FIRST-PERSON: Money – a test of our loyalty to God
GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP) -- Chris was desperate for career guidance. After spending seven years in prison, he reached out to me on our national radio broadcast that he had listened to since his incarceration for car-jacking.
He explained that he was a changed man since he had surrendered his life to Christ. He was now out on his own looking to make a fresh start after paying his debt to society for a crime he committed when he was only 21 years old. However, after two months of applying for jobs, not a single business had even given Chris an interview.
I advised him to go to a small, privately owned business and ask for a face-to-face meeting with the owner. "Explain that you'd like a chance to prove yourself and commit to being faithful in any job you're given." I told Chris that Jesus measures each of us by the same standard; we are either faithful or unfaithful.
Fast-forward three months and Chris was back on the air with us. This time, however, he sounded like a new man, excited to explain what had happened to him. Chris had taken my advice and applied for a job at a truck stop. He was immediately hired by the owner, who sensed he was truly a humble and repentant man needing only an opportunity to prove himself. Chris's story is a fascinating testimony of living by God's financial principles.
Chris was hired to do general maintenance around the truck stop. He was given specific responsibilities, one of which was to check and make sure the restrooms were clean "every time he passed by them." After three weeks, the owner called Chris into the office and asked him to have a seat. My new friend feared the worst, but to his delight, the owner praised him for his faithful work and gave him a significant pay increase based upon his performance as a new employee. The owner said he'd hired over 50 people and given them the same simple instruction to check the restrooms and make sure they're clean at all times. The owner informed Chris that he was the only person who ever did exactly as he was asked.
Faithfulness seems like a small matter, but just like the truck stop owner, God also expects His children to be faithful when handling His property -- the money He entrusts to us.
In Luke 16:10-12, after telling the Parable of the Shrewd Manager, Jesus concluded with this profound principle: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?"
Jesus is telling us that if we have learned to be responsible handling small things, we can be trusted with responsibilities greater than worldly riches. In the same way, if we have been irresponsible, we will have to learn some important life lessons before our heavenly Father will entrust those weightier matters to us.
Larry Burkett often said that managing money is a small matter, but faithfulness with money is a big matter. He explained that how we handle money is a test of our loyalty to God.
In many ways, we are all like Chris, the ex-convict. We have been given grace and accepted as servants of the Owner of the entire universe. We are each given an assignment that may seem like a small matter now, but it's one that actually holds eternal significance. One day we will be evaluated for our "job performance." If we have been faithful to the Master, we will not only receive words of great affirmation, "Well done, good and faithful servant," we will also be entrusted with an eternal responsibility.
The day I realized Heaven wasn't an endless vacation but a job for eternity, it jolted me into taking my daily responsibilities as God's steward far more seriously. Each and every one of us is being watched to determine if we too will do all the simple, mundane tasks that the Owner has requested of us.
If we pass each little test, God will add more responsibilities and ultimately welcome us into our permanent assignment. While still a mystery, we are assured that the true riches reserved for God's faithful servants surpass anything we could ever imagine.
The small things truly count.
As you fulfill your responsibilities today, be mindful that you work for the Owner of the universe -- and remember, He's watching.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, only at Crown.org. His latest book is "The S.A.L.T. Plan, How to Prepare for an Economic Crisis of Biblical Proportions." To sign up for Chuck's free weekly e-newsletter, "Handwriting on the Wall," visit Crown.org/handwriting or call 1-800-722-1976.