14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver[a] to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.
19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’
21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together![b]’
22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’
23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’
26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’
28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
During the first decade of our marriage, we dug holes and hid our Masters money. Although Doug and I had been taught about tithing and good stewardship from our parents, we didn’t heed their wisdom. Like millions of Americans, we lived paycheck to paycheck and paid only the minimum balance on our credit cards, car payments & mortgage. We had no budget and no boundaries. If we wanted it, we bought it. Every year, when the tax return came in, we’d pay down our debt- then reward ourselves by buying something else! We lived in bondage to our lenders for far to long…
Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.
It wasn’t until Doug felt convicted to give to the church that the Lord began to change our hearts about money (notice, I said “give”- we didn’t believe we could actually afford to tithe, so we dropped $50 or $100 bucks in the plate each month for a few years until we gradually increased to 10% of our net income). Shortly after we began tithing regularly, God convicted us again to give Him 10% of our gross income. After fighting it for a while, we finally realized that the IRS and the State of North Carolina was just another bill we owed, after God received what was due Him. The next thing the Holy Spirit convicted us about (are you seeing a trend here?!?) was our poor stewardship of the remaining 90%. So, we created a plan to retrieve the money out of the holes we’d dug and pay back those lenders! Once Doug set his mind to do this, applying it was not too difficult for him. I, on the other hand really had to wrestle between needs & wants. Countless times I can remember going shopping and filling my cart with items that weren’t necessities…and on the way to check out, I would get a pang in my gutt, stop abruptly, turn around, and return all of the items back to their shelves. This went on for years- but eventually, the demons of greed & debt got frustrated and left!
When I was wiling to submit to God’s purposes for our finances and Doug’s plan for tithing, saving, investing and spending I no longer saw my Master as being harsh. Instead, I began to see His true heart towards me and how He wanted to throw open the windows of heaven and bless me and our family! 7 years later, we now have only 1 hole remaining; our mortgage, and a plan is in place to pay that lender back as soon as possible.
By following His guidelines about money we have miraculously been able to tithe, save, invest and give generously to others. Without being workaholics or striving to constantly make more money, HE has provided our every need and blessed us (spiritually, emotionally & financially) abundantly with many of our wants.
As He continues to entrust His money to us, I pray that we will continue to use it wisely and continue to hear Him say:
‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’