Bible and Money

Exemplary Giving

“In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them....maybe you can hire The A-Team.”

One of my favorite TV shows growing up was the A-Team. As a 12 year old boy, I was drawn to its cool theme song, multiple explosions, and the fact that there would be at least one a car flipping over during the pivotal chase scene. Each episode was the same. Someone had a problem and they reached out to the A-Team. The A-Team would begin to try and solve the problem before hitting some sort of snag in the plan. The snag would then cause everyone to pull together and build some secret traps or special device to ensure victory.

            As I look back, I am only moderately impressed by the action sequences, the cheesy one liners and the explosions, but I still appreciate how everyone pulled together to snatch victory out of apparent defeat. Their success was only possible because everyone was willing to use their individual gifts to work for the corporate good. A team will always be more successful when everyone is willing to sacrifice for the mission. The early church understood their mission. We know that they understood the gravity and the responsibility of the mission given by King Jesus because of their willingness to work together to complete their mission. The early church was willing to give to complete the mission.

            The Apostle Paul traveled to preach the gospel to Gentiles. He traveled to plant churches. He traveled to encourage and strengthen the churches. He also traveled to collect money for the struggling saints in Jerusalem. One of the reasons Paul traveled on his missionary journeys was to organize a collection for the saints in Jerusalem. The saints were shut out of society and therefore could not earn and income. The only way the church was able to survive was by the generosity of believers in other cities.

            This morning, I want to encourage you to exemplary giving. We have a mission to make disciples, but in order to fulfill our mission we all are going to need to come together individually for the corporate good. Over the last several months, I have witnessed our congregation grow in unity. I do believe we are on the way to becoming an exemplary church, but we have hit a financial snag and have to pull together so that we can continue to complete our mission.

Exemplary Giving is a Sign

            How you handle money is a sign of whether you are a follower of Christ. We are called to be kingdom citizens. We have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of the Beloved Son. We are now citizens of the kingdom of God. Are you living like a kingdom citizen? Paul writes to the wealthy Corinthian church saying he is sending for the collection of the saints. 2 Corinthians 9:1-7,

Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction. The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:1-7)

Paul had confidence that the Corinthian church would give to the need of the Jerusalem saints. He was confident and boasted in the willingness, but they had to actually give to prove their willingness. Paul implies that if the Corinthians didn’t give, both Paul and the Corinthians would be humiliated. Their giving would be a sign as their willingness to support the mission of the church. Would the church fulfill the promise that they made? It was a matter of their word.

            I believe there are many Christians who say they are willing to give, but the reality of the numbers claim that many Christians should be humiliated by what they give. According to a study last October (2014),

·         Only 3-5% of Americans who give to their local church do so through regular tithing.

·         When surveyed, 17% of Americans state that they regularly tithe.

·         For Christian families making less than $20k per year, 8% of them gave at least 10% in tithing. For families making a minimum of $75k or more, the figure drops to just 1%.

·         The average donation by adults who attend U.S. Protestant churches is about $17 a week.

·         37% of people who attend church every week and identify themselves as Evangelical don’t give any money to their church.

·         97% of Christians who tithe make it a top financial priority to give to their local church.

·         People who tithe regularly typically have less debt than other demographics – 8 out of 10 have zero credit card debt and 28% of them are completely debt free, including not having a mortgage.

·          77% of those who tithe give 11%–20% or more of their income, far more than the baseline of 10%.

·         If Christians followed the Old Testament standard of giving across the board, then $139 billion would become available every year for additional ministry work.[1]

The tithe or 10% was part of the Old Testament law. We are no longer bound by the law of Moses for we are no under the law of Christ. Romans 7:4, “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” We have died to law through the body of Christ so that we might belong to Jesus Christ. We are now under the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).

            And if we have a better law than the law of Moses, then why did Old Testament saints give more than today’s Christians? If Christians gave according to the law, then $139 billion dollars would be available for God’s mission. Paul makes it pretty clear, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We no longer have to give, but we get to give. For we get to reap a harvest of righteousness for the King of glory.

            I have heard this verse used often as an excuse of why people are not required to give their tithe to the church. And they are right, we are not required to give. But in not giving we reveal our hearts do not have God as our supreme treasure. Jesus said,

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:19-24)

Jesus then goes on to say how seeking after the things of this world, food, drink and clothing, is a reflection of the citizens of this world not those of the kingdom.

            A lack of giving is a spiritual problem. God loves a cheerful giver. He does not love a reluctant one. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart. And if you have decided in your heart not to give, this may be an indication of a lack of love for God or his gospel. God does not want your money, He wants your heart. He will use your money to get to your heart.

Exemplary Giving is Sustaining

            God sustains your giving. God supplies seed to the sower and bread for food and he will multiply both.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, (2 Corinthians 9:8-13)

There are many tangible benefits for being generous.

I just want to draw out one application of this text. Verse 12, “For the ministry of this service is not only supplying for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgiving to God.” The giving of the saints was necessary to supply the needs of the saints. There are needs for ministry that must be met by the generosity of the saints. And when needs are met with generosity it leads to thanksgiving to God. It is a privilege to meet the needs of the saints for it encourages others to glorify and give thanksgiving to God.

