Bible Finance

Manage Your Money God's Way

Priorities—A Spiritual Barometer

It is a common saying that you can determine an individual’s true priorities by reviewing how she or he spends time and money. Although people may say that their relationships with God and their families are of greatest importance to them, sometimes their Day-Timer or chequebook indicates otherwise.

 

I believe that how an individual handles money is an external visible indicator of an internal spiritual condition.

 

As a practical matter, I believe that answering the following questions can help you determine where you are at spiritually in regard to your finances.

 

1. Do you give “the first fruits” to God’s work, or does God get the leftovers? Proverbs 3:9, 10 states, “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” The guideline in scripture is to give at least 10 percent of your income to God’s work.

 

2. Do you borrow money without consulting God? God warns that those who borrow money may become a servant to lender: “The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

 

3. Do you feel envious or jealous of what other people have materially?  Exodus 20:17 warns against this.

 

4. When you have a material need or want, do you pray and wait patiently for God to provide in a manner that is glorifying to Him? Psalm 37:7states, “ Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him.”

 

5. Have you developed and implemented a budget? A budget is simply a tool used for financial planning. In his illustration of building a tower (Luke 14:28–30), Jesus makes it clear that if we don’t plan ahead, we are foolish.

 

6. Are you content with God’s provision, or do you constantly want more? “But godliness with contentment is great gain…. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:6,8)

 

7. Do you spend quality time with God in prayer and reading God’s Word before you make any major financial decision? God has promised that he will direct us: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).

 

May I encourage you to spend some quality time in prayer with God right now and ask him to reveal any areas it your life that God would like you to change in regard to your finances.

 

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April 4, 2008 Posted by | Priorities | , , , | Leave a comment

Priorities—Effective Ministry

An individual’s ministry effectiveness will generally be significantly influenced by the biblical or non-biblical use of money. Jesus indicated that, if you are not trustworthy with money, then God will not entrust you with something of greater importance, which Christ called the “true riches.” “If you have not been trustworthy in the handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:11).
 I believe that God’s “true riches” include a close relationship with God, God’s peace, and God’s joy. In addition, I believe that God’s “true riches” include an effective ministry that has been blessed by God.  
It is interesting to note that one of the requirements for an elder is that the person must not be a “lover of money” and must be able to manage one’s own family well—which, by the way, would include managing family finances in a godly fashion (1 Timothy 3:3–5). From a practical perspective, 1Timothy 3:5 raises this question: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”
Further, some biblical scholars interpret the “true riches” that Jesus Christ is referring to in Luke 16:11 to include spiritual responsibilities, which obviously affects one’s ministry.
 It is important to note that the verse preceding Luke 16:11 indicates that an individual must demonstrate faithfulness in a small amount before God will entrust him or her with a larger amount. Jesus said, “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.” 
In short, it is one’s character that determines the extent of one’s faithfulness to God, not the amount of money a person has been entrusted with.
In summary, if a Christian is not faithful to God in regard to something of less importance, such as money and material things, then why would God entrust one with something of greater importance, which would include an effective ministry that has been blessed by God?
I believe there is no substitute for studying and meditating on God’s Word with regard to finances. This, in conjunction with prayer, will enable you to determine God’s will for your life in regard to the money he has entrusted you with. As you implement God’s financial principles, God will provide you with his peace and joy in regard to finances as well as an effective ministry.

March 11, 2008 Posted by | Priorities | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Priorities – Treasures in Heaven

Jesus said, “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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).
I believe that “treasures on earth” include money and material things. These are the things that we tend to prize during our lifetime but that will have no importance when we get to heaven. The apostle Paul made it clear: “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Timothy 6:7).
On the other hand, “treasures in heaven” include things that will be important to us when we get to heaven. I believe that “treasures in heaven” include salvation (as one’s salvation will last for eternity) and the rewards in heaven that God promises to his faithful stewards.
The concept of rewards in heaven is difficult to grasp in concrete terms, because we don’t really know what heaven will be like, and scripture does not explicitly describe heavenly rewards. However, it is important to realize that what we do here on earth does have an effect on what awaits us in heaven. 1 Timothy 4:7 tells us that “godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Godliness includes the way we handle our finances.
We read about treasures in heaven again in 1 Timothy 6:18, 19: “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
In the Parable of the Talents, the concept of rewards is specifically linked to faithful financial stewardship. To servants who have been faithful stewards, God has promised that he will put them “in charge of many things” and that they will enjoy happiness with their master. Jesus said, “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 25:21).
As human beings, it is easy to get focused on money and material things that we can enjoy while we are here on earth. However, because money and material things are temporary, it is the wise Christian who focuses on “treasures in heaven.” Colossians 3:1, 2 states, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
May I encourage you to take a few minutes right now, and pray, asking God to reveal to you how you need to adjust your focus from treasures on earth to treasures in heaven.

February 21, 2008 Posted by | Priorities | , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Pursuing God’s True Riches?

Jesus said, “If you have not been trustworthy in the handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? (Luke 16:11).
I believe that many Christians assume that there is no connection between their spirituality and how they handle money. But in this verse, Jesus Christ is communicating that our faithfulness (or the lack thereof) in regard to money will significantly affect the extent to which God entrusts us with His “true riches.” 
I believe that God’s “true riches”—that is, the things that are really important to God—include the following:
1.   A Close Personal Relationship with God. There is nothing more important in this life than our relationship with God. The Apostle Paul considered a relationship with Christ more valuable than everything else (Philippians 3:8).
2.   God’s Peace. God has promised his peace when we are directed by His Spirit: “But the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
3.   God’s joy. God has promised us his joy when we are in His presence. Psalm16:11 states, “In your presence is fullness of joy” (nkjv).
At first, it may be difficult to believe that faithful stewardship (or the lack thereof) with money would affect one’s relationship with God and one’s peace and joy. However, in Matthew 6:24, Jesus made it clear that money can be a serious competitor with our relationship with 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.”
Let me give you one common example of how our relationship with money affects our relationship with God.
If an individual or couple are spending more than they earn on a monthly basis, then in due course, they will experience financial problems. Generally, people under significant financial stress will be focused on those problems, which will take up a lot of their time and energy. This will inadvertently affect their relationship with God. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). 
In addition, the anxiety that comes from financial problems and excessive debt will generally result in a lack of peace and joy in one’s life. I’ve never met anyone who was happy about missing a mortgage payment or car loan payment. 
In summary, your faithful stewardship of the money that God has trusted to you will enable you to enjoy God’s “true riches”—which include a close personal relationship with God, God’s peace, and God’s joy. 

February 6, 2008 Posted by | Priorities | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment