What does Holiness have to do with money? Maybe it is time to reexamine what the full scope of personal holiness is and maybe is not. Personal holiness is operating under the power of the Holy Spirit, in ALL aspects or facets of our lives, from the smallest detail to the big things. After gathering the knowledge of our entire spiritual, emotional and physical beings, we submit them all to the Authority of God, Who has the Power and Will for our lives, to see us succeed in doing these things well.
The Key to living a good clean and righteous-unto-God life is to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ now. The spiritual lost of this world can also live upright, raise great kids, not cheat on their taxes and wives, and still go away from God into eternal separation, because they never gave their lives to Jesus Christ. Every country is full of the majority of its citizens who live this way.
In the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 19:14-30) Jesus told the following story of the rich young ruler. In brief, this rich prince came up to Christ, during His days on earth, and is Exhibit A of a person who lives what seems like the “perfect” or “best life now”! He did not break man’s law. He did not break God’s law. He even gave charity and tithes and offerings. In today’s terms, he gave to the Cancer Society, and Animal Rescue and even Habitat for Humanity to build houses.
But Jesus told him one thing to do which would make suitable for the Kingdom of Heaven (or to be saved) – “go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and (then) come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21). The Scriptures said the rich young man just got really down and depressed and walked away “grieving”.
Many people have this completely upside down. God does NOT want our money. Jesus was testing the rich man, just as He is testing those who have even no more than $5 to their names today, to see where we are at. It is not about money. It is about where are hearts, minds, body and souls are.
The panhandler who rakes in $300 a day in handouts from passersby on the street is just as guilty before God as is the bank manager who owns a house by the lake, a boat and wants nothing to do with God.
The Bible tells us “where your treasure is, there your heart is also” (Matthew 6:21). When the rich prince in Matthew 19 walked away from Jesus, Matthew 19:22 tells us that he was grieving “because he had much property”. What is glaring, in its omission here, is that this man completely disregarded the command from Jesus to “come follow Me”! Like the majority of mankind today, he chose what he could count in his hands as “his own” over the future eternal riches of Christ!
He is NOT the first, nor will he the last. In June 1989, my landlord at the time told me something I cannot forget. It was just two weeks before I was to marry the love of my life, Vicki. I was wrapping up business at the apartment I rented from him and conversation took a spiritual turn. Italo (his real first name) told me that he was studying for the priesthood, as we discussed prayer and the Bible.
However, and here is the kicker “I left seminary, because I wanted it all now”! So he got into his version of riches – a few simple houses with middle class apartments….because he wanted all he could get NOW. Like the rich young ruler to whom Jesus spoke (in Matthew 19), Italo’s “spiritual” heart was in the here and now – not in the Creator of those temporary fleeting shiny objects.
These real life examples still do not drive home the matter of Personal Holiness, as regard one’s finances. The monetary side of a Christian’s life is an EXTREMELY sensitive subject, especially in the affluent western world (North America, the U.K, Europe, Australia and New Zealand). Tithing in previous generations (pre-Prosperity Gospel or Seeker Sensitive heresy) was not as huge a disputed problem as it has become, in modern times.
Christians who have a tradition of solid bible teaching (now called “Evangelical”) instinctively gave up to, and even more than the 10% of their income to the work of the Lord in the church. As the falling away (as prophesied in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3), even in spirit-led and conservative bible teaching churches intensifies, even born-again Christians have gone wobbly on obedience to God, as regard their finances and tithing.
The Scriptural Truth that God loves a cheerful give stands forever, until the return of Christ. There are understandably instances, growing in magnitude, of Christians being very concerned of what they see as bad stewardship in their churches. However, having the Heart and Mind of Christ in obedience in finances, does not and should not prevent the obedient disciple of Christ from:
- Deducting 10% (recommended) right off the top of our gross income from our jobs.
- Giving to the work of the Lord.
Another way, in which finances can relate to Personal Holiness can be found when we listen to the Voice of the Lord. We are meant to be a people who have a loose grip on the things which we think matter more to us, than even our own families. We are not speaking here of supporting false Television Evangelists who constantly ask for money for expensive private jets, a dozen cars in their garages and a mansion by the lake have helped to destroy this aspect of Christian life, which has contributed tremendously to local congregations and missions worldwide.
Even with all of this, each individual believer – you and I – are still 100% responsible for handling the money and gifts, with which the Lord has blessed us, in a transparent way that is full of integrity.
Here are some final thoughts on keeping our spirits clear and free of worldly clutter, simply by the way we follow the basic principles in handling our money – regardless of how little or how much we have:
- Know this, the Lord will not judge the Christian by how much he or she gave, or did not give. He will judge according to the condition of our spiritual hearts. The panhandler or dirt poor farmer who has almost nothing, is in the same danger of hell as the wealthy patron of the arts in New York or Houston, or the church secretary who has never been born again.
- Grasp this: the very job we have, the house we live in, the career path we are on (or the retirement path ahead) were already ordained by the Lord. They are all gifts from Him. The home we live in – the bank and the Lord own it. The car we drive – the bank and the Lord own it. The clothes we wear, God gave us the health to earn the money, to use our God-given skills, to drive a car to the Mall, so we can buy those clothes. Everything is His. Nothing is ours. Exhibit A: - the person who is in a casket at his/her funeral.
- Believe this: Our God is a generous God. He gives and gives BIG when we are not looking, forgot we were even looking and thinking about it. You see, God loves us and blesses us, especially when we don’t deserve a raisin or a fig newton. As the old Glen Campbell song goes “if you see your brother standing by the road, with a heavy load, from the things he sowed…..Try a little kindness”. Always be prepared to give someone either a cold cup of water for their thirst, or a few dollars- IF THE SPIRIT LEADS – to buy themselves a sandwich. If you can buy them a meal; or give them your brand new leather jacket or your hat or something which the Lord leads, never hold on to it! Ask the Lord to release your hold on these things and immediately give them away. Be generous and kind.
These things may seem very simple and sound like they do not even belong in a series on Holiness. However, they do. A completely Biblical outlook and thus, lifestyle, according to the Word of God, frees up the Christian to grow exponentially in the Ways of the Lord. Once we get the correct view- God's view - on the role of finances in our daily Christian Walk, we have then removed one of the biggest weapons which sin, the flesh and the devil can use to stunt the maturity of the believer. Glory to His Name.