In the beginning of chapter 8 of Luke’s gospel we read something interesting:
Soon afterward [Jesus] went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. (Luke 8:1–3)
It was faithful, wealthy women who supplied for the financial needs of Jesus and his disciples. If we do a little reverse engineering on this point we find God choosing these wealthy women not only to be disciples of Jesus but also to be his fiscal backers. So as those women accrued wealth, certainly well before knowing Jesus personally, God had already decided to use these women as a crucial part of Jesus’ ministry, even to have their names recorded in Scripture.
If we skip forward 18 centuries we find another woman with a similar story. Selina Hastings was the countess of Huntingdon, a godly and fiery woman who was both wealthy and powerful. She became a major fiscal and political backer of the Calvinistic Methodist movement led by John Wesley, Charles Wesley, and George Whitfield, a movement that started a revival in which thousands of people were saved. When she considered 1 Corinthians 1:26 and her own salvation she said,
”Blessed be God, it does not say ‘any mighty,’ ‘any noble’; it says ‘many mighty,’ ‘many noble.’ I owe my salvation to the letter ‘m.’ If it had been “not any noble,” where would the countess have been?”
What her quote shows is that this woman understood that God had not only saved her soul, he had saved all of her. He had not only redeemed her for worship in heaven but also for service in this world. When God saves a man or woman he marshals all that man or woman is, all that man or woman has for use in his kingdom.
Stewardship is Bigger than you Think
This is why our conversations in the church about money and possessions are so mechanical, myopic, and misleading. We lose the big picture of God’s grace and plan for us. God wants more from you than a budget in the same way that he saved more of you than just your soul. I hope you look at your life, your daily life, as useful to God, watching each day splay out into your future, confident that God is using you in small and maybe big ways to do the work he has for you, just you, in his kingdom. Financial stewardship is about seeing and leveraging everything you have for the glory of God. Your IRA, savings, tithings, offerings, charitable giving—all of it—factors into his kingdom plan, every penny and percentage rate of return. The world may not remember you like Mary, Susanna, Joana, or Salina but you follow the same Jesus that they did. If Jesus, in his inexhaustible grace, gave his life to save you for heaven how will he not also graciously use everything you are and everything you have for his glory until you get there?
That given, what is the next step for you? If you are convinced that all that you have is God’s and that he intends to use you and your possession for his glory then what is next? Start a budget? Make a plan to tithe? What about setting future goals for both the provision of your family and to give like crazy to churches and ministries that really need it? Money and possessions are far to good of a gift from God to not get excited about using them strategically for his glory.
Luke loved to record godly women serving the mission of God. If you ever want to study how God uses faithful women to accomplish his purposes then read the gospel of Luke and pay attention whenever a woman walks into view. ↩
The best way to engage with the story of Salina Hastings, Calvinistic Methodism, George Whitfield, and the Wesley brothers is to read Arnold Dallimore’s biography of George Whitfield. Though lengthy, it’s probably the best biography I’ve ever read. ↩
Don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not arguing that you shouldn’t have a budget or do that hard accounting that marks a responsible adult much less a biblically taught Christian. Have a budget. Purchase insurance. Save for the future. Spend within your limits. Provide for your children and, if the Lord provides, you grandchildren too. This is all just starters. For more on this I encourage you to make use of the materials and resources published by Dave Ramsey. ↩