Christian Biblical Counsel: FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES, FREEDOM

Background

Understanding and correctly handling finances should be a high priority for all people. Much of our tension, family friction, and frustrations are caused, directly or indirectly, by money. High on the list of causes of divorce is financial disagreement. The Christian family is not immune. If a family cannot or does not pay its bills, or is beset by other problems related to money, it is a poor testimony to nonbelievers. Too few churches offer training for their people in the area of financial accountability.

 

Chief Causes of Financial Problems

Wrong attitudes toward money. Greed and covetousness quickly lead to all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). The “get rich quick” syndrome of speculative investment often leads to disaster.

Living beyond one’s income. Failure to “count the cost” will result in chronic overspending (Luke 14:28–30). Some people seem to have a great susceptibility to advertising, succumbing to attractive products and seemingly advantageous credit offers.

Credit buying. The best possible advice for those in financial trouble is to stay away from stores and showrooms and to destroy all their credit cards.

Self-indulgent living. Purchase of unnecessary things, consumption of alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and junk or gourmet foods are self-indulgent habits. For example, in a home where both husband and wife smoke heavily, as much as $2,000 yearly can be spent on cigarettes!

The misbelief that material things bring happiness. “Then [Jesus] said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’” (Luke 12:15, NIV).

Lack of a budget for projecting and monitoring expenses. Any given person’s income will go just so far. Allowing for some variation in the actual percentages, a typical budget for a small family might include:

Tithe 10% Housing 30%

Food 14% Transportation 13%

Insurance 4% Debts 5%

Recreation and Vacations 5% Clothing 5%

Medical and Dental 5% Savings 5%

Miscellaneous 4%

 

Biblical Principles for Handling Money

• The use of material resources is basically a spiritual matter; therefore, an understanding of the lordship of Jesus Christ is essential. Money brings into perspective the totality of life as it relates to God’s will and the issues of eternity:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (1 Corinthians 10:26, NIV).

“You are not your own. . . . You were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).

“Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. . . . Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1–2, NIV).

• We must understand that we are stewards (managers) of all that God has put under our care. We are not owners. Our lives, our time, and our assets are gifts from God. We are responsible to God for them, and He will hold us accountable (Matthew 25:14–30).

• God wants us to depend on Him, not on material possessions. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17, NIV; see also Psalm 37:25; Proverbs 3:5–6; Philippians 4:19).

• It is God’s plan that stewards give a portion of their income to Him and His work: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it’” (Malachi 3:10; see also Proverbs 3:9; Luke 12:34).

 

Helping Strategy

1. If the inquirer admits to financial difficulty, suggest that a person needs the perspective which comes through an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We must know Him personally before we can expect to have His help. Share the gospel – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD.

2. After the inquirer has explained the financial problem, suggest looking on it as basically a spiritual problem. Don’t look just for a temporary solution, but bring God into the center of life—even into his or her financial dealings. Only this will bring lasting solutions. It wouldn’t be in the best interests of the inquirer for you to accept explanations or excuses for the financial problems, such as, for example, the problems of the national economy. Many people are in trouble because they mismanage.

3. How financial problems are dealt with in the future will depend on one’s attitude toward the principles of Scripture (see “Background”). Go over these, one by one. Then, question the caller about the cause of the financial problem. Is it:

• Wrong attitudes about money? • Credit purchases?

• Living beyond his or her means? • Self-indulgent living?

• Lack of a budget or improper planning?

4. Stress the need to bring personal finances and life into line, making whatever adjustments or sacrifices that may be necessary. The person’s own future and that of his or her family will depend on such decisive action.

5. If the proposed financial solutions seem beyond the inquirer’s ability even after he or she has tried to honor biblical principles, suggest that he or she ask a pastor to recommend a professional counselor or financial planner who can work out steps to recovery; or go directly to a counselor, if he or she knows whom to contact.

CAUTION: Avoid financial institutions which offer to consolidate debts. Such “consolidation” can actually increase one’s indebtedness.

 

Scripture

“‘Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, “In what way have we robbed You?” In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it’” (Malachi 3:8–10).

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996

Financial Freedom

Principles of Wise Money Management

by June Hunt

Do you struggle with managing money? Do you never seem to have enough to make ends meet? Maybe you secretly envy the financial wealth of others. Whether you have a great deal of money or very little, until you really believe that the money in your possession is not your money but God’s. money, your finances will always be a source of discontent. Our heavenly Father owns it all, yet we worry and fret over not having enough. We manipulate to get more … then agonize over losing what we have. Freedom from this preoccupation with money (financial bondage) involves more than having enough money to bask in the shade of a prosperous lifestyle. It’s more than learning to budget expenses, to save regularly, to invest wisely. True financial freedom is being content with what God gives you. And contentment is a matter of the heart!

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.”

(Hebrews 13:5)

I.     Definitions

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:10)

A. What Are Four Financial Myths?

#1. Finance

Finance is a system of money management that includes banking, circulation, credit, investments, economics, and accounting.

Myth:

“If you live a godly, Christian life, you will experience financial gain and prosperity.”

Truth:

According to God’s Word, godliness is not a means to financial gain. The Bible calls this “false doctrine” taught by false teachers.

“If anyone teaches false doctrines.… He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy … and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” (1 Timothy 6:3–5)

#2. Money

Money is any means of exchange, including coins and paper currency, circulating in the culture issued by a civil authority as a measure of value.

Myth:

“Money is the root of all evil.”

Truth:

No, money can be used for great good. According to the Bible, the “love of money” is a root of evil.

“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)

#3. Steward

A steward is a trustee, guardian, or overseer who manages the property or financial affairs of another person. All money belongs to God, and we are only stewards of His resources.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

Myth:

“If I just have enough money, I will be satisfied.”

Truth:

Satisfaction with your financial situation does not come from the amount of money you have, but in wise management of what you have.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ ” (Matthew 25:23)

(Read The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14–30.)

#4. Debt

Debt is the condition of owing something to another. The debtor (the one who owes another) is under obligation to pay the debt.

Myth:

“You must borrow money and pay it back in order to prove financial responsibility and establish good credit references.”

Truth:

Borrowing and paying back money is not always necessary to get credit. Most lenders are more than anxious to extend credit to consumers in order to collect inflated interest rates over an extended period of time. But the Bible says to be aware, because …

“The borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)

B. What Are Four Financial Tests of Discontentment?

#1. Do you pine after money?

