Spending temptations are everywhere. With the click of a “Buy” button, you can easily get all your favorite music on iTunes and simultaneously run up a bill of a hundred dollars. Ultimately we spend and borrow, and we begin to develop a method of spending that is self-destructive.
Unwise financial decisions will cost you more than what you ever can afford in the long run.
One of the passages that helped me out in the area of finances was found in Philippians 4. Paul’s confession of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13) is one of the most well-known and loved verses of the Bible. A good rule to use when reading the Bible is the importance of reading each passage in context. Whenever anyone quotes that verse, I normally inquire if they know what verse twelve states. Because verse twelve has a lot to do with how you spend your money and in the manner in which you will live. Paul stated that he had learned how to be content in all circumstances. He declared that “I have learned how to get along with humble means and how to live in prosperity; I have learned the secret of having abundance and suffering need; I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:12-13).
Most people love to quote that Christ will give us strength for the hard situations which we encounter, but Paul was actually stating that he knew how to eat well and how to do without. He understood what it meant to live it up and how to live on a budget. He could do any of it, regardless of the circumstances, because Christ gave him the strength.
Can you? Could you eat on a budget? Could you live in housing not as great as your friends’? Through Christ’s strength, could you learn to be content in order not to make unwise spending decisions that will drastically affect your future?
It’s Not Fair
The only thing telling us we deserve better than what we are presently experiencing is pride. Selfishness causes us to be spoiled brats who demand everything we want. We see other people with the nicest cars because their dad makes more money. All the girls that you think are the prettiest have the best clothes money can buy. You want the new gaming system that your friend has because he got you hooked on it. Unfortunately, you simply don’t have the money, and it is not fair.
Let’s clarify: it’s not fair to compare.
Pride tells us we deserve more, and that we should have it better than other people. So if we deserve more, we will get more at whatever it costs. What is the answer to ease our extravagant, materialistic hearts? We need more money. That’s why Paul told his apprentice, Timothy, that the love of money was the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10).
The more we indulge in what the world has to offer, the more attached we become to the things of this world. When I was personally struggling with the infection of greed in my life, I went to God in prayer. I was praying something fierce because I had bought into the lie that I deserved better than what I currently had. As I prayed and sought God’s heart by reading the Bible, I came across a passage of Scripture that changed my heart on my living situation. Paul stated that godliness was a means of great gain when it was accompanied by contentment.
He then stated, “We have brought nothing into this world, and we can not take anything out of it; if we have food and covering, with these we will be content” (1 Tim. 6:6-8).
I didn’t like these verses too much upon reading them nearing graduation. I wasn’t fond of them because Paul didn’t clarify what type of condition the food and covering would be. He should have stated that we should be content when we live in the best, eat the best, and have the best. Instead, if he simply had anything to go in his mouth and anything to cover his head, he chose to be content.
Get Money to Give Money
The main reason I think God has instructions concerning greed, debt, and contentment, is that he wants you to experience the greatest gift when it comes to money: giving it away. If you are at the point where the only finances that you possess are what you can swipe with some plastic, I am not asking you to give to the local charity through charging it, but you do need to figure out how you can start giving your money away. God absolutely loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:6-7), because giving is one of the ways our hearts can become more like God’s heart.
Older generations are known for being very willing to invest money in a missions cause and hear about someone else doing it. The up and coming generations want to do something about it without putting any financial backing in it. God’s heart is that both realities are present in the lives of believers. He wants you to give and to go.
If you decide to wait to give until you have the adequate financial structure, you will never give.
Our view of money cannot change depending upon the amount we possess. If you have $100 to your name, you should approach that money the same way you would approach it if you were a millionaire. All of it belongs to God (Ps. 24:1). You can’t take any of it with you (Ps. 49:16-20). If you make your life’s pursuits about accumulating wealth, you will have lived for a pathetic goal that you may attain but you will never possess because it stays on this earth once you die.
If Jesus was correct that wherever your treasure is, there your heart will also be (Matt. 6:21), then you need to evaluate in what you are investing.
“Today Christians spend more money on dog food than missions.” – Leonard Ravenhill
Maybe you haven’t been spending your money on dog food, but you might be amazed at how shallow your spending record looks like when you look at the needs of the world. How much money have you given to the needs of others compared to your personal desires?
What Does Your Budget Say About Your Heart?
Someone once challenged me by saying that he could tell a lot of my spiritual condition by looking at my checking account. When I was a college student, I could rarely find my checkbook, and so I just swept my debit card on the regular. If I was to print off a statement of my purchases in college, what percentage of the purchases was based on selfish desires in an attempt to procure luxury items? What percentage of my purchases was based upon a desire to expand God’s Kingdom?
I really got challenged. I realized that I had been attending church all throughout college, but I was irregular about tithing. I guess I just thought since I did not possess a regular job, I was exempt in giving to God’s work being carried out through the local church. I said I didn’t have money, but I surely had enough to buy stuff that I wanted. Maybe it wasn’t the fact that I didn’t have money; I just was unwise in my spending.
The best reason to budget is not to be a tightwad, but it’s to be a charitable giver.
It’s to be more like Christ. You will never have enough money. There will always be more that you could get if that is your earnest desire. If your heart is to be a steward who has been made rich through Jesus’ poverty on earth (2 Cor. 8:9), and you want to give as much as you can to advance God’s Kingdom rather than your own, you are in good shape.
John Wesley once said, “Gain as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as you can.”
So where do you start?
- First off, decide to make Jesus your one thing. You will never make two masters happy (Lk. 16:13).
- Take an hour every month and really sit down and look at how you spent money in the last month (you might be shocked).
- Stop spending money that you don’t have.
- Start paying off debt before the major interest rates hit – you will be glad you did. Ruthlessly, eliminate the debt you have already accumulated.
- Spend wisely.
- Figure out how much you are going to give to others before you spend on yourself.
- Save some money.
- Trust not in the uncertainty of riches, but on God (1 Tim. 6:17-19).
- Learn to be content in any situation in which you find yourself (Phil. 4:12).