Bible Finance

Manage Your Money God's Way

Debt Principle – Avoiding the Temptation to Borrow and Buy

Offers for unsolicited credit cards, personal lines of credit, increased mortgages and retailer’s incentives to buy now and pay in one or two years, all create tremendous temptation to spend more than you are earning, and thus accumulate debt.  However, God has promised:
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Cor 10:13)

Different people struggle with different “spending temptations”.  The practical solution is to identify the area(s) that you struggle with and avoid all circumstances that could lead you to give in to that temptation.  Here are some examples:

-some people need to stay away from the shopping mall to avoid unnecessary spending.
-“the tool guys” need to avoid the hardware store, “the car guys” must “boycott” the automobile dealerships, and the the “gadget/techy guys” need to avoid the electronics/computer stores.
-those who have overspent often with credit cards, should perform “plastic surgery” on their credit cards by cutting them up.
-similarly, if you have a history of buying unnecessary things on your line of credit, then ask the bank to reduce or eliminate that line of credit.

Since God is in control [Psalms 103:19] and since God has promised to meet our needs [Matthew 6:28-33], is it not reasonable to assume that we should live within the income that God has provided to us?  However, many people do not live within God’s provision and as a result, they spend more than they earn and accumulate debt.

Here are some additional recommendations to avoid the temptation to borrow and buy.

1. In prayer, ask God to enable you to learn to be content with His provision [Phil 4:11-13].  Contentment is the antidote to worldly attitudes such as selfishness, envy and greed. 
2. Allow God to change the way you think about money and material things by renewing your mind: “do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. [Romans 12:2]
3. How do you renew your mind?  God provides the answer in Joshua 1:8: “Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouth, meditate on it day and night and be careful to do everything written in it, then you will be prosperous and successful”.
4. Study God’s Word on finances in your daily quiet times. Why? -“For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb 4:12-13).
5. Obtain biblically -based financial advice from a Christian who knows God’s financial principles and personally applies them  [1 Corinthians 2:14,15, Psalms 1:1-3]. 
6. Before you borrow any money, prayerfully seek the counsel of the Lord [1 Kings 22:5] for His wisdom [James 1:5] and His specific direction [Psalms 32:8] to determine if it’s God’s will.
7.  Develop and implement a budget to ensure that you are spending less than you earn each month.  Use the surplus to pay down debt and save for future needs.  For a copy of my free Excel-based budgeting system, send an e-mail to thomas@copland-ca.com

As God directs, may I encourage you to implement the ideas above and trust God [Prov 3:5 & 6] to enable you to avoid the temptations of debt [1 Corinthians 10:13].

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May 29, 2009 Posted by | Debt Principle | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Debt Principle – Borrowing Presumes on the Future.

When you borrow money, you are presuming that you will have sufficient income in the future to service the debt.  Since we do not know the future [Proverbs 27:1], there is a risk that we will be unable to make the loan payments and experience financial difficulties. God warns us:

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”   Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.   Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  [James 4:13-15 emphasis added]. 

Since only God knows the future (1 Kings 7, Isaiah 46:10), it is critical that you spend quality time with the Lord in prayer, listening to God’s voice (John 10:27) in order to determine if it is God’s will for you to borrow money.  God has promised to direct us [Psalms 32:8].

If you are contemplating borrowing some money, then I recommend that you work through the 7 questions below before making a decision to borrow. 