The Hebrew word keseph, translated most often as “money,” actually means “silver” (from its pale color). It is derived from the root word kasaph, which means “to become pale,” by implication “to pine after.”

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

#2. Do you place the same value on both money and God?

In the New Testament the Aramaic word mamonas, translated “mammon” or “money,” means “wealth.” The word is defined as “material wealth or possessions especially as having a debasing influence.” This word is used to convey the concept that “money is deified” (worshiped as God).7

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)

#3. Can you be trusted to manage God’s money wisely?

A Greek word translated as “manager” in the New Testament is oikonomos, which means “a manager or overseer.” It is also translated “one who has been given a trust” or “a trustee.”

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2)

#4. Are you in financial bondage to credit lenders?

The Greek word chreopheiletes means literally “a debt-ower.” Found in the parable of the dishonest manager (Luke 16:1–13), this word points to the ancient system of extending credit.

“He called in each one of his master’s debtors.… ‘How much do you owe my master?’ ” (Luke 16:5)

C. What Is the Purpose for Money?

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

(Luke 12:15)

The World’s Purpose for Money  God’s Purpose for Money 
•     To get what we want  •     To give us what we need 
“Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or   ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all   these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek   first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given   to you as well.”(Matthew 6:31–33)

 

•     To expand earthly treasures  •     To exhibit trustworthiness with heavenly   riches 
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also   be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be   dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly   wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:10–11) 
•     To gain temporary security  •     To gather eternal treasures 
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on   earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But   store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not   destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”(Matthew 6:19–20)

 

•     To live independently in life  •     To live dependently on the Lord 
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and   be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you;   never will I forsake you.’ ”(Hebrews 13:5)

 

•     To exalt the power of money  •     To exalt the power of God 
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we   trust in the name of the Lord our God.”(Psalm 20:7)

 

•     To obtain personal power  •     To demonstrate His power to bless 
“ ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse,   that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not   throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you   will not have room enough for it.’ ”(Malachi 3:10)

 

•     To build a personal kingdom  •     To benefit God’s kingdom 
“They gave as much as they were able, and even   beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us   for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not   do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us   in keeping with God’s will.”(2 Corinthians 8:3–5)

 

II.    CharaCterIstICs of fInanCIal BonDage

“A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”

(2 Peter 2:19)

A. What Are Signs of Possible Debt Problems?

Before you become enslaved to debt, it would be wise to look at the negative habits you may have already developed and to begin to change the way you handle money. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you may have a debt problem.

•     Do you pay only the minimum on credit card balances?

•     Do you get cash advances from credit cards to pay other expenses?

•     Do you fail to keep your checkbook balanced?

•     Do you acknowledge that you have no savings account steadily accruing money?

•     Do you use savings to pay credit card bills?

•     Do you send in payments past the due dates?

•     Do you avoid opening your mail?

•     Do you put money in the bank after you have paid your bills?

•     Do you wait until the last minute to pay your taxes?

•     Do you have family conflicts over money?

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”

(Romans 13:8)

B. What Are Lifestyles That Lead to Debt?

“Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.”

(Proverbs 12:24)

Lifestyles That Lead to Debt

•     Living Life with Distorted Values

—  using money to keep up social appearances

—  using money to feel important

—  using money to manipulate others

—  using money to appear “righteous” in the eyes of God and others

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

(Matthew 6:1)

•     Living Life through Escape Mechanisms

—  spending money to escape personal tensions

—  spending money to momentarily lift depression

—  spending money to indulge an obsession for a possession

—  spending money to win love and affection

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

(Luke 12:15)

•     Living a Life of Indolence

—  seeking gain without working for it

—  seeking excuses for not having gainful employment

—  seeking gain through “get-rich-quick” schemes

—  seeking self-employment to avoid accountability

“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”

(Proverbs 10:4)

•     Living Life by Means of Credit and Borrowing

—  borrowing to purchase depreciating items (things that decrease in value)

—  borrowing through means of credit cards (using the bank’s money)

—  borrowing to invest in that over which you have no control (stock market)

—  borrowing large sums with compound interest (presuming on the future)

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

(James 4:13–14)

•     Living Life Unprepared

—  failing to take financial responsibility

—  failing to establish and follow a budget

—  failing to plan for the future

—  failing to live on one salary (married couples with small children at home)

“Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

(Haggai 1:5–6)

•     Living a Life of Selfishness

—  neglecting to tithe

—  neglecting to pay debts

—  neglecting to save for the future

—  neglecting to meet the needs of others

“Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not plead the case of the fatherless to win it, they do not defend the rights of the poor.”

(Jeremiah 5:28)

C. What Are Characteristics of Financial Bondage?

Bitterness

God gives each of us the grace to be content in the circumstances in which He places us. But when we are discontent with God or others over our finances, our anger spreads a deep root of underlying bitterness, affecting both us and those around us.

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15)

Overcommitment

Overcommitment to one’s work leads to a life that is out of balance with what God desires for us. This workaholic lifestyle is centered around business or work to the exclusion of rest, relaxation, and relationships. Many Christians fall into this kind of bondage, which is also characterized by …

•     Rationalizing our need to overwork

•     Carrying our work everywhere

•     Monopolizing every conversation with talk about our work

•     Lacking ability to truly enjoy time off or planned vacations because of work

•     Feeling guilty when not working

•     Keeping work projects generated in order to maintain a lifestyle of activity

“The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.” (Proverbs 10:22)

Naiveté

To be naive is to be gullible and easily fooled by deception and dishonesty.

•     Easily tempted by “get-rich-quick” schemes

•     Borrowing money to invest

•     Lack of sales resistance

•     Purchasing luxuries while neglecting needs

•     Vulnerability to frauds and swindlers

•     Blindness to unsound business ventures

•     Emotional and spiritual immaturity

“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” (Proverbs 14:8)

Dishonesty

Deceitfulness in finances is a subtle evil. It’s usually the little, unseen deceptions that reveal a heart of insincerity, hypocrisy, lying, cheating, fraud, and stealing.

•     “He will never know he gave me too much change.”

•     “Even though I have worn this, the store will take it back.”

•     “I’ll just tell him the mower was broken when I borrowed it.”

•     “I’ll put this dinner with my family on the expense account.”

•     “I’ll find a way to make this expense tax deductible.”

