Using Our Money Wisely

Money. What comes to mind immediately as that word was read? Most likely, an association can be made to buying things or savings in the bank for use in future years or even retirement. The perception of money, however, changes as a person ages. For instance, a child is more naturally inclined to think of money as something that is plentiful, as he does not earn that money himself but rather depends on his parents for it. But as the child becomes a teenager of working age, he is often pressed by his parents to begin working an entry level or minimum wage job. When he receives his paycheck from that job, he realizes that he is earning just thirty to fifty dollars for every shift he works. It is then that he reaches a fuller understanding that money is limited and can only be truly earned through hard work!

But while we as young people and young adults understand that money is a limited resource, an important question for us to consider is this: how do we use the hard-earned money that God has graciously given to us? In other words, what do we prioritize spending our money on? This is an important question to ponder because there are so many ways and things in which we can spend our money! There is our car which cost us thousands of dollars to buy initially. On top of that, there are payments for gas, repairs, and insurance. There is our college tuition for those of us who chose to go to college. On top of that, there are payments for parking, food, and yes, those awful college textbooks! Then there are pleasures ranging from food to clothes to shoes to sports tickets, among many other things. Certainly, it is not sinful in and of itself to be spending our money on any one of these things. However, two questions of personal concern should arise in our minds.

First, is it wise of us to be spending our money on this certain thing? In other words, are we spending our money on certain things because we simply can’t live without having those things constantly by our side? Matthew 6:24 warns us, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” We ought to be discerning that the things we spend our money on do not become a god to us.

Second, how often do we think of financially helping others with the hard-earned money that God has given us? Each Sunday, the offering plate is distributed twice in one service, or four times total each Lord’s day as we are in attendance for both services. Do we find ourselves giving money when the offering plate is passed to us? Or do we simply pass it on to the next person with an assumption in our minds that someone else will provide a larger sum for the church? Because God gives more money to some than others, the amount that we “tithe” for the church is up to our personal discretion. However, if we find ourselves rarely or not even giving any money at all to the church, God warns us in Malachi 3:8-9, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” In other words, God considers it robbery when we fail to dedicate a portion of our money to give back to His church! However, when we consider this subject in a positive manner, there is ultimately no better way to give thanks to God for the money that He provides to us than to dedicate a portion of that money to give back to Him!

Money is a limited resource that God is pleased to provide to us through the means of hard work. Therefore, we are to spend our money wisely and dedicate a portion of it to give back to the church. When we do these things, we have the promise that one day our Lord will say to us in heaven, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things, enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).

Jonathan Lee

The Calling to Care for Creation

A big part of my life and what I do revolves around creation. I work in the veterinary medical field, and I’ve noticed that there are differing views on animals. It seems that “just an animal” is a fairly popular type of viewpoint. Creation as a whole often receives this treatment, from animals to the environment, and I think that is something that Christians should not tolerate.

First of all, to be clear, animals are not human. This is a plain and simple fact, they are not moral and they are not rational. We know this because in Genesis 1, during creation, we see God breathing the Breath of Life into man, but he never does so with any of the other animals He created. Genesis 2:7 tells us that when God did this, man became a living soul, an attribute not given to the wildlife God had created shortly before this.

While it is totally true that our dogs (cats, horses, ferrets, what-have-you) are not soul-filled beings, we have an incredible responsibility to them.  In the opening chapters of Genesis, we see God giving Adam the first job. His job, even before the fall, was to dress and keep the garden. Keep in mind that this is before weeds grew, before leaves died and required raking, before animals pulled tendons or broke bones. None the less, Adam’s job was head of creation. This responsibility got exponentially harder after the fall, just ask any farmer (or veterinarian!).  For this reason, our pets are not “just a dog” or “just a cat.” They are duties, jobs handed to us from God to tend and keep.

While speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus compares healing someone on Sunday to pulling a sheep out of a ditch (Matthew 12). Jesus clearly here shows an expectation to tend and care for an animal that is in distress or trouble, even on the Sabbath. Remember, though, in the same passage in Matthew, Jesus also expressly says that man’s life is much more important than the sheep’s.

Or, what about the parable of the lost sheep? In Luke 15, Jesus talks about a shepherd with a flock of 100 sheep. When one goes astray, the shepherd in this parable doesn’t say “Eh, it’s just a sheep,” he searches diligently because that sheep is of value to him! He spends all night desperately looking for the lost sheep. This shows the extent of weight on our shoulders as caretaker of creation. So many other passages show the tenderness and diligence we are called to show toward the animal kingdom (most of them involving sheep).

Now, we all know that most instances in the Bible where sheep are mentioned, the implication is that it pictures our relationship to Christ. I suggest that we take a moment too, to think about what Jesus is saying about creation. This is our job: to dress and keep the “garden.” It’s easy for me to say, as a die-hard animal lover, but whether you are a botanist, farmer, veterinarian, or enjoy creation as a hobby, you have a responsibility to care for creation as intimately and tenderly as Jesus describes the shepherd hoisting the lost sheep onto his shoulders.

This job is not easy. It entails a lot of responsibility, and no one is exempt from this calling!  From your herd of expensive cattle that are your livelihood right down to your five year old’s pet goldfish that probably won’t make it to the end of the week, or your hobby garden in the backyard, you have a calling to dress and keep creation, and I think it’s time we start taking this calling seriously.

This may sound like the aspiring vet tech is just ranting about animal welfare to you, but I challenge you to read through scripture and find more passages about man’s relationship to animals or the earth. Some of us are uniquely privileged to live out this calling in a very real way on a daily basis, while others may have to work a little harder to find application in their lives. Again, this command also has to do with the garden that you work so hard to keep up during the summer, or the flowers growing outside your window. So, along with finding passages from scripture about this relationship, find real ways in your daily life that you already live this command, and find ways to improve on that lifestyle!

Look around you. Creation is so amazing! The beautiful flowers growing next to the road, the way your dog freaks out when you get home, the acres of crops growing for as far as you can see are all gifts. Gifts from a loving, caring God, and not only has He given you these gifts, He’s charged you with their well-being! Take that calling to heart, and find ways to live it each and every day.

Suzie Kuiper