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About this series
Leaving a Legacy that Lasts Forever
How to Give Your Kids and Grandkids What Money Can't Buy
How do you leave a legacy that stands the test of time? How do you give others what money can't buy? We all desire to leave an inheritance of significant value to those around us. So, just what does that include? We can leave money and possessions, but what can we leave that really matters and will echo throughout time?More from this series
I’m going to ask you a series of about five questions and then here is how I want you to think. With one part of your brain going, This is my answer to the question, and then the second is, how do you think those people that matter to you most would answer this question? Because I want you to begin to ponder, Where are they at with this issue of wealth and money?
So, this is my answer, and then I want you to see, Gosh, would they answer it about the same? Or, Oh, we are really on different pages. And it’s just a little diagnostic tool. Are you ready? Okay.
Question number one. Talking about money: how much is enough? Write a number. Don’t give me one of those soft, Just enough to cover our needs and live comfortably, whatever that means. If it’s a million, write a million. If it’s five million, five million. Five hundred thousand…
How much money is enough to really live and be who God wants you to be from where you’re living, for you, in your world? Write it down. And then I want you to be thinking, What would my son, my daughter, the guys in my Bible study, what would they say?
Question number two: How much is too much? Write down a dollar amount. In other words, if God gave you two million dollars, that would be enough. But eleven might send you over the edge. Or fifty million dollars you feel like you could handle, or what you want is “x” a month, you wouldn’t want a big stockpile. I don’t know what you, but what is the answer to that question? How much would be too much? You would say, God, please.
Third question: Can I be both godly and rich? Yes or no? And then you want to think about, How does the person you want to pass this on to, how would they answer that? Can I both be godly and rich?
Question number four: If riches and material goods can choke out spiritual life, I’m referring to that passage in Mark chapter 4 and the seed of God’s Word and it’s four different kinds of soil, and one of the soils is the thorny soil. And the thorny soil grows up, right? And it chokes out the very life, the Word of God, in a believer’s heart. If that, in fact, is true, and it is because Jesus said it, is poverty God’s calling for spiritual maturity? And if not, what is?
And it is okay to write on some of these answers, I don’t know. Like, that’s a good question; I don’t know.
But how would you answer that? And then how would that guy you are discipling, how would one of your grandkids, how would one of your kids answer that?
Final question: Why does Jesus warn against the deceitfulness of riches? And what I want to talk about here is: deceitful. Now, the definition of when you’re deceived, you don’t know you’re deceived. I mean, that’s part of being deceived, right? And so, apparently, wealth has an ability to allow you to live as best you know, in fellowship with God, obeying Him, and doing what you think is really good and right and fruitful, and actually, have your ladder leaning against the wrong wall; be totally off.
Apparently, there is something about money. Now, it’s clear, money is not, in and of itself, evil. We have wealthy people in Scripture, we have poor people in Scripture. But apparently, according to Jesus, wealth or money, has the power to deceive us into thinking we are doing okay when we are really not, which, by the way, I think is pretty scary.
I remember my daughter, when she was much younger, we were riding in the car, and we have lived in very tiny, little houses and we have taken quarters out of the back seat and we have had God miraculously provide and then my job and my world changed at different times and then I moved to Atlanta and God had blessed in a number of areas and we were riding in our little housing development, and there are some big, pretty trees.
And we were coming around the corner and Annie turned to me and said, “Dad?” I said, “Yeah?” She goes, “Are we rich?” And my temptation was to say, “Well, honey, we are in this subdivision and our houses are really nice but the really rich people, they live in the Country Club of the South, okay? You know the mansions? With the really big houses and the beautiful golf course and they have the statues out front? Now, they are the really rich people.”
But I resisted that temptation and I said, “Yes, Annie, we are rich. We have more than I ever dreamed we would ever have. We have an abundance of everything. We used to have to live really tight, and now if we want to go out to eat, we can go out to eat. We are rich. As are most Americans, when you look at it globally.”
But here is the deceitfulness of wealth, I just want to tap into this. I don’t care where you’re at. Your flesh and your human nature will take wherever you are at on the economic scale and you will unconsciously tilt about ten to twenty degrees above you, they are rich people and you are sort of middle or upper-middle class.