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)

Anxiety

Anxiety involves uneasy feelings, apprehension, fear, worry, or emotional tension over …

•     Unpaid bills

•     Overextended investments

•     Credit card debt

•     Lack of savings

•     Family problems

•     Driving ambition

•     Lack of trust in God’s provision

“An anxious heart weighs a man down.” (Proverbs 12:25)

Greed

Possessed by Possessions—The Rich Fool

(Read Luke 12:13–21.)

A man came out of the crowd that was following Jesus and asked Him to tell his brother to relinquish his share of their inheritance. (According to Jewish law, the eldest brother would be responsible for maintaining the family resources.) Jesus did not get drawn into family property disputes, but He did speak to the heart of the matter by warning the crowd about greed. Greed is defined as “avarice” or “insatiable desire for wealth or gain.”

Jesus then told a story about a rich man who had accumulated an overabundance of things. Then the man said, “I’ll build bigger barns to store all this wealth.” While the rich fool was content in his false security, Jesus warned, “This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20). Jesus warns against having a love of material security instead of a heart that invests in the things of God.

“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Ephesians 5:5)

Envy

Envy is a resentful desire to have that which belongs to another. Envy grabs hold of a discontented heart and causes underlying pain. God felt strongly enough about the serious consequences of envy that He included it in the Ten Commandments.… Yes, envy or “covetness” stands side by side with idolatry, stealing, and murder.

The “Ten Commandments” about Coveting

I           Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.

II         Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s car.

III        Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s new, fancy gadgets.

IV        Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s jewelry.

V         Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s job.

VI        Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s bank account.

VII      Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s vacations.

VIII     Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.

IX        Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s leisure time.

X         Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s status in life.

“If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”

(James 3:14)

III.   Causes of fInanCIal BonDage

The biblical word mammon is unfamiliar to most people today. The term used more frequently today in reference to a preoccupation with wealth and riches is materialism. But whether you call it materialism or mammon worship, it has nothing to do with how much or how little you have, but everything to do with your heart! Both the rich and the poor can be materialistic, but the heart can worship only one God!

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

(Matthew 6:24)

A. What Is Mammon Worship?

Do you sit in church on Sunday morn,

Giving evidence to your Christian claim?

But all the while your heart’s divided,

Only obsessed with earthly gain!

The Heart That Worships Materialism

•     Do I have a heart that is proud?

“Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)

•     Do I have a heart that is greedy?

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

•     Do I have a heart that is impatient?

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 22:3)

•     Do I have a heart that is self-serving?

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23–24)

•     Do I have a heart that is lazy?

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:10–11)

•     Do I have a heart that is stingy?

“A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him.” (Proverbs 28:22)

•     Do I have a heart that lacks faith?

“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

•     Do I have a heart that lacks wisdom?

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” (Proverbs 24:3–4)

•     Do I have a heart that is unthankful?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

•     Do I have a heart that lacks joy in giving?

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

B. Biblical Examples of Materialists

•     Old Testament

Joshua chapter 7

The Soldier of Fortune

Achan was a soldier in Joshua’s army who had taken part in the great defeat of Jericho. He knew of God’s conditions for victory. He knew that the valuable spoils of war were sacred and must go into God’s treasury. Otherwise, Israel would experience destruction. Yet Achan had not obeyed the Lord. His desire for material fortune overcame his will to obey God. He had taken silver, gold, and money, along with a beautiful Babylonian garment. When Joshua cried out to God at his subsequent defeat by the Amorites, the Lord told him that it was because there was sin in the camp. Achan was exposed and experienced the judgment of God. He and his family were stoned to death, and all his possessions were burned.

•     New Testament

Matthew 19:16–21

The Rich Ruler

A wealthy, young ruler approached Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). Jesus answered that if the man wanted to enter into eternal life, he must keep the commandments. The young man responded that he had kept all the commandments since he was a young boy. When Jesus heard this, He told the young ruler that there was one more thing to do. Jesus told him to go and sell all his possessions, give everything to the poor, and follow Him. By doing this, the young ruler would lay up treasures in heaven. But when he heard this, he went away from Jesus very grieved. The young man realized that his heart was bound to his earthly possessions, and he could not give them up … even when it meant the loss of eternal life!

C. Root Cause of Financial Bondage

Materialism is more than just a desire for material gain. Since God has given you three inner needs … the needs for love, for significance, and for security … when you seek to meet these needs through any means other than trusting in God, those substitutes take the place of God in your life. This can be called “idolatry.” Materialism is placing trust in worldly wealth to meet your inner needs for love, for significance, and for security. When wealth is not achieved or fails to satisfy, an underlying sense of discontentment is felt, no matter your circumstances.

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:10)

Men tend to see their identity as being in work and worldly ambitions. This mindset often leads them to have the false belief that financial success and accumulation of wealth will fill their need for significance … a sense of importance to their families and position among their peers.

The need for security is usually stronger in women, causing many to place their hope in the false security of material wealth. When married, women often seek their own value and worth in the financial success of their husbands.

“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”

(1 Timothy 6:6–7)

Wrong Belief:

“I will be content when I have enough money to meet my needs. Then I will feel secure about the future.”

Right Belief:

Contentment is not found in how much I have or in any amount of wealth. My contentment comes through trusting God to meet my needs and by growing in the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.… My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:11–12, 19)

IV.  steps to solutIon

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.’ ”

(Haggai 1:5–6)

A. Key Verses to Memorize

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”

(Luke 16:10–11)

Checklist for Trustworthy Spending

How do you know whether you are trustworthy in the way you spend money? You must first desire to please the Lord in every way that you manage the financial resources He gives you. Before you purchase anything, ask yourself:

□    “Is this purchase a true need or just a desire?”

□    “Do I have adequate funds to purchase this without using credit?”

□    “Have I compared the cost of competitive products?”

□    “Have I prayed about this purchase?”

□    “Have I been patient in waiting on God’s provision?”

□    “Do I have God’s peace regarding this purchase?”

□    “Does this purchase conform to the purpose God has for me?”

□    “Is there agreement with my spouse (if you are married) about this purchase?”

“ ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ ”

(Luke 19:17)

B. Key Passage to Read and Reread

Matthew 6:25–34

Why Worry?

