Summary: Discipline is a discipline in faithfulness. The issue of our money and possessions is really an issue of ownership. It’s an issue of whom I work for. Who am I responsible to?
This past two weeks we’ve been talking about financial freedom. The first step to financial freedom is devotion to God. That happens when we’re free from possession obsession, from deficit thinking (I don’t have enough money to give back to God) and from fear which paralyzes faithfulness to God’s call on our lives and prohibits fruitfulness in our lives. This comes only from obedience to give God back to him and offer him the tithe, the first 10% of what you make. Last week we talked the bondage of debt and God’s desire that we not have any debt because Jesus came to give us freedom in all areas of our life. And when we’re in debt, we become a slave to others. Then we learned some keys to getting out of debt.
Today, we’re going to talk about financial freedom through discipline. You can begin to give back to God and you can start to get out of debt but unless you are disciplined, you will never have lifelong financial freedom. The temptations are too great to spend our money on the immediate, to think about today only in our spending and neglect an uncertain future and to charge things even when we don’t have any money in the bank. Financial freedom is not about how much I have – whether it’s a little or an abundance, it is the result of being faithful and disciplined with what I do have.
Today’s scripture is a familiar one. A wealthy master is leaving for an extended journey and leaves his finances in the hands of 3 servants. To one he gave the equivalent of $600,000, to another 1.2 million and to another 2.5 million. There are five things we learn from this passage which leads to discipline and financial freedom. First, God Owns It All. When Giovanna was working for Channel 38, they had a suite at the Saints game. In the suites people spend time sitting in the seats watching the game and time sitting inside the suite on the couches provided. I got into a conversation with Giovanna’s boss, Steve Scollard. Steve was a man of the world, who worked hard, played hard and drank hard. We got to talking about money and I mentioned that I tithed. Steve asked what that was and I said it’s the first 10% you make which you give back to God. He asked why and I said it was based on the understanding that everything I make and everything I have is God’s. He created everything and He owns everything, I’m just a caretaker. And a hush came over Steve and I saw the wheels turning in his mind and finally he said, “I never thought about it that way.” Many of us have never gotten to the point of knowing and accepting that God owns it all. Everything is His, and he has asked us to manage it. The fact is, It makes all the difference in the world when you’re handing someone else’s money.
Second, discipline comes from understanding that every spending decision is a spiritual decision. It’s not just about what we give to the Lord, but what we do with all of our money. Ron Blue says: "You can’t fake stewardship. Your checkbook reveals all that you really believe about stewardship. A life story could be written from a checkbook. It reflects your goals, priorities, convictions, relationship, and even the use of your time. A person who has been a Christian for even a short while can fake prayer, Bible study, evangelism, going to church and so on, but he can’t fake what his checkbook reveals." Being devoted to God is about realizing that everything we do and everything we say and every way we spend our money is our worship of God. It’s a spiritual decision. Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Third, God uses money and possessions to prepare us for greater work and responsibility in His kingdom. How many of you want your life to count for something? How many of you want to accomplish something great for God? Let me tell you something: how we view and how well we manage the possessions and money God has given us will determine what work God will give us in establishing His kingdom here on earth. If we hoard, grip tightly and reserve all of our stuff for ourselves, don’t expect to be able to accomplish much for God in your lifetime. But if you are faithful, trustworthy and responsible with what God has given you to manage then God will give you even more to oversee. Money and possessions are the tool that God uses in our lives to teach us, grows us and instill the discipline in us needed to play an even greater role in His kingdom.