When Money Becomes Our Servant

By Francis Frangipane

Many ministers hate discussing finances; others are obsessed with it and teach about it all the time. Because Jesus Himself referenced it, we must put the issue of personal wealth into perspective. In the great overview of topics the Lord desires we learn, He has both promises and warnings concerning the issue of money.

The fact is, in Jesus' teaching there isn't a subject Jesus used more often than that of money or wealth. He compared heaven itself to a treasure in a field and and He said if we would be generous in our giving, whatever we gave would be multiplied and returned, "pressed down, shaken together [and] running over" (Matt 13; Lk 6). He warned it was easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter heaven, yet He promised that "There is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times as much at this time . . ." (Lk 18:29-30). We are not to lust for wealth, but Jesus also promises that those who give all, that they will gain much more than they give.

God measures our character by the integrity we possess concerning money. Jesus said, "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the {use of} unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you?" (Lk 16:10-11).

Who knows, but that God has powerful spiritual gifts awaiting many. However, He is waiting for them to prove themselves trustworthy in the "very little thing" as use of finances.

The world today worships wealth and reverences it as a god. Thus, Jesus also warned us "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other." He emphatically concluded, "You cannot serve God and mammon" (Lk 16:13). At various times, I have heard Christians rail against the greed of the wealthy, only to discover later that some of these very Christians do not tithe. They themselves were just as bound to the control of Mammon, only on a smaller scale; their anger was not born of righteousness, but jealousy.

Jesus Himself Needs Us To Give
I know when we picture the Son of God, it is almost inconceivable that He would need us for anything, especially finances. We are aware when He paid taxes, that He sent Peter fishing. In the mouth of that first fish, Jesus said there would be a coin for the taxes. Yes, if Jesus needed money, it would come supernaturally. However, this is not the full extent of how Jesus' ministry functioned. It was within the wisdom and plan of the Father that faithful people helped meet the financial needs of Christ's ministry. Luke speaks of this very thing:

"And it came about soon afterwards, that He began going about from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God; and the twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means" (Lk 8:1-3).

Many of the people that were taught, healed and delivered by Jesus, in response, supported His cause with finances. True redemption always comes with a price. As it was then, so it is today: God does not spare us the responsibility of giving, whether it is of ourselves or our funds, to the cause of redemption. In spite of my personal needs, each month I make it a point to faithfully give to others: My home church; local parachurch ministries; various national leaders; foreign evangelists and, of course, the poor. Additionally, to help keep us from becoming self-absorbed, our church takes one offering a week and gives it to support another ministry somewhere.

Each of us should seek God concerning how much He desires we give and to whom. I know a number of very honorable ministries that struggle to fulfill God's assignment because of financial lack. However, I also know of several ministries that have an unrighteous affection for wealth; a few regularly receive our mailing. If you are personally lusting for wealth, let me remind you that Jesus' most frequent and pointed rebukes were aimed at religious leaders' inordinate quest for money. He charged them with the sin of robbing widows (Matt 23:14) and of swearing by the offering on the altar, rather than the altar itself (Matt 23:16-18). Boldly, He confronted those who were outwardly righteous, but inwardly "full of robbery and self-indulgence" (Matt 23:25).

Jesus called the manipulation of people to get their money "robbery." He accused religious leaders of being motivated by "self-indulgence." Beloved, God is going to expose this spirit of self-indulgence in the body of Christ, wherever it manifests. Yet, let us not be quick to condemn other people; rather let us carefully examine our own hearts. Even if all we have is a little, the Lord desires us to be joyfully generous, so that He will have for His church an "abundance for every good work." Let us not be selfish or deceived by money. In a real sense, money is not a blessing; it's a test.

At "In Christ's Image"
Every Christian organization should have a governing principle concerning finances. Our standard at ICI comes from Jesus, who taught, "Freely you received, freely give." (Matt 10:8). Thus, nearly all our materials, in one form or another, are freely available via weekly email, video and audio messages; chapters from books and booklets are also frequently used for our message as well.

My more business-minded friends often ask why we do not charge for the weekly message, or set up a subscription for the radio and video resources. Simply, Jesus said that the poor would have the gospel preached to them. We would rather sow the word and trust the Lord than limit who would receive our materials. The fact is, it is a privilege to serve the body of Christ. While we obviously do sell resources, our hope is to continue to offer the weekly email, audio and video messages without charge.

Do we have needs? Who doesn't? Our website needs much upgrading. Our online bookstore needs to become more functional and with less glitches; more resources need to be made available, including tape series and group study materials and supplies to pastors. We also would like to publish materials as eBooks. (Imagine having "Holiness, Truth and the Presence of God" or "The Three Battlegrounds" on your computer, fully available to print out pages and use as Bible study guides).

Additionally, we are planning a forum where people can comment on different topics and connect with each other relationally and geographically. Currently, just my staff and I read your comments. What we have found is that many on our mailing are full of wisdom and spiritual insights that should be shared with others. (Ok, I admit, sometimes I slip your insights into my teachings). My secret's out, but I am jealous for the body of Christ to be edified. Your thoughts, questions and perceptions need to be posted for the benefit of others. Again, all this involves added costs and needs additional people to oversee and develop.

However, while I am expressing our vision/need at ICI, my real priority is to remind you that there are many wonderful ministries, both locally and nationally, that are struggling financially. Consider giving to their needs before ours. Our passion is that the kingdom of God advance in every city and on every level. To do so, we must all be free from the love of money.