•     Life consists of more than food, drink,   or clothing.  v.   25 
So   why do you worry? 
•     God takes care of the birds. He will take   care of you.  v.   26 
So   why do you worry? 
•     You can’t add one moment to your life.  v.   27 
So   why do you worry? 
•     God dresses His fields. He will clothe   you.  v.   28 
So   why do you worry? 
•     Human wealth or design cannot match God’s   provisions.  v.   29 
So   why do you worry? 
•     You are more valuable to God than His   earth.  v.   30 
So   why do you worry? 
•     Don’t worry.  v.   31 
So   why do you worry? 
•     Your Father knows just what you need.  v.   32 
So   why do you worry? 
•     Your only concern is that you grow in   truth and in the character of Christ. 
He   will provide for your needs.  v.   33 
So   why do you worry? 
•     Refuse to be uneasy about the future.   Live one day at a time.  v.   34 
So   why do you worry? 

Q   “Why is it wrong to save money? Doesn’t God want me to prepare for the future by becoming a wise steward of the money I have?”

God does want you to be responsible with your finances, and it’s not wrong to save for the future. The Bible is full of principles that communicate wisdom for dealing with money. But when worry about financial security causes us to place our hope in material wealth or to hoard what we do have for the future, we are guilty of distrusting God.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19–20)

C. The True Treasure Chest

One of the most significant questions in Scripture comes from thea rich, young man who asked Jesus, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). Jesus replied, “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). This young man was obviously a man of good character, for he had kept the commandments that Jesus named … yet the man knew something was missing. After evaluating his behavior, the man asked, “What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:20). Jesus’ answer went straight to the core of the man’s heart, bringing to light what he treasured most.

“ ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

(Matthew 19:21–22)

The tragedy wasn’t that the young man possessed wealth but that his wealth possessed him. He couldn’t follow Jesus’ command because money held the highest place in his heart. He didn’t understand that true treasure begins not with material wealth, but with spiritual wealth, and the greatest treasure is a relationship with God’s Son, Jesus. With Him you can not only have eternal life, but you can also have peace and security regardless of your financial situation. And if you submit your income and spending to Him, you’ll have God’s wisdom to help you live in financial freedom.

How to Have the Treasure of a Relationship with Jesus

#1. God’s Purpose for You … is Salvation.

—  What was God’s motive in sending Christ to earth? To condemn you? No … to express His love for you by saving you!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16–17)

—  What was Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth? To make everything perfect and to remove all sin? No … to forgive your sins, empower you to have victory over sin, and enable you to live a fulfilled life!

“I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

#2. Your Problem … is Sin.

—  What exactly is sin? Sin is living independently of God’s standard—knowing what is right, but choosing wrong.

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17)

—  What is the major consequence of sin? Spiritual death, spiritual separation from God.

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

#3. God’s Provision for You … is the Savior.

—  Can anything remove the penalty for sin? Yes. Jesus died on the cross to personally pay the penalty for your sins.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

—  What is the solution to being separated from God? Belief in Jesus Christ as the only way to God the Father.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” (John 14:6)

#4. Your Part … is Surrender.

—  Place your faith in (rely on) Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and reject your “good works” as a means of gaining God’s approval.

“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9)

—  Give Christ control of your life, entrusting yourself to Him.

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?’ ” (Matthew 16:24–26)

The moment you choose to believe in Him—entrusting your life to Christ—He gives you His Spirit to live inside you. Then the Spirit of Christ gives you His power to live the fulfilled life God has planned for you. If you want to be fully forgiven by God and become the person God created you to be, you can tell Him in a simple, heartfelt prayer like this:

Prayer of Salvation“God,   I want a real relationship with You. I admit that many times I’ve chosen to   go my own way instead of Your way. Please forgive me for my sins. Jesus,   thank You for dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. Come into my   life to be my Lord and my Savior.Through Your power, enable me to submit   myself to you first and never to be controlled by my finances. Teach me to   find my security and freedom in You alone. Make me the person You created me   to be. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.”

 

What Can You Expect Now?

If you sincerely prayed this prayer, you can hold on to this truth that David spoke in the Psalms!

“Surely you [God] desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”

(Psalm 51:6)

With God’s help, you can examine your heart and discover if your priorities are truly in the right order. When you ask the Lord to be your guide, you can trust He will provide you with His wisdom that extends past matters of money to the deepest issues of the heart.

D. Wisdom in Matters of Money

“Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?”

(Proverbs 17:16)

Five Principles of Managing Money

Principle #1—The Law of Contentment

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

(Philippians 4:12)

•     Remind yourself that God owns it all!

“If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.” (Psalm 50:12)

•     Recognize God as the source of all provision.

“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:17–18)

•     Read 1 Chronicles 29:10–18 on a regular basis.

“O Lord our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.” (1 Chronicles 29:16)

•     Request God to reveal what money really means to you.

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:6)

Does money symbolize …

—  Security?

—  Significance?

—  Independence?

—  A means to helping others?

—  Self-worth?

—  Status?

—  Power?

Memorize Philippians 4:19. Once you discover the need or needs you are expecting money to fill, quote this Scripture in your heart whenever Satan tempts you with thoughts that steer you toward spending.

“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

•     Rest in the assurance of God’s love no matter what your financial circumstances.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ ” (Hebrews 13:5)

Q   “Will I be wealthy if I follow God’s financial principles for managing money?”

God gives no guarantees about being wealthy. He has different reasons for allowing poverty in the world and for giving wealth to those who do not honor Him. But God does give us many principles in the Bible to help us become wise in the matter of money. Ultimately, we are to trust in His sovereign control over all things, knowing that He does have a plan and a purpose, even in what may seem unfair.

“Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.” (Proverbs 22:2)

Principle #2—The Law of Self-control

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature … evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

(Colossians 3:5)

•     Start by transferring ownership of everything you own to God.

—  Believe in God’s love for you.

—  Believe that God wants what is best for you.

—  Believe that God will give you your heart’s desire.

“ ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

(Haggai 2:8)

•     Separate yourself from the financial sins of greed and idolatry.

—  Repent and confess that your trust in money is sin.

—  Realize that you are enslaved by this sin.

—  Remind yourself of the consequences of financial bondage.

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

(Romans 6:1–2)

•     Set a new goal for managing your finances.

—  Make it your goal to counsel with someone who has financial self-control.

—  Make it your goal to follow God’s plan for your finances.

—  Make it your goal to become wise with the money He entrusts to you.

“We make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”

(2 Corinthians 5:9)

•     Stand on truth when tempted to make unwise financial decisions.

