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Intersection of Life and Faith

How to be Rich

  • Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2013 12 Dec
  • COMMENTS
How to be Rich

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Andy Stanley’s upcoming book How to be Rich: It’s Not What You Have. It’s What You Do with What You Have (Zondervan, 2013).

Like many people, you may wish you had more money than you do. If you’re an American, though, you’re living in the richest nation on Earth. Not only that, but no matter where you live, you’re alive during the wealthiest time in the world’s history.

You’re rich – even if you don’t feel that way. Sure, you could always be richer than you already are. But chasing riches won’t lead you to real fulfillment, because what truly matters isn’t what you have, but what you do with what you have. Being rich isn’t about getting more money; it’s about inviting God to enrich every part of your life. Here’s how to be rich:

Possess money without letting it possess you. The more money people have, the less generous they tend to be, because the likelier they are to base their sense of security on money rather than on their relationships with God. As the Bible says, loving money can be spiritually dangerous. If you’re not careful, having money can make you arrogant and delude you into thinking that you’re self-sufficient, when God wants you to humbly depend on Him day by day. So every day, make a conscious choice about where to place your hope. Decide not to trust in riches, but in Him who richly provides.

Discover what you really need your money for. Keep in mind that money, in itself, has no real power – it’s simply a tool you can use to make choices in life. God has given you everything you need, but don’t lose sight of what you need it for. Jesus warned people not to assume that everything they receive is meant for their own consumption, so don’t fall into the temptation of spending your money exclusively on your own desires. Consider the fact that, when they die, everyone leaves their money and possessions behind. If you spend your money on yourself, you’ll eventually lose it all. But if you decide to invest your money in the ways God leads you to do so, you’ll be using it for the purpose God has given it to you: to help support work that has eternal value.

Decide to thank God for His generosity to you by answering His call to be generous to others. You can be generous regardless of how much money you have at any given time, because generosity doesn’t depend on the state of your finances; it depends on the state of your soul. If you’re willing to be generous, God will empower you to do so with whatever amount of money you happen to have.

Plan wisely. Make giving a high priority by donating money to God’s kingdom work regularly, as the first financial action you take after each of your paychecks is deposited. Give in proportion to your income and assets, evaluating the generosity of your giving in terms of percentages rather than dollars. Keep in mind that the Bible sets a giving standard of at least 10 percent, but if that seems too hard to start with, start anywhere – even if it’s just with 1 percent of your income – to start developing a habit of giving generously. The more you use your money to support God’s work on Earth, the less your money will control you, which will bring you rich blessings of freedom and peace. As you give regularly, over time you’ll grow to become a more generous person, and it will become easier for you to give. Make your giving progressive to keep growing. Whenever you sense the Holy Spirit nudging you to consider raising the percentage of money you give to God’s kingdom work, do so. Develop and update a strategic giving plan as God leads you.

Starve greed and nourish contentment. Since the way you respond to your appetites determines the direction and quality of your life, it’s vitally important to avoid indulging the insatiable appetite for more of what money can buy and instead choose to be content on a daily basis. The Bible says that pursuing holiness along with contentment results in great gain. Recognize that contentment is actually more valuable than anything you may feel discontented about not being able to afford financially. Pray about the discontentment you feel about specific unmet desires of yours. Ask God to shift your focus away from unhealthy desires and to help you be content as you pursue healthy desires, so you can be at peace no matter what happens. Do whatever you can to reduce your exposure to things that make you feel discontented – such as avoiding shopping malls unless you truly need to visit them to buy something, and recycling catalogues immediately after you receive them in the mail. Pray for a greater awareness of what God wants you to use your money for, and immerse yourself in environments that promote those values – such as by volunteering at charities you financially support so you can personally meet the people you’re helping.

Overcome the ownership myth. Realize that the idea that you actually own your money and possessions is just a myth. The truth is that everything belongs to God, everything comes from God, and everything is dispensed by God. Although you may be earning money from working hard, it’s God who has given you job opportunities and the ability to work. Make a habit of thanking God for all that He generously gives you every day. Honor God by using what He has given to you – your money, time, energy, talent, and other resources – for the best purposes, as the Holy Spirit leads you.

Trade an economy of reciprocity for an economy of kindness. You can inspire many people to seek relationships with Jesus if you stop following the world’s economy of reciprocity (in which people give hoping to receive something in return) and instead follow God’s economy of kindness (in which you give without expecting anything in return). By modeling the unconditional love that God offers, you’ll get people’s attention and motivate them to seek their own relationships with God.

Adapted from How to be Rich: It’s Not What You Have. It’s What You Do with What You Have, copyright 2013 by Andy Stanley. Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.zondervan.com. 

Andy Stanley is a pastor, communicator, author, and the founder of North Point Ministries (NPM). Since its inception in 1995, North Point Ministries has grown from one church to five in the Atlanta area and has developed a global network of more than 30 churches. Each Sunday, more than 33,000 people attend worship services at NPM's five Atlanta-area churches: Browns Bridge Community Church, Buckhead Church, Gwinnett Church, North Point Community Church, and Watermarke Church. Andy's books include Deep & Wide, Enemies of the Heart, The Grace of God, The Next Generation Leader, and How Good is Good Enough? Andy and his wife, Sandra, live in Alpharetta, Georgia, and have three children. For more information about Andy Stanley and North Point Ministries, visit www.northpointministries.org.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: December 2, 2013