Some may wonder why a preacher would speak on money management in a Sunday morning service. They may feel this subject is outside the categories that are proper for a church sermon. For this reason I will begin by sharing why I believe the subject is so important:
Financial problems cause stress. Saddleback Community Church in California conducted a survey of thousands of members asking, "What causes you the most stress?" The number two source of stress was financial pressure. Financial irritations and frustrations produce angry feelings and arguments between family members. Daily pressures from bill collectors, threats of repossession and foreclosure keep nerves on edge and stress at high levels.
Financial problems drain happiness from the home. God intended the home to be the closest thing to heaven on earth. Of all the assaults on the home being a happy place, financial problems are one of the most prevalent. In addition to stress the husband and wife are both working one or more jobs. When they do come home they're tired, frustrated and irritated. When they do talk, they tear one another down more often than they build one another up. Kids come home to an empty house, which provides the potential for all kinds of problems. When the children need help with homework, projects, or activities the parents find that the time and energy needed is just not there. The family is on a path of breakdown and breakup.
Financial problems often become financial slavery. The debt load may creep up or explode up. It gets bigger than your income, so you take on another job or jobs. Husband and wife and sometimes the kids are all hustling to make ends meet and just about the time you think ends meet somebody moves the ends. You told yourself it was all going to be temporary and as soon as you got the bills paid off you would get back to a more healthy lifestyle and yet, even with two or three salary increases, the debt is bigger than ever. You didn't manage your money and now money has become your master.
The love of money can degrade and even cause us to lose our soul.
Money is neutral as far as good and evil are concerned. It can be used for good or evil. It is "the love of money" that can motivate us to commit all kinds of evil. "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang." 1st Timothy 6:10. Money can be a wonderful servant to any of us but when it gains control of our affections it can be a terrible master.
A famous businesswoman who ran a huge company called pastor Bill Hybels. She had found out she had cancer and was going to die and asked him to visit her. She told him, "I think maybe I have done what you and Jesus warned people not to do. I think I have gained a good part of the world, and I think I might lose my soul." Pastor Hybels was able to point her to Christ for an eleventh hour forgiveness, but she was a rare exception for those who fall in love with money and find it becomes a powerful obstacle between them and God.
God has placed
great stress on proper money management. There are more
promises in the Bible in relation to money than almost any
other topic. Over half the parables Jesus told relate to money
management. One out of every six verses in Matthew, Mark and
Luke has to do with money management. It is obvious that God
desires His children to use good money management. Good money
management will result in God being honored; anxiety being
reduced, bills being paid on time; savings and investments
growing and the work of God being adequately financed to
accomplish its mission.
There are many good Christian and secular financial advisors.
Today we are going to learn from one of the best. He was wise,
wealthy and inspired by God. His name was Solomon. He gave us the
best principles ever given in the book of Proverbs.
1. Keep Track of your Finances
diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.: Proverbs 27:23,24.
The people of Solomon's day were primarily shepherds. The "flock" and "herds" were their financial interests. In our capitalistic society, the meaning is, "Keep good records of your money." Know what you own, what your income is, and how you spend your money. Ignorance of your current financial status plus easy credit can equal sudden disaster. With up to date knowledge of your financial condition you can avoid making impulse purchases above your ability to pay. "By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." Proverbs 24:3,4.
2. Plan Your Spending
"The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But
those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty." Proverbs 21:5
Plan your spending in advance and it will lead to profit. Neglect to plan your spending and do your purchasing on the impulse of the moment and it will lead to poverty
Most Christian financial advisors will recommend the 10-10-80 plan or a slight variation of it. In this plan you make it your goal to put God first, yourself second and everything else third.
The first 10% is given to God through the local church you attend.
Solomon underscored this principle in Proverbs 3:9, 10:"Honor the Lord
with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your
increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine."
