The events on Wall Street in the fall of 2008 reminded us that no investment in this world is ever secure. Regardless of the safeguards and the supposed guarantees, the economic climate can change in an instant.Like the falling autumn leaves that characterized the season financial portfolios dropped significantly in 2008 leaving individuals of all ages asking the question,
“Does a gruesome lifestyle lie ahead?”Economic uncertainty can evoke a myriad of negative responses—especially for the individuals whose trust is in money rather than God.The believer, however, should have an entirely different response if their dollar theology is sound.
The cornerstone of dollar theology is that believers are accountable to the Lord for the resources that He entrusts to them.The principle of stewardship is woven throughout the New Testament.As you read the following passages consider how they impact your dollar theology.
·Matthew 24:45-51 and Luke 12:41-48 describe the Parable of the Faithful Steward and remind us that every person possesses natural abilities, wealth, and possessions in trust from God.Eventually, He will require an account of how each was used.
·Luke 16:1-13 reports the Parable of the Unjust Servant.This passage, especially Luke 16:9, is an illustration to show that even the wicked sons of this world are shrewd enough to provide for themselves against coming evil.Believers ought to be shrewder because they are concerned with eternal matters, not just earthly ones.
·Luke 12:13-32 admonishes believers to “lay-up treasures in heaven.”
Jim Rickard, a man whom I greatly respect, is the Director of the Stewardship Services Foundation. The Stewardship Services Foundation is a privately funded, non-profit corporation established for the singular purpose of serving the fundamental Christian community.
A primary concept that he teaches in his seminars is that our spending habits reflect our spiritual values.The question, “what does your checkbook register reveal about your values?” is the launching pad for his stewardship principles.Regardless of your season of life, if someone analyzed your checkbook register, what conclusions would they draw about your spiritual values?Jim suggests a number of Financial Principles which, if followed, can eliminate the potential of a gruesome lifestyle.
·You cannot be financially bound and spiritually free (Matthew 6:19-24).
·Give to the Lord’s work (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
·Learn to save money (Proverbs 13:11).
·Learn to spend less than you earn (Proverbs 21:20).
·Don’t finance pleasure items (Ecclesiastes 5:10).
·Control your credit cards (Proverbs 22:7).
·Have adequate life insurance to protect your loved ones (1Timothy 5:8).
·Be self-insured for life insurance by the time you retire (Proverbs 13:16).
·Have a retirement plan in progress by age 40 (Proverbs 13:16).
·Own your own home debt-free by the time you retire (Proverbs 13:16).
·Have a workable budget.The key elements to workability are disciple and control (Proverbs 24:3-4).
·Understand that Tax Laws apply to you—pay your taxes (Matthew 22:15-22).
·Have an estate plan that includes a will and/or living trust.
·Remember that there is a difference between debt and obligations.
·Have cash in an emergency fund.
“Bring the Full tithe into the Storehouse . . .”
Critical to the successful implementation of these principles is the application of Malachi 3:10.This verse is a reminder to “bring the full tithe into the storehouse . . .”
Practically speaking, you cannot afford not to tithe—this I know from personal experience!Regrettably, tithing was not a part of my family’s financial goals.It is my conviction that the numerous financial calamities that befell us were related, in part, to the absence of giving to the Lord a portion of our monthly resources.
Conversely, my spiritual growth aligned with the procurement of my first professional position.I noticed that as I consistently wrote my tithing check first each pay period my financial resources were multiplied.Practically speaking it does not seem that the check writing order should make any difference.However, to this day I intentionally practice the order and as long as I am also a careful steward of the remaining resources I never have too much month at the end of the money!
While God does indeed promise to meet all of our needs He also calls us to exercise faithful financial stewardship with our resources.Learning to manage your money is a significant component of faithful financial stewardship.
