Archive for April, 2016

How to Manage Money: Practical Counsel – Work, Give, Live on a Budget

Guest blogger: Richard L. Blake

For the introduction to this seven part series (this is part six), see 3/11/2016 post “How to Manage Money”.

At this point we need to look at the lifestyle of a steward. While this is not the place for technical financial advice, we would do well to consider how to apply the biblical principles we just reviewed to the matter of managing money. I want to offer some basic money management counsel consistent with scripture and sound financial practices.

Work

         This is foundational to a steward’s lifestyle. The first thing God did with Adam was to put him to work: “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). And in the New Testament, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “If anyone will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

God is surely the provider of our money and every other blessing. But he expects us to work. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (3:23-24). And Proverbs says, “Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase (13:11). Getting wealth is the result of faithful, diligent, hard work along with biblical management of that income.rucni-prace

Give

         While stewardship involves more than giving, it never involves less than giving. God entrusts wealth to us, not so we can spend on ourselves lavishly, but so we can give to others. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed . . . you will be enriched in everything for all liberality . . . ” (2 Corinthians 9:8, 11). Author Randy Alcorn says, “Too often we assume that God entrusts more to us to increase our standard of living, yet his stated purpose is to increase our standard of giving.”

The starting point in our giving should be the tithe, a biblical term meaning “a tenth part.” This was God’s requirement of the ancient Israelites. God made clear that the tithe belonged to him. Failure to tithe was to rob God: “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed Thee?’ In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8). Notice that last sentence, “In tithes and offerings.” Giving is something that goes beyond the tithe. Since a voluntary “offering” was something God considered “due” him under the Old Covenant, why would we think it acceptable to do less under the New Covenant? Put another way, why should we do less under Grace than under Law?

Far more than mere tithing, the Old Testament emphasizes “freewill offerings” or “voluntary offerings.” These were included with the tithes: “Bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, your sacred offerings, your offerings to fulfill a vow, your voluntary offerings . . .” (Deuteronomy 12:6). The people were thrilled with giving far beyond the tithe, as evidenced in their joyful contributions toward the building of the Tabernacle: “The people of Israel—every man and woman who was eager to help in the work the Lord had given them through Moses—brought their gifts and gave them freely to the Lord” (Exodus 35:29).

Christians who consider tithing the high ground of giving are actually lowering the Old Testament standard, which merely started with the tithe but did not end there. Should the church, transformed by the redemptive work of Christ, experience such devoted, joyful giving any less than our Israelite counterparts? Or should we experience it all the more?

Remember what we said earlier about laying up treasures in heaven? Giving is one of the chief ways we do that.lossy-page1-800px-The_Child_At_Your_Door,_400,000_Orphans_Starving,_no_state_aid_available,_Campaign_for_$30,000,000._American..._-_NARA_-_512726.tiff

Live on a Budget

         This seems a logical thing to do yet many fail to employ such an important tool in money management. This involves planning and record keeping and it’s something any wise money manager should do. But before going into the specifics, some general lifestyle counsel is in order.

  • Learn to be content. The source of your contentment must never be from having more money or things because you will always require more to maintain the same level of contentment. True and lasting contentment comes from the Lord. “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am . . . I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11, 13). “Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5). Two great threats to contentment are coveting things and comparing our lifestyle to others, so be on guard against those dangers.
  • Make an effort to live more simply. Every possession requires time, and often money to maintain. Too many or the wrong type can harm our relationship with the Lord and others. Advertisers communicate their message that you can’t live without their product—but you really can. A simple, quiet life is the best environment for us to grow in our relationship with God and with others.
  • Submit spending decisions to the Lord. When it comes to purchasing things we rarely have to do it “right now.” Major purchases, especially, should be avoided until you have prayed about it and asked God to bring clarity to the decisions. Just because you can afford something doesn’t mean God wants you to buy it. Since he holds us accountable for wise money management, it makes sense that he would want us to seek his guidance in deciding whether to spend. Remember, decisions have consequences. God will help you, but he will not eliminate the consequences of your bad decisions. Therefore, seek the Lord.

th-2While you’re working on adjusting your lifestyle, begin living on a budget. This is simply your plan for how you will allocate your income. Most people have a fairly regular monthly income. A budget is your plan to divide that income into some specific categories so that you don’t overspend. These would include things like your tithe, rent or mortgage, utilities, food, clothing and all your other regular needs, even a small amount for some miscellaneous things. The implementation of your budget requires careful record keeping for all expenditures. Budgeting and record keeping will help you get a grip on your spending. Many problems in managing money occur simply because people are not paying attention to what they are spending. Proverbs counsels, “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever” (27:23-24).

 

How to Manage Money: What the Bible Says About Stewardship

Guest blogger: Richard L. Blake

For the introduction to this seven part series (this is part five), see 3/11/2016 post “How to Manage Money”.

While God retains ownership of all things, he entrusts the management of those things to us, expecting we will use them wisely and in a way that honors him. This is the main point of several stewardship parables in the Gospels.

562px-Parable_of_the_Talents_001Consider the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). A man about to leave on a journey entrusted his possessions to three of his servants, giving to each different amounts but having the same expectation of faithfulness in their stewardship. Two of the servants invested wisely what was entrusted, but the third simply buried his master’s money in the ground. Upon the man’s return he called his servants to account and rewarded the two who had been faithful in their stewardship. But to the servant who had buried the money, refusing to steward it faithfully, the master said, “You wicked, lazy servant.” He was too lazy or scared to do what was right by his master, unfaithful with his money. Seeking safety, he lost everything.painting1

This parable teaches that we’re entrusted by God with different financial assets, gifts, and opportunities to have an impact on people for eternity, thereby making preparations for our own eternal future. The Scripture says, “So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). We’ll be held accountable for how we’ve stewarded God’s assets in this life. We’re to prepare for our master’s return by contributing to the growth of his kingdom through wisely investing his assets. That is not just money, but it does include money. A faithful steward handles all of God’s blessings in God’s way for God’s glory.

finance_tree_growth_45EA7BC7B6870

How to Manage Money:What the Bible Says About Ownership

Guest blogger: Richard L. Blake

For the introduction to this seven part series (this is part four), see 3/11/2016 post “How to Manage Money”.

Appletons'_Wesley_JohnA man once rushed upon John Wesley shouting, “Mr. Wesley, Mr. Wesley, something terrible has happened! Your house has burned to the ground!”

Thinking for a moment, Wesley replied, “No. The Lord’s house has burned to the ground. That means one less responsibility for me.” Wesley’s response reflected a basic reality of life—God is the owner of all things and we are simply the manager of his assets.

God’s ownership of all things is clearly expressed in many passages in the Bible. Consider these, for example:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Psalm 24:1).

“Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it” (Deuteronomy 10:14).

800px-Bubbles_Within_Bubbles_(Unannotated)

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things” (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).


“Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me”
(Job 41:11). 

“For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it” (Psalm 50:101-2).

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

There are many other scriptures that make this point but these are enough to convince us that we own nothing; God retains ownership of everything. That extends even to our very selves, for God says, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Not only does God own everything, He gives to us our ability to make money and determines how much of his wealth he will entrust to us:

“Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

“The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up” (1 Samuel 2:7).

Any consideration of managing money, therefore, must begin with this: God owns it 600px-Globe.svgall.