Joy is one of those qualities that all of us want but few seem to be able to sustain.  It’s happiness that doesn’t depend on our circumstances.  Some people tend to radiate joy, while most of us long for more of it.  The good news is that God has shown us a direct way to attaining lasting joy.  And while money can’t buy happiness, it can be used to obtain joy!  How, you ask?  That’s precisely one of the promised results of faithful stewardship!

In the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, there are three servants entrusted with money from the Master, two of which diligently put the money to work.  One was given five talents which he turned into ten, and the other was given two talents which he turned into four.  But both of these servants heard the exact same reply:

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’” (v21 and v23).

Faithful Stewardship Results in Joy

Did you hear that?  Enter into the joy of your master.  Joy was given as a direct result of the stewards’ faithfulness.  It is a gift from our Heavenly Father and was tied to their handling of earthly resources.

That’s why Ron Blue always said that “every spending decision is a spiritual decision.”  They all matter, and they affect our hearts here on earth as well as how we spend eternity.  Why does God put such an emphasis on our handling of money?  Why does he tie in our joy to our finances?  I think there are a few issues at play here…

Joy in Obedience

With four small kids, I’m well aware of the challenges of obedience.  Parenting feels like a constant battle of one step forward, two steps back sometimes.  We all tend to fight to obey because obedience requires putting someone else’s will ahead of our own.  But have you ever watched a dog obedience competition?  Those pets who have been highly trained to obey don’t appear to be doing it out of drudgery.  No, they are the most joyful looking animals I’ve ever seen, almost begging their master to give them their next command.

And while we are much more than pets to the Father, the results of our obedience are the same.  The more we submit to God’s will with our money, the more we will experience delight and joy.  Because that’s what love does.  Love compels us to serve, to give ourselves away, to use our money for someone else’s benefit.  When we get that and really love God, it results in a longing to obey which results in joy.

Joy in Financial Surrender

Faithful stewardship also frees our hearts from chasing after money.

Most of us tend to think that really giving up control of our money and possessions will lead to stress and anxiety.  What if I don’t have enough to retire on?  Would God really ask me to delay or give up upgrading my house or car?  Won’t giving more away make things tighter or mean I have to give up some of my creature comforts?

But when we start asking these questions we’ve totally missed the point.  What we’re usually after with things like houses, cars, lattes and the such is happiness and satisfaction.  And while some increase in income can offer a bit of stress-relief, it will never really satisfy like we hope it will.  Solomon teaches us in Ecclesiastes 5:10:

Whoever loves money never has enough;

whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.

This too is meaningless.

In truth, it’s in giving up control of our money and surrendering it to the One who owns it all that we can actually find lasting joy.  Because joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit, and it comes from the Father, and he gives it to those who are faithful stewards of what He entrusts to them.

Living it Out

So what does faithful stewardship practically look like?  Does it just mean to double your money like the servants in the parable of the talents?  Of course not.  Thankfully God doesn’t leave us wondering how to live it out – there are more than 2,350 verses in the Bible that deal with money and possessions.

Faithful stewardship entails things like contentment, generosity, not storing up treasures on earth, lending freely, blessing others with our wealth, and avoiding the temptation to love or trust in our money.  And when you think about it, none of these are really a burden to us.  For they all free up our hearts and will work to produce that lasting joy.

God doesn’t need our money, He owns it all anyways.  But He cares deeply about our hearts and our happiness, and he uses our money as the battleground.

Also keep in mind that the amount doesn’t matter.  Whether you have 1, 2, 5 or a million talents, the expectation is the same, and the same joy can await you.  If you feel lacking in joy, we’d be glad to have a conversation with you to talk about what faithful stewardship might look like and some practical ways you could attempt to honor the Lord with your wealth.  Remember, it matters both for our joy here on earth and for eternity as well!