In our fleshly nature we tend to think "I feel I have to pay my obligations first, and if I have anything left over, I'll honor God." And so, we honor God with our leftovers…if there are any. And when you think about it, aren't we also saying with this attitude, "I don't have any obligations to God." Is this our attitude about the God Who is the source of our life, our intelligence, our strength, our abilities, and our opportunities to produce wealth? Those opportunities include the sun, the rain, and the resources of His great creation. Is this our attitude about the God Who entered the human family in the person of Jesus Christ and went to Calvary's cross and received the punishment for all the sins we've ever committed or ever will commit? By that sacrifice He made it possible for us to be rescued from hell; become a child of God and receive inheritance in God's eternal kingdom. Do we really believe we have no obligation God"
I encourage every believer to take to heart the principle God has given by Solomon. God also made this principle a challenge through His prophet Malachi: "Bring
all the tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try 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.'
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of
your ground; nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the
field,' ". Malachi 3:10, 11. God is saying, "Put me to the test. Faithfully bring your tithes to My house and see if I won't increase your income and decrease your outgo." Honor God with the first 10 per cent.
The second 10 percent goes to pay yourself.
Solomon taught this principle with the following (somewhat testy) illustration: "Go to the ant,
you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no
captain, Overseer or ruler, prepares her supplies in summer, and gathers her
food in the harvest." Proverbs 6:6-8
The ant prepares food in the summer when it is abundantly available so it will be in store during the winter when it will be scarce. When the money is coming in is the time to regularly save or invest a portion of it in a long term investment fund. It is being realistic to expect that winters of ill health, job layoffs, emergency needs and senior years will come. If we learn from the ant we will be prepared for these times. We only have space for one example. Let's say you have a span of life where you are making $30,000 per year. If you consistently invest 10% of that income over 20 years you will have saved $60,000 but if you have received 10% interest or dividends you will have $171,825 for the winters of life.
The remaining 80% goes for everything else: housing, food, clothes, transportation, education, debt reduction, vacations, and recreation.
Some of you are saying "I could never do that!" Nobody is saying its easy. If it were more people would be doing it. It does take deep commitment and growing character. It will require delayed gratification. That means you may have to drive an Escort for awhile before you drive a Crown Victoria. You may not be able to buy as much furniture the first month you're married as it took your parents 30 or 40 years to collect. It may mean you'll have to resist all those neat $19.95 offers you see on TV. It means that if you don't have the money in your 80% you just don't buy it unless it's a long term investment, like a home that you can make payments on out of your 80%. Plan your spending.
3. Make Your Relationship With God and Family Your Highest Priority
"Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, than great treasure and
trouble. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted
calf with hatred." Proverbs 15:16, 17.
Here is one of the wisest and wealthiest men in the world telling us that right relationships with God and family are more important than wealth and the finest foods. The inference is that we should place more important on giving God respect and honor and nurturing love in our family than accumulating wealth. Too often, it is just he reverse in our materialistic society.
Does that mean we should not have financial goals? No, it means we should not let financial goals displace these values that are more important. The apostle John wrote one of his best friends something that can be very helpful.
"Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in
health, just as your soul prospers." 3rd John, verse 2. It sounds like John was saying, "It's all right to prosper materially right up to the level where you are spiritually." The negative of that would be, "Never let prospering materially become more important than prospering spiritually." Keep giving God and family highest priority.
4. Share With Others In Their Times of Need.
This is a principle that reoccurs often in Proverbs as it does throughout our whole Bible.
"There is one who scatters, yet increases more, and there is one who withholds
more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous
soul will be made rich , and he who waters will be himself watered." Proverbs 11:24, 25.
In Proverbs 19:17 Solomon gives us some spiritual insight into how this strange phenomenon of giving to others results in getting wealthier. "He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed." When we give to someone in need God considers that making a loan to Him and He will not only pay back the loan and add interest to the one who gave. You may also want to check out Proverbs 22:9 and 28:27. Share with others in their times of need.
Keep track of your finances. Plan your spending. Make God and Family highest Priority. Share with others in their time of need. These are God's principles for managing your money and they will bring financial freedom. Even if your finances are in terrible mess, you can be assured that as you look to God to enable you to manage your money by His principles you will find He will bless every step you make towards attaining these goals.
Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scripture quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted