Many of us worry about two commodities: time and money. We get stressed when we are running late or running out of time. We get anxious when we learn of an unexpected change in our finances. The Bible has much to teach us regarding our stewardship of our time and money.
Disciplined Stewardship of Time
To pursue Christ–likeness is to be disciplined in our use of time. Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon entitled, “The Preciousness of Time and the Importance of Redeeming It.” In this sermon, Edwards lists ten reasons we must make careful use of our time.
1. “The Days Are Evil”
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15–16 ESV)
Paul’s description of our difficult world serves at least two purposes. First, Paul reminds us that because we are surrounded by evil, it is difficult for us to life godly lives without careful attention with our use of time. Second, our use of time is what dictates how we spend our days. We live one day at a time.
2. Preparing for Eternity
We only have a finite period of time to prepare for eternity. There are no second chances once we die. Each of us have an assigned day when our preparation for eternity ends. Preparation for eternity begins by trusting in our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior.
For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV)
3. Time Is Short
When a resource is scarce, it becomes valuable. Once I took a long hike carrying only one bottle of water. With the torrid sun and the blistering heat, I quickly realized one bottle was not enough. Every drop of water in my water bottle became precious that day.
If we never die, time would not be precious. But because of death, our time is short.
“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14 ESV)
4. Time Is Passing
We cannot save time. We cannot buy time. We cannot store time. We cannot stop the passing of time. This world is passing away.
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17 ESV)
5. Remaining Time Is Uncertain
It is unknown how much time we will have. Earlier this year, a 20 month girl in our neighborhood died from a drowning accident in a swimming pool. There was no warning. There was no opportunity to prepare. There was no time to say goodbye.
“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” (Proverbs 27:1 ESV)
6. Time Lost Cannot Be Recaptured
Money lost can be regained. Time lost can never be found again. Once gone, it is gone forever.
“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” (John 9:4 ESV)
The implication is simple. We must be faithful with today’s time. We must be singleminded in pursuing our one goal.
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13–14 ESV)
7. You Are Accountable For Your Time
God requires all of us to give an account for our use of our time.
“So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12 ESV)
“Each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:13–15 ESV)
Every word spoken, every talent given, and every hour spent must be accounted. Spend your time wisely so you will not regret at the final judgment.
8. Time Is Easily Lost
The book of Proverbs warns the reader of the destructive life of a sluggard. A sluggard lazily wastes his time. A sluggard does not make time for the things that really matter. A sluggard perceives that he has much time, and because of this perception, he squanders it.
Read 10 descriptions of the sluggard in Proverbs to learn more.
- Proverbs 6:6-11; 10:26; 13:4; 15:19; 19:24; 20:4; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30; 26:13-16
9. Time Is Valued at Death
As a physician, I sign about 2 death certificates a month. I have held the hands of many people on their deathbed. Many are surprised and ill–prepared for their final days, like the man who lacked wisdom in Proverbs 5.
And at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.” (Proverbs 5:11–14 ESV)
10. Our View of Time in Eternality
We will view our time very differently in heaven or hell.
Richard Baxter wrote, “Doth it not tear their very hearts for ever, to think how madly they consumed their lives, and wasted the only time that was given them to prepare for their salvation? Do those in Hell now think them wise that are idling or playing away their time on earth?”1
Disciplined Stewardship of Money
One responsibility we have is to care for the physical needs of our family. We must avoid irresponsibility, slothfulness, and waste.
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8 ESV)
Proper use of our money is obedience to God. The way we handle money reveals our priorities, our values, and our heart. God commands and expects Christians to give their money for His sake. Here are ten principles of giving.
1. God Owns Everything
“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,” (Psalms 24:1 ESV)
God is the owner. We are stewards. We manage the possessions God has delegated to us. Instead of asking, “How much should I give to God?”, ask “How much of God’s money should I keep for now?”
2. Giving Is an Act of Worship
Giving money to God is an act of worship. It is similar to singing praises to God, praying to God, and listening to God’s word being read and taught. Not just a duty, it is an offering of worship.
“I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18 ESV)
3. Giving Demonstrates Faith in God
When we give a proportion of our income, we demonstrate our trust in God’s provision.
And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:42–44 ESV)
4. Sacrificial, Generous Giving
Paul commended the sacrificial giving of the Macedonian churches.
“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” (2 Corinthians 8:1–5 ESV)
Sacrificial giving requires sacrifice. The giving must have practical cost and consequence.
Anedoctally, few people regret giving sacrificially. You may miss the opportunity to buy something. But the fulfillment gained from giving what you cannot keep usually outweighs the sacrifice.
5. Giving Shows Trustworthiness
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:10–13 ESV)
Look at a person’s finances and checkbook, and you will learn a lot about a person’s spiritual trustworthiness.
6. Love, Not Legalism
We do not give to God like we pay a utility bill or our income taxes. To give to God is to show genuine love. Giving should always be motivated by love, not by duty.
“But as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you — see that you excel in this act of grace also.” (2 Corinthians 8:7 ESV)
7. Cheerful Giving
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV)
There are three types of giving: grudge giving, duty giving, and thanksgiving.
- Grudge giving: “I have to”
- Duty giving: “I ought to”
- Thanksgiving: “I want to”
God wants us to enjoy giving.
8. Responding to Real Needs
We should look for opportunities to give in response to real needs. Take, for example, the early church in Acts 2.
“And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.And all who believed were together and had all things in common.And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” (Acts 2:43–45 ESV)
9. Planned, Regular Giving
The Bible gives us a model of regular, planned giving.
“Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” (1 Corinthians 16:1–2 ESV)
Three observations can be made with Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians.
- Giving should be regular: A weekly collection was directed.
- Giving was encouraged from everyone: You don’t just give of your time and talents.
- Giving was proportional: Giving was proportionate to one’s prosperity.
George Mueller once said, “Are you giving systematically to the Lord’s work, or are you leaving it to feeling, to impression made upon you through particular circumstances, or to striking appeals? If we do not give from principle systematically, we shall find that our one brief life is gone before we are aware of it, and that, in return, we have done little for that adorable One who bought us with His precious blood, and to whom belongs all we have and are.”2
10. The Blessing of Giving
God indicates there is an unspecified blessing that to those who are faithful stewards of money.
“Five, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38 ESV)
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6 ESV)
Likely, most of God’s blessing for our giving will not come in this life. Our worship in giving is laying up treasures in heaven.
- Richard Baxter, The Practical Works of Richard Baxter in Four Volumes, A Christian Directory (1673; reprint, Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1990), vol. 1, 237. ↩︎
- Roger Steer, ed., The George Müller Treasury (Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1987), 183. ↩︎