And, by the way, it never ends. I was with an executive in Atlanta and he was a professional basketball player years ago with the Celtics and even at sixty-two, he still plays. And we played a little pick-up and he’s about 6’8” and we have a lot of fun. And he really cares about our ministry.
And so, I would teach these, they called them in Atlanta, “Bible studies.” Like, two or three hundred businesspeople and big Gary, he would come up to me and he said, “Hey, Chip, I’m telling you, I invited some of my friends.” I said, “Yeah, great.” He said, “Now, man, what you’re doing, man, they need it. And I think they could be a part of this thing. Chip, they are serious money.”
Have you ever had anyone say that? “Hey, hey, hey, Chip. This is serious money. They are old wealth Atlanta. Oh.” And I’m thinking, of course, in my mind, I’m here and Gary is here. He’s a former professional basketball player. He owns his own company, he has a place in Hilton Head, he’s a multi-millionaire. But he does not see, he is probably worth ten, twelve, fifteen million. He does not see himself as rich. But these people? They have serious money. Right?
Now, because of what I do, believe this or not, I have actually had the opportunity to do some of these conferences where they bring very, very wealthy people together. And I have had, with a straight face, conversations with people who have told me, “You know, I have a giving plan. I really want to help the kingdom. But once my portfolio goes under five hundred million dollars, I feel like I really need to back off.”
And you laugh until maybe you have five hundred million dollars. And you have a line and I have a line. I will guarantee you do.
And that line is far different. If I could turn the clock back, well, I would have to do it different numbers for different people, but ten years for some, twenty years, thirty years. But if you can imagine yourself in your late teens, early twenties, starting a career, and someone freeze-framed you, and then, boom, you didn’t live it, but they said, “Okay, when you get to be fifty-nine years old or sixty-seven years old, and you have this much money,” you’d look and go, “Are you kidding me? I’ll never have that much,” and you have it right now.
And yet you don’t think you’re wealthy. You think you’re sort of upwardly mobile and doing okay. In fact, we have had this big thing that has happened and the losing of money. I remember talking to another one of my very wealthy friends who is a great business guy who has gone bankrupt three times. And so, he has the most healthy view of money of anyone I have ever met in my life.
And you talk about a guy who gets, “It’s all God’s,” he says, “because believe me, I can make it and lose it and make it and lose it.” And he said, “Here’s what people don’t understand is that everyone ten years ago had “x” amount of dollars. Let’s say you put four or five hundred thousand dollars or fifty thousand dollars,” and I’ll just use numbers.
But let’s say, and then, ten years ago, let’s say it went from a half a million to two and a half million. Or it went from five million to twenty million. And that was ten years ago. Well, now, everything crashes and if you had half a million, you’ve only got three. But you had nine. And so you know what? It’s like, man, I lost six million dollars. My life stinks. Or I had fifteen million dollars, now I only have seven.
Instead of, how many people have you heard talking about the downturn in the economy going, “You know, five years ago or ten years ago, I only had a million dollars, and now I have nine. What a bummer.”
Do you understand what I am trying to help you see? You and I, and this disease, Jesus said, it’s with everybody. This disease is we reframe reality and money has this power to make us think in ways that totally do not correspond with what is true.
And what we want to talk about, if that’s true of us, imagine those children and those disciples and those people in your women’s group and that young girl you are trying to help and those grandkids, imagine if that is true for all of you, many who have walked with the Lord a lot longer, how do you pass on what they need to manage their wealth in a wise way?
I came across an article by Ray Padrón, it’s from Polstra & Dardaman, it’s a private wealth counsel. And I just want to read, I just want you to get how serious this is. This is a secular resource. So this isn’t from a Christian background. But he writes and he counsels very wealthy people about transfer of funds.
He says, “When it comes to learning values and decision making, there is one thing I have found to be true. Some things are taught, some things are caught, and some things have to be learned the hard way,” i.e. experience.
“Just because our children grow up and leave home doesn’t mean that parenting is over. As parents, we will be given a host of opportunities to help guide them. The methods and the tools may require a bit more sophistication, but the fact is, I will always be ahead of them in life, its opportunities, and its responsibilities.
“One of the final experiences we create for our families will actually happen right after we leave this world. For many families, that experience is being left to chance more than they realize.”
