Americans as a whole are addicted to debt. We borrow, our businesses borrow, and our state and federal governments borrow. Most of the attention about debt has focused on the federal budget deficit, which is expected to be $1.2 trillion next year. But consumer debt is on the rise as well, and personal bankruptcies are skyrocketing. U.S. News & World Report is reporting that consumer credit has topped $2.4 trillion, and household debt stands at 110 percent of annual disposable income, up from 76 percent in 1986. All of this adds up to one thing bondage. God has a better plan and you can find it in His Word, the Bible.
The fact of the matter is that money management has a dual-nature: a blessing or a curse. You see, God’s desire is that we experience the blessing of money management as we follow His principles. Proverbs 10:22 tells us that, “The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.” Deuteronomy 8:18 reminds us to “remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” Unfortunately, all too often, we neglect the principles of God and “buy” into the messages of the world about how we should handle our money. The result of this kind of living is clear, as money is a leading contributor of marital discord and divorce, and many American families continue to experience daily financial crises.
If we are going to turn our financial lives around, there are a few key elements that we must understand as we begin to live a lifestyle of faithful stewardship as a manager of God’s resources.
Managing money in a manner pleasing to God requires faith. You will be challenged to trust God in matters that are not immediately evident or logical. You may not be able to see the other side of the financial mountain that stands in your way right now. But, I promise you that God can, and He will be your strength as you move forward. Trust His sovereignty in your financial life and honor Him with your time, treasure and talents.
Contentment is simply being satisfied with one’s circumstances and resting in the sufficiency of God. Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11–13). Paul “learned” to be content. We are not born content; rather, we learn contentment.
The secret that Paul was referring to was a result of learning to think correctly about money and God. God wants us to recognize our immeasurable value as His beloved children and not to associate our value with the possession of material things. Contentment is learning to see money as God sees it and nothing more. It is also learning to see God for who He is. He is the cornerstone of our contentment. Contentment really is a spiritual issue more than a monetary issue. God is always there and never changes. He is consistent and stable, and you can always trust Him. Once you are free from the love of money and the pursuit of it, contentment will come whether you have a lot or a little.
Goals state our understanding of what God desires to accomplish through us in the future. Many never take the time to prayerfully identify and quantify their goals, and consequently, they are left without much direction in their financial lives. It’s like trying to build a house without blueprints.
In his book, Storm Shelter, Ron Blue offers five steps for setting good goals: list your goals, consolidate and refine them, prioritize them, make them measurable, and keep them visible. Goals keep you focused on what is really important in life and give you the motivation to persevere.
There is hope for everyone, no matter what your situation. It is truly amazing to see how God works in a situation once His principles are put into action. Although you cannot predict how God is going to intervene in your financial life, you can be sure that He will be pleased as you choose to honor the principles from His Word in your finances.
May the Lord richly bless you as you are found faithful!
Rob West is the Training and Communications Director for Kingdom Advisors, a non-profit Life that exists to equip and disciple Christian financial advisors to integrate their faith and profession. Please send questions and comments to [email protected].
The information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. You should not rely on any information in this article to make (or refrain from making) any decision or take (or refrain from taking) any action.