He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
People use this scripture to say that if you want to be entrusted with a lot of authority, then you have to start small and work your way up. I even tell the students I teach at Charis Bible College that you aren’t going to leave school and jump right into pastoring a church of a thousand members. You have to be faithful in the small things first—serving at your church, teaching a Bible study, and other ministry work. As you become faithful through doing small things, God will increase your leadership responsibilities. Those are true statements, and it isn’t wrong to use this scripture to demonstrate that truth, but it isn’t really what Jesus was talking about here.
The context of a scripture determines its main application, and the context of this scripture is the steward who had wasted his master’s money. In context, Jesus is saying that the least area of trusting God is money. What an incredible statement! It is also completely contrary to the way most believers think.
Many think that money is something for mature Christians to deal with, and that salvation and living a holy life are the simple things. As a matter of fact, somebody always gets upset with me when I teach about finances on television or radio. I actually received a letter one time from a listener who threatened to sue me for wasting airtime talking about money. He was absolutely livid that I would take time to talk about finances when I should—he thought—be talking about more important issues. But finances are the least area of trusting God! It’s a starting place. In the parable of the unjust steward, Jesus went on to say:
If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Mammon means money.4 We need to talk about money because Jesus said in this parable that trusting God in the area of finances is the least area of trust, and you can’t do greater things without doing the lesser things first. If you can’t lift five pounds, then you certainly shouldn’t go out and try to lift a hundred pounds. You have to start with what is least and work your way up. If you can’t walk ten paces, then you can’t climb a mountain. If you can’t run a mile, then you can’t run a marathon. When you start an exercise program, you don’t start with the greatest; you start with that which is least and work your way up.
Remember, Jesus is saying that trusting God with your finances is the least area of trusting God. It’s the least use of your faith. When Jesus said in Luke 16:10, “He that is faithful in that which is least,” He was calling money “that which is least.” Think about it: If you aren’t trusting God in your finances, then you are deceiving yourself to think you are trusting Him with your eternal salvation—or anything else. That is profound!
If you aren’t seeing greater things come to pass in your life, the reason may very well be that you aren’t trusting God with “that which is least.” Believing for your family to be restored, for healing to manifest in your body, or for mental and emotional healing are all infinitely greater than believing for finances. If you haven’t started trusting God with your finances yet, how can you go beyond that and trust Him to heal your body? How will you trust God to get over depression if you can’t do that which is least and trust Him with your money? How can you trust God to give you eternal life, but not trust Him to provide for your physical needs?
Clinging to money out of fear that God won’t provide for you, but then trying to say you are believing God for healing or restoration is like saying, “I can’t jump three feet, but I’m going to jump clear across the Grand Canyon.” It just doesn’t work that way. It isn’t that God wants you to jump through a bunch of hoops before He will heal you—no, everything has already been provided.5 It’s because you probably won’t be able to trust God for big things until you can trust Him for little things first.
Trusting God with our finances is much more important than it has been given credit for being. Many people are trying to bypass this issue and move on to bigger things, but it won’t work. Just like other areas of life, you have to start at the beginning and work your way up. You can’t jump from the ground to the top of a ladder. You have to start at the bottom rung and work your way up. Trusting God with your finances is the bottom rung. It’s the starting place.
I taught this same message at a church in California one time, and God used it to really touch people’s hearts. After I taught, I received an offering to give them an opportunity to act on what they had learned. I didn’t want them to think I was doing it for selfish reasons, so I gave the entire offering to the pastor of the church. As they were passing the buckets, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Watch what happens now that these people have started trusting me with their finances.” When the offering was finished I stood up to pray and miracles started happening! People started receiving the healing power of God. It was such a dramatic demonstration of God’s power that people were running to the front asking what they needed to do to be saved.
I saw with my own eyes that the reason some of those people hadn’t been healed was because they had never fully trusted God in the area of finances. I know that a lot of minsters don’t see things this way. They want to just preach about salvation and leave Christians to try to figure out finances on their own, but that isn’t what Scripture teaches. Jesus said that trusting God with our finances is foundational.
God provided healing, deliverance, salvation, and prosperity through His Son, Jesus, 2,000 years ago. These gifts become a reality for us when we mix them with faith because faith appropriates what God has already provided.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that if you just give money then you will receive a miracle. You can’t buy healing or any other blessing of God. You can only receive from God by faith. Faith is the only thing that makes anything God has done for us manifest in our lives. What I am saying is that using your faith for finances is the least use of faith, and if you haven’t done that which is least, then you won’t be able to do greater things.
I meet people all of the time who are seeking physical and emotional healing, but they haven’t started trusting God with their money yet. Honestly, I’m probably not as bold in telling people about this as I should be. I should probably be stronger about this because I know in my heart that people have come to me wanting to receive healing for cancer from God when they have never started believing His simple promises concerning giving and receiving. They don’t give or tithe because they don’t really believe that God’s promises about financial provision are true. They don’t really trust God. So how are they going to trust Him to heal them of cancer? They won’t believe God for the greater thing if they won’t believe Him for money, which is the least use of our faith.
On a few occasions I have questioned people about their giving. I remember a friend of mine who came to one of my meetings in Atlanta asking me for prayer. As we were talking, the Lord quickened to me that she hadn’t been giving. This was a Christian who knew better, and so I asked her, “Have you been faithful in your giving?
She looked at me and then said, “No, I fell behind and I haven’t been doing it.”
She was trying to believe God for healing, yet she wasn’t doing that which is least. So I told her, “Until you start acting on what you already know and using your faith for those smaller things, there is no point in me praying for you to receive bigger things.”
Some people might be shocked that I would tie being faithful in your finances to receiving healing from God, but those things can be connected. It’s not a matter of pleasing God with giving before He will heal you. It’s all about being able to trust Him for small things before you try trusting Him for big things. Jesus said the exact same thing when the rich young ruler came to Him and said, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). Jesus recognized that the young man’s heart wasn’t right, so He told him to sell everything he had, give the proceeds to the poor, and then come follow Him. In essence, He was telling the young man, “If you can’t trust Me in that which is least, then you won’t trust Me for that which is greater.”
In the parable we looked at earlier of the unjust steward, Jesus said, “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:11). People talk about money being true riches, but money is nothing compared to health. People pay millions of dollars trying to get well. Anyone who has ever been really sick can tell you that good health is priceless.
Some people are thinking that once they get healed, or after their marriage is restored, or after they are delivered from depression, then they will start being a faithful steward of their finances. They want to receive a greater blessing before they start trusting God for the lesser blessings. You can’t do that. You have to start with that which is least and work your way up.
It would be foolish to try to believe God for the healing of cancer and yet not trust Him with your finances. At the very least, you are going to be frustrated and disappointed if you don’t see your physical body healed. Or worse, you might become bitter and think faith doesn’t work or that God’s Word isn’t true. No, faith works and God wants you well, but faith is trust in God. If you don’t trust God with your finances, then you probably won’t be able to trust that His Son, Jesus, has already paid the price for your healing. Remember, the Word says that you can’t serve two masters. (Luke 16:13.) You can’t trust yourself when it comes to money and then try to trust God with everything else.
I’m not saying these things to hurt anyone—I’m saying it to enlighten you. If you have been standing in faith for healing but you haven’t seen any physical manifestation, this could be the reason. Think about how you handle your finances: Are you trusting God with your finances? If not, then you don’t need to look any further for why you haven’t received healing. It isn’t effective to compartmentalize your faith so that you are trying to trust God in one area, but not in others. If you are going to trust God, then trust Him all the way. The same God who promised eternal life when you confess Jesus as your Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9), also said to give and it would be given back to you. (Luke 6:38.)
