Perhaps you've heard the tale of the three bricklayers working on a project. When asked what they were making, the first said, "$18 an hour." The next replied, "We're making a wall to help support the roof." But the third said, "We're building a cathedral for worshipping God!"
They were all engaged in the same task, but only one of them had caught the bigger vision.
I imagine a new version of the story that features three investors, each contacting their brokers to implement the latest recommendations in our Sound Mind Investing Upgrading strategy. A spouse or one of their children comes along and asks, "What are you doing?" One investor says, "Oh, just placing some mutual fund orders." Another replies, "I'm investing for our future." But the third responds, "I'm managing God's money for His glory."
Do you have a "big vision" for your stewardship duties? Or do you think of good stewardship as merely paying your bills on time, putting some money into an investment account, and giving to the church? If it's the latter — and your money management routine seems humdrum — you've lost sight of the big picture.
Your financial decisions have the potential for life-changing blessings and eternal impact — for you, your loved ones, and those you minister to through your giving. Make better decisions and, like the faithful stewards in the parable of the talents, your efforts will bring a smile to the Master. Make indifferent or undisciplined decisions and you'll have wasted a lifetime of opportunities.
What kind of decisions am I talking about? Here's a starter list of common failures among young families:
- Failure to develop a spending plan that assures they end up with a monthly surplus rather than spending more than they earn.
- Failure to assign a high priority to giving generously to the Lord and His kingdom work.
- Failure to be responsible in the use of credit.
- Failure to drive a car or live in a home that's within their means.
- Failure to build a contingency fund.
- Failure to contribute strategically to an IRA or 401(k).
- Failure to learn the basics so you they invest wisely.
None of these tasks is particularly difficult, but all require self-discipline. They take effort and a degree of sacrifice. But the end result is worth it — not only because you will enjoy greater success in money matters, but more importantly, living up to your potential brings glory to our gracious God.
Pastor and author John Piper expressed it this way:
"God made us with the highest creaturely purpose in mind — to enjoy and display the Creator's glory.
"This is why we were made ('All things were created through Him and for Him'—Colossians 1:16). This is why we eat and drink ('So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God'—1 Corinthians 10:31). This is why we pray ('Whatever you ask the Father in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the So' —John 14:13). This is why we do all good deeds ('Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven' —Matthew 5:16).
"That is why we exist — to display the glory of God.... When we fulfill this reason for being, we have substance. There is weight and significance in our existence. Knowing, enjoying, and thus displaying the glory of God is a sharing in the glory of God. Not that we become God. But something of His greatness and beauty is on us as we realize this purpose for our being — to image-forth His excellence. This is our substance.
"Not to fulfill this purpose for human existence is to be a mere shadow of the substance we were created to have. Not to display God's worth by enjoying Him above all things is to be a mere echo of the music we were created to make.
"This is a great tragedy. Humans are not made to be mere shadows and echoes. We were made to have God-like substance and make God-like music and have God-like impact. That is what it means to be created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
"Dear reader, be not shadows and echoes. Set your face like flint to see and know and enjoy and live in the light of the Lord.... You will make God-like music with your life. Death will but dispatch you to paradise.
And what you leave behind will not be a mere shadow or echo, but a tribute on earth, written in heaven, to the triumphant grace of God.
(John Piper excerpt from pp. 25-27 of Pierced by the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul, Copyright 2003 by Desiring God Foundation.)
Published February 4, 2009
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