Listen to this, “It is estimated that approximately fifty-two trillion dollars will change hands to the next generation between 1998 and 2052.” That’s trillion. Fifty-two trillion dollars.
“Here’s the bad news. Approximately seventy percent of the estates fail following their transition into the hands of heirs. That’s right. Seventy percent of heirs involuntarily lose control of the transfer of the assets by poor investments, dissipation through family arguments, and legal expenses, or just plain inattention and lack of preparation.”
Now, this is the key: “What is not the problem is poor estate planning. What I mean is that most people’s estate documents are just fine. The reason for the failure with estate transitions lies within the family itself.”
Now, here are some stats: “Sixty percent of failed estates fail due to the lack of trust or communication and breakdown in the family. Another twenty-five percent fail because of a lack of training to ensure the family is prepared to manage the wealth that they have inherited. ‘Manage’ means more than just professional money management, but also the discipline to spend it wisely and not all of it in a short period of time.”
Now, I hope at this point in time, here is my hopeful experience for where you might be at mentally and emotionally. There are some questions about money that you haven’t thought about, that have a real definite answer and you’re soft in your thinking about them. When I ask, “How much is enough?” it was sort of like, there must be some secret Christian answer but, like, “As much as I can get,” was the answer that I have always played around in my mind, right?
Or, how much is too much? Well, I never thought of that, yet, in Scripture we have the wisest man in the world praying, “God, don’t give me too much,” right? “Don’t give me too much, more than I can handle, lest I forget who You are. Don’t give me too little, lest I steal and defame your name.”
And then this issue of, well, can you be godly and rich? A lot of rich people, struggle with all kinds of guilt, because instead of seeing it as a stewardship and from God and my priorities in order and, by the way, I don’t have to tell everyone I got it on sale or that I won the great vacation to Vail or to Cancun. It’s like, “I had the money, I’m generous with my money, I wanted to go there, I enjoy skiing, I had a good time, and I’m a Christian. Okay?”
We didn’t build the swimming pool to do baptisms, all right? God has blessed me and the second home wasn’t just for the pastoral staff, because that’s who we really care about and we wanted a little getaway for them. You can’t imagine all of the phony baloney I hear from people, you know?
But a lot of that is rooted in guilt. A lot of that is we don’t understand what God has given us, what it means to be a steward, how to enjoy richly what He has given you, and how to be sacrificially generous with what He has given you, and to know you’re in the right spot with your money.
Your money is the clearest, singular barometer of your soul of anything going on in your life. That’s why Jesus talked more about money than heaven and hell combined.
My money reveals my priorities. My money reveals my values. My money reveals where my heart is.
Imagine, if you will, your wallet or your 401k, or your black credit card that you own, or your purse, imagine a chain connected to that into your heart, and wherever that money goes, that’s where, that’s the real reflection of my heart.
And so when you start thinking about transferring the things that matter most, man, you have to have, not only a clear plan, but help those you care about, those disciples or kids or grandkids, to go into training, because it’s so deceitful.
So with that, let’s dig in together and let’s talk about a theology of wealth or stewardship, and let’s teach them how to manage their wealth wisely. Again, if you were going to die exactly three hundred and sixty-five days from now, there are few things you could do that would help those you love the most than to teach them, model for them, and put into place some things how to manage their wealth. Because the entire focus of their life will follow that.
Okay, theology of stewardship. And this is a summary of a lot of teaching. I just want to give the basics, then we will dig in. God owns everything. And you can jot, “Psalm 50, verse 12.”
“‘The earth is mine, and the fullness thereof,’ declares the Lord.” God owns everything. That is a big, big step that you need to pass on.
Second, God has entrusted His things: time, talent, and treasure to us to manage for Him. The apostle Paul would write, “What do you have that you haven’t received?” So this is the tipping point, this is the clarity of all about stewardship. It’s God’s. He has entrusted it to you, it’s not yours, it’s not mine, it’s His. You are a manager. You are a steward.
The New Testament word is oikonomíā. It comes from the root word of a house. It’s the governor of the oversight of a household. And he has put so much time and so much energy and so much spiritual gift and so much money, deposited into your world, and you are His money manager. Okay?