Imagine if I had the resources to guarantee that I could give $1,000 back to everyone who sent me $10. If you really believed that I was telling the truth, then you would be foolish not to send me $10. It wouldn’t matter what kind of financial straits you were in, you could find $10. If you really and truly believed that I was a man of my word, then it would be ridiculous not to invest $10 in order to receive $1,000 back. Even if you were living on the street, you would find a way to get me $10. I think everyone can understand that. Well, Jesus said the same thing in Scripture: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom” (Luke 6:38).
Jesus also said that anyone who sacrifices home or family will be rewarded with one hundred times what they sacrificed in this life, as well as the gift of eternal life. (Mark 10:30.) If you haven’t been giving but you really believe God’s promises, then why wouldn’t you give of your finances and trust that He will give back much more than you gave? One of God’s promises, as we just saw, is that He will give back to you abundantly, so if you aren’t giving, you don’t really believe the promises of God.
I could cite a lot of verses that talk about God blessing us and prospering us when we give; it’s an established principle in the Word of God. People are deceiving themselves when they say that they are trusting and believing in God but they aren’t giving financially. If you aren’t giving to God, then you either don’t know His promises to give back to you, or you don’t really believe those promises are true.
Lack of trust in finances will hinder your entire walk with the Lord. Let me put it this way: I don’t know a single mature Christian who doesn’t tithe and give. Everyone I know who has made a total commitment to the Lord trusts God with their finances. On the other hand, I could give you many examples of people who don’t trust God with their finances, and their relationship with God is up and down like a yo-yo. They haven’t learned to trust God in their finances, and they have no stability in their lives. The conclusion I draw is that people who don’t trust God with their finances are not mature, stable Christians—and won’t become stable until they start trusting God in this area. If that describes you, just keep in mind that sowing and reaping takes time. Likewise, learning to trust God with your finances and moving into maturity and stability in this area is a process.
This isn’t just for the people who want to be fanatics. This is for baby (or new) Christians. You cannot truly mature and fully walk in the blessings of God until you start trusting Him with your finances. As we just saw, the same God who promised that He would save you and give you eternal life also promised to prosper you financially. It’s double-minded (James 1:7–8) to say that you will trust God with your eternal salvation, but not trust Him enough to give and see yourself as a steward of God’s resources.
Prosperity is a part of our salvation. The Word says that Jesus became poor so that we, through His poverty, might be made rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9.) Some people try to spiritualize that verse and say it is talking about being rich emotionally, but the context of the verse is finances. Yes, Jesus came to make us rich emotionally and spiritually, but He also came to provide for our physical needs. Jesus became poor so that we could be made rich.
We can’t just pick and choose which portions of the Word we are going to believe. Don’t listen to those who try to spiritualize every scripture about finances and pretend like money doesn’t matter—it does matter. In fact, Jesus told the rich young ruler that if he couldn’t trust God for his financial needs, then he wouldn’t trust God for his salvation. (Luke 18:18–25.) We touched on this story earlier, but the point is that Jesus used finances to demonstrate to that young man the true condition of his heart. Remember, Jesus said that if we aren’t faithful in that which is least, then we won’t be faithful in something greater. (Luke 16:10.) Trusting God with your finances is where you start. Let’s take an in-depth look at the story of the rich young ruler.
When he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
Sometimes we read through Scripture without thinking about it enough to let it have its full impact on us. Try to picture the situation here. Jesus was a radical and controversial figure in His day. The scribes and Pharisees had established that anyone who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah was going to be kicked out of the synagogue, so there was persecution for those who associated with Jesus. Yet, this rich young man ran and fell at the feet of Jesus saying, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
This young man had some degree of commitment to fall down at Jesus’ feet like that. He could have been kicked out of the synagogue. He certainly would have been ridiculed. It was a big deal for him to publicly acknowledge Jesus the way he did. Imagine yourself sitting in one of my meetings when all of a sudden somebody runs up and throws himself down at my feet and says, “How do I get saved?” Most people would think, “Wow, this guy is really sincere.” But Jesus recognized that the young man wasn’t all that he appeared to be. He wasn’t really willing to commit himself to the Lord, even though he made such a public demonstration.
Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7.) Jesus was God in the flesh, and He wasn’t moved by outward appearances. The young man’s actions looked good, but his heart was wrong, and Jesus knew it, so He said, “Why are you calling me good?” In those days, “master” was just a term of respect; similar to the way we use Mr. or Mrs. It didn’t mean the young man was submitting to Jesus. Jesus essentially said, “Look, you’re calling Me a good master, but you have to go beyond that. You have to receive Me as Lord and accept Me as God. So either call Me God or quit calling Me good!”
Jesus had to be God in order for His sacrifice to be able to atone for the young man’s sin. One man’s sacrifice isn’t worth any more than one man’s life. For Jesus to be the Savior of the entire world, He had to be more than a mere man; He had to be God manifest in the flesh. (1 Timothy 3:16.) Jesus had been saying that He was God. He called Himself God and referred to Himself as the Son of God. He also said that we have to honor Him exactly the way we honor the Father (John 5:23), but the young man wasn’t honoring Jesus as God.
Some people today are saying Jesus was a great prophet, but they don’t acknowledge Him as the Son of God. Others want to promote Jesus as a great example of love, but not as God. This is the exact same attitude the rich young ruler had. Contrary to those views, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus was either the Son of God or He was a liar—there are no other options. Our options today are the same ones the young ruler had: either make Jesus God or quit calling Him good!
Here’s what the young ruler decided to do: “[The young ruler] answered and said unto [Jesus], Master, all these have I observed from my youth” (Mark 10:20). That young man dropped the good!
See, he never believed that Jesus was God manifest in the flesh. He believed that Jesus could offer something he wanted, but he wasn’t willing to humble himself and acknowledge Jesus as his Lord. So Jesus told the young man to keep the commandments, and the young man had the audacity to say that he had kept them all from his youth (v. 20). Nobody has ever observed all of the commandments. (Romans 3:23.)
The New Testament reveals that it’s not only your actions that count, but what is in your heart. If you’ve been angry with a person without cause, you’re guilty of murder. (Matthew 5:21–22.) If you have lusted after a person or coveted what they own, then you’re guilty of lust, adultery, and covetousness. (Vv. 27–28.) So it’s not just whether you physically go out and disobey the commandments. According to Scripture, if you’ve even lusted for these things in your heart, then you’re guilty.
This young man was deceiving himself to think he had kept all of the commandments. I believe one of the main reasons the Lord told him to go sell everything he had and give it to the poor was because the first commandment is “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). This man’s wealth was his god. He would rather have his money and what his money could buy than have God. He wanted all of his money because he coveted the things money could get him, which violates the last commandment: “Thou shalt not covet” (v. 17). I believe Jesus was showing the man that he had broken the first and the last commandments, and probably everything in between. Look how Jesus responded after the man claimed to have kept all of the commandments.
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
Jesus loved the young man. He didn’t say these things because He was mad. He wasn’t trying to hurt him or drive him away by giving him an impossible task. No, Jesus loved this man and wanted to help him. In his heart, the man was trusting in money, and Jesus was trying to help him shift his trust to God.
You may be experiencing financial difficulties and you might be thinking that I’ve been insensitive because of some of the things I have said about trusting God with your finances. If you are financially challenged, maybe it seems like I don’t understand just how hard your situation is, or like I don’t care. But I do care; that’s the reason I wrote this book! I’m trying to help raise you up out of poverty and financial crisis. I’m trying to help you shift your trust to the Lord so that you can start receiving prosperity by faith instead of depending on yourself and stressing yourself out. It’s the exact same motivation Jesus had with the rich man.
