Friday, February 26, 2016
God And Money
Our relationship to money tells quite a bit about ourselves and our relationship to the Lord. This entry is from December 5, 2005.
I am borderline illiterate when it comes to my money. I don't balance my checkbook- I make of a cushion in case of emergency. Tax time requires the services of accountants and the Lord has blessed me with Larry Roder and Mike Flanagan to help me maximize my charitable donations. (Larry was a longtime employee of the IRS- talk about inside information!) You might find it interesting to know my teaching certification considers me a qualified instructor in Economics. GNP, inflation, supply and demand- that stuff is easy. But when it comes to my own fiscal policy, I struggle. I don't even know for sure how much money I make. When offered my yearly contract, I sign without looking. I am not being noble- I would sign for whatever the school thought I was worth and my salary has never decreased. I pray my streak continues!
When I lived in the Nashville area, I picked up a radio talk show that focused on people and their money. Callers would phone in questions about family finances. The host was syndicated planning guru Dave Ramsey who doubles as a best-selling author. Ramsey has several ironclad rules to live by. Give your first 10% to the Lord and get out of/stay out of debt. Those guidelines seem simple but his common sense approach to wealth has made him rich and in demand. His tips are so easy to understand, even a coach with an Economics teaching degree can comprehend them. One specific he emphasized has stayed with me. Put your money in your house and not in your car. His point was the value of a house always appreciates while the value of a car always depreciates. You never recoup the investment in your car but your home is a terrific investment. I always buy used cars so I take his advice in one department. However, I have never owned a house- waiting until I marry- so he might think I'm throwing hard earned cash down the rental drain, never to be seen again.
Ramsey condensed his beliefs into a thirteen week course called Financial Peace University. The seminar, usually offered through churches, helps families construct budgets, draw up savings plans, and wean themselves from credit cards. His materials are excellent. Our seniors at Westbury Christian School use his writings as a supplemental text to the Bible on handling finances in a Godly manner. Jesus also dispensed wisdom on money and wealth:
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:21)
"You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)
While laying foundations of priorities, Jesus also made shocking statements about possessors of wealth. He told his followers how hard it would be for the well-to-do to enter his kingdom. He praised a widow who had the faith to give the sum of her fortune to God, even though it was less than parents give kids to drop in the collection plate. Bad guys in his parables were likely to be wealthy. He put the beggar Lazarus in comfort in the afterlife while a rich man suffered unspeakable torment as the reward for the path he took on earth. A prosperous farmer met an untimely end because he was not 'rich towards God.' Understandably, Jesus seemed to make more headway with the disadvantaged than the crowd who had the dough. We identify with the poor in the Bible but we are closer to those who opposed the Savior than we are comfortable confessing. Cyndi Lauper, and I hate to admit I know who she is, hit the nail on the head when she sang, "Money changes everything." When we don't have it, we want it and when we have it, we want more. Money, in the words of Jesus, is a master. A master involves servitude. We can pick one or the other. Faith requires us to trust that if we believe in the care of our Father, we will be provided for. Dave Ramsey is terrific but all his books and seminars cannot match this simple statement by Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount:
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and ALL THESE THINGS will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)
The all these things refers to basic necessities. Jesus says God knows we need them and will take care of them for us. That, if we believe, is the essence of true financial peace. My car will depreciate but my soul will never decrease in value. My financial adviser in heaven is investing it for me!
Applicable quote of the day:
"A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon, you're talking big money."
Senator Everett Dirksen (Illinois)
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Steve Hawley at 8:54 PM