Managing Your Money
You may be inclined to laugh when managing your financial resources is mentioned since you may think that you do not have many.However, everyone has some resources that they need to manage regardless of their season of life.Several statistics remind us of the need to cultivate sound financial stewardship:
In the U.S. 57% of divorced couples named money as the cause.Several authorities from the law and finance industries discuss why finances cause so many marital problems.Different financial goals and views of the role of money as well as a simple lack of money are some of the causes of discord
If you have an annual income of over $50,000, your risk of divorce decreases by 30%.
Failing to have a budget or spending plan is like trying to navigate through an unfamiliar city without a road map. You most likely will get lost. Recall the teaching of Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, (or the people are discouraged).”
A budget or spending plan is simply a road map for using the money you have to its maximum potential.Designing a personal budget, or spending plan, is not difficult.However, to build a successful budget you must know your personal goals and determine your expenses.
Setting Personal Goals
Every successful spending plan is based on clearly defined personal goals—the things you really want.They can be short-term, like saving for a new pair of shoes, or long-term, such as having enough money to make the down payment on a home.Most goals require more money than what you have right now.That is why goals must be written down.Once they are in place then you are ready to build your budget.
Building Your Budget
Consider using the following steps to build your budget.
·Pray!(John 14:13; John 15:16; 1 Peter 5:7-8; James 1:5).
·List your income and expenses to develop your budget or spending plan.
·You must know the following information to be successful:
oYour income—salary, retirement benefits, gifts, and loans.
oFixed Expenses—tithing, house payment or rent, car insurance, gas, utilities, etc.
oVariable Expenses—clothing, entertainment, gifts, etc.
oSavings—an established percentage of each paycheck.Since we learn to get along with what we have this should be determined before any money is spent from the first paycheck.
·Create a Weekly Spending Plan.
oOnce your income and expenses are determined you need to chart them weekly.
o This step allows you to develop a spending plan or budget.
o Once you have charted your expenses for a month you need to evaluate it to determine whether or not it is helping you to reach your personal goals.
o Revision is necessary if there is too much week at the end of the money.
As you think of your finances, would you be considered a faithful steward? Regardless of your response, completing the following activities can assist you in Building A Spiritual Bank Account.
· Conduct a scripture search on the word money. Use a concordance (either book or electronic). Create a chart like the one below to record your research.
WHAT THE VERSE SAYS TO ME
1 Corinthians 4:1-2
I am to be a good manager of all of the resources God has given to me.
· Review the principles listed in “The Dollar Theology” subheading. What do they teach you about money and how you should use it? Develop a personal “Dollar Theology.” Some verses to launch your study are Proverbs 11:24, 13:11; Ecclesiastes 5:10; Malachi 3:10; Matthew 6:24; Mark 12:40-42; Luke 6:38; 1 Corinthians 9:6-8; 1Timothy 6:10.
· What is your response to the spiritual investment principle which states “all that we have belongs to the Lord”?
 John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (Nashville: Word, 1997), note at Matthew 24:45-51.
 John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (Nashville: Word, 1997), note at Luke 16:9.
 Rickard, J.W. (Speaker. (1991)). Family Finance Seminar. (CD Recording).
Newhall, CA: The Stewardship Services Foundation (The Master’s College, 21726 Placerita Canyon Road, Santa Clarita, CA, 91321).
Debt-Proof Living Website - http://www.cheapskatemonthly.com
Ennis, Pat & Tatlock, Lisa. (2003). Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God: A Guide to
Developing Your Biblical Potential (Chapter Six). Chicago: Moody.
Ennis, Pat & Tatlock, Lisa. (2004). Designing a Lifestyle that Pleases God, A Practical
Guide (Chapter Six). Chicago: Moody.
Hunt, Mary. (2005). <em>Debt-Proof Living</em>. Los Angeles, CA: DPL Press, Inc.
Hunt, Mary. (2005). Live Your Life for Half the Price. Los Angeles, CA: DPL Press, Inc.
MacArthur, John. (2000). Whose Money Is It Anyway? Nashville, TN: Word Publishing.