Who Stole My Money?

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I did youth ministry for a long time. At a camp or retreat, I can’t tell you how many times I had a student say to me, “Someone stole $20 out of my wallet!” I would walk them back through the past day or two. All the stops, the trips to the snack shack, the souvenirs, and suddenly, they realize that little expenses add up quickly. No one stole their money, they stole their money.

You’ve probably logged into your bank account and thought, “who stole my money!” The truth is, you have a ledger staring you right in the face that shows you exactly who stole your money.

The Bible has a lot to say about money. Today, I want to offer you one passage to think about and encourage you to consider how you are stewarding the financial resources you have.

I find Paul’s admonition in 1 Timothy 6.17-19 to be among the most helpful of sections on money in the Bible. Paul had previously warned about the danger of riches (vv 7-10). Money is intoxicating. We must keep ourselves from the love of money which is the genesis of all types of sins. But then, Paul transitions to a section that seems to be in praise of money.

[17] As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. [18] They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, [19] thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV).

“The rich in this present age” are not rebuked for being “rich” but rather are warned not to be “haughty nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches.” Having money is not necessarily a sin. Keeping it all to yourself and seeing it as your security is a sin. He also notes that God provides us with good gifts to richly enjoy. I know some Christians who feel eternal guilt because they are not miserable. We read about those in serious persecution and feel empathy, rightfully so. We can ask, why not me? Why am I able to have a roof over my head and even air conditioning when so many are suffering? This should make us grateful but it should not cause us to feel guilt. It should make us generous with what we have.

Notice also, they are to be ones who freely share. I’m glad there are people in the body of Christ that have resources. I’ve seen so many times needs within the local church be met by generous people. You can only give if you have something to give. Some have resources, praise God, now live generously. In fact, in Ephesians 4:28, Paul encourages the thief to stop stealing and to go to work so that, “he may have something to share with anyone in need.”

I would encourage you, if you are not already, to seriously consider having an organized plan for your finances. Keeping an eye on my money has not always been my forte. My wife and I will admit, we made plenty of not so great decisions in college and the earlier years of marriage. It takes a long time to climb out.

From a pastoral perspective, one of the risk in laying out a specific methodology for money management is mixing “thus saith the Lord” and “thus saith the pastor.” There is no verse that says anything about only using cash and envelopes. In fact, it does not even say anything about a zero based budget. But I would argue that you are going to have a hard time legitimately thinking of yourself as a good steward if you have no idea where your money is going.

If you have never lived by a budget where you track your money carefully, you will feel like you got a raise the first month you actually do it. With the software available now, it has become pretty easy to do this. Once you get things set up, this will not take nearly as much time as you may think.

I’m not on commission, but I wanted to mention my program of choice for budgeting. I use YNAB (You Need A Budget). This app is built around the YNAB Philosophy of 4 simple rules. The ability to make adjustments as life happens is key in this app, or as they say, “roll with the punches.” A budget does not need to be an end of the month, “what happened” session but rather it’s a real time battle plan adjusting as the situation dictates. This philosophy shift made a ton of difference for me. Taking control of our money has helped us to be more generous as benevolent giving is now part of the plan.

A few other programs that I found helpful are Mint, Every Dollar, and Mvelopes.

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Allen Cagle

About Allen Cagle

Allen serves as the Lead Pastor at Sunrise Community Church in Atlantic Beach, FL, in the Jacksonville area. He graduated from The Master's Seminary (MDiv) in 2005 and from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (DMin) in 2017. Allen is married to Mindy and has three awesome kids.