You say, "Well, now how would God do that? It depends on the situation". God knows how to protect us. He would protect you, for example, in decisions that you make. You're getting ready to buy a house, new house.
And so, you and your wife look at it, or your husband, and you've got the children there and they all, you all just love it, and it's big and beautiful. Then you go home and you look at your income and you think, "Well, that stretches a little bit". And then, deep down inside, you know it's more than you can afford. So, you say, "Well, what we'll do, we'll just pray about it". If you pray about it, God is not going to lead you into debt. Now watch this. Owning a house and having a mortgage isn't necessarily a debt if you can pay the mortgage. But if you're buying something you can't afford, and what happens? You sleep in a bed that you're never comfortable in, because of how much money you owe. You sit at a table and you can't enjoy the meals because you're in debt. And you can wear the finest clothes, but if you're in debt you can't enjoy them.
In other words, God wants to protect us in what we have. And if we honor Him, listen to Him and you're getting ready to buy something, for example, and you have this little reservation, mm-mm-mm-mm. "I don't know how God uses it on you, but it's just like I'll just feel, mm-mm, that's not of me". Then you better drop it right there. And it, here's what we say sometimes. We say, "Well, you know what? I know nobody's perfect, and God understands". He does not understand disobedience. He just doesn't. And if God tells you not to do something or you have a strong feeling. And remember, you have the Holy Spirit living within you, that's His gift, and what does He do? He warns us about things and He encourages us, and He gives us direction and guidance and leadership.
And so, God wants you to have a place to live. He may not want you at this time in your life to have a house that has all these particular amenities to it. But He wants you to have something you can rest in, enjoy in, decorate in, or whatever, and have fun in. He doesn't want you living in a house that you're afraid financially it's just going to collapse on you. And many people have lost their houses because they didn't listen to God. They bought something they couldn't afford. They didn't do it because God led them, because He warned them against it. So watch this. When it comes to God's protection of us and His watch care, He protects us in every facet of our life.
What about His generosity? Look if you will in Luke chapter six, verse thirty-eight, "Give, and it will be given to you". That is whatever you give. They will pour into your lap a good measure. How much is that? Well when they pour it in it to be, "pressed down, shaken together, running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return". Now look at that! You know it doesn't get any simpler than this. Look at this. He says, "By your standard of measure, be measured to you in return".
So, if I give God one dollar out of ten, I'm going to get blessed. It's just that simple. I've been tithing since my first job I made four dollars. I would have felt guilty if I gave God twenty-five or fifty cents. I gave Him a dollar. I was grateful. I've never just tithed in my life. I'm not saying I'm an example, I'm just saying this. I know it works. We forget who we're talking about. We're not talking about what I'm going to do for you. We're talking about what He's going to do for you. God is going to keep His word because that's who He is. He's a God of truth. Now it's one thing to tell the truth, the second thing is does He have the power to do it? Yes! He has infinite power to work in your life to do His will, to get His will done.
So, is He generous? Yes, He is. Gives us more than we expect, more than deserve, more than we ask for. Then of course, His sufficiency. Listen to what He says in Second Corinthians nine, six through eight, and we read it, "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly," chinchy, you know, just a little bit, "will also reap sparingly, he who sows bountifully," giving a lot, "will reap bountifully". God loves a chinchy giver. Is that what it says? God loves a cheerful giver. Now watch this, "God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed". You know what God is saying? "I'm going to bless you if you just trust me". It's just that simple. It all boils down to one thing.
Do I believe the Word of God, or do I not? I've given you a few illustrations, but what I've given you is the Word of God. We've just been quoting Scripture all morning. Do you believe Him or not? What about your children? You, some of you have small children and you talk to some things about them. You should talk to your children about your finances. You should teach them very early in life to tithe their income. And the way you do that is stack up, stack up ten pennies. Put one over here, and they have nine and you say, "Well, son, which one do you want"? He'll say, "Well I'll take the nine".
You should talk about tithing your income to your children because you don't know when they're going to need it. You don't want them coming back for, to you for something that God would provide. So you've just heard the truth this morning. And nobody here has an excuse and nobody listening has an excuse for not knowing what to do. And that is, tithe your income. If it's your local church or wherever you get blessed. You do what God tells you to do and watch God work in your life. It may be a revolution that takes place in your life about not only your giving, but everything else that you're doing.
Father, how grateful we are that we never have to in any way apologize to Your Word. We really don't have to defend it, but just proclaim it and watch You work it. We love You, we praise You, we thank You. We could never thank You enough. And Father, I pray for the person who is unsaved and they are seated here or watching and listening, and probably not very interested in money, but to realize they have to give an account to You one of these days. They can't pay their way in, but it's a matter of asking You to forgive them of their sins, surrendering their life to You, and by faith, trusting You to forgive them on the basis of Christ's death at Calvary, shedding of His blood, payment for their sin. What an awesome God You are. Let Your grace, dear Father, let Your grace rest upon every person who is trusting You as their Savior, believing You for their life, in Jesus' name, amen.