PROGRAM W-1783 – Part I
Money. How many times have you thought, “If only I didn’t have to worry about money, life would be easy!”? Jesus realized that money was going to give us lots of trouble, and he wanted us to know how to deal with this love-of-money problem.
He warned us that we cannot serve both God and Money, and this statement in itself tells us that we can be a slave to money—it can hold a lordship over our lives. Is that true for you? What is your attitude toward money?
Proverbs 30:8-9 gives us some good advice: “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” If you think that all your problems would be solved by someone giving you a ton of money, think again. Having a lot of money would be disastrous for most of us, for we would soon love it, depend on it, and look to it for our security.
Paul wrote to Timothy that money is not our problem, but the love of money is. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Love of money causes all kinds of evil, and it can cause you to wander from your faith and bring many griefs into your life. Think carefully about your attitude toward money, because the wrong attitude is a recipe for disaster. Is there some sin in your life right now that you know should not be there? If you dig deeply, you may well discover that the root of that sin is your love and desire for money. What griefs are you suffering in your life? Could it be that your love of money has brought about that grief?
The incredible thing is that Christians can be afflicted with this love-of-money disease just like anyone else, and it can cause all kinds of selfishness, greed, envy, unkindness, ruined relationships—the list is almost endless. Is it worth it? Is any amount of money worth the grief and the evil that it has brought into your life?
If you’re like me, you will find that it is a continual battle—this fight against the love of money. But you and I need to be willing to pull those roots of loving money out of our heart and give the throne of our hearts back to the Lord. Keeping a biblical attitude toward money takes a strong commitment on our part. If you don’t, you will be asking for trouble—and lots of it!
However, there is no denying that we all need money to exist and we have to deal with it on a daily basis. None of us wants to live our lives worrying about paying our bills all the time. So, while we don’t want to love money, we do need to practice good money management.
Like every other area of our lives, the Bible has principles and guidelines that will help us walk this fine line between loving money and using it wisely. I’d like to point some of those out to you and encourage you to put them into practice in your life. They will truly help you manage your money.
Let’s begin with Proverbs 13:11: “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.” Gathering money little by little—that’s saving money. Do you have some type of savings plan? Are you systematically and regularly putting some money aside? That is a biblical way to manage your money—and it will grow.
You’re probably thinking, I don’t have enough money as it is; how do you expect me to save any? But until you practice this principle, you’ll always be in that Catch-22 predicament. Think of a sum of money that you can save every week. It may be very small, but make a promise to yourself and to God that you will put that money in a savings account of some type, regardless of whether you think you can afford it or not. Five dollars a week amounts to $260 a year; it’s not much but it’s a starting place, and far better than nothing.
You need to establish this discipline in your life and, as you see that you’re able to find that five dollars, you’ll discover you may be able to save even more. Start small—but start. That’s the important thing. Get that discipline going. If you have young children in your home, let them know you’re doing that, too, and teach them to save a little of the money that they have. This is such an important principle of money management, and it’s never too late to start and no amount is too small to start with.
Here’s another proverb that gives us some good advice about money management: “Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?” (Proverbs 17:16) Even if we had all the money we thought we needed, it would be no use if we did not use that money with great wisdom. Stories abound of people who get the money they wanted, and then waste it on foolish spending.
As believers, we are going to be accountable to God for the use of the money entrusted to us. Therefore, we should make it a practice to think carefully about every purchase we make. This one hits me between the eyes because I tend to be an impulsive person—and therefore, an impulsive spender. This can lead me to spending money foolishly. Here’s a discipline I’m trying to incorporate into my life: “Think before you spend.” Sounds pretty simple, but it can certainly make you a better money manager.
Try thinking through these questions:
- Do I really need this?
- What would happen if I don’t buy it?
- What else could I do with this money that would be more important?
- Is this going to require a lot of upkeep expense?
- If I need this, is this the best value I can find?
For example, I may see a red blouse I really like and want, but if I think before I buy, I remember that I have a couple of red blouses already. Often I talk myself into buying something I don’t need because it’s a bargain. But it’s not a bargain if I don’t need it! Or I may realize that this blouse is silk and the upkeep is expensive. Or perhaps I could find this blouse or a similar one at a reduced price in another store. Just that simple discipline of thinking before I buy can cause me to make much better decisions about how to spend my money.
It would be a good idea to write these qualifying questions on a 3 x 5 card and take it with you everywhere you go, particularly for those who tend to be impulsive spenders. Then force yourself to ask those questions before you buy anything. We’d be much better money managers if we practiced this simple discipline of thinking before we spend.
Now, a major issue in money management is debt. If you’ve managed to get yourself into a fair amount of debt, you may feel as though you’re in a pit out of which there is no escape. Romans 13:7-8 says, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue. . . Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
Maybe the first thing we need to do is understand what we mean by the term “debt.” In his book, Your Finances in Changing Times, Larry Burkett gave the following definition of debt:
Debt exists when any of the following conditions are true: (1) Payment is past due for money, goods or services that are owed to other people; (2) The total value of unsecured liabilities exceeds total assets; in other words, if you had to cash out at any time, there would be a negative balance on your account; and (3) Anxiety is produced over financial responsibility, and the family’s basic needs are not being met because of past or present buying practices.
Does any of that describe your debts? If so, you need to face this challenge of getting yourself out of that kind of debt. Now, you may need to get rid of your credit cards. It’s so easy to use that plastic to buy something and face the music later on. This is how so many people get into real money problems.
Credit cards in themselves are not evil; in fact, if used correctly, they can offer some real benefits. For example, there are advantages in returning merchandise when purchased on a credit card, and there are insurance policies for purchases made on credit cards. But the secret to using a credit card properly is to pay it off each month so you’re not paying any interest. This means you cannot purchase what you can’t pay for, so again, you have to think before you spend.
Many people don’t trust themselves with credit cards, so they just get rid of them. If you need to do that, do it. Jesus said if your arm offends you, cut it off. In other words, take whatever drastic action is necessary to make yourself do the right thing. If you know credit cards are too much temptation for you, cut them up and never get another one.
Also, if you’re already in debt over your head, you may need to go to your debtors and ask them to help you set up a payback schedule for that debt, and then start chipping at it regularly. It is really important to pay back something on those debts every month. If a creditor sees that you are making a real effort to pay it off and you are consistent, they probably will be willing to make an extension for you and work with you. Remember that the Bible tells us we should pay our debts, so if you don’t put this discipline in place, you will be disobedient to God’s Word. This is a spiritual issue.
Indeed, money is a spiritual matter because the love of it is the root of all kinds of evil. Your attitude toward money and the way you manage your money is something you will have to give an account for to the Lord. Why is that so important to the Lord?
Well, Jesus said that where your money is, that’s where your heart is. In other words, what we do with our money shows what and whom we love, what and whom we are committed to, what and whom we support. Therefore, if I spend my money foolishly and exclusively on myself—trying to get things that I want—it is a clear indication that I am a self-focused person.
I remember during a ten-year period when I was not walking with the Lord, that I spent money right and left on clothes and things for me or my home. What I was doing was trying to find a substitute for the Lord—but what I discovered is that no matter how many things I bought, they never satisfied me and it was never enough. Money promises us a lot, but it doesn’t deliver. Only Jesus can truly bring soul satisfaction, and we can have his peace and contentment even if we’re broke! Isn’t that great news?