In Scripture God calls Himself by more than 250 names. The name that best describes God’s part in the area of money is Master. This is the most important section of this entire study because how we view God determines how we live. After losing his children and all his possessions, Job was able to worship God because he knew the Lord and the Lord’s role as Master of those possessions. Why did Moses forsake the treasures of Egypt and choose to suffer with the people of God? It was because Moses knew the Lord and accepted His role as Master. Three facets describe God’s position as Master.
GOD IS THE OWNER
The Lord owns all our possessions. “Behold, to the Lord your God belong… the earth and all that is in it” (Deuteronomy 10:14). “The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains” (Psalm 24:1).
Scripture reveals specific items God owns. Leviticus 25:23 identifies Him as the owner of all the land: “The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine.” Haggai 2:8 says that He owns the precious metals: “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ declares the Lord of hosts.” And in Psalm 50:10-12, the Scriptures tell us: “For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills … everything that moves in the field is Mine, and all it contains.”
The Lord is the Creator of all things, and He has never transferred ownership of His creation to people. In Colossians 1:17 we are told that “in Him all things hold together.” At this very moment the Lord literally holds everything together by His power.
OWNERSHIP OR LORDSHIP?
If we are going to be genuine followers of Christ, we must transfer ownership of all that we have to the Lord. “So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33). We must give up all claims to the ownership of all that we have. I have found that the Lord will sometimes test us by asking that we be willing to relinquish the very possession that is dearest to us. The most vivid example of this in Scripture is when the Lord asked Abraham to “take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac… and offer him there as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2). When Abraham obeyed, demonstrating his willingness to give up his dearest possession, God responded, Do not stretch out your hand against the lad…for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me (Genesis 22:12).
When we acknowledge God’s ownership, every spending decision becomes a spiritual decision. No longer do we ask, “Lord, what do You want me to do with my money?” The question is restated, “Lord, what do You want me to do with Your money?” When we have this perspective and prayerfully handle His money according to His wishes, spending and saving decisions are equally as spiritual as giving decisions.
The Lord’s ownership also influences how we care for possessions. For example, because the Lord is the owner of my car, I want to please Him by keeping it cleaner and in better repair.
Recognizing the Lord as owner is important in learning contentment. If you believe that you own a particular possession, then the circumstances surrounding that possession have a significant influence on your attitude. If it is a favorable situation, you will be happy. If it’s an adverse circumstance, you will be discontented.
Shortly after Jim came to grips with God’s ownership, he purchased a new car. He had driven the car for only two days before someone rammed it in the side. Jim’s first reaction was “Lord, I don’t know why You want a dent in Your car, but now You’ve got a big one!” Jim was learning contentment.
RECOGNIZING GOD’S OWNERSHIP
Consistently recognizing God’s ownership is difficult. Our culture suggests an opposing view. Everything around us, the media and even the law, says that what you possess, you and you alone own. It is easy to believe intellectually that God owns all you have, but yet live as if this were not true. Genuinely acknowledging God’s ownership requires nothing less than a total change of perception.
Here are a number of practical suggestions to help us recognize God’s ownership.
- For the next thirty days meditate on 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 when you first awake and just before going to sleep.
- Be careful in the use of personal pronouns; consider substituting “the” or “the Lord’s” for “my,” “mine” and “ours.”
- Ask the Lord to make you aware of His ownership and to enable you to willingly relinquish ownership. Make this a special matter of prayer during the next thirty days.
- Establish the habit of acknowledging the Lord’s ownership every time you purchase an item.
GOD IS IN CONTROL
Besides being Creator and Owner, God is ultimately in control of every event that occurs upon the earth. “We adore you as being in control of everything” (1 Chronicles 29:11, LB). “Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth” (Psalm 135:6). It is important for the child of God to realize that his heavenly Father orchestrates even seemingly devastating circumstances for ultimate good in the lives of the godly.
“As we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
The Lord allows difficult circumstances for three reasons.
1. He accomplishes His intentions. This is illustrated in the life of Joseph who, as a teenager, was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Joseph responded correctly to his brothers when he told them, “Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life… it was not you who sent me here, but God (Genesis 45:5-8).
Years later, when their father, Jacob, died and the brothers feared that Joseph would finally seek revenge for what they had done to him, he reassured them. “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).
2. He develops our character. Godly character, something that is precious in the sight of the Lord, is often developed in the midst of trying times. “We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character” (Romans 5:3-4).