—  Know that in Christ you are free from the bondage of sin.

—  Know that in Christ you are free from the power of sin.

—  Know that in Christ you are “dead to sin.”

“We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

(Romans 6:6)

•     Surrender your will to the will of God.

—  Acknowledge that you belong to God.

—  Acknowledge that God has authority over everything you own.

—  Acknowledge that the decision is yours. You have the choice to obey or to disobey God!

“You are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.”

(Romans 6:19)

•     Stay in step with the Spirit.

—  Avoid thinking that you are solely in control of your finances.

—  Avoid thinking it is okay to occasionally indulge yourself.

—  Avoid moving out from under God’s grace into self-sufficiency!

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.… Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

(Galatians 5:22–23, 25)

Principle #3—The Law of Stewardship

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ ”

(Matthew 25:23)

•     Read the story in Matthew 25:14–30—The Parable of the Talents.

•     Recognize that you are accountable to God for how you spend money.

Accountability means …

—  Knowing exactly what comes in

—  Knowing exactly what goes out

—  Knowing exactly where it goes (budgeting)

—  Knowing how to save (regardless of your income)

—  Knowing how to put your money to work for you (safe investment planning)

—  Knowing how to plan for your future (retirement planning)

—  Knowing when and where to give money to God and to others

•     Return the first tenth of your earnings to God—this must be a commitment.

“Then Abram gave him [God’s priest] a tenth of everything.”

(Genesis 14:20)

Q   “Isn’t the tithe an Old Testament principle that does not apply to today?”

Many people assume that tithing was taught only in the Old Testament. However, in the New Testament, Jesus challenged the hypocritical attitudes of the Pharisees, but He also gave full endorsement to the principle of tithing!

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” (Luke 11:42)

•     Reserve a percentage of your earnings for savings.

—  Like the ant, a wise steward plans ahead by establishing a habit of saving.

—  Each pay period, put aside a portion of your income for savings. Take out the savings first, or you will not have money left to save.

—  Put aside money each pay period in a major emergency fund.

—  Invest your savings in a low risk investment so that you can gain interest on your savings.

“He who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

(Proverbs 13:11)

•     Respond to the needs of others.

—  The more we grow in the character and love of Christ, the more we will experience the grace of God, which allows us to meet higher standards.

—  The tithe is not an option; it is commanded by God for all of us.

—  When you allow God’s grace to have freedom in your heart, your attitudes toward money will change, and He will use your giving more and more in the lives of others.

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.”

(Proverbs 19:17)

•     Resolve to live by a budget.

Step #1      Determine total monthly income by adding salary, dividends, trust income, interest, or any other sources of fixed income.

Step #2      Determine spendable income by subtracting tithes and taxes.

Q   “The government is wasteful and often makes immoral decisions. Isn’t it better to evade paying taxes and give that money to more worthy causes?”

No. The Bible states that every government has the right and authority to collect taxes. Therefore, you should be faithful to pay what is due to the government. You can’t obey God and at the same time disobey the tax law.

“Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:7)

Step #3      Determine fixed monthly expenses for the following areas by looking at last year’s expenditures, then divide the yearly totals by 12.

—  housing

—  automobile

—  food

—  clothing

—  insurance

—  medical expenses

—  entertainment

—  savings

—  miscellaneous

—  debt

Total expenditures must not exceed net spendable income.

Step #4      Subtract total expenses from net spendable income to obtain a deficit or surplus.

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 22:3)

•     Refuse to take the first step down the road to debt.

—  Debt is bondage to another.

—  Debt dishonors God.

—  Debt denotes lack of self-control.

—  Debt violates Scripture.

—  Debt brings God’s judgment.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

(Proverbs 14:12)

Q   “Many parables that Jesus told focus on handling money. Why did Jesus link our spiritual condition so closely with finances?”

Sixteen of the 38 parables deal with the relationship between money and our spiritual motivation. Why? Perhaps because the two basic sins of idolatry and greed are closely associated with the love of money.

“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy personsuch a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Ephesians 5:5)

Principle #4—The Law of Giving

•     Give to God that which He has commanded.

“ ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’ ” (Malachi 3:10)

•     Give, knowing that it all belongs to God.

“ ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” (Haggai 2:8)

•     Give on a regular basis.

“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” (1 Corinthians 16:2)

•     Give sacrificially by giving up some of your own desires.

“I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.” (2 Corinthians 8:3)

•     Give cheerfully, not reluctantly or under pressure.

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

•     Give generously to the poor and needy.

“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)

•     Give in response to the needs of other Christians.

“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Romans 12:13)

•     Give secretly without letting others know.

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)

“One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

(Proverbs 11:24–25)

Q   “How important is the amount of my gift?”

The issue is not how big your gift is, but how big your faith is. Perhaps the most famous gift of all came from the poorest person of all. (Read Mark 12:41–44.)

“They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:44)

Principle #5—The Law of Petition—How to Pray for Your Needs

Conditions on Which Successful Prayer Depends

•     Are you a child of God? Have you sincerely received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of your life?

“To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12–13)

•     Have you confessed and repented of any known sin in your life?

“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.” (Psalm 66:18–19)

•     Are you asking on the basis of having worked hard for God, followed the rules, or having been a “good person”? Or do you base your prayer on your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ?

“I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name.” (John 14:13–14)

•     Is your request within the will of God?

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14)

•     Do you believe in your heart that God has the power to provide and is willing to answer your prayer?

“I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)

•     Instead of desiring your own will, are you willing to accept God’s will with a submissive heart?

“Father … everything is possible for you.… Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

(Philippians 4:6)

“If I give money to God, can I expect Him to bless me with financial gain?”

God does not guarantee financial wealth, yet many Christians secretly “give to get.” After Jesus’ death, none of the apostles acquired financial gain. Helping humans amass wealth is not what God is about. He alone will judge and reward the true motives of the one who is giving.

“All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:2)

E. Canceling Debt

“Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.”

(Proverbs 6:5)

•     Identify Your Debt Situation

—  Make an inventory of your assets.

»    What do you own?

»    What is the approximate value of the things you own (car, house, property, insurance policy—large items)?

—  Identify your income.

»    How much money do you make?

»    How much time per week do you work to obtain this money?

»    Do you have any investments?

—  Describe your debts.

»    What do you owe?

»    When is it due?

»    What interest rates are you paying on each debt?

