ONE OF THE most widely discussed issues in all of the Bible is money; covering its gathering, storing, and use. In the New International Version of the Bible money is mentioned one hundred and fourteen times. Knowing how to properly use money and to understand how God views money is your best defense to preclude money's rule over your life. Reviewing these words will help you to know what money was intended for and what it is not. Money, like all good and perfect gifts, and be misused. Money is a method of currency established by God to help us transact business, buy needed wares and foodstuffs, and as enumeration for services. Money when used wisely can be a great asset for both your family, your physical well-being, and the Kingdom. Keeping these time tested precepts at the forefront of your mind will help enable you to use money the way God had always intended.
Money as a Tool
Money was never intended to be used as anything but a commodity. Like wheat or any other tangible item, it can be measured and valued, it can lose as well as gain in worth and as we have seen in the dramatic recent fall of stock markets nationally and abroad. Though all of us have basic money concerns when our stock values fall, inflation and bankruptcies soar, home values decline, we are encouraged to keep all in perspective.
If we fail to keep money in its proper place, to use and see it as a tool rather than an ends, we are prone to its idolization and therefore our own personal spiritual demise. Just as we are called to be content in all things so should we be content with the resources God has granted us by utilizing them wisely. In Proverbs 17:16 we are told that a man who has money and does not seek wisdom is a fool and God offers wisdom liberally for all who seek it.
"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." Ecclesiastes 5:10
Live Below Your Means
Living below your means is totally against all that the world would have us do. With credit card debt, home equity loans, car loans and second mortgages being readily available it is difficult for all of us to exercise restraint. Keeping in mind a few simple ideas will do much to help eliminate unnecessary spending. Never use a credit card if you can't pay the balance in full when the bill arrives or unless it is an absolute emergency. Regardless of how you feel or the extent of your desires, having the latest technological gadget or latest fashion item is not an absolute and critical need.
For most all of us, buying a car is the second largest purchase we will ever make and therefore the second most essential that we make a wise and judicious decision. Car companies will offer longer re-payment periods, leases and sweetheart deals to entice you to buy whatever your heart desires. Many of the payment periods are so long that many vehicles will have no substantive working or monetary value at the time of the last payment, necessitating that your next vehicle purchase also be over an extended payment period. To avoid falling prey to the constant "money trap" of car payments it is generally better not to lease cars, but to buy and own them outright and to finance a car over a shorter rather than a longer payment period.
Most all initial car purchases may require some type of debt to get you started but limiting this debt, paying it off as soon as possible and paying cash for future vehicles will be a good start to limiting excessive car payments and liabilities. Also explore buying a good use car as an alternative to the often unnecessary expense of that new car you feel you cannot live without. Living below your means will allow you to better provide for your business and family allowing you a cushion and extra margin when unexpected contingencies arrive.
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have." Hebrews 13:5
Invest & Use Money Wisely
God exhorts us to earn our money honestly, investing it wisely and allowing it to grow slowly over time (Proverbs 13:11). For we can either chose to serve God or to serve money, as it is impossible to do both (Matthew 6:24). Using money judiciously requires us to understand not only money is used but also how it should be invested.
One of the most telling of Jesus parables is in the telling of the talents where a master's money is allocated to his three servants based upon the ability of the parties involved. Two of the servants invested the money well and earned even more money while the third servant hid the money failing to gain even the interest that could have been gained had it been invested at a bank. Upon the master returning and discovering what had transpired, he took the money from the un-wise investor and gave it to the servants who invested prudently. Then the servant who now had nothing was thrown outside into the dark where there was great weeping and gnashing of teeth. God wants his people to enjoy all of good and perfect gifts He provides and it is up to us as Believers to know and understand God's plan for money and our lives. Although I am not aware of compounding interest being examined anywhere in either the Old or New Testament, the concept of interest and its ability for growth are time tested, well approved and documented.
Faith & Stewardship
God is best able to help us when we are in the Word, surrounded by wise counsel and are seeking after His will for our life. In Acts 8:20, we are reminded that our money and all we accumulate will be immediately of no use to us at our death as indeed we are all saved by grace, and that no gift or any amount of money will ever help us buy our way into Heaven. In Mark 6:8 when Jesus sends the disciples out for missions, he encourages them to take no money along with them for the journey leaving divine providence alone as the financier of their work. It is usually when we are at our wits end or out of resources where our walk become more faith than self based.
"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve." 1 Peter 5:2
We are all a work in process for which God prunes us, readying our spirit for what lay ahead. Leaning not on our own understanding but the Bible's is the most important step you will ever make in determining to use your resources wisely. Applying these precepts to your money management will help you avoid unnecessary debt, frivolous expenditures, invest wisely and to use your money as it has always been intended.
John Dillard is an author and Certified Public Accountant. To See how he takes Christ along with him to work visit www.HisCPA.com and for his latest book Overcoming Life's 9/11's: Job's Journey visit www.John-Dillard.com "Dare to Attempt Something so Great for the Kingdom of God that it is doomed to failure, lest Christ be in it!"