Gaining and using money for God
One mistake Christians often make is to see personal wealth as a blessing from God which is a right. This "prosperity doctrine" appeals to the love of money in selfish human hearts and doesn't square very well with the Bible's warnings to the rich. [1 Tim 6:9] It doesn't work out too well for Third World Christians either. The clear teaching of the New Testament is that personal poverty can bring spiritual blessing. [Luke 6:20]
We transfer our wealth
The opposite error is thinking that money doesn't matter to God. Jesus the Lamb is worthy to receive power, wisdom, might, honour, glory, blessing -- and wealth! [Rev 5:12]
The vast riches of the universe all came into being through Him and will one day be fully returned to Him. In the meantime, Satan controls a fallen world and its various economies. [1 John 5:19] But Jesus has triumphed over every spiritual power including mammon. [Col 2:15] We must capture the 'economic power' for the cause of Jesus. As Christians it is our privilege to transfer wealth from Satan's rule to God's, to be used for the growth of His kingdom.
Given to God
All we own needs to be given to God. If we think of money, possessions or property as "ours", then selfishness still grips our hearts and our wealth still belongs to Satan! Jesus taught that our hearts and our treasure go together. [Luke 12:34] Some Christians have found that the best way for them to transfer their wealth into God's kingdom is by obeying Jesus' command to "sell your possessions" and sharing with their brothers and sisters. [Luke 12:33] In the Jesus Fellowship we have established common purses and a central Trust Fund to enable community members do just that.
Take money from the world
When Jesus is truly Lord of our finances, we can set about gaining more for Him. One method is to offer our skills and energies in return for a wage or salary. "Normal" employment like this takes money from the world to use for God -- as long as the income is used for God!
A more obvious kind of trading with the world is when we establish "kingdom businesses" to sell goods or services to the general public. It does not matter what the goods or services are, so long as they are basically honourable. What matters is that they are something others desire and are prepared to pay for -- like the apostle Paul's tents! [Acts 18:3]
"Kingdom" businesses have various advantages over secular employment. They gave Paul an opportunity to work alongside his brethren and a high degree of flexibility. He could work when he needed to and devote himself to other ministries at other times. [1 Thess 2:9]
In the Jesus Fellowship we have found that our businesses are able both to provide a source of income and to release people for ministry activity. Jesus Fellowship Church activities are largely financed by gifts from our businesses.
The businesses are owned and controlled by the community through Trustees and only committed Church members are employed. We see employment in the businesses as a spiritual ministry, offering brotherhood, discipleship and in some cases rehabilitation to those who work for them. For some, it is the first job they have ever held down. The businesses also offer good service combined with Christian testimony to their customers.
We need to be shrewd
Is there a downside? That depends on whether you enjoy spiritual warfare! Satan is keen on money, and won't let us plunder his goods11 without putting up a fight! When we engage in trade, we are challenging him on his home ground, and we shouldn't be surprised if our services, our premises, our equipment and even our staff come under fierce attack.
Our righteousness will be our basic safeguard, [Eph 6:14] so we make sure we deal fairly with customers and comply with all the relevant laws. But Jesus also made it clear that we should be as shrewd as an ungodly businessman in our negotiations.