When an American Christian began training pastors on Mt. Elgon in Kenya about ten years ago, one local man there was outraged. He got up in the face of this believer, a DTS graduate, and threatened his life.
A few years later, hundreds of Kenyans fled Mt. Elgon, crossing into Uganda to get away from fighting. A war on the mountain over its natural resources caused almost all of its inhabitants to lose their homes. When the locals finally returned, they had nothing. But this was the land of their ancestors. How could they move away?
Hearing about the plight of the Christians there, generous believers across the world gave funds to rebuild thirty single-room homes for their brothers and sisters, entrusting its well-trained pastors with the job of discerning who should receive the money. And some of these godly leaders went without houses for themselves in order to provide homes for those in greater need. One such person in need was the man who had made threats. And the Christians’ gesture of love shown to one who had demonstrated such hatred softened his heart to their message, and he trusted Christ. Another man, a recent convert who received a house for himself and his eight children, offered his home as a church meeting place for his village’s other new converts.
Tradition tells us that Martin Luther once said, “There are three conversions a person needs to experience: The conversion of the head, the conversion of the heart, and the conversion of the pocketbook.” Certainly, of all people, Luther knew this. Part of the content of his 95 Theses nailed to Wittenberg’s door was a corrective against the church’s handling of money chests and indulgences—rooted in greed. What a contrast to the generous pastors on Mt. Elgon!
Biblical Principles of Money Management
The Bible has much to say on the topic of money. Nearly half of Jesus’s parables include words such as rich, poor, mammon, coins, inheritance, mite, and tax collector. God’s Word contains more than four times as many verses about money as it does about prayer or faith. In fact, Jesus taught about money and material possessions more than he talked about hell and heaven combined. Why? Because one mark of a true disciple is the recognition that God owns all our possessions. This truth is the foundational principle for managing all we have. Even our very bodies belong to our maker. We are only stewards of our rich Father’s estate.
When Jesus laid out the terms of discipleship, he made clear that he demands everything of his followers: “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? . . . In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:27–33). All we are and all we have—all—belongs to the true Owner of our goods.