Monday, October 25, 2004

Money Matters

This is my lesson from our Ladies Bible Class last week. The title of the Chapter was Save, Scrimp or Squander. It is all about what the Bible has to say about how we handle money. I thought I'd share it with you.

I took a lot of my information from the Crown Ministries Small Group Financial Study that Mark and I went through 5 years ago. It is an in-depth 12 week financial Bible study. I never knew how much the Bible has to say about money. The study recommends the book "Your Money Counts" if you are interested in learning more. It is excellent.

Some Things to Think About
Yearly Americans spend three to four times more shopping than Western Europeans.

The average American at every income level buys more than twice as much as he or she did almost 50 years ago.

The average person in our country is three weeks away from bankruptcy. He has little or no money saved, regular fixed obligations to support a relatively high life-style, significant monthly credit obligations and a total dependence on next week’s paycheck to keep the budget afloat.

It's been said that many Americans are caught up spending money that we don’t have to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t even like! We want to “keep up with the Joneses. I once heard the first sermon in a series on handling money. The speaker said he had a way to solve the “Keeping up with the Joneses” problem. He said to just go out in your front yard and say “You win!”

God’s word tells us how to have a balanced, full life without trusting in money. There are approximately 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 on faith, but more than 2,350 verses on how to handle money. Jesus said more about money than any other subject.

Contentment is mentioned seven times in the entire Bible, and six times it has to do with money. Paul writes, “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity.” (Phil. 4:11-12)

How we handle money impacts our relationship with the Lord. The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil. (1 Tim. 6:10) Notice this does not say money is evil, it is the love of money that is evil.

If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of worldly wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? (Luke 16:11)

The Lord Is the Owner of All
We often have the wrong attitude about spending and money in the first place. We need to grasp that the Lord is the owner of all things. When we acknowledge God’s ownership, every spending decision becomes a spiritual decision. We won’t ask, “Lord, what do You want me to do with my money?” We will ask, “ Lord, what do you want me to do with Your money?” When we have this perspective and prayerfully handle His money according to His wishes, spending and saving decisions are equally as spiritual as giving decisions.
Everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord…” (1 Chron. 29:11)
Behold, to the Lord your God belong…the earth and all that is in it. (Deut. 10:14)
The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. (Psalm 24:1)
For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills… everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all it contains. (Psalm 50:10-12)

What does this mean to you? Just as our bodies are temporary, so is our ownership of things on this earth. All this belongs to God. We are just caretakers or stewards.

We Must be Good Stewards: (Def: property manager: somebody who manages the property, finances, or household of another)

God has given us the authority to be stewards. You made him ruler over the works of your (the Lord) hands; you put everything under his feet. (Psalm 8:6)
Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful. (1 Cor. 4:2)
Well done good and faithful servant; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many thinks, enter into the joy of your master. (Matt. 25:21)
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. (Luke 16:10)
And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? (Luke 16:12)

What is required of stewards? (faithfulness) We are required to be faithful regardless of how much or how little He has entrusted to us.

Managing Your Money
Our workbook and the Crown study agree that there are certain steps that we can take to start managing our money the way God wants us to.

Establish a budget, put it in writing and strive to balance it. Set aside what you can give to the Lord’s work before the bills start coming in and gobbling up your budget. Crown calls it “First Checks”. You pay the church and yourself first.

Give freely to others. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Do not accumulate any new debt. Debt presumes upon tomorrow. Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that. (James 4:13-15) The borrower is the servant to the lender. (Pro. 22:7) You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. (1 Cor. 7:23)
Use your money wisely. If you doubt your own wisdom, seek wise counsel. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel. (Pro. 12:15) Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. (Pro. 19:20)

We need to teach our children how to handle money. Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Pro. 22:6) This does not apply only to their spiritual lives, but their practical lives as well. I was not taught how to handle money, I did not have a clue. I earned it and I spent it. That was how I handled money. Poor Mark, he assumed my debts when married me. We were poor, but he knew how to handle it and he paid off my old debts.

Our money is a gift from God; thank him for it often. But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth. (Deut. 8:18)

That's my lesson. We had a lot of good discussion in class, but this was the basis. Have a wonderful week.

1 comment:

Jenni said...

I was raised on a lot of the tenets that Crown is based on, but am finally going through the study for myself with a group from church. I second your recommendation!!