SAVING | Jun 17, 2024

What to Do with a Surplus

You’ve been a careful steward, working hard, saving your money, and spending wisely. Now what?

Being able to live comfortably and afford the things you need seems like a worthy goal, but what is a biblical perspective of having a surplus?

Maybe we don’t do this enough—address the faithful who already follow God’s principles in their finances. If you’ve been living with integrity and making wise choices with your money for years and years, this message is for you.

First of all, well done. Financial faithfulness is a big deal. It takes sacrifice, commitment, and patience. You’ve paid off debts, worked hard at one or more jobs, invested wisely, and built your savings. More importantly, you understand that everything belongs to God. Your responsibility is to faithfully and humbly care for what he’s provided.

As a Christian, you know the future is in God’s hands. Markets rise and fall, and your economic realities may change, but God is always faithful. You also know that following biblical financial principles is the wise thing to do. And now you find yourself with a surplus. What’s next?

You may be thinking, “I don’t have a surplus – I’m just getting to where I can keep my head above water financially.” We should define the term “surplus.” It’s any money God has provided above what you need to live. The late Larry Burkett called it prosperity:

“God is not against prosperity; it is one of His blessings to those who love and obey Him. For one person, a surplus of money represents a trust from God that can be used for current and future needs. For another, it represents a trap of Satan to lead him out of God’s path…”

Scripture warns us that having a surplus is more dangerous than having a need. If your surplus leads you into a desire for more, then it has become a spiritual trap for you. 1 Timothy 6:9-10 explains it this way, “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”

You might think it’s possible to focus on getting and keeping wealth and be devoted to God at the same time. Jesus tells us that’s not possible in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

If it’s dangerous to focus on getting rich and impossible to serve God and money at the same time, what’s the godly alternative? According to Jesus in Luke 12:21, we’re supposed to be “Rich toward God” instead.

When Jesus is what you value most, you’re placing your trust in a treasure that is eternal and imperishable. God’s abundance offers so much more than worldly riches do—including power for living and peace in your heart.

What is God’s perspective on financial surpluses? In 1 Samuel 16:7, we learn that “…the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Two things come to mind concerning how we manage a surplus. First, we are to be imitators of Christ. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

How we use our surplus should reflect the God we serve. God is a generous father, faithful and sacrificial in his dealings with us. As a result, we are to be the same toward others.

Second, we must be “in the world but not of it” (John 17:11,1) in the way we handle that surplus. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explains that God’s power doesn’t follow worldly priorities. True power is displayed through self-giving love. Through the power of generosity, we can participate in God’s work in the world.

When God blesses you with a surplus, it’s essential to see it for what it is—a physical blessing with a spiritual purpose. According to Larry Burkett, “The important thing is to have a plan for the use of potential surpluses—planning before the money becomes available.”

Here’s a final word from 1 Timothy 6:17-19: “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. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 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.”

You can also listen to the related podcast on this topic.

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Where Faith Meets Finance

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