Integrity & Authenticity: Money Matters!

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I had a meeting with my accountant last month. It is that time of year when I have to go through the laborious process of gathering together all the paperwork to do with my incomings and outgoings with regard to my finances. I have a part-time job but I also receive income from other streams such as selling CDs, royalties, concerts, and for my ministry position in my local church. The law (in the UK) says that I need to register as self-employed and that I must declare my financial earnings etc. to the Tax Office.

To be honest, I don't sell many CDs! All the money I make from them goes towards keeping my website online. In theory, I could ignore the law telling me to pay my taxes - they may not notice such as small earner as me - or they might!

However, Jesus tells us very clearly what to do in Matthew 22: 15-21:

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
So, Jesus tells me to pay my taxes!

This verse highlights another area - do I also give to God what is God's? I believe this can encompass other things as well as money such as our time, the lifestyle we live etc. But the context of the passage is one to do with money, so this is where I will focus.

In various places in the Bible it speaks about how Christians (which includes Christian leaders) should live with financial integrity. We should be giving to our local church in order to support the ministry that serves us and enable it to reach more people with the gospel - often called a 'tithe' (Luke 11:42).

However we should also be giving to the poor and the needy, in whatever form this takes in your community (Matthew 25:31-46).

How we spend our money should also follow Biblical lines. It is more than simply giving a tithe and that is God's bit and I can do what I want with the rest. In my local church we include the giving of our tithe as part of the worship in our service once a month. This is to remind us that God gave us everything we need for life, including money - it is all His anyway. We are stewards of it. So we should worship Him and honour him in the way we spend it too.

This can include ethical shopping, not shopping in certain shops who have been shown to have elements of human trafficking in their supply chain, etc.

Financial integrity also includes other things such as: does your church pay the relevant licenses it is required to such as CCLI (a copyright license to do with church music), or PRS (another music license to do with the performance of live music) or PPL (a license concerned with the playing/  broadcasting of recorded music).

When one starts thinking about it, the whole area of financial integrity seems to mushroom-cloud. It is an important area of life to get right before God, so let Him guide you. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to highlight which area of your finances He would like you to work on next. Take small steps, one after the other and soon they will add together to make a giant leap!

Let's continue to live right before God, with integrity and authenticity.

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