3. He disciplines His children. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines… He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:6, 10-11)
When we are disobedient, we can expect our loving Lord to administer discipline, often through difficult circumstances, to encourage us to abandon our sin and “share His holiness.“
You can be content in knowing that your loving heavenly Father is in control of every situation you will ever face, each of which He intends to use for a good purpose.
GOD IS THE PROVIDER
God is both predictable and unpredictable. He is absolutely predictable in His faithfulness to provide for our needs. What we cannot predict is how the Lord will provide. He uses various and often surprising means – an increase in income or a gift. He may provide an opportunity to “stretch” our limited resources through money-saving purchases. Regardless of how He chooses to provide for our needs, He is completely reliable.
The Lord instructs us to be content when our basic needs are met. “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:8).
Charles Allen tells a story illustrating this principle: As World War II was drawing to a close, the Allied armies gathered many orphans. They were placed in camps where they were fed well. Despite excellent care, they were afraid and slept poorly.
Finally, a psychologist came up with a solution. Each child was given a piece of bread to hold after he was put to bed. If he was hungry, more food was provided, but when he was finished, this additional piece of bread was just to be held – not eaten.
The extra piece of bread produced wonderful results. The children could go to sleep with the confidence that they would have food to eat the next day. That guarantee gave the children a restful and contented sleep.
Similarly, the Lord has given us His guarantee – our “piece of bread.” As we cling to His promises of provision, we can relax and be content. “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches” (Philippians 4:19).
It is important to understand the distinction between a need and a want. The definition of a need is a basic necessity of life. Our basic necessities of life are food, clothing and shelter. A want is anything in excess of a need. The Lord may allow us to have our wants fulfilled, but He has not guaranteed to provide our every want.
GETTING TO KNOW GOD
God, as He is revealed in Scripture, differs greatly from the way people commonly imagine Him. Our tendency is to shrink God down and fit Him into a human mold with our abilities and limitations. Our failure to recognize God’s part is due to the fact that we do not understand the greatness of God, “who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth” (Isaiah 51:13).
We expand our vision to capture the true perspective of God primarily through studying what the Bible tells us about Him.The following are only a few samples.
1. He is the Lord of the universe. Carefully review some of His names and attributes: Creator, the Almighty, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent, awesome, Lord of lords and King of kings.
The Lord’s power and ability are incomprehensible. Astronomers estimate that there are more than 100 billion galaxies in the universe, each containing billions of stars. The distance from one end of a galaxy to the other is often measured in millions of light years. Though our sun is a relatively small star, it could contain over one million earths, and it sustains temperatures of 27 million degrees Fahrenheit at its center. The enormity of the universe is mind boggling.
Isaiah writes, “Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one of them is missing” (Isaiah 40:26).
2. He is Lord of the nations. Examine the Lord’s role and position relative to nations and people.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard?… It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers … He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, but he merely blows on them, and they wither” (Isaiah 40:21-24).
“Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales … all the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless” (Isaiah 40:15, 17).
God doesn’t fret over nations and their leaders as if He had no power to intervene. “He (the Lord) … scattered the nations across the face of the earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and when. He determined their boundaries” (Acts 17:26, LB)
3. He is Lord of the individual. God is not an aloof, impersonal “force.” Rather, He is intimately involved with each of us as individuals.
“You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely. O Lord … All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:3-4, 16 NIV).
The Lord is so involved in our lives that He reassures us, “the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30).
God hung the stars in space, fashioned the earth’s towering mountains and mighty oceans and determined the destiny of nations. Jeremiah observed correctly: “Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jeremiah 32:17). Yet God knows when a sparrow falls to the ground. He is the Lord of the infinite and the infinitesimal. Nothing in this study is more important than “catching the vision” of who God is and what His part is in our finances.
GOD’S PART IN CONTENTMENT
The Lord did not design people to carry the yoke of the responsibilities that only He is capable of shouldering. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you … for My yoke is easy, and My load light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
God has assumed the burdens of ownership, control and provision. That is why His yoke is easy and we can rest.
Many people know God’s word, but don’t always live as if it were true. We’ve all been guilty of this at some point. Our culture significantly contributes to this problem. God is thought to play no part in financial matters, and we have been influenced by this view.
An additional contributor is God’s invisibility; anything that is “out of sight” tends to become “out of mind.” I get out of the habit of consistently recognizing His ownership, His control and His provision.
After reading about God’s part, some jump quickly to the conclusion that little authority or responsibility remains for us. But as we study our part, we discover that the Lord has indeed entrusted us with great responsibility.