Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Leaving a Legacy that Lasts Forever Resources on sale now.
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.