1. Have you developed a budget beforehand, to ensure that you can afford the loan payments?  [Luke 14:28-30].  For a free copy of my Excel-based budgeting system, send an e-mail to thomas@copland-ca.com.
2. Do you understand your responsibility to repay the entire loan? (Psalm 37:21) What kind of a “light into a world of darkness” is a Christian who does not repay his debts or does not pay  his debts on time? [Matthew 5:16]  Clearly this nullifies their testimony.
3. Have you prayed and given God a chance [Psalms 37:7] to provide the cash or an alternative at a lower cost, in a manner that is glorifying to Him? In Deuteronomy 28, God promised his people, that if they fully obeyed Him, they would not have to borrow.
4. Have you considered that God may not want you to have it? “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt 16:24).  See also Hebrews 13:5.
5. Is the item that you plan to purchase a necessity?  Can you do without it? God has promised to meet our needs [Matthew 6:31-33], not our wants and desires. 
6. If you are married, have you (husband and wife) prayed sincerely for God’s direction [willing to accept a yes or no answer], and if so, do both of you have God’s peace that He wants you to borrow the money  (John 14:26-27).
7. Most importantly, have you spent sufficient time in prayer, seeking God’s specific will before borrowing?  In Jeremiah 29:11-14, God makes it clear that he does have a plan for you!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

It is at the planning stage that God will usually direct us [Psalms 32:8], if we take the time to seek His will and listen to his voice [John 10:27] in respect of any major financial decision.  Receiving God’s specific direction before you make any major financial decision, will enable you to avoid a lot of financial problems later. 

In my view, if you can sincerely say yes to all 7 questions above, then I believe it is God’s will for you to borrow the money.  However, as demonstrated in my financial moments on saving, you would be wise to pay off the loan ASAP, in order to minimize your interest costs.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Debt Principle | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Debt Principle – God’s Warning – Debt Is Dangerous!

In this world, we are bombarded with all kinds of advertisements and advice that entice us to borrow money.  As a result, many people believe the lie that it’s okay to “buy now and pay later” or that “smart people use other people’s money”.  What many people don’t realize is that this advice is contrary to God’s Word, the Bible, as God warns in Proverbs 22:7 that if you borrow money, you will likely become a servant to the lender.

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”  [NIV]
“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave. [NASB]

The biblical truth is that we are here on this earth to serve God, not a lender.

When you borrow money, you are limiting your future options and legally committing yourself to service the debt.  In the process of servicing the debt, you may become a servant to the lender and encounter one or more of the following detrimental consequences:

1. A spouse must work additional hours in order to repay debts, and as a result, family relationships suffer (I Timothy 5:8).
2. A wife does not have the option to stay at home with her children, as a she must work in order to help her husband “service” their debt load.
3. A Bible college or seminary graduate is unable to accept a full-time job in ministry, as the salary is insufficient to enable him or her to repay student loans.
4. An older individual or couple cannot retire, but must continue to work (regardless of health issues) in order to meet their financial obligations.
5. Many people experience anxiety and stress from their debt load, because they have used credit cards and/or personal lines of credit to “live beyond their means”.
6. When debts accumulate, generally giving to God’s work decreases or disappears.
7. With a lot of debt, you could be forced into bankruptcy and lose everything.
8. Nasty calls from creditors and threats from lenders to repossess your home, car etc. will generate tension between a husband and wife, destroying their relationship and often resulting in divorce.
9. Many family businesses have been forced into receivership, because of their debt load.
10. Debt causes stress, which frequently results in health problems.
11. A Christian’s time and energy is consumed by money related problems, reducing your time with the Lord and His word, thus hindering their relationship with God (Mathew 6:24).

In light of the above, it’s no wonder that every reference in the Bible to borrowing is negative!  You won’t find one positive reference in Scripture with respect to borrowing.  God loves us and he does not want us to become a servant to a lender and suffer the consequences outlined above.

In summary, God warns of the dangers of debt and strongly discourages borrowing.  In upcoming financial moments, I will expand on what the Bible says on debt and provide some practical steps to get out of debt.

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Debt Principle | , , , , | 1 Comment

Investing—Keep a Balanced Perspective

We are bombarded with information on investments. Every day hundreds of individuals give their opinion as to where you should invest your money. It is easy to spend excessive amounts of time and energy on investing. This is not God’s will: “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:4, 5).

 

It is appropriate for a Christian to spend time learning and applying God’s investment principles, but once this has been accomplished, we should take a long-term perspective and trust God for the results. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6 nkjv)

 

I review the portfolio that God has entrusted to me about four times per year. I ignore what is happening in the markets and in the media on a daily and weekly because excessive time and energy is required in order to absorb the mammoth amount of information that is available.

