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Living in Financial Victory
By Anthony T. Evans, Kathryn Hall
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2013 Anthony T. Evans
All rights reserved.
During the time I was a student at Dallas Seminary, my wife and I used to housesit for people in an exclusive area of Dallas. These homes were something else; a real contrast to our tiny, cramped apartment.
For every assignment, our job was to watch over the house, keep things going, and keep it clean. In exchange, we got to live like royalty in another kingdom for a few days. The home's owners would stock the refrigerator and pay us for staying there while they went away on business or vacation.
The families usually gave us the run of the place. But even though there was great opportunity for enjoyment, there were also definite limitations on that enjoyment. Each family had rules they wanted us to follow while they were away. And we agreed to follow the rules because it was not our home. Yet sometimes I used to tell the guys at the seminary, "Come over to my pad this afternoon. You have to check this place out."
You see, I wanted to fully maximize the situation. For a brief time I wanted to act like I owned the home; that it was mine to do what I pleased. But my wife was always careful to remind me, "People shouldn't come over, Tony."
I would say, "Why?"
Her response was, "Because this is not our house."
She was reminding me that we did not own the house. We had to be careful about what we did because the owners were only letting us use their property. My wife was wise to point out that we were managers over what someone else owned.
Friend, here's my point. In this life, none of what you think you own do you really own. All that you so call "own" really belongs to God. What Satan wants to do is make you think you can do whatever you want with it, independently of God. But that is definitely not so.
In my example of this principle, every home we watched while I was in seminary was the kingdom of the family who owned it. As temporary managers, we were merely the stewards of the home. It belonged to someone else and, therefore, we had to function according to their agenda—not ours.
Our job was simply to manage someone else's property that had been entrusted to our care. In a similar way, a key element in carrying out God's kingdom agenda is our management of what He has given to us. This is the biblical definition of stewardship. In God's eyes, it is an extremely important job. As a result, we need to learn how to be good stewards, or managers, of what has been entrusted to us.
GOOD STEWARDSHIP UNLOCKS THE DOOR
In a more formal definition of stewardship, it is described as the process of protecting and expanding the assets and resources of another. I am here to tell you that it is only through following the biblical principles of stewardship that you will attain a life of financial victory. If you choose to view your finances apart from God's ownership, you will fail to actualize the financial blessings that He has tied to His precepts. In fact, not only will you fail to actualize the blessings, you will also suffer loss.
THE COVENANT AND STEWARDSHIP
The story has been told about a son who wanted to give his father a thank-you gift on Father's Day. The young man desired to let his dad know how much he loved and valued him. So the son went out and found the most exotic gift he could find: a talking parakeet. This parakeet spoke five languages and could stand on one leg while singing "The Yellow Rose of Texas." It was an amazing bird.
The day after Father's Day, the son called his dad to see how he liked his gift. He asked the older gentleman, "How did you like the parakeet, Dad?"
His father replied, "It was delicious, thank you."
Obviously, the father missed the point of the gift.
Many of us in Christian circles today have missed the point of God's gift of money. While we may recognize that He has given it to us, we do not fully realize its purpose. Far too often we spend it, consume it, or waste it—rather than maximizing it to its fullest potential.
The truth is, God has a purpose when it comes to your finances. An excellent summary statement of the purpose God has for money is found in the book of Deuteronomy, where we read,
But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (8:18, emphasis mine)
Here we see God's main reason for affording His people with the power to make wealth. It is to "confirm His covenant" with the people of God. Now, keep in mind, this doesn't mean that everyone will be "wealthy" by the world's standards. God is not your cosmic slot machine. In the preceding verses of chapter 8, wealth is defined as having enough to eat, a place to live, herds, flocks, and enough to be sufficiently satisfied.
Generally, when we talk about the "wealthy" in America, we are referring to the megawealthy: those who are millionaires and above. However, when God talks about the wealthy in Scripture, He is referring to those having enough in all areas of life, along with their ability to enjoy it.
What, then, is the covenant we are talking about? The covenant is God's kingdom program. In order to understand the covenant, we need to first understand the kingdom. The kingdom, simply put, refers to the theocratic operation and implementation of the rule of God over every part of creation. Furthermore, the kingdom has an agenda, which is the visible demonstration of the comprehensive rule of God over every area of life.
Within this framework, the kingdom is not so much a reference to a location as it is a divine source. It points to heaven's presence and operation in history. For believers, submission to God's kingdom agenda opens up the flow of heaven's involvement in our lives on earth.
There are four aspects of every kingdom. First, a kingdom must have a king, or a ruler. In the kingdom of heaven, God is the King. A kingdom also must have subjects of the kingdom, those in subjection to the ruler. We are God's subjects. A kingdom also has rules, which the ruler oversees. In God's kingdom, the rules are biblical principles and truths.
Finally, a kingdom also has a realm: a scope over which the king rules. David tells us in the book of Psalms, "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it" (Psalm 24:1). The whole world is God's kingdom.
With God as the Ruler, if we are to abide in His kingdom and receive the blessings and the benefits therein, we must follow the biblical precepts and regulations given to us in Scripture. The Word of God provides a road map and contains everything we need to know in order to enjoy success in our personal lives, including success in our finances.
Now here is the principle of the covenant: God expands His kingdom program in history through His subjects, the body of Christ. When God can trust His subjects to act as good stewards by receiving His blessings and provision and using them to advance His kingdom, He is motivated to give more.
From Genesis to Revelation you will see this word and concept called the covenant. Ultimately, God's covenant is intended to bless the person in the covenant in order for that person to be a blessing to others. For example, in the covenant God gave to Abraham, He said, "I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing" (Genesis 12:2).
The covenantal principles of blessing carry through to the new covenant He has given us as well. Jesus, the author and mediator of the new covenant, shares those blessings as His people meet with Him in communion (see 1 Corinthians 10:16–17).
In consideration of God's purpose for establishing His covenant with you, examine your innermost thoughts. If you are only thinking about your house, your job, your car, your clothes, and your money, then you are thinking outside of the covenant. You are limiting what God can and will do through you in order to bless you because you are not thinking with a covenant mindset. You are thinking about your kingdom rather than about God's kingdom.
VICTORY THROUGH THE COVENANT
God is interested in His kingdom building program. As His stewards, He wants us to achieve the highest level of success in doing our part. Since the covenant is the driving word within God's kingdom, understanding and living out the covenant is the key to your spiritual and financial victory. Let's delve deeper, using this analogy.
If you are like me, a citizen of the United States of America, you live underneath a covenantal document called the Constitution. The Constitution is the umbrella document under which the "kingdom" of the USA operates. This unique document outlines many rules and regulations, including many freedoms, for the citizens who live within its realm of influence.
In fact, you may regularly hear people say, "I know my rights," when they feel that they have been unjustly treated. They are appealing to their constitutional rights under the kingdom called America.
Furthermore, if you are a Christian, then you are also part of another kingdom. You are a part of God's kingdom, along with its covenantal rights. However, if you do not know your rights then you won't know how to exercise them. You will not know how best to maximize the rights and privileges granted to you as a citizen of God's kingdom.
In the Bible, a covenant is an agreement similar to a contract. A contract is a legal and officially binding agreement. When people enter into a contract, they become contractually obligated by the terms within the agreement. A covenant, however, goes beyond a contract because it also assumes a relationship. While it contains a legal and officially binding agreement, it also includes a relational aspect that a contract is not required to have. Such is the case with marriage, which is a relational covenantal agreement drawn up between a man and a woman.
The reason why you need to understand your covenantal rights and privileges is so you will know how to live a victorious life with kingdom authority. God's provisions, promises, and His will flow through His covenant. If you don't know the agreement you are operating within, you won't know how to benefit from it. You will not know how to exercise the legal authority that is yours to carry out, provided you function within the terms of the covenant.
Just prior to giving Israel the Ten Commandments, God told them something very important related to His covenant. He said,
Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:5–6)
God told Moses to tell the Israelites that if they would keep His covenant, He would make them uniquely blessed out of all the nations. As a result of Israel's obedience, they would be entitled to certain privileges, protections, and even honor.
Unfortunately, we live in a day where people misunderstand the concept of God's covenant. Somehow we miss the fact that He wants us to take the resources we are given and be fruitful and multiply them so that others will be brought into the kingdom. As a result, we fail to realize that the covenant is about the advancement of God's kingdom.
You can be a Christian all day long and be on your way to heaven yet never experience the benefits of being underneath the covenant. Financial victory only comes when you conform to God's precepts which He has set forth in His Word. Covenantal positioning is the key to partaking in kingdom privilege, authority, and victory.
