How to Manage Money: Biblical Principles

Guest blogger: Richard L. Blake

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

The_Black_Death

The Black Death

I ask you to come with me 669 years back in time to Lubeck, Germany. In 1347, as the Black Plague swept across Europe killing over 30 percent of the population, the people of Lubeck were terrified. The wealthy citizens sought to enter the huge fortified monastery for shelter. But the monks, afraid of contamination by the disease from the outside world, locked their gates and strictly refused admission.

The nobles and the wealthy pleaded in vain. They then took their money, jewelry and valuables and threw them over the wall, pleading for admission that they might find safety. Within a short time, the money and valuables piled up a meter high. Yet the contaminated treasure was left untouched and the gates remained closed.

Now, why did all these monies and valuables lie at the base of the monastery walls? Because the rich thought that money thrown away would save their lives, and the monks thought that contaminated money accepted would kill them.

There were two entirely different views of wealth. What is your view? This is a very important issue for us to consider.

Develop a Biblical Mindset About Money

When it comes to money and material possessions we find three different views in the church.

Poverty Theology

The premise of Poverty Theology is that money is inherently evil and thus to be poor is to be spiritual. The orientation then is towards shunning wealth. This makes no sense because some of God’s most godly saints are wealthy. Job was the richest man in the ancient east (Job 1:3; 42:12). Abraham was exceedingly wealthy (Genesis 13:2). It’s not a sin to be rich, nor to enjoy the things wealth may bring. In 1 Timothy we are told that God is the one who “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (6:17). Solomon, famed for both his riches and his wisdom, wrote, “As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:19).

Some may ask, “Doesn’t the Bible say that money is the root of all evil?” No, it does not. Rather, it says, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Money itself is not evil but evil resides in people who love it. People may be moral or immoral, but money is morally neutral and can be used for good things or for bad. Therefore, we must reject the idea that money or material things are inherently unspiritual.

Prosperity Theology

The premise of Prosperity Theology is that money is a signature gift of God and thus to be rich is indicates God’s special favor. The orientation then is toward splurging wealth. Prosperity theology looks exactly like materialism but it professes to be based on God’s word and is therefore not only permissible but also desirable. Following God through giving and other forms of obedience become a formula for abundant provision and the celebration of prosperous living. There are some Christian leaders that exhort their listeners to give liberally while they live in palatial mansions, own private jets, and pay for luxurious hotel suites while they travel to spread their message of prosperity.

Of course, there are scriptures that seem to link material prosperity with God’s blessing. For instance, God gave material wealth to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Solomon, and Job because he approved of them. Some passages offer material rewards for faithful financial giving:

“You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings” (Deuteronomy 15:10).

      “Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine; The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 3:9-10; 11:25)

      “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test 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 a blessing until it overflows’” (Malachi 3:10).

God does do those things these scriptures promise, but that’s not the whole picture. The scriptures also warn against the dangers of wealth—especially that in their prosperity people often forget the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:7-18). But even when people love and obey God they still may suffer. In fact, they’re promised suffering (Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12). Jeremiah, a righteous man who lived in adversity, complained to God, “Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy? (Jeremiah 12:1). His question echoed the psalmist who wrote, “This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth” (Psalm 73:12).

If, as prosperity theology maintains, material wealth is a reliable indicator of God’s reward and approval, then crime bosses, drug lords, and embezzlers must be his most favored people, while Jesus and the apostle Paul must be on his blacklist. So, prosperity theology does not square with the teaching of scripture.

Provision Theology

The premise of Provision Theology is that money belongs to God but He has entrusted wealth to us to be used wisely. The orientation then is towards stewarding wealth. This is the biblically correct view of wealth. Our good God has promised to provide for all our needs according to his riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). His provision is therefore good and not to be shunned or apologized for. Neither is it to be coveted or boasted about. The right approach is to see money and all materials resources as God’s property placed under our management. We are stewards of his provisions.

 

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How to Manage Money

For seven posts, my husband, Richard L. Blake, is my guest blogger. Recently he was asked to write conference material on how to manage money. I thought it was so applicable to this blog site that I asked his permission to include it on this site. In these posts, I will share his notes – verbatim (only excluding what was very specific for his target audience) – with you.