 

During these “quarterly reviews,” I spend several hours with the Lord, seeking God’s wisdom (James 1:5) and God’s direction for my life, which God has promised to provide (Psalm 32:8). Since no individual can consistently predict the direction of the markets or any investment (James 4:13–15), I purposely listen for God’s “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12), because I realize that only God knows the future and God is in control (1 Chronicles 29:11, 12).

 

During this time with the Lord, I meditate on scripture verses that deal with investment principles to ensure that I have developed a biblically based investment strategy. I review the portfolio and make adjustments according to God’s investment principles and God’s specific direction for me.

 

I wait patiently for the Lord (Psalm 37:7) to provide his specific direction, and when I sense I’ve heard it, I pray and ask God to confirm it. Once it is clarified, in faith, I implement God’s plan for my investments. At all times, I ensure that the plan is within God’s investment principles, because I know that God would not provide any directive that is contrary to his Word.

 

If you “connect with the Lord” (John 15) on a regular basis and follow his wisdom and his direction, then you will have fulfilled your stewardship responsibility and you can leave the results (the return on your investments) to God. God has promised that he will meet your needs (Matthew 6:31–33). God instructs us not to worry (Luke 12:22–31) and not to be fearful (Isaiah 41:10), but rather trust him and be content with his provision. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For  we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:6–8)

 

Be sure to give God “the first fruits” (Proverbs 3:9) of your profits, as this demonstrates your faith and commitment to him. God promises that he will bless the generous giver: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). Giving generously is the best way I know of to avoid hoarding and to deal with any potential greediness (Luke 12:15).

 

In summary, it is appropriate to spend a reasonable amount of time learning and implementing God’s investment principles as well as seeking God’s specific direction for your life. However, it is not God’s will for you to spend excessive amounts of time and energy on investing.

December 29, 2008 Posted by | Investing | , , , , | 1 Comment

Investing—Giving to God’s Work Produces Eternal Benefits

Giving to God’s work is an investment with eternal rewards for both the giver and the beneficiaries of the gift. In regard to the giver, Jesus said: “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27). There are also eternal benefits for the recipients of the gift. For example, when you give money to an evangelical organization (including your church), and through that organization someone accepts Jesus Christ as personal saviour, then that individual will be in heaven for eternity.

 

Although investing to provide for future family needs is something that God wants us to do (1 Timothy 5:8), giving to God’s work is even more important, as it stores up “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” (Matthew 6:19, 20).

 

It is easy to become focused on building your portfolio. However, investments are temporary: “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Timothy 6:7). As God blesses your investments, avoid hoarding. Jesus warned, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

 

I recommend that at least two times per year, you obtain an update of the fair market value of your investments, and ensure that you are giving at least 10 percent of the increased value of those investments to God’s work, in addition to any giving of your regular personal income. Remember, the tithe is the smallest percentage mentioned anywhere in scripture, and the emphasis in God’s Word is to give generously. (See Luke 6:38 and Matthew 13:44–46). Note that when Zacchaeus became a believer, he gave 50 percent of his assets in demonstration of his thankfulness for salvation in Christ (Luke 19:8).

 

God instructs us to give him “the first fruits.” Proverbs 3:9 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.” When we make giving to God’s work a priority, God has promised that he will bless us financially.

 

If you make giving to God’s work a priority, God has promised that he will entrust you with even more money (2 Corinthians 9:6). Why? So you can spend it on yourself or hoard it? No, God’s purpose for entrusting you with more money, is that you can give even more to his work!

Now [God] who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:10–11, emphasis added)

Jesus promised that if we sacrifice now, the return on our investment (as a result of giving to God’s work) will be a hundredfold in eternity! “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19: 29, emphasis added) Remember, there is absolutely no earthly investment that provides a hundredfold return and is guaranteed by God!

 

In summary, although it is important to save and invest to provide for future family needs, always make investing in God’s work a priority, as it will produce eternal benefits!

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Investing | , , , , , | 1 Comment