Third, God expects a positive return on His investment. He is the best banker in the universe. He has deposited certain things for different people at different times, according to our ability and purposes and expectations. And when you meet Him, not to deal with the issue of your sin, but for the issue of rewards, He expects a positive return.
In fact, the next line is, “God will hold you accountable.” You might jot down “2 Corinthians chapter 5,” you might read through that slowly. That’s called the Bema Seat. It’s a judgment, not again for your sins, that has been judged at the cross. But you are saved by grace, now what did you do with the new life? You will stand before God, I will stand before God, and I will give an account of this, “How did you use the money I gave you? How did you use the time I gave you?” And then I will be rewarded or disappointed accordingly.
Notice the motivation: God wants you to share in His joy. He has given you money, not to be a burden around your neck. He has given you wealth and opportunity, not so that you feel like, Oh, well, what am I supposed to do?
It is to create a relationship at a level in your heart so that as you learn to use it and say, it’s kind of like this, Father, how would You like this money used? Father, how would You like this money used? As you cooperate with that, His whole goal is that you would have a level of joy and intimacy with Him through that transaction. I’ll share a story of how that works in a minute. But this is just the outline.
Finally, the Old Testament roots are Genesis chapter 1:26 through 29. And just listen. Just listen. It says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness. And then let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over the livestock and over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
And then listen to this: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill all the earth and subdue it and rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the ground.”
And then God said, “I give to you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit and seed in it. They will be yours for food.” Do you see what He did? “Look, it’s My earth, I created you, have at it. Manage it well. I’m putting you in charge. You’re in charge of the planet. You run it. You develop it. You are My steward.”
Job put it another way in Job chapter 1. After some devastating things that were taken away, Job understood, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a second. It’s hard to lose stuff, but I guess if it really wasn’t my stuff, it gives me perspective.”
He says, “At this, Job got up, tore his robe, shaved his head, and then he fell to the ground in worship and said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.’”
See, I get really angry when God takes things away when I start thinking it’s mine. How could You do that to me? I worked hard for this. This is my stuff. I had a plan for this.
And so part of the whole stewardship thing is really coming to grips that God owns it all.
The two biblical profiles here, a New Testament command is Matthew chapter 25, verses 14 through 30. And I put that in your notes; it’s a very long passage and in light of that, what I would like to do is give you the summary. You’re familiar, probably, with it.
Jesus is teaching about stewardship. And Jesus is teaching about being ready for His return. And Jesus is talking about what it looks like to be His manager. And so, He tells a story and He talks about this person who is going to go to a far away country, and He gives five talents of treasure to one, two talents of treasure to another, one talent to another.
He goes for a long period of time and the one with five talents doubles it. So he brings in five more. The one with two doubles it, he brings in two more. And both of those hear this, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” or steward. “Come, enter in to the joy of your master.”
“This was my stuff, I entrusted it to you for a period of time; you had brains, opportunity, and you could do with it whatever you want. But the goal was that it would be pleasing to Me, I have come back to hold you accountable. My dream in holding you accountable was not to be down on you. It was for you to get to experience some things in our relationship and what I had. Now, well done.”
Now, the one with one, it says he went and hid it in the ground, which basically says he didn’t put it in the bank. Basically, it also says that the bank would know it actually belongs to someone else. And so he comes and then he makes an excuse.
And his excuse is a very warped view of God in the context. And it’s, “I knew you were a harsh master and you glean where you haven’t sown and you are really tough to live with and you were going to be…”
He said, “Okay, if that’s who you think I really am, take this wicked one away and give his one talent to the one that has ten.” Because, see, what he did is he buried it. He didn’t do anything with it. He didn’t even put it in the bank and get interest for his master.
And Jesus’ point of that whole talent is that each one of us, according to His purposes for us and some abilities deposited in us, have been given different levels of gift, different levels of financials, different levels of opportunities. And the measure is not, How do I do compared to someone else?
The thesis of the whole parable is: What did you do with what God entrusted to you? And did you notice that number five talent guy and number two talent guy got the same commendation? They got the same praise. Because they both fulfilled, with what they had, what God wanted them to do.
And part of it is because, here, what the Spirit of God, as we are going through these very basic things from His Word, is beginning to expose some of how we are deceived.
And some of you are feeling really uncomfortable. Can I tell you? That’s probably a good experience because how do you ever change if you don’t realize, Wow!
And when God convicts us, and He is not down on you. He’s not in heaven, tapping His toe, “Come on, Ingram. Give it to ‘em, baby. Give it to ‘em.” You know?
His whole goal, when He shows me sin in my life, is to restore His Son back into intimate fellowship with the Father so He could say, “Chip, you are deceived. You kept thinking everybody else is rich and your daughter asked you a simple question, and you finally had the guts to say, ‘Yeah,’ but, you know what? Your dad came from the Depression era and you have been poor most of your life. And you have actually struggled with money and didn’t know how to…and so you were uncomfortable with God’s blessing, even though…”
I should say, Are my priorities in line? Yeah. Are you giving more than you ever dreamed you could ever give? Yeah! So why don’t you enjoy the house you’re in? Well, God, because I’m a little uncomfortable. Instead of, Thank You. And that’s what God wants to do in our life.
Let me give you a picture and then I’m going to give you practical ways to pass this on. The two pictures are, one, if you ever want to read about a man, one of my most favorite characters is Nehemiah in the Old Testament, and Barnabas in the New.
And the story of Nehemiah, very briefly, is he is the right-hand man to the most powerful man in the world. Israel has sinned against God, so He promised He would disperse them across the world, and He did. And so you have Jews in all these different places and now Persia is the ruling empire and Nehemiah opens with this place called “Susa,” which is up in the mountains. So it’s cool because it’s very hot in Persia, or Iran, in the summer.
And so the king has this right-hand man named Nehemiah and he is called a “cup-bearer,” but the cup-bearer’s job was more than tasting the wine or the food to make sure it wasn’t poison.
He became a confidant. And so, basically, Nehemiah has the hottest chariot, the greatest clothes, the most money, the best food. He is a person of great influence and affluence. He is filthy rich. And he lives in a palace. He drives a Lexus chariot. And he doesn’t feel guilty about it. He’s got a Rolex sundial.
God deposited that in Nehemiah for a window of opportunity and he wasn’t a prophet and he wasn’t a pastor and if you studied all of God’s agenda for His people, you would find out that man was the linchpin between all of God’s prophecy going in the tubes and Israel being restored.
He sent Ezra back, it didn’t work. He sent Zerubbabel back to rebuild. It wasn’t until Nehemiah, the business guy, the guy with position, the guy with power, the guy with leadership gift who could mobilize everyone to turn everything around.
Stewardship isn’t feeling guilty for having money and position and power and brains. Stewardship is an understanding: It’s not yours. All you get is a verse that is hard to live with. “To them much given, much is required.”
And so, when you make a lot of money and say, “I tithe,” God is not impressed, nor is anyone else. How hard is it to tithe when you have six figures or seven figures or beyond? The most generous people in the world right now are the poor.
And when things go down, the people who stop giving first, by all the research, are us rich. And Nehemiah, he is this model of what it looks like to be godly and to be wealthy and to be generous. In fact, he decided, “No personal expenses for me.”
Barnabas is another one. Very wealthy man. He owned property on Cyprus. He was the key. We would have never heard of the apostle Paul if it wasn’t for Barnabas.
Barnabas was the one who had the courage to say, “Hey, he is legit, guys. He really is a Christian. I know he has been killing all the Christians, but I have seen him, I have met him, he is legit.” And he introduces Paul to the Twelve.
And then when Christianity launches into the Gentile world, they say, “Barnabas is the leader in the church. Barnabas, we want you to go down there and disciple those new Gentiles.”
And the text says, in Acts, “So he went down to Paul’s hometown,” gets Paul, and says, “Hey, let’s partner on this thing.” The first missionary journey; read the text! It’s not Paul and Barnabas, it’s Barnabas and Paul! Until you keep reading, and then it’s Paul and Barnabas. He was a wealthy man who had leadership gift, who God used.
It’s a stewardship. It’s a stewardship. God has given you what He wants you to have, and He wants you to manage your money as a steward.
The biggest lesson I learned from all this, and it’s a picture, and it’ll help the rest play out. I was a young pastor and twenty-eight years old; I had no idea what I was doing. I had been through the parachurch, so I knew how to make disciples, and I was learning how to teach.
And after a couple of years, the chairman of our board, he owned a CPA firm in downtown Dallas. And he said, “You know something?” We were out in a rural area. “You are connected to all these hurting people and I have a heart for the poor and I have a heart for people with needs. You have opportunity; I have money.”
And he said, “I want you to come down and let’s eat lunch together.” So I end up in this high rise, beautiful place, really nervous, going up to the something-something floor. We have a great lunch and then he pulls out a little brown checkbook. And he puts it, and he says, “Chip, this is for you.” I said, “What is it?” He says, “I would like you to be my money manager.”
I said, “Well, what do you mean?” He said, “Well, you’re a pastor. You know where the church is at, there are a lot of hurting people and poor people, runaway teens, all kinds of struggles. I have put five thousand dollars in that account and it says: ‘Pastor’s discretionary fund.’ Now, here’s what I want you to do. Once a quarter or at least three times a year, I am going to bring you here and we are going to have lunch together.
“But I want you to take this and I want you to stick it in your back pocket. And I want you to just think, John Savle is in my back pocket. But Chip Ingram has the eyes and Chip Ingram is meeting with people. So every day, I want you to get up and as you get up, you might see someone that has a need or someone who needs a bus ticket or someone’s electricity needs to be put on. And I just want you to pray and whatever you think God would have you do with this money, in my name, will you take care of it?”
“Uh,” I mean, he’s chairman of the board, “yes.” I’m thinking, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m thinking, This may not be a good deal. I’m going to mess up. And so, anyway, I take it and I’m really nervous.
So about, I lost my keys, like, five thousand times, until I was twenty-nine. And it took me twenty-nine years and I decided, right when I stand in the door, my keys, my wallet and everything in one, little pile. Okay? This is an amazing thing that I learned.
And then I started putting that checkbook with it. So every day, everywhere I went, John, John, John, what would John want to do? So this lady, they are turning off her thing and I qualified it and it was a real need and I write a check and I pay her electricity.
And then there is this kid who’s running away from home from Oklahoma and he’s been on drugs and I know I’m not going to give him money so I buy him a ticket for the bus and I do some counseling with him and I get a Bible in his hands.
And so then four months later, John says, “Chip, let’s have lunch!” And so, John is a very quiet introvert but with the gift of evangelism. So he says, “Tell me what happened?” And so I said, “Well, here is your checkbook.” And so, there were about four entries and I had written four checks. “Tell me about this one.”
I tell him the story. And this is an exclusive restaurant. Top level, real, I’m very intimidated. And so, I tell him the story, “Praise the Lord!” I’m going, “Oh, John, oh, man. Dude, you are killing me. This is not…”
“Tell me another story!” So I would tell him these stories and he would say, “Praise the Lord,” in very loud words. And so we did this. And we did this for, like, seven years. And then I would give it away and then I would get, then I would notice I would get my bank slip and, Oh, I guess someone put another five thousand dollars in.
No matter how much I gave away, and as I told stories, the money just kept, as I gave, it kept being put in.
Now, there are a number of lessons here. One, John and I became really close friends. I brought unbelievable joy to his heart. I got to help people in ways I never dreamed I would get to.
In fact, it got from this burden to, it was kind of like, Here are my keys, here is my wallet, John, I wonder what we are going to do today, baby! You know? Ooh, whoa, ho! You just wonder who you are going to bless. I felt like Santa Claus sometimes, you know?
Now, I knew I was going to give an account for it and I’m not real detail oriented. So I’m keeping his checkbook better than mine. Why? Because I am going to go talk to him, right? And I can’t, first, nothing can bounce. But the other is, I actually need to add it up right.
Why? Because it’s his money, not mine. I am his steward. I brought joy to his heart. Our hearts connected because I managed his resources and I wasn’t asking, Who do I think I should help? I was asking, I wonder, I’m not stupid. If I got a really, “Praise the Lord!” and that was a really great one, I am giving more money to that stuff and if it’s, “Oh, that’s nice, Chip,” I’m not going to give as much money to that stuff, right? Because it’s his money!
You are God’s money manager. And one of the most powerful, important gifts that you will pass on to those you love the most, those, first in your home: kids; those you disciple; later, grandkids for some of you; fellow church members, is to help them manage their wealth wisely.
Now, I want to shift gears and say, How? What would that look like, specifically? Now, there is Dave Ramsay, Crown Ministry, lots of people that go in depth on these areas and can give you ten times what I am going to give you.
I’m going to give you the mountain peak summary of what I think you need to pass on. And then there are tons of great resources to get you there.
How are you managing your wealth currently? If, God gave you a report card on how you’re presently managing your wealth in light of what you have heard from His Word, would you get an A, a B, a C, a D, or an F?
Because you can’t pass on what you don’t have in you. You can’t ask those people you are helping to do what we are going to talk about if it’s not true of you. And even if you never talk to them about it, if you actually do it, they will catch tons of it from you. So where are you at?
What I know is, since in the “born again, evangelical community” the average believer gives two point five percent of their income to the Lord’s work. That is saying to God, I don’t really believe Your Word, I don’t trust You for the future, I think it’s my money, and I am going to do with my money what I think.
And what I think God would say, if He could speak through Dr. Phil, “So, how is that working for you?” People are upside down, there is huge debt, they live above their means.
See, when you give God the first portion, as we’ll talk about in a minute, it just causes a domino effect of, Wow, what are we going to do with the rest? And how do we do it? And there is a correlation of God blessing, okay? There has been some real mis-teaching and some bad teaching and some heretical teaching about how money and God and those things go together.
There is no “give to get” mentality. But I will tell you this, when your priorities are in line and God can find what I think some people wisely have called, “A stream instead of a dam,” then He will keep placing resources in people whose hearts are tender to spread it and give it to the places that He wants it.
“You who water others will yourselves be watered,” according to Scripture. And when our finances aren’t in order, read Habakkuk chapter 1, the first ten verses. He will put a hole in your purse. He will blow on your business deals. God uses money to align our hearts with Him and when our priorities are out of whack, I will tell you, you keep working harder but it seems to come to nothing. He says He will allow your financial situation to get you to a point of dependency, where you say, You know something? I better get this aligned correctly.
And then there is just very often the correlation as you do that, He chooses to bless in that area, as well as others.
Well, personal application. Now let’s talk about how to help those to pass it on. One, help them recognize the three purposes of money are giving, saving, and spending.
And if there is, I don’t know if you ever memorize Scripture and if you don’t, I encourage you to. But if there is ever a little passage, singular, if you could only have one passage on money, I would memorize 1 Timothy 6:17 through 19. And it says, “Encourage those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches,” they are uncertain, aren’t they?
And so it’s a protection. God is not down on money. “Encourage those who are rich in this present world,” that’s us, “not to fix your hope on the uncertainty of riches,” oh, we are going to do this when this happens, “but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”
So there are three things you do with money. You can give it, you can save it, you can spend it. If you grew up in my home, there were three jars on your dresser. And on one jar, it said, “Giving,” another said, “Spending,” another said, “Saving.”
And since, yes, there is proportional giving and we will learn all about that later, but you get ten times, one dime goes into the giving jar. One dime goes into the saving jar. And eight of them go into the spending jar. And you can dream and think and pray about what you want to do to spend that. And remember that all ten of those dimes are God’s, right? Because we give it to that one first.
And, by the way, you need to be smart so make sure you save. Americans don’t save and Americans don’t give and I think I don’t even need to talk about where we are at, financially, as a country. We have modeled it from the home, through the federal government, and we are in a mess. You can’t violate God’s principles without a lot of pain. So, that is a big one.
Second, encourage them to commit to honor God with the first fruits of every paycheck to remind them that it’s God’s money and not their own. Proverbs chapter 3, verses 9 and 10. It says, “Honor the Lord with your first fruits.” Give God the very first portion and then the promise is, “Then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats,” where they would create the wine and the picture of overflow, “will be overflowing.”
And so, you want to teach them early on, and not so much the rule, the rigidity. This is not like, “Okay, you have to pay your bills. Bill, bill, bill, bill, God. Ten percent.” No, no, no, no.
You want to teach them the heart behind it. And your love for God. And I think when they get older you want to teach them to, How do you give over and above that? How do you become a generous person?
The word, “miserable,” comes from a root word. Do you know what the root word is? “Miser.” I have done a lot of work, we did a series on the Genius of Generosity. I did a lot of work and research on just generous people. Forget Christians. Just generous people.