—  Approximate your monthly bills.

»    What do you pay for utilities, gasoline/transportation, food, phone, clothing, insurance, entertainment?

•     Consider Your Lifestyle

—  Be introspective.

»    Why do you live the way you do? Is it for career advancement, to impress friends or family, or to live comfortably?

»    Were you brought up living this way?

»    How do your friends, family, and coworkers live?

—  Consider what you could do without.

»    Do you have expensive items you do not really need that after the initial purchase have high maintenance costs?

»    Do you pay others to do something that you could do yourself?

»    Do you eat out when you could eat less expensively at home?

—  Look for what you can substitute.

»    Can you substitute less expensive items for premium products or services you currently use?

—  Reconsider gift giving.

»    Do you disregard budgets and savings plans during holidays and gift giving occasions?

»    Can you give fewer and less expensive gifts?

»    Does it mean that you love your friends and family any less if you live within your means?

»    Would your loved ones want you to go into debt to buy them presents?

•     Establish Financial Goals

—  List future expenditures.

»    What future expenses do you anticipate?

»    Are you looking to buy a home, pay for a daughter’s wedding, or replace a vehicle?

—  Consider future career changes.

»    Are you considering going to school or starting your own business?

»    How will these plans change your financial situation?

—  Prepare for family changes.

»    Are you expecting a child?

»    Are children leaving the home?

»    Do you have elderly parents in poor health?

»    Prepare for how these changes will affect your finances.

—  State your future financial goals.

»    Financially, where do you want to be five years from now? Ten years from now?

»    What are realistic expectations?

•     Take Action with Your Finances

—  Pay extra on your debts.

»    What debt has the highest interest rate?

»    What amount of money can you pay each month on that debt?

—  Stop feeding your debt.

»    What lifestyle habits contribute to your debt?

»    Have you stopped using credit card(s) and have started paying cash?

—  Change your lifestyle.

»    What items can you do without that you really do not need?

»    What expensive assets can you sell that would be financially profitable?

—  Establish a savings plan.

»    How much money are you setting aside for the future?

»    How are you preparing for retirement and major emergencies so that you do not find yourself in debt again?

—  Establish a giving plan.

»    How much should you plan to give for God’s work?

»    How much money are you setting aside to help those in need?

“I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full.”

(Proverbs 8:20–21)

F.  Questions and Answers

“He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.”

(Proverbs 19:8)

•     Question about Lotteries

“Is it wrong for a Christian to participate in government-sponsored lotteries?”

Answer:

Consider what God’s perfect will for you regarding finances is.

—  Lotteries capitalize on the weakness within many people to “get rich quick.” The biblical book on wisdom says,

“A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 28:20)

—  In addition, think about all the people who have a gambling addiction or who spend money on lotteries (or other forms of gambling) and then do not have sufficient money to pay their rent or feed their children. Even if that is not your financial picture, could playing the lottery mean someone else might follow your example … and as a result stumble? The Bible says,

“Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” (1 John 2:10)

•     Question about God’s Role In Finances

“I have been asking God to provide more money to meet my needs, yet He has not answered. He promises that ‘when we ask, we will receive,’ so why has He not answered my prayers?”

Answer:

God always answers prayer … with a yes, a no, or a not yet. When there is not an immediate yes answer, consider two issues:

—  What we ask for must be “according to His will.”

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14–15)

—  Wisdom teaches us to discern our true motives for asking. God knows our hearts better than we do. He wants us to examine our desires and discover the true reasons we ask.

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)

•     Question about Declaring Bankruptcy

“My spouse and I were living on two salaries until I became ill and unable to work. Since we now are not able to pay all the credit-card charges and our debt is out of our control, should we declare bankruptcy and just start over?”

Answer:

The name of Christ is damaged when a Christian purchases items and then fails to pay for them. Using a credit card is like borrowing from the bank. Bankruptcy is not the best solution. If any items can be returned, then do so. Then, write to each creditor and explain your circumstances. Tell them you will be paying a small amount regularly until all the debt is paid. Merchants would certainly prefer to be receiving some money than none at all. Be sure to cut up all your credit cards and live from this point forward on a cash basis.

“The wicked borrow and do not repay.” (Psalm 37:21)

•     Question about Withholding Financial Information

“What can I do about my husband’s refusal to divulge or share with me information about our finances?”

Answer:

Many times people who hoard and are secretive about money feel insecure. Affirm that you love your husband no matter how he behaves regarding your finances. Communicate that you want the best relationship possible with him. What you want is a change in his heart, so nurture his heart with trust and confidence. Assure him that you are trusting God to use him, as the head of your family, to be wise in your financial matters.

“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

•     Question about Following Husband’s Financial Lead

“What should I do about my husband, who wants to take out a loan against our house? I would rather borrow from my father.”

Answer:

Your husband is to be commended for wanting to model financial independence rather than dependence on your family. God highly regards a man who takes his financial responsibilities seriously and wants to “stand on his own feet.” Voice your opinions and concerns, but let him know you are trusting God to lead him. Pray that you both will have godly wisdom, then support whatever he decides.

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)

•     Question about Prioritizing Money

“I’m truly grieving. I made a series of bad choices that involved my prioritizing money over my wife. Now she has left me, what can I do?”

Answer:

When you know you’ve been in the habit of “majoring on the minors,” you have choices. Typically, we learn painful lessons well! Because you have brought this grief upon yourself, plan now to change your priorities. Replace your bad decisions with these good decisions:

—  Evaluate what you did wrong.

—  Genuinely repent.

—  Admit to her that you were wrong and ask for her forgiveness.

—  Then live your life “majoring on the majors.”

Do not pressure her. She will see for herself if you have really changed from having an immature focus on money to having true maturity.

“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)

•     Question about Always Loaning Money to Friends

“Does God want me to always loan money to friends when they request a loan in order to cover a financial need?”

Answer:

When someone requests a loan, it usually indicates they are experiencing financial pressure. God wants us to look to Him as the resource when we have legitimate needs and to learn how to avoid financial difficulties.

“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (Psalm 50:15)

•     Question about Charging Interest on Loans

“If I feel God leading me to extend a loan to someone in a crisis, should I expect repayment with interest?”

Answer:

Your loan should be considered a gift with no expectation of return. If the recipient is honorable and able, the debt will be paid, but you must not charge interest. God will see the generosity of your heart and repay you for what you have done.