Like the other posts on this blog, this material is written from a Christian perspective.

The next six posts will contain:

  • How to Manage Money: Biblical Principles
  • How to Manage Money: Why a Biblical Mindset Matters
  • How to Manage Money: What the Bible Says About Ownership
  • How to Manage Money: What the Bible Says About Stewardship
  • How to Manage Money: Practical Counsel – Work, Give, Live on a Budget
  • How to Manage Money: Practical Counsel – Get Out of Debt, Save, Invest

HOW TO MANAGE MONEY

The matter of money management may at first seem an appropriate subject only to those who actually have a good deal of money to manage. Some may believe the subject of little value to them because they think they have so little to manage. A rethinking of this view is in order for several reasons.

First, the matter is broader than merely managing money. Our material possessions, our gifts and talents, our time—these also are resources that we are given to manage. Gaining wisdom about managing all these resources will benefit us now, not only in producing greater gain but also in reducing stress and anxiety.

Secondly, we actually are rich. If you have an annual household income of $11,000  you’re in the top 14 percent of income earners in the world. If your income is only $34,000 annually you’re in the top 1 percent. And even if you made only $1,500 last year you would still have more money than 75 percent of all people on Earth. You may not feel wealthy but from a global perspective we’re among some of the richest people on earth. With more than 1 billion people around the world living on less than 1 dollar a day, living in huts without indoor plumbing or running water and unsure of where their next meal will come from, it does change our perspective. With that change we begin to see more of the importance of money management.

Finally, we need to become good managers of our resources because it is what God expects. In Luke 16, Jesus made a direct connection between our handling of worldly wealth and his decision to entrust to us even greater wealth: “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” (Luke 16:10-11). God is observing what we do with our time, our talent, and our treasure. What may seem such little things to us are major factors in God’s decision to commend and promote us—or reprimand and demote us—in his Kingdom. Therefore, we must ask ourselves, “What opportunities are we missing, or one day will miss, because we have failed to use our money and other resources wisely?”

Thankful for Some I Have Never Met

I have been so blessed with a great family and precious friends from practically every corner of the world. I am thankful for all of them. However, I have reflected lately how thankful I am for many people I have never met and probably won’t meet this side of Heaven.

Instead of keeping magazine subscriptions for home improvement, decorating, cooking or other subjects I am interested in, I have turned instead to the world wide web and the many people who are willing to share their ideas and expertise just because they are interested in helping other people. I am very thankful for them.

423px-Good_housekeeping_1908_08_aWhen I have time to relax, I go to Pinterest or to some of the blogs I follow. I do not spend all day on these sites and I resist letting myself getting carried away by chasing rabbits from one blog to another. I do, however, treat these just like I used to treat my magazine subscriptions. Since I follow so many blogs, I often just scroll through my emails and delete most of the posts. There are times, though, something catches my eye and I spend a moment or two on the site. I always learn something. I have discovered there are many, many people just like me – who want to stretch their money and be good stewards of all the resources God has given us. Recently someone shared what gifts her sons really use and I received some great gift ideas for Christmas. I follow some blogs that are specifically Christian – often the scripture they share was just what I needed that day.

The possibility that the ones who have helped me will read this is slim. I still want to voice my thanks for people who are willing to share with others – especially when they don’t expect to get anything in return.

I also love good quotes and wanted to share this one from a daily email I subscribe to:

Only when the last tree has been felled, the last river poisoned and the last fish caught, man will know, that he cannot eat money. –

Old Indian Chief somewhere in the U.S.

I thank God for all of you who share.

Time Economics

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).

“A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” was a saying characteristic of people living during the Depression. With no money for replacement items, repair and maintenance were done out of necessity. The origin of “a stitch in time saves nine” literally dealt with sewing. A small tear repaired at once prevents a larger tear from forming in the future – thus saving nine more stitches. The idea, of course, has come to mean that you will do yourself a favor by taking care of small problems when they appear. If you wait, repairs will be more time consuming and expensive.

800px-Auto_repair_Maxima_4th_gn4An example of this would be car maintenance. Stay on top of engine tune-ups in order to guarantee that your engine will last as long as possible. Check your tires periodically for wear and make sure they have the proper amount of air and they will last longer.

