When it comes to our finances, living a life of freedom and joy may seem like a distant dream. Many Christians, especially those in ministry, can experience financial stress and confusion. How should a call to live a Gospel-centered life impact our financial mindset, strategies, and behaviors? Jesus calls us to lay down our lives, pick up our crosses, and follow him. He tells us that his way is narrow and few find it. While his call feels weighty and difficult, it is only when we obey it that we become free to follow Jesus. Michael Blue, in his book, Free to Follow, provides important insight into a process of living free.
- Ashamed of the Gospel: “To make this even harder, we live in a world intent on making us love it and disregard everything else. And to a large extent, the world has been far more effective at making disciples than we have. With the constant deluge of advertising, branding, self-exaltation, and a general promise of finding a soul-satisfying life in this world, we’re being discipled with a message that this world is the best we could ever want or need” (pg. 16). What would change in your life today if you took Jesus’s invitation to lose your life and follow him more seriously?
- The Call to Surrender: “The call to follow Jesus isn’t a call to add Jesus as an accessory onto our lives. It’s a call to become something new; to become whole; to forget our past loves; and to become like Jesus. But the only way we get there is through the costly process of dying to ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following Jesus. All this talk of following and surrender only sounds costly because of how much we love the things of the world above the things of God” (pg. 38). What things do you keep in your life that hinder you from loving Jesus and following him?
- Life of Surrender: “Dependence is a rather unpopular concept in our fiercely individualistic society. To be dependent is to needy, weak, insufficient. To admit we can’t write our own stories or be anything we want. Babies and old people are dependent, but not us. Independence is the thing every child craves and every aging adult desperately clings to. Dependence is a bad word in our culture…. Only from a position of total dependence can we deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him. Jesus constantly moved his followers to a place of dependence” (pg. 50, 51). Where have you exhibited trust and dependence on God most consistently in your finances?
- Bible’s Witness of Financial Surrender: “While anything placed in front of God is destructive, money is singled out as being uniquely so. Jesus tells us, “…You cannot serve both God and money” (Lk. 16:13). Notice he doesn’t say we shouldn’t serve God and money – he says we can’t. It’s impossible. We’ll love and serve one or the other. We can’t serve both” (pg.70). Have you seen the Bible misused in teachings about money?
- Lifestyles of Jesus and His Earliest Followers: “The three markers of the early church were a dedication to God’s Word, fellowship with one another, and extravagant sharing. This group of people followed Jesus with abandon. Their lives were compelling. This church drew people to God because of their distinctive lifestyle. Imaging if we started living this way; if we cared for the persecuted brothers and sisters this way; if we cared for the needy among us this way” (pg.96). In what ways do you believe a follower of Jesus’s lifestyle should look different than the world’s?
To learn more about the challenge of living a life of financial freedom, see the following resources:
Blue, M. (2020). Free to Follow: Discover the Riches of a Surrendered Life. Austin, TX: Thirsty Land Press.
Grubb, N. (2018). C.T. Studd: Cricketer and Pioneer. Ft. Washington, PA: CLC Publications.
Hoag, G. G., Rodin, R. S., Willmer, W. K. (2015). The Choice: The Christ-Centered Pursuit of Kingdom Outcomes. Winchester, VA: ECFAPress.
Financial contributor: Phil Gelatt, Ed D. Director, High School Program Ron Blue Institute
Executive editor: Johanna Rugh
Curator of content: Dave Higle