Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is [God], and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” We know we must come to Jesus Christ by faith alone, to trust in His grace and mercy to forgive us and cleanse us of our sins (see Ephesians 2:8-10, 1 John 1:8-10). However, many of us never grow in our faith from that point. We get our ticket to get on the train, but then we set about trying to do God’s will our way. We say, “It’s okay, God, don’t worry about me. I’ve got it from here.” But the reality is, God wants us to trust Him completely, in every aspect of our lives.
There is an interesting paradox in the Scripture between two specific loves: the love of Christ, and the love of money. While all idolatry is condemned throughout the Bible, Christ specifically said, you cannot serve both God and Mammon (the ancient pagan God of wealth) (Matthew 6:24). Money seems to be not only an idol to most of us at some point in our lives (if not all of it), but it seems to be the area in which we have the greatest difficulty trusting God in.
Trust God With Your Money
Christ further pointed this out in the story of the rich young ruler. The rich young ruler wanted to inherit eternal life and asked Jesus how he could obtain it. Jesus exposed the one thing he loved more than God (which is idolatry): money. He says to him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”
How did the young man respond? “22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”
Jesus lets the young man go his own way because he loved his wealth more than God. “23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:16-24). If it were just the one story we might chalk it up to the fact that this particular man trusted in his riches more than God to bring him fulfillment, or to bring him peace, or whatever reason he had for holding on to his riches rather than doing as Jesus asked.
But consider Matthew (also called Levi), a tax collector. Jesus said to him simply, “Follow me.” As a tax collector, Levi would have had great wealth. Under Roman rule in Judea, tax collectors were mandated to collect a certain amount for Rome. Above that, however, they were authorized to collect whatever else on top of that fee to keep for themselves. As a result, they were among the most hated, but also wealthiest of the Jews. What was his response? “28 And he (Levi) left all, rose up, and followed him.” (Luke 5:28). In leaving all of it to follow Jesus, he gave up great riches and a very secure financial future.
Consider four of the disciples: Peter, Andrew, James, and John. They were fishermen. They didn’t have great wealth, but they had good, steady careers. The call from Christ was the same: “Come, follow me.” The response of James and John were the same as Levi’s: “And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-22). It would be like you or me leaving our job to follow Christ, with no plan for the future, financially. Remember, Christ had nothing to offer them (it would seem from a human perspective) as far as livelihood and provision. He had no job, no place to lay his head, no financial plan, no income of any kind. What would compel a man to such a rash decision as to completely let go of their way of earning money to follow this man?
Why Does God Care About Our Money?
I have found in my own life, and in the lives of many I have known, that often God uses finances to teach us to trust Him. Why? It is the thing we tend to trust the most in. We always believe, deep down, that money can purchase our happiness. Whether that is through purchasing possessions or services, having financial security for the future, or gaining wealth for status, we cannot trust God and our finances at the same time. God wants us to release everything that we trust in that is not Him.
Of course, it is not wrong to have money. It is, however, wrong to trust in it. The amount of money one possesses is irrelevant. Remember, the poor widow with two mites gave far more than the wealthy Pharisees (Mark 12:41-44). The question is not how much money do you have, but how much do you keep? How much have you surrendered for the Lord’s will?
A Lack of Trust in God Leads to…
God takes this quite seriously. In the book of Haggai God gives a stern warning to the people to repent. They had been given materials to rebuild the house of God. However, after eagerly starting the foundation, they became concerned about their own needs and began using the materials for their own houses instead. After many years they were desperate. They never seemed to have enough. God uses Haggai to tell them why:
“9 Ye looked for much, and, lo it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. 10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. 11 And I called for a drought upon the land…” (Haggai 1:9-11).
So, God had blown away what they had gathered. He cursed their land so it would not have dew and there was a drought. They were never going to get ahead (or even caught up) in their financial provision by putting their needs and desires ahead of God’s. But when they were convicted by the Word from God, they repented and obeyed the Lord and began building His house again. As a result, the LORD said, “I am with you” (Haggai 1:13). As they obeyed His will, He provided for their needs and blessed them (Haggai 2).
God further explains this principle through the prophet Malachi. Throughout the book of Malachi, it is clear the people are having some difficulty trusting God. He informs them of something they are not doing well, and they question Him every time. It is as if they are completely ignorant of their shortcomings. In Malachi 3:8 God asks, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee?” God responds, “In tithes and offerings.” What is the result of their failure to give God the tithes and offerings? “Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:9).
Why Does God Want My Money?
We as believers are never going to get to financial peace if we rob God. We must give Him what is His. And it isn’t just about giving Him the bare minimum. Why does God want our money in the first place? He does not need our money. God created the entire world and everything in it and it all belongs to Him. He can give it or take it as He pleases. What He wants is for us to trust Him. So, surrendering our finances is really about trusting Him with our whole lives. Trusting Him with finances forces us to rely solely upon Him for our basic needs of life. So, in learning to trust Him, we learn that He is trustworthy.
For this is what He promises us if we will do that: “10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:10-11).
I mentioned previously that surrendering my finances was where I truly learned to trust God. This may look different for every person. You must pray and ask what the Lord is asking of you. He may ask you to quit your job to serve Him in full-time ministry. He may ask you to give away large sums of money to ministries or missionaries. He may ask you to sell all that you have. He may ask you to help a neighbor or brother in Christ sacrificially. But are you willing to trust Him?
For me (initially), it was to keep tithing and giving additional offerings in the midst of a job loss when I was a baby Christian. Days after telling God that I surrendered my finances to Him, He tested me. My partner (before I left the transgender lifestyle), the clear breadwinner between us, had lost his job and been denied unemployment. My meager job was not going to support us both. I started to call my parents to bail me out as they had done many times before. God stopped my hand cold before I dialed: “You said you trusted me. Did you mean it?” With a gulp in my throat, I said I did. Though I was extremely nervous that my life would come crashing down, my mom had told me I could trust God’s Word and it would not fail me.
It’s the Only Time in Scripture We’re Told to Test God:
So, I decided to test God. To this day I cannot believe the miracles I saw in our finances to keep us afloat during that time. At times I had bills that weren’t due that month or they claimed I had overpaid the previous month. In addition to that, after several months, I had a raise, he had a better job, and he was granted all of the back unemployment he was initially denied. As a result of this experience, I learned that I could truly trust God with my life and stand on His Word, even when it didn’t make sense. And the more that I have given away for His kingdom, the more He has given back to me.
I may never be wealthy in this life, but the more I have taken giant leaps of faith financially over the years, the more He has proven Himself faithful. So much so that people wonder in amazement at how God provides for me. They ask me for advice. The answer is simple: obey God, give back to Him generously, and trust Him. He’s asking the same of you. If you truly want to trust Him, you must be willing to surrender all. Start with this prayer: “Lord I surrender my finances into your hands. I trust you to be my provider.” Then obey Him in being faithful to give both tithes and offerings to Him before providing for your own needs. I can tell you this: it is the most exciting journey in this life to live by faith in God alone.
So, how do you learn to trust God? By letting go of everything else you trust in.