Posts Tagged ‘give’

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).