True and lasting financial freedom cannot be experienced in Christians' finances unless they understand God's perspective on giving and sharing. God's perspective on how to obtain lasting financial freedom is best characterized by the following principles.
- Acknowledge God's ownership over everything. God owns it all and we are His stewards in charge of managing His property.
- Surrender the first part, the first fruits, to God.
- God supplies surplus funds so that the surplus can be used to help meet the needs of others.
God has directed Christians to use their surplus funds to satisfy the needs of others, not necessarily the wants or desires. Before those surplus funds are delegated and distributed, there are some important questions all Christians should ask regarding how those surplus funds should be shared. With whom does God direct us to share? Who is deserving and why? Should we share only with Christians, or do we have an admonition from God to help non-Christians as well? What about our families? Should all surplus funds go to the church and should the church leadership distribute the funds to whomever they feel needs the funds?
The Word of God seems to be very clear with regard to whom Christians should help with their surplus funds: family, ministering brethren, the Christian community, and the non-Christian community.
God requires that we provide for our families. "If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8). This provision for the family includes husband, wife, children, mother, father, siblings, and grandparents--right on down the line. "If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed" (1 Timothy 5:16). Paul's admonition tells us to support the members of our own family. Thus, they will not be a burden on the church (or the government).
Unfortunately, most Christians have placed into the hands of the government the responsibility that was rightfully given to us by God: adequately providing for the needs of the family.
In our present American society, although some pastors and evangelists make extravagant salaries or raise huge sums of money to support an excessive lifestyle, ministering brethren for the most part are generally forced to live on far less than those in the secular world. Why shouldn't pastors', evangelists', and missionaries' incomes be comparable to those in the business world? Do we as Christians believe that God's worker is not worthy to receive an adequate salary? "It is written in the Law of Moses, 'You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.' God is not concerned about oxen, is He?" (1 Corinthians 9:9).
Source: Crown Financial Ministries