When the young man heard Jesus ask him to sell everything he had and give the proceeds to the poor, he hung his head and walked away. He knew in his heart that he couldn’t do it. After the man left, the disciples began asking Jesus questions about what He had just taught on money. Finally, Jesus said to them:
Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
Jesus said this right after they saw the rich man walk away. In other words, if the man had sold everything he had and given it to the poor, he would have received a hundredfold return in this life. Jesus wasn’t trying to take from the man. He would have blessed him back a hundred times over. You’re a steward, and the money you have isn’t really yours anyway, but God is never going to let you outgive Him. When you do give, the Lord will always bless you back—not just in heaven, but here on earth, too.
The rich man’s refusal to sell his possessions revealed the true condition of his heart. His trust in money was a hindrance to his relationship with God—money was his god. Likewise, if some of the things I am saying rub you the wrong way, it may be that your heart isn’t right in this matter. Just as Jesus used money to reveal the rich man’s attitude, you can see what is in a person’s heart by looking at how they operate financially.
Jesus didn’t ask every rich person He met to sell everything they owned. He went to the house of a very wealthy tax collector named Zacchaeus and never mentioned money—and tax collectors earned a lot of money by stealing from people. (Luke 19:2–9.) Zacchaeus decided to give half of his goods to the poor and to restore four times any money he had stolen, but Jesus didn’t ask him to do those things; Zacchaeus did them voluntarily. Jesus didn’t ask everyone to sell all they had because the issue isn’t money—it’s whether or not you are trusting money instead of God.
God gives us money because we need it to function in this world. We use it to buy the goods that meet our needs, but money is not what provides for us. The question is whether we are trusting in God as the source of our provision, or whether we are operating out of fear and trusting in money itself. Money is just a delivery system; God is our source.
A lot of Christians say, “My trust is in the Lord,” but you can tell where their heart really is by looking at how they give. Are they faithful givers, or are they hoarding everything they get? Jesus told the rich man to sell everything he had in an effort to reveal the condition of his heart. If Jesus was still on earth in His physical body today, He would be asking whether our trust is in God or in stocks, bonds, and pension funds. He would be urging us to administer our finances as stewards, and to put our trust in God.
The desire of God’s heart is to be involved in every area of your life. He doesn’t just want to be part of one hour a week at church. He doesn’t want just a scrap of time every once in a while. He wants all of you, and the most dominant area of your life is the 40, 50, or 60 hours a week you spend earning a living. The way God gets you to trust Him in that area of your life is by asking you to give a portion of what you earn back to Him, and He promises to bless you back in return. It helps you remember that the power to get wealth comes from God, and it teaches you to trust God as your true source of prosperity.
Many people will not follow the leading of God because they are afraid—especially when it comes to earning income—but you have to believe God. You have to trust that God has your best interests at heart and that He will prosper and take care of you. Finances are the least use of your faith. This isn’t for the “super saints.” Baby Christians should start with trusting God in their finances. One reason is that you won’t have the confidence to step out and do the things that God has called you to do until you can trust Him to be your source.
Sometimes we’re afraid to step out and do what God is leading us to do, but the blessing on our life is in doing what God has called us to do. When my wife, Jamie, and I really started to step out and trust God with our finances, we saw the Lord come through for us time and time again. I could easily spend hours telling stories of God’s miraculous financial provision in my life. I’m telling you, it did something for me that I can’t verbalize when I began to see God supernaturally prosper us and lift us out of poverty. My faith in God went through the roof. I believe an important part of seeing my own son raised from the dead, and the countless other miracles I’ve seen, was learning to trust God in the area of finances. If I hadn’t done that which is least, I couldn’t have seen those greater things come to pass. That can be true for you too.
4Thayer and Smith, The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon, “Greek Lexicon entry for Mammonas,” available from http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/kjv/mammonas.html, S.V. “mammon,” Luke 16:13.