            Have you ever had your needs met unexpectedly? Maybe you were facing a big house repair and you were unsure how it was going to be paid when a contractor shows up at your house and he tells you the work has already been paid for by someone else. What do you think the response will be? It will be joy and thanksgiving and giving glory to God. When we give to meet the needs of the saints it leads to God’s glory. It is a privilege to give. The Bible often pictures the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as an offering to pay off debt. Jesus gave his life as a ransom to buy us back from slavery and death. How much joy and thanksgiving and glory has Jesus’ payment brought into our world? The Bible says for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross. Jesus knew the great privilege it was to pay for the sins of the world because it resulted in the glory and honor and praise of God the Father.

            Do you see the motivation to give is not from guilt? We give for God’s glory. We give because God is our greatest treasure. And we give because our giving will result in others glorifying God. Giving to God’s people leads to God’s glory.

Exemplary Giving is Simple

Paul ultimately does not praise the Corinthians for their gift, but gives thanks to God for His surpassing grace and inexpressible gift that rests upon the Corinthians.

By their approval of this service (giving), they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (2 Cor. 9:13-15)

The Corinthians give in response to the surpassing grace of God that rests upon them. God has given them an inexpressible gift so they are simply acting in kind. God gives to us so that we can give to others.

            Giving, like most of the Christian life, is simple, but it is not easy. It is more blessed to give than to receive. Money brings great temptation. Paul warns Timothy, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10) Do you love money more than gospel? Do you love money more than God’s glory?

            How you handle the gift of money is a sign of your treasure. God has given to us so we could give to others. God is generous with us, lavishing his grace upon us, so that we could lavish the riches of his grace on others. If you read the Bible, it should not take long for you to be convinced of the many benefits of giving. Giving is simple, but not easy. We have to decide in our hearts to give. A good starting point for Christians is to give their tithe (10%) to the local church. We know from Scripture that members are responsible to support the preaching ministry of the local church. 1 Timothy 5:17-18, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:17-18) “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.” (Galatians 6:6) 1 Corinthians 9:9-12

Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

Even here Paul uses the law as an example implying from the law that it is right to support teaching elders in the church. Yes, we are not under the law of Moses, but the law of Christ which is more excellent than the old covenant, for it is enacted on better promises (Hebrews 8:6). If we are now under the law of Christ, our giving should reflect that reality. If we gave according to the Old Testament standard, there would be $139 billion available for the ministry of Christ. Is Christ not better than the law?

            If you do not tithe, I am pleading with you to start today. Maybe you haven’t tithed because you never saw its importance or were never taught that you should. Or you haven’t tithed because you are struggling with debt and barely making ends meet. Whatever the reason, I am urging you to start tithing to your church. If you need help creating a budget, we have gifted individuals in this church that would be more than happy to help you on a path to wise financial stewardship. Your money shows what you value.

Someone once shared with me how they had never tithed because they never thought they could afford it. He really wanted to buy a new car so he started to rearrange his finances so that he could afford the car payments. After he bought the car, he realized that he could do the same thing with his tithe. It wasn’t an issue of ability, but of desire. Giving is simple, but not easy. Today, purpose in your heart to give.

Exemplary Giving is Sacrificial

            We have been entrusted with the gospel. We have a mission to make disciples of all nations. Over the last several years, our church has been slowly depleting its savings. We have been spending more than what we have been taking in. We have been slowly bleeding like a soldier in the field. We need to apply a tourniquet to the wound. Our finance committee wants to set our budget at our expenses, but to do so we would have to make cuts that would significantly impact our ministry. In order to set a realistic budget for our church, we are going to need a little over $27,000 more per year. We are trusting in God to provide for the needs of the church, but as we saw in our text this morning, God provides for the needs of the saints through the saints.

            Many of you are already giving sacrificially to the budget, and we are grateful for your sacrifice. We are grateful that because of years of wise financial stewardship we are in a better financial position than many churches. We are debt free and have some reserves, but we are not currently meeting our expenses through our weekly giving. We have cut our expenses by almost $30,000 already, which still leaves a gap of $27,000. We need to come together to meet this gap so that our ministry will continue to move forward. Everyone is in a different financial situation so we are asking everyone to look at your situation and see how God has blessed you to meet our shortfall.  We cannot move forward with a budget at our current expenses unless our church body is willing to sacrificially give to our needs. We need $27,600 to fill our budget gap. It may sound like a lot, but that is only 25 people giving $10 more a month, 20 people giving $30 more a month, 15 people to give $50 more a month, and 10 people to give $70 more a month. We need everyone to come together and look for places in your own budget to sacrifice so we can meet the difference in between our receipts and expenses. We can meet the goal if we all do our part.

 

            We are asking each family to make a pledge on what they plan to give next year. We want you to be praying over the next several weeks and we will collect the pledges on December 6th during our morning service. The goal is realistic, but it cannot be met unless we are all willing to sacrifice together. We are trusting in God to meet our budget through the generosity of the saints. Pray for God’s hand to be upon our church. We cannot out give God. He has given us so much and He promises to give even more. Let me close with one of my favorite Scriptures, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

 

[1] http://healthresearchfunding.org/21-tithing-statistics/ accessed 11.14.2015

The Wisdom of Wealth (Proverbs 30:7-9)

        In 1990, best-selling author Randy Alcorn was a pastor of a large church. He had published several books and was making a considerable amount of money on book royalties. He loved his life as a pastor and wanted to stay in that role the rest of