Routine maintenance can prevent damage and save you time and money. If you clean out the gutters on your house each year, potential expensive repairs to your home can be avoided; removing lint from the dryer every time not only keeps your dryer running more efficiently, thus saving electricity, but potentially prevent a dangerous fire caused by excessive lint build up; vacuuming the coils of your refrigerator can prolong the life of that appliance; pulling weeds as soon as they appear can prevent you from having to do a widespread spraying or spending days removing overgrown patches; backing up files on your computer can save you enormous headache in redoing projects and losing some important information forever. When traveling, calling ahead for information or printing your boarding pass at home can save unpleasant surprises or a long wait in line. Repairing small leaks when you first notice them can save you a lot of time and money later. Carrying a small tool kit when traveling by car can make the difference between being able to fix a minor problem or having to call a repairman. Packing a mending kit when traveling can prevent you from having to buy a new item of clothing if something happens while you are on the road. Packing essential prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines can keep you from having to go to the emergency room.

Often maintenance is a matter of cleanliness. Metal items, such as automobiles, barbeque grills, iron fences and farm equipment last longer if cleaned regularly and checked for rust. Once rust sets in, the repair job is lengthy. When it is first noticed (like on the fender of a car) and taken care of, that “stitch in time” saves not only nine more stitches, but expensive repairs. It is more than a dollar saved.

If you don’t know how to repair certain items, there are more resources available than ever before. An online search will usually turn up a “how to” article that will walk you through it. Even when you can’t repair an item yourself, you can often extend its life by having it repaired by a professional.

After the Crisis of 2008 hit, there were many news reports on how people were coping. Sales in stores were down because people were making what they had last longer, repairing those items rather than buying new ones. This actually resulted in an increase of revenue for some businesses such as shoe repair shops, auto repair shops and home improvement stores. Some items need to be fixed by professionals, but even that cost is cheaper than replacing it – most of the time. There are some notable exceptions, such as computers and other electronic items.

In addition to saving money, your “stitch in time” can save your time. The less complicated the repair, the quicker it is done, the more time is left for other things.

Time really does have value. Somewhere, someone else is employed for services as an accountant, an auto mechanic, a bookkeeper, a cook, a driver (chauffeur), electrician, gardener, housekeeper, nurse, etc. As you balance your checkbook, change the oil in your car, prepare meals for your family, drive your children to and from activities, repair the wiring in your garage, maintain and adorn your yard and garden, clean your house, take care of your family members when they are sick, you are performing tasks routinely that someone else might be paid for.

Procrastination in maintenance and repairs leads to the “nine other stitches.” Procrastination also makes your “to do” list longer than it needs to be.

In many ways, time is of much more worth than money is.

In every area of life, it is better to take action on issues as they come up. For instance, a misunderstanding between family members, friends and neighbors can fester if not dealt with immediately.

Even if you don’t have money or a job, it is good to remember that you have the same amount of time as everyone else. What you do with that time will help you move forward or allow you to stagnate.

During the Great Recession, many people were forced to seek employment in areas they had never imagined they would work in. Sometimes this involved schooling. Sometimes it meant doing manual labor instead of office work.

In a few cases, the forced adjustment led to a happier lifestyle. Their time was now allocated more towards family or church or their community.

These changes involved spending time learning a new skill, competing in a job market that was new to them, and not giving in to the temptation to give up.

It is understandable to be disappointed with unforeseen negative circumstances, but what you do with those circumstances is up to you. Procrastination is not a good thing, but having such a full schedule that you cannot enjoy family or life is not either. There must be a balance.

Only you can determine the proper balance of time in your life. Many who have had m41NydAJhNoL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_oney, though, and made it their priority, have regretted it in the end. Prioritize according to what really matters and your time will be of more value to you than money.

“Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost part of your life.” – Michael LeBoueuf

God expects us to be good stewards of every gift He gives. How we spend our resources and how we spend our time are indicators of how we view His gifts. Jesus made that point very clear in His parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). The lazy servant wasted his time and hismaster’s money.

(This post was adapted from a chapter of “Money, How to be Rich Without It and How to Stretch It Using Ten Hints from the Past and the Technology of Today”)

Flowers to Enjoy

Practically everyone loves flowers. I know I do. I particularly like flowers that are growing in my garden. Their life span may be short, but it doesn’t matter. They can bring a smile to my face and brighten up an otherwise ordinary room when brought inside.