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.” (Proverbs 19:17)

•     Question about Responding to Those Requesting A Loan

“What should I say to someone who asks me for a loan?”

Answer:

Ask questions to determine what the real needs are and what financial principles the person may need to learn and apply to life. Explain that you want to be helpful and will pray for confirmation from the Lord on what you should do. After seeking counsel from the Lord, determine how much you will give, if any, and offer wise advice for the future.

“First seek the counsel of the Lord.” (1 Kings 22:5)

For a negative response, say, “I have prayed about your situation and don’t have a sense of peace that I am to make you a loan. However, I am certain the Lord has another way that He intends to meet your need, and I will pray with you for His will to be made known to you.”

•     Question: “Is Wealth Bad?”

“Is God against being rich or accumulating wealth?”

Answer:

Not at all. The Bible tells us that God gave riches to Abraham as well as to many others. Job experienced a severe trial in which he lost everything, but God restored and even doubled Job’s wealth because of his faithfulness. God is more interested in your heart than in the money you have.

“After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10)

•     Question about Son’s Bad Checks

“What can I do to help my twenty-year-old son stop writing bad checks?”

Answer:

Boundaries are critical, and the way you communicate them is equally important. He needs to experience a hardship in an area that is significant to him so that he will see the correlation between actions and reactions, cause and effect. Let him know that you love him and will always love him but that he may need to experience some serious consequences in order to learn boundaries that are for his own good. Do not bail him out; instead help him develop a budget and to live by it.

“It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope.” (Lamentations 3:27–29)

•     Question about Paying for Daycare

“My husband and I are worried about putting our two little children in daycare so that I can get a job and help reduce our debt. Is this the best option?”

Answer:

Throughout Scripture God encourages women who have children to be responsible for the home, caring for their children with purity and self-control. Additionally, if you and your husband have not learned how to be accountable with finances, you are likely to be in debt again after you go back to work. In God’s eyes, it is far better to reduce your standard of living, commit to paying off debts, and be sensitive to the heart needs of your family.

“Train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:4–5)

•     Question about Using Credit Cards

“Is it wrong to use credit cards if I pay off the balance every month and avoid incuring any finance fees?”

Answer:

No. However, be aware that credit cards make it much easier to spend money for unnecessary desires. Since a credit card represents easy access to borrowed money, the user’s desire for unnecessary items can increase proportionately.

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.… As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?” (Ecclesiastes 5:10–11)

•     Question about Collecting Debt

“What recourse do I have as a Christian for collecting a financial debt from another Christian who has reneged on my loan?”

Answer:

This problem existed in the church at Corinth, when Christians were taking other Christians to court with lawsuits. Paul reminded them that Christians will one day judge the angels and the world. So, there must be someone in the church who can judge matters between Christians. Your recourse then is to take your case to this person’s pastor with an appeal for him to select mature elders or deacons to work with the two of you with the intent to resolve the matter. Paul makes it clear that it is better to be wronged than to take one another to court and be judged by unbelievers.

“If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?… Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church!” (1 Corinthians 6:1, 4)

•     Question about Unpaid Debt

“How do I deal with someone who has borrowed money from me and then refused to pay back the debt? Should I sever all relations and exclude this person from groups we both attend?”

Answer:

Do not seek to take revenge. That is God’s responsibility. Your responsibility is to forgive the debt. This means you release the person from paying back what is owed to you. Choose to give the “promissory note” to God. It then becomes God’s debt to collect or to forgive. Basically, you take the person “off your hook” and put him on God’s hook. By releasing the debt, you release yourself from the bondage of bitterness, and you gain emotional freedom.

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

G. Is Tithing for Today?

The word tithe literally means a “tenth.” The act of tithing is giving an offering—a voluntary contribution of one tenth of your income—to God and, therefore, to the ministry of God on earth. While tithing is a biblical command, many people think that tithing is not for today. What is true from God’s point of view?

Question:

“Isn’t tithing tied to Old Testament legalism that keeps people under the law?”

Answer:

No. The first tithe mentioned in the Bible dates back to 430 years before the law was even given by God to Moses. After rescuing his nephew Lot from four enemy kings, Abram gave a tithe to show his deep gratitude to God. Abram gave—“a tenth of everything.”

“Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14:20)

Question:

“Since tithing isn’t taught in the New Testament, why do some Christians still tithe?”

Answer:

Jesus reinforced the concept of the tithe when talking with the Jewish leaders. Note that Jesus didn’t tell the Pharisees not to tithe. Rather, he stated they should practice the heart attitudes of justice, mercy, and faithfulness without neglecting the tithe.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Matthew 23:23)

Question:

“Are we to tithe on the gross or net amount of our income?”

Answer:

Tithing in the Old Testament was done on the gross, as evidenced by the fact that the “first fruits” went to the Lord. Although you may not receive your paycheck for the work you have done until after taxes and other things are taken out, your pay is actually the amount before deductions, which is your gross income. God’s tithe is to come first, before deductions.

“Now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O Lord, have given me.” (Deuteronomy 26:10)

Question:

“Is my salary the only income on which I need to base my tithe?”

Answer:

No. You need to consider all income, such as …

•     interest from savings accounts

•     profit on the sale of a house

•     earnings from estate sales and garage or yard sales

•     trust distributions

•     dividends from stocks and bonds

•     an inheritance

•     insurance money from the death of a spouse

•     alimony from a former spouse (not child support checks, because those belong to the children)

In biblical times, a tenth of the increase was taken from all of a person’s sources. The tithe was then taken to the central sanctuary for the benefit of the Levitical priests. “All the increase” made up the tithe.

“Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.… The tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.” (Deuteronomy 14:22–23)

Question:

“I’m trying to save for the future. Can’t I wait until I’m financially secure to start tithing?”

Answer:

This reasoning is not sound. If you are a farmer and take the profit from your total harvest of corn without planting some of your seed back into the ground, you will not have a crop next year. Likewise, your tithes and offering are like seeds planted that will yield a spiritual harvest blessed by God. It is important not to “give to get,” but rather to give to God now, trusting Him with your future.

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:10)

Question:

“Where should I give my tithe? Only to my local church, or can it go to other ministries?”

