Did you know the Bible refers to finances 2,350 times?  It is referred to more than almost any other topic in the Bible.  God knew that financial management would be a struggle for many, so He filled His Holy Word with tips and instructions to handle it correctly.  The sad thing is that, as obvious with today’s economic crisis, few people study or heed these instructions.  Many people have a tendency to say, “OK, God, I will turn my whole life over to you….EXCEPT the finance part.  I want to handle that on my own!” 

S and I became involved as volunteers for Crown Ministries several years ago.  He has been financially savvy his whole life, and he has taught me a lot.  When we saw others struggling in this area, we were convicted to become involved and help.  This year, we took an additional step, and are just completing a course that will allow us to become “Money Map Coaches” to help people develop a plan to get out of debt, use money Biblically, and stay out of debt.  The course has been such an eye-opening experience for me.  I wrote a post a while back containing tips for good financial management.  This course has taught me so much more than those basic tips, though.  We have had to reference scripture after scripture, studying, breaking it down, and discovering biblical truths regarding money. 

Did you know that taking a loan or going into debt is not a sin?  Sin develops when a person becomes so controlled by their debt that they become a slave to it.  Proverbs 22:7 tells us, “Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.”  God follows this up in Matthew 6:24 with the idea that, “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve both God and money.”  He goes on with a message directed to His followers in 1 Corinthians 7:23, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.”

Despite these cautions, our society is so deeply built on debt that this practice has been accepted as the norm.  As a result, a vast majority of our population is in debt.  Debt is not only accepted, but encouraged.  Have you ever heard someone say they are debt free, when in fact, they have a $200,000 mortgage?  This is a classic example that shows how the enemy convinces us that what is “necessary” (like a car and a home) is not really debt, but “investments.”  In fact, just the other day, I was a guy who owns a little home with some property offered me a great deal to rent his place because he had decided to go “invest” in one of the foreclosures around here.  Nothing wrong with that itself, mind you, but the problem is that this guy already works 3 jobs to try to stay afloat, and he can hardly afford a second mortgage.  So how do we know?  Go to scripture. 1 Timothy 6:8 specifically states, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to say, “Oh, if I only had _____, it would be easy to be content!”  I’ve caught myself saying it a few times!  Have you also ever noticed that ______ didn’t make you content beyond the short term.  In fact, it may have been directly responsible for you “needing” a few other things.  For example, S recently read a book authored by a guy who grew up in a little hut in India.  He eventually moved to America, bought a car and a house, and was working in ministry.  Pretty big improvement, right?  He realized, however, that once he left his little hut and moved into the American house, he needed insurance for it.  Then he needed furnishings for his Americanized guests.  He got a good car and needed insurance.  His great job required expensive suits.  And the list goes on.  Think about your home.  You want carpet?  Now you need a vacuum and a carpet shampooer.  Want a large wardrobe? Now you need a washer and dryer (and detergent, and water, etc.), iron, and ironing board.  Perhaps you even need to add a dresser, seasonal storage boxes, and lots of hangers to the list. In my area, people want nice green lawns.  But since that is not natural here, they then have to install expensive sprinkler systems, run thousands and thousands of gallons of water throughout the year to keep it green, and all this costs money.   The point is buying things will never make a person happy.  I LOVE a recent statement I heard stating, “Money will not solve financial problems!”  Think about that for a moment.  

Like debt, buying things is not wrong.  We just have to be careful that we do not become so consumed in things (aka materialism) that we allow the things and/or the debt to affect our relationship with Christ.  A good rule of thumb I once heard was to add up the expenses in your checkbook (and credit cards, if applicable).  The categories you spend on will show where your heart is.  Do you spend more on tithe, charities, giving to the poor, and investing in a Biblical manner, or do we focus our $$ on restaurants and new clothing?  This can be a very enlightening exercise for you to try!

That’s it for today.  Gotta move on with my schedule.  I may write a bit more on this topic in the near future.