We can send flowers to loved ones – sometimes the cost is worth it. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money, however, to surround yourself with flowers. When you place a printed picture of a beautiful flower in a plain frame, that is enough. The flower is the centerpiece.

As I travel, I cannot resist the temptation to take pictures of the local flowers. I enjoy looking at them and thought that you might as well. Feel free to print these and enjoy.That way spring can last all year long!

Kuykenhof and Delft, Holland May 2004 087 Visit to Okinawa, Dec. '06 149 Visit to Okinawa, Dec. '06 132 Visit to Okinawa, Dec. '06 134Picture 1519 Picture 120 IMG_3019 Family Vacation April May 2002 141 Kuykenhof and Delft, Holland May 2004 074 Visit to Okinawa, Dec. '06 144 Visit to Okinawa, Dec. '06 133

The Stuff of Thanks

It’s just stuff – or is it?

For the first time in over ten years, I am packing. In the midst of that process, I have wondered, how did I accumulate so much stuff? It has occurred to me, it’s not just stuff I’m packing. It’s tangible evidence of memories.

Some of the memories are in actual memory books – yearbooks, wedding albums, family photo albums and some very old memory books from both my husband’s family and mine. Some are in hand made gifts my sons gave me when they were toddlers and in grade school, their wedding pictures, thoughtful gifts given when they actually had money to spend on a gift and gifts given to me by cherished family and friends – some of whom are no longer with me to thank.

DSC06775I collect dishes and Christmas decorations. My husband has generously encouraged that crazy search for another piece of depression glass or presented me with a set of beautiful china – again and again. Most of the lovely dishes I have I did not purchase. My husband also laughs as we wash dishes together and I remind him where each dish came from – the names of the givers are impressed upon my memory.

I am grateful for those who cared enough to give me a thoughtful gift because they knew it was something I would enjoy. I have used every gift and thought of the giver as I did so.

If, for some reason, I am never able to unbox all of this “stuff”, it’s OK because I am not packing away the memories. They are part of who I am and how I know I am loved.

Ultimately, I know that God is the source of each gift. I became spiritually rich the day I asked Jesus toDSC06762 be my Savior. That richness includes being in an eternal royal family, part of a family that shows their love by giving – those things that memories are made of.

Jesus continues to give daily gifts, the intangible gifts of His caring intervention, His time, His sweet presence in my life and in the lives of those I love.  Every thing I have – tangible and intangible – is because of Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus, for Your love, salvation and for every sister and brother who also gives a tangible evidence of their love. I am rich beyond words.

The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22). Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights (James 1:17a).

The Source of Good Advice

We can learn a lot from others – those who have “been there, done that.” That is certainly true in the area of stretching your ever increasingly shrinking dollar!

Some of the wisdom emanating from those we admire originated in scripture – whether they knew it or not.

Martha_Washington“I am still determined to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever situation I may be, for I have also learnt from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.” – Martha Washington

…for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content; I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need (Philippians 4:11-12).

 

 

 

 

 

640px-Froosevelt“Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – F. D. Roosevelt

Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” . . . For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:31-34).

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

 

 

640px-Calvin_Coolidge,_bw_head_and_shoulders_photo_portrait_seated,_1919“Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character.” – Calvin Coolidge

Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5 NASB).

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).

 

 

 

 

Henry_David_Thoreau

 

 

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” – Henry David Thoreau

A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked (Psalm 37:16).  

I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

 

 

 

 

Benjamin_Franklin“Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.” – Benjamin Franklin

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NASB).

I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods…but God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God (Luke 12:18, 20-21).

 

 

th“Of the billionaires I have known, money just brings out the basic traits in them. If they were jerks before they had money, they are simply jerks with a billion dollars.” – Warren Buffett

If riches increase, do not set your heart on them (Psalm 62:10b).

There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches (Proverbs 13:7).

 

NPG D20295; Thomas Fuller by David Loggan“Riches are long in getting with much pains, hard in keeping with much care, quick in losing with more sorrow.” – Thomas Fuller

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).

 

 

 

 

 

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).