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Biblical Keys to Building Wealth

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Biblical Keys to Building Wealth’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 9/6/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here:

You Shall Lend and Not Borrow

We believe in Biblical prosperity at CityLight Church. In Scripture, God promises to bless His children with everything we need to carry out the unique assignment He has put on our lives. He also promises overflow: enough left over to bless other people in their missions!

Deuteronomy 28 outlines the blessings we can expect as the fruit of our obedience to God:

And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. – Deut 28:11-12

As New Testament Christians, obedience is simply defined as giving our lives to Christ: living completely for God!

But we all have times in our lives where we don’t see God’s promises reflected. If you live in New York City, you probably moved here with a dream of success. You came here for the long shot. After all, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!

I was talking with one of our members in the entertainment business this week. He made an interesting point. There are over 8 million people living in New York City. Even if you’re one in a million – the best and the brightest – you still have to beat seven other people for the job!

So what do you do when you’ve been holding out for the lottery ticket from Heaven that seems like it’s never coming? We all dream of being blessed abundantly, but how can we best wait for that blessing to come?

I want to start this morning with the assumption that you believe everything the Bible has to say about prosperity and increase. God wants to bless you, so that you can be a blessing to others. But what do we do when we don’t see it in our lives?

The approach we typically take is to look on the outside. We examine our surroundings, determine what we think we need to live our lives to the fullest, and then ask God to give it into our hand. But the inherent problem in that approach is that we are trying to figure out what we need. We’re carving God out of the process, and trying to do His job for Him. There is a better way!

The Key to Building Wealth

The way we prove we are ready for increase is by stewarding what we currently have as best as we possibly can. Instead of looking to external factors and asking God to give us what we think is missing, we should look to internal factors: what is preventing me from doing more with everything I already have?

Trust in God is built over time. Odds are, if God blessed you with the material increase you think you want today, you wouldn’t be ready for it. He needs to see that He can trust you to be a good steward over the little things, before He makes you ruler over much.

More often than not, the way God builds wealth in our lives is little by little:

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it. – Prov 13:11 (ESV)

By giving us increase gradually – instead of all at once – God prevents us from shooting ourselves in the foot!

Did you know that lottery winners are twice as likely to go bankrupt?[1] Antoine Walker, a former forward for the Boston Celtics, was in the news recently because he went bankrupt. After 13 years in the NBA, and $110 million in total earnings, he ran out of money! Why? Because he didn’t know how to be a good steward when the increase came.

Parable of the Talents

Jesus illustrates good financial stewardship for us in the Parable of the Talents:

For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. – Matt 25:14-15

The ruler distributed, “…to each according to his own ability” (v 15). Then, he left! He didn’t give his servants more than they could handle, because he knew they couldn’t be trusted with it.

God operates exactly the same way! He will never give us more than we can handle, because the end result will be sin. That is never His desire. As we pray for wealth and Biblical increase, our mandate is not necessarily to ask for more – to look outside our life and imagine what we could add to it to make us better off! Our mandate is to look inside our current financial situation, and ask to become a better steward of everything we already have!

Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. – Matt 25:16-17

The first two servants dealt wisely with their master’s money. They didn’t lock themselves in a room and whine and complain at the hand they had been dealt. The servant who received two talents didn’t jealously look to the co-worker who had received five. Each made the best of his situation by seeking to steward his resources well.

The third servant, however, did not deal with his resources wisely. Instead, he became afraid:

But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. – Matt 25:18

We’ve done this, haven’t we? Instead of setting out and asking God to bless everything we already have, we refuse to move forward because we’re afraid. Maybe God called you into a new business venture, but you didn’t get started because you were worried about capital. Maybe God called you to pay off all your debt (living debt-free is a Biblical mandate according to Deut 28:12!) but the potential use of cash made you fearful.

But whenever we refuse to act out of obedience with everything God has already given us, we are missing out on an opportunity for Kingdom expansion!

After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, “Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.” His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” He also who had received two talents came and said, “Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.” His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” – Matt 25:19-23

The master was pleased with the servants who had made good use of the resources they had. Because they were faithful with little, he made them ruler over much. But the master made very clear to the third servant that he had wasted an opportunity:

Then he who had received the one talent came and said, “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.” But his lord answered and said to him, “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matt 25:24-30

The fearful servant did not use what he already had to increase and expand God’s kingdom. As a result, his worst fear became his reality. Everything he had was taken from him.

What can we learn here? We prove we’re ready for increase by taking care of what we already have. The master’s refrain to his two faithful servants was, “…you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.” So, do you want to be ruler over many things? Be faithful with whatever you have – no matter how small – and God will give you increase!

Blessings on Obedience

My wife and I have made a lot of financial adjustments over the past few years. In early 2013, I left a trading career on Wall Street to answer the call to full-time ministry. I’ll be honest with you: it felt like all our financial expectations were being shattered.

My wife and I both had a picture in our heads of the nice, big house we would live in when we were older. We both had dreamt of the lifestyle a career in finance could provide. My wife and I knew it wouldn’t have been a problem for her to stay home and raise our kids if I was working in finance; but would that possibility still be open now that I was in full-time ministry?

We chose obedience over fear of the unknown. I accepted the call into full-time ministry. And you know what? We have never looked back. Sure, we’ve had to tighten our budget a little bit. But as we’ve made the decision to do as much as we can, with everything we already have, God has blessed us abundantly!

We had our first son last summer: one year into full-time ministry. My wife now stays home and takes care of him. We chose to be faithful with what we have, and God has steadily provided increase every step of the way. We chose to look internally, and make the changes necessary to spend our money wisely. As a result, God has blessed us abundantly.

The fastest way to prosperity is obedience:

If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. – Job 36:11

The quickest road to financial success is serving God with all your heart. Serving God with all your heart doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and move into full-time ministry! But it does mean that you should view every single decision to spend, and to save, as an opportunity to honor God with obedience.

What You See, You Will Be

You embrace what you face. If you seek money first, and God second, you will find neither; but when you seek God first, and money last, you will find both!

Are you spending your days and nights trying to create your own wealth? If you create it, you have to maintain it! But if you simply ask God to give it into your hand, He will do all the legwork. Not only will He bless you with everything you need to perform His calling on your life; He will also maintain and protect everything that comes to you.

Focus in: take a look at what you already have, and ask God what He wants you to do with it. God speaks to me most often through pictures in time of prayer. Recently I’ve been asking Him to show me what He wants me to do with our money. I’ve been asking for pictures of people He wants us to bless. I’ve been asking Him for names of organizations He wants us to sow into. I’ve been asking Him what percentage of our income He wants us to give to the church (above and beyond the tithe – or 10% – which rightfully belongs to Him). When we ask, He answers!

As you become faithful with whatever you already have, God will give more into your hand. As we prove we can be good stewards over everything in our hand, He will make us stewards over that much more!

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matt 6:33

Seek God first. He will take care of the rest.

– by Pastor Mike White

© Michael D. White, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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