Answer:

Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the whole tithe to the storehouse.” In biblical days storehouses were buildings where God’s people brought their produce or animal offerings. The storehouse had three functions …

•     to feed the priests for the tribe of Levi (today: to care for the spiritual leaders, pastors, church staff members, evangelists, and missionaries)

•     to feed the aliens (today: to reach unbelievers outside the church)

•     to feed the Jewish widows and the fatherless (today: to care for the needy within the church)

If your local church has ministries to effectively meet these needs, you can feel good about giving there. If not, you may choose to give a portion to parachurch ministries that are standing in the gap.

“At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” (Deuteronomy 14:28–29)

Question:

“Can the poor, the elderly, and the disabled be exempt from tithing—especially those on a fixed income who barely make it to the end of the month?”

Answer:

One of the most poignant short stories in the Bible is about the poor widow who gave her little mite to God. Although what she gave was merely the two smallest coins in Palestine, Jesus pointed her out and praised her giving above all others.

“A poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’ ” (Mark 12:42–44)

Based on the Bible, if those who are poor will not falter in trusting God with their tithes, He will not falter in meeting their needs.

“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Question:

“Can a part of my tithe go to tax-exempt political campaigns or to secular schools and organizations?”

Answer:

No, the whole tithe needs to go to the God of the Bible and His ministry.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.” (Malachi 3:10)

Question:

“I am going into ministry and will be supported by the gracious tithes of God’s people. Do I need to tithe on their tithes?”

Answer:

Absolutely. Everyone, including those in active ministry, should tithe on their own income.

“Speak to the Levites [the spiritual leaders] and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering.’ ” (Numbers 18:26)

Question:

“If I am in debt, should I still tithe?”

Answer:

Yes, if you will be faithful to tithe, He will be faithful to you. Any failure to tithe is called “robbery” by God!

“ ‘Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.’ But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ ‘In tithes and offerings.’ ” (Malachi 3:8)

Question:

“If a spouse believes in tithing and has an unsaved spouse who does not believe in tithing, what should the believer do?”

Answer:

The relationship between husband and wife is far more important than whether you tithe. With love and understanding, approach your mate with your desire to tithe. When your spouse comes to Christ, the topic will be easier to discuss.

For the Believing Wife:

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22)

For the Believing Husband:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.” (Ephesians 5:25)

Ultimately, God gives you a choice. You can keep and spend 100 percent of what God permits you to earn. But if, at a minimum, you give 10 percent back to God, He will make your 90 percent go farther than if you spent the full 100 percent. Unlike secular economics, biblical economics show that 90 percent has more buying power than 100 percent!

Maybe you are thinking, I don’t have enough money to tithe. When I earn more money, I’ll give more to God. Right now, I’m not in a position to tithe. But when you look at life from God’s perspective, you can’t afford not to tithe!

Imagine   what would happen if every person became an instant millionaire.Everyone   quit working … no products were produced … no shelves were stocked! Riots   would erupt over all remaining products. In short, money would have no value.

Money   is not the ultimate end but merely a means to an end. And what is the end for   the authentic Christian? To glorify God!

You   exist to reflect His reality as you live His life before others. In this   marvelous way, the Bible has predetermined your purpose as well as your   money’s purpose—it’s all for the glory of God!

—June   Hunt

 

“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

(1 Corinthians 10:31)

Please see the sample budget form following the Notes and Selected Bibliography.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alcorn, Randy. Money Possessions and Eternity. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1989.

Blue, Ron. The Debt Squeeze. Pomona, CA: Focus on the Family, 1989.

Blue, Ron. Master Your Money: A Step-by-Step Plan for Financial Freedom. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1986.

Blue, Ron, and Judy Blue. Money Matters for Parents and Their Kids. Nashville: Oliver-Nelson, 1988.

Blue, Ron, and Judy Blue. A Woman’s Guide to Financial Peace of Mind. Pomona, CA: Focus on the Family, 1991. Burkett, Larry. Debt-Free Living: How to Get Out of Debt (and Stay Out). Chicago: Moody, 1989.

Burkett, Larry. Financial Freedom. Chicago: Moody, 1991.

Burkett, Larry. How to Manage Your Money. Rev. ed. Chicago: Moody, 1982.

Burkett, Larry. Victory over Debt: Rediscovering Financial Freedom. Chicago: Northfield, 1992.

Crabb, Lawrence J., Jr. Understanding People: Deep Longings for Relationship. Ministry Resources Library. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987. Getz, Gene A. Real Prosperity. Chicago: Moody, 1990.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

MacArthur, John, Jr. Mastering Materialism. Panorama City, CA: Word of Grace Communications, 1983.

McGee, Robert S. The Search for Significance. 2nd ed. Houston, TX: Rapha, 1990.

Monthly Budget

MonthYear

monthly expenses  budget  actual  difference +/- 
Housing 
Mortgage or rent 
Second   mortgage or rent 
Phone 
Electricity 
Gas 
Water and   sewer 
Cable/Satellite TV 
Waste removal 
Maintenance or repairs 
Supplies 
Lawn and other services 
Other   (homeowner association fees, etc.) 
total 
Transportation 
Vehicle 1 payment 
Vehicle 2   payment 
Bus/taxi fare 
Insurance 
Licensing 
Fuel 
Maintenance 
Other 
total 
Insurance 
Home 
Health 
Life 
Other 
total 
Food 
Groceries 
Dining out 
Other 
total 
Children 
Medical 
Clothing 
School tuition 
School   supplies 
Organization dues or fees 
Lunch money 
Child care 
Toys/games 
Other 
total 
Pets 
Food 
Medical 
Grooming 
Toys 
Other 
total 
Personal Care 
Medical 
Hair/nails 
Clothing 
Dry cleaning 
Health club 
Organization   dues or fees 
Other 
total 
Entertainment 
Video/DVD 
CDs 
Movies 
Concerts 
Sporting events 
Live theater 
Other 
total 
Loans 
Personal 
Credit card #1 
Credit card #2 
Credit card #3 
Other (student loan, etc.) 
total 
Taxes 
Federal 
State 
Local 
Other 
total 
Savings or Investments 
Retirement account 
Investment   account 
College 
Other 
total 
Gifts & Donations 
Tithes & offerings 
Charity 1 
Charity 2 
total 
Legal 
Attorney 
Alimony and/or   childcare 
Payments on lien or judgment 
Other 
total 
Monthly Income 
Income 1 
Income 2 
Extra income 
total  $[1] 

[1] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Financial Freedom: Principles of Wise Money Management (1–37). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

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