There is an ancient story that has been circulated for many years now that when the Crusaders were baptized, they purposely held their swords out of the water. This was a symbolic gesture to God saying something like, "I will be baptized into the Christian faith, but Lord, you can't have this area of my life - fighting, bloodshed, and war."
I've heard a running "joke" for many years now that in the church when people get baptized, they often do something similar as these ancient Crusaders. Instead of a sword, though, they symbolically (in their minds) hold their wallets out of the water saying, "Lord, you can have all of me, except my money. I'm going to keep this area to myself."
The Pocketbook Is Oftentimes The Last Thing To Be Surrendered
Money is one of those areas in our lives that seems to be one of the last things that is given over to the Lord. In all my reading and research into church stewardship issues, this would seem to ring true. When people accept Christ as the Savior, they often start their relationship through wanting fire insurance from the damnation of hell. Hey, don't we all want that? Over time, though, we should begin to see a genuineness of faith in God through the process of maturity in the Christian life. These new believers begin to grow in the Lord or they don't.
The ones that are growing in their walk with Christ begin to display maturity in their lives. They seek the Lord and His will for their lives through Bible reading, scripture meditation, prayer, church attendance, and fellowship with other believers. They desire to be salt and light to unbelievers around them by living out a life that pleases God. These same Christians begin to understand through this growth process that everything they have belongs to God. God owns everything. They begin to consider handling their money in a different light, because it's no longer their money, it's His money.
The wallets, pocketbooks, check books, and bank accounts are often the final things to be surrendered in the maturing process of the Christian. As we begin to understand through God's Word that He created all things and owns all things, then we recognize EVERYTHING we possess is His.
The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it (Psalm 24:1).Under New Management
Once this thought process begins to change in the mind of those of us who are believers, a new management style should emerge in our lives. Now, instead of being both owner and manager of our money, we simply become just managers of His money.
The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions" (Luke 12:42-43).If we believe that God is the owner and we are managers, then our management style should change. Instead of living for our own selfish desires, we should desire to handle the time, resources, money, and abilities He has given us to manage in order to build up His Kingdom in an effective manner.
Salvation through Christ brings about a refreshing freedom. We become free from "keeping the rules" of the law. It is only through faith in Christ that we can be born again into the family of God. But, our new found freedom in Christ does not mean that we should live a life of selfish gain. In Galatians 5:13 we read,
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.Our flesh wants more. We want more money and more stuff. But, when we allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives, including our money, a new money mindset should emerge. And when this money mindset change does occur, a new freedom emerges. We are free to give more, do more, and serve more because of this new recognition that everything we have is the Lord's. And remember, He's observing our financial plan. He's testing us to see how we well we can manage His wealth.
Where Are You At In The Maturity Process?
So, where are you at today in the growth process? Are you a new believer who perhaps held your money out of the baptismal waters? Or maybe, you have been a believer for many years, and you're still struggling with the surrender of the wallet over to the One who owns it all to begin with.
If the money thing is still a battleground in your Christian walk, what do you need to do today to begin yielding control over to Him? What changes do you need to make today in your money management style?
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