PROSPERING GOD'S WAY
There is no way around it—you can't experience the prosperity of the covenant without first exemplifying a commitment to the covenant. In no uncertain terms, God's blessings are always tied to keeping His covenant. Scripture tells us what we can expect when we obey this command, "So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do" (Deuteronomy 29:9, emphasis mine).
Here we find evidence straight from God's Word: you will prosper when you keep God's covenant. However, also know that your level of prosperity in the new covenant is directly tied to the level of your spiritual development.
Let me explain. One of the greatest secrets about the covenant that I could ever tell you is that the covenant is designed to produce progress in your life. As you operate in agreement with the covenant of God, you get the flow of God's power, position, provision, and authority.
One of the problems that we are experiencing financially in the body of Christ is an unfortunate disconnect between the spiritual aspects of the covenant and the material aspects of the tangible world in which we live. As a believer, you are never to separate God's covenantal purposes, the spiritual part of your life, from your material, physical life.
In biblical theology, the two are always connected. When John wrote his third epistle, he opened with the following, "Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers" (3 John 1:2). The apostle was not only praying for believers' material prosperity but also physical and spiritual prosperity. They are all interrelated.
When people live without that connection, they frequently wind up in unsatisfactory situations. Those who make a lot of money yet neglect the spiritual component and purpose of wealth often live with empty souls and broken lives. They only use their money in an attempt to camouflage the emptiness within. This is sometimes known as prosperity theology, which often seeks to emphasize the material above the spiritual.
On the opposite end of the Christian spectrum are those who live with a poverty mentality. In the name of being spiritual, they only wind up being unproductive and failing to contribute to their own needs as well as to the needs of the body of Christ and the advancement of His kingdom. What these individuals misunderstand is that God is not opposed to wealth. He is opposed to the wrong use and motivation for it.
However, let me emphasize this fact as well. There are plenty of unbelievers who are living without a connection to God yet they experience financial gain. They just don't experience the blessings of God in that gain. In fact, a lot of people who have a lot of money are more miserable now with an abundance of wealth than they ever were without it. A blessing is not merely the increase. The blessing is in the ability to enjoy and extend what you have been given (see Proverbs 10:22; Acts 20:35).
Another important characteristic about the covenant that many people do not understand is that the covenant contains a vital covering that Jesus provided for us when He finished His work on the Cross (see Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 11:3). If you are operating underneath the covenant and in line with God's covenantal precepts, you are operating underneath His covering. This is what enables you to prosper the way God intends.
The covering God offers is similar to an umbrella. If you are outside and it begins to rain, you open up an umbrella. That is, if you are so fortunate to have one with you. The umbrella doesn't stop the rain, but it does stop the rain from raining on you. In other words, when you are covered by the umbrella, it does not change the circumstances around you, but it will change what is allowed to directly affect you.
Sadly, many people are operating financially uncovered. They are suffering in debt, not being able to enjoy the money that they do have. The reason why so many people's finances are so messed up is because they are not covered through alignment under the covenant. They are not fully satisfied simply due to the fact that they are not honoring God's covenant. Therefore, when the rains of life come—and they will—these unfortunate ones will have no covering.
As Christians, it is highly essential to know that the covenant exists and is designed to provide a way for God's people to prosper. Yet, also be aware that when you live life uncovered and not in alignment with the covenant, you will experience the resultant effects of functioning apart from the King and His kingdom covering.
We are suffering financially in our personal lives, families, churches, and as a nation simply because we are not operating according to the rules and precepts of the covenant. Realignment must take place in order for our financial lives to recover and be in order. Just as you must be under an umbrella for the umbrella to benefit you, likewise, you must be under God's covenant for the covenant to cover and prosper you.
But there is always hope for those who have been operating outside of God's covering. As the people of God, we can rejoice in the truth that we can repent and turn back to Him. Because He assures us of His covering, we never have to be like the evil, who prosper outside of God's protection (see Psalm 73:12). Scripture warns us that they do so with a hole in their soul. God confirms His covenant with His people, but these unfortunate ones are set on a slippery slope without the ability to fully enjoy the long-term satisfaction of their gain (v. 18).
At the end of the day, we must come to understand that bearing financial fruit means more than stockpiling money. Those who prosper God's way are able to reach out to others and fully benefit from what God has so freely given.
Excerpted from Living in Financial Victory by Anthony T. Evans, Kathryn Hall. Copyright © 2013 Anthony T. Evans. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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