Generous people live longer. Generous people are happier. Generous people have better relationships. Generous people are liked by other people. Generous people have an emotional altitude that is better than the rest of us.
The most generous being in the entire universe is God. He gave His Son. So you want to be generous, you want to be winsomely generous. Miserly people, stingy people, the Scrooges of the world don’t have as many friends, they are always worried about someone taking their stuff, they have higher levels of anxiety, they are not very happy campers, and they try and control everything.
Giving breaks the power of greed and all of us, in our flesh, are greedy people. We all are. So, giving is a tool given by God, not to take something from us, but to help us remember, Look, hey, Chip, it’s not your checkbook. It’s not your money. That’s John’s. Spend John’s money or give John’s money in a way that makes John happy.
And, by the way, I didn’t tell you this. But there was a time, we were in a little small church and they had the gift of not paying me much at all. In fact, I worked part time in seminary and made more money than when I pastored the church.
And there was a time where we really had a need. And John was asking me some questions at one of our lunches. And, I forget, it was a washer or a dryer, some big thing that, for us, was astronomical. And he was praising the Lord and everything.
And then he asked me about me. And I told him. He goes, “Give me that checkbook!” So he takes his checkbook, he writes out a check to me, he goes, “Hey, you’re the guy. Sign this one. It’s in your name.” See, the whole deal is God is not trying to get your stuff. He loves you! He is for you! But He wants to free you. And so, pass on, encourage them to honor God with the first fruits.
Three, make time with God their number one priority so they know how to invest their time, talent, and treasure that is entrusted to them.
That bricklayer, I have had seminary professors, I got to learn three years of Greek and two years of Hebrew. And I have had business guys who know so much more, they have taken me under their wing.
The greatest gift God has ever given me in all my life that has paid the biggest dividends was from a bricklayer with a high school education who met me on Tuesday mornings when I was a Christian about three or four months old. I didn’t want to get up, I didn’t want to go to church, and sometimes I pretended I was asleep. And he would knock on the door. And I would just go, Ah, I’m just not getting up. And the next Tuesday, he would knock on the door.
And I was a reluctant learner, and I will tell you, what that man did is that he would open the Bible and we would go into the little kitchenette on the floor, and we would read the Bible together. And he taught me to meet with God. He taught me: No Bible, no breakfast. Not legalistically.
But, “Chip, feed your soul before you feed your mouth. Chip, do you understand, this is the living and abiding Word of God? Chip, do you understand the wisdom of God has been deposited here. You can know what to do in any situation. Chip, do you understand? David said, ‘If His Word had not been my delight, he would have perished in his affliction.’ Chip, this is your anchor. God will speak to you. The God who made everything there is, there is power. It’s a living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword; it pierces as far as the division of soul and spirit. And it cuts through the division, right down to the core of who you are. It will reveal things to you. It will show you how to do marriage, how to parent, how to live. Chip, this is the most important thing. It is your life.”
And a little habit got started a couple of days a week, then I finally I would do it four or five days a week. And then after about four or five years, it became not just drudgery and duty but, Gosh, God is speaking to me more often. And I didn’t like to get up, I was a night owl. And years later, I remember just saying, God, this is, You just wake me up whenever. And I stopped watching the eleven o’clock news and God started waking me up earlier and earlier.
And the greatest thing you can do is say, God, I want Your discernment and Your wisdom and I am going to meet with You first. And it says that after this demanding day of teaching and preaching and healing and casting out demons and everybody wanting a piece of Jesus, I think He felt like, I think His emotions were, if He were today, He opened up His computer and there were five hundred emails. And then He looked at His PDA and there are a hundred and fifty phone calls. And there are people knocking at the door.
And the people closest to Him said, “By the way, by the way, by the way. We think You ought to do this.” I think that’s the emotion He felt. And it says, “A great a while before dawn, He went to a lonely place to get alone with His Father and pray.”
Sometimes we are asking people to solve stuff or a book to solve stuff. God wants to solve it. And if you will do that and model that, that is what you want to pass on. You want to pass that on to those you love the most.
Life’s message is: Your life is a sacred stewardship. It’s sacred. There is a Creator who owns everything. And you are a creature. He is the Master and we are the servant.