In man's economy, the basic premise is that our purpose, goals, significance, self-worth, ambitions and life energy are wrapped up in having money. In man's economy, we want to make as much as we can, as quickly as we can, to retire as soon as we can, and enjoy a life of leisure as long as we can.
We've been told that if we have enough money, we can live free of fear and anxiety -- comfortably insulated from what's going on around us. In man's economy, we place our hope in our net worth, assets and ability to generate income. Money is the master of man's economy.
In God's economy, we can be prepared for the future no matter what it may be. We are given the opportunity, by God's grace, to reset our thinking, to be transformed, not conformed to the world.
WHAT IS GOD'S ECONOMY?
God's Economy consists of three essential elements: His lordship over all areas of our life, our commitment to being a faithful steward, and our growth in giving generously.
When those things come together, we are transformed out of man's economy by the renewing of our minds. We are transformed out of the cultural pressure and grip of this world, the battle that wants to take us captive to the traps of the world (see Romans 12:1-2). God alone is master of His economy.
ELEMENT 1: LORDSHIP
When God is Lord, He is the object of our lives. The Bible says in Matthew 6:33 to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. In God's economy, He is Lord of all and we seek Him as the object of our life energy, our purpose, our goals, our ambitions, our significance.
The world will always be dynamic and changing and unstable, but God is constant. His constant nature is expressed in Hebrews 13:5, "Keep your lives free from the love of money" -- in other words, keep your life free from buying into the lies of man's economy -- and "be content with what you have," whether a lot or a little.
When we are content with what we have, we can rest in the promise found in the remainder of that verse: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." The Lord is telling us that in man's economy, we are vulnerable; everything can leave and forsake us, except for Him.
ELEMENT 2: STEWARDSHIP
When we understand God's lordship, our role and purpose as stewards (managers) becomes clear. We define success by whether or not we are faithful with what we have. In man's economy, we define success by how much we have. The scorecard for success in Man's Economy is how much a person can accumulate.
But, God does not measure success by accumulation. In His economy, if we are faithful with little, we will be entrusted with much. We will be entrusted with "true riches" (Luke 16:11). Success in God's economy is faithfulness as a steward of whatever we have been given. All are welcome into that economy. There is no discrimination whether we have much or little.
ELEMENT 3: GENEROSITY
The third aspect of God's economy, generosity, indicates whether or not we're embracing the other two. Having God as the first priority and the object of our life and managing whatever we have more faithfully leads us to believe and practice the principle that it is better to give than to receive.
In man's economy it is better to receive, hoard and have a big line of credit. These are all things the world says are required to have success and significance. In God's economy, He says it is better to be a giver.
When we understand the truths of God's economy and are transformed by what we believe, our behavior follows suit. We begin to apply the practical truths of handling money God's way. We then experience the visible joy of being unique and distinct from the rest of the world. We will display joy on our faces and peace in our hearts when everyone else is wondering, "Where is our hope?" The fleeting hopes of this world will transfer into the eternal hope of Christ.
I encourage you to move away from defining your life by the standards of man's economy and to become an ambassador for Christ in this generation as you live and prosper in God's economy.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries and host of Crown's MoneyLife podcast (Crown.org/media/MoneyLife). To learn more about practical resources including the new Eliminating Debt Video Study, visit Crown.org or call 1-800-722-1976. A version of this article first appeared in the October 2009 edition of Money Matters. Cofounded by Howard Dayton and the late Larry Burkett, Crown Financial Ministries (Crown.org) is an interdenominational ministry dedicated to equipping people with biblically based financial tools and resources through radio, film, seminars, small groups and individual coaching. Based in Georgia, the ministry has offices in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Africa, Europe, India, Asia and Australia.
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