Discipline (Part 2): Matters of the Heart

Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This verse has so often been used by preachers to tell us that we are not supposed to have wealth on this earth, but we need to give it into their ministry or their church so that we can have treasure in heaven instead. I am sorry but I don’t think this verse has anything at all do with giving to the “church”… maybe a little more to do with BEING the church. And it definitely is not talking about just giving away all of your money. This entire chapter in Mathew is actually dealing with matters of the heart and not the externals. It deals with your giving in charity being a matter of “stealth” so that it truly is just unto the Lord and not for the accolades of men. It addresses prayer as a matter between you and the Lord and not for recognition (vs5-13) and forgiveness unlocking your heart (vs 14-15) and fasting as a secret thing between you and the Lord as a matter of your heart (vs 16-17). Really the key to me seems to be the attitude or position of your heart when you are doing these things. Not that the things are bad, but it is why and how you do them that is really important… what is in your heart.

So then verse 19-21 talking about not laying up treasure on earth is not saying don’t have money or even wealth, but rather, don’t let it be your treasure… don’t let your heart be set on just having stuff or accumulating wealth because if that is all you have a vision for then the stuff will have you, and it is temporary. You will never be able to have self-control or discipline with your finances if your only purpose for not spending your money is to have more stuff and accumulate more money. If that is your goal then why not spend it now?

This is why my second key to discipline is the position of your heart. Your treasure is not in having stuff, but in having the resources to do whatever God has put into your heart to do. Your heart is fixed toward Him and on His purposes, and in that shifting of your heart your treasure becomes about advancing His kingdom. Now this is all very “spiritual” lingo, but the truth is still truth. If you are struggling with discipline in your finances, you probably haven’t yet got a big enough vision for what God is calling you and your family to do. What you are wasting today in resources is still meaningless to you because it doesn’t yet have the weight of value that it will when it takes on purpose.

Have you ever saved to go on a mission trip? It’s amazing how every $20 that you earn washing cars or doing odd jobs takes on incredible meaning. You have a clear goal and deadline and that brings amazing value to the money that you are raising. Also, when you really feel that smile of God on what you are doing, it really makes everything easier. When you know He is in it, it gives you this amazing confidence that you will have the resources to go when it is time to go. Well, I don’t think that we are only supposed to walk in that place of joyful confidence when it is for a “spiritual” mission trip. Instead, I think the Lord lets us have those experiences so we can see His faithfulness in a very powerful way and then walk in that joyful confidence in our daily lives.

Why is it that it is so much easier for us to believe that God has a purpose for our lives, rather than God has a purpose for our money… and it’s not giving it all away. We think if we actually tap into “spiritual” purpose for our finances then we will end up with nothing. I know that there was a whole generation of people before mine who were raised believing that the only way to be truly spiritual was to be poor. They sacrificed and gave away everything, and now they have gotten close to the end of their lives and have nothing. There is no retirement option besides living with their children. There is no money to leave as an inheritance. They feel disillusioned at their sacrifice. Many of us get “religious” in these moments and say, “Well, God will take care of them, since they gave it all to Him.” And yes God will take care of them, but they didn’t have to suffer. And they didn’t give it all to Him.

The trouble comes when we scatter our seed and then we sow our bread as well. 2 Corinthians 9:10 says, “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” God gives us the seed to sow and the bread for food. We need to figure out how to relax and eat the bread that God has given us to eat and to feed our families with. And we need to learn to sow the seed in such a purposeful way that it brings forth an abundant harvest so that we can then feed the nations. Many of us are scattering our seed by just giving it all away, but this is not the heart of God. Throwing your seed down on the ground just so that it is not in your hand and you don’t have responsibility for it, is NOT why He gave you seed. He entrusts us with seed so that we can find the best soil and cultivate it to bring forth the biggest harvests. So if your money is seed, you have to start asking, “How do I make my money grow so that I can be the best steward of what God has given me, and so that the impact of the harvest of this seed will reach so much further than just the seed itself.”

Now, I absolutely believe in giving and being a giver. It is one of the most powerful elements of your finances and I am going to be writing about it soon. But giving has to purposeful and it has to be led by the Holy Spirit. Giving is not scattering, it is a part of the purposeful planting of your resources and seed. So give with joy because there will be a bountiful harvest. But also plant your seed in your own field with joy because you will have even more to give out of your harvest and you will be able to impact so many more. And then also eat your bread with joy. Enjoy the fruit of your labors. It is OK to have money! It is OK to prosper. It’s just not OK for that to be where your treasure is.

There is a purpose for your money and resources that is bigger than just what you can buy today. When you get what is God’s true heart in you prospering then it will change your heart in turn. Budgeting won’t be a question of what you “can’t” buy or “can’t” do, but rather of what you GET to do with your life, your resources, and with the abundance that will flow out of being purposeful with your money. And trust me, there is nothing like glimpsing God’s heart for you to take any sting out of budgeting that you might perceive as a need for discipline. Instead of you having to control yourself and the impulses of your heart, your heart will be pulling you along. You will actually be excited to go down the path of budgeting because you will have already glimpsed His purpose and the incredible harvest waiting for you not just at the end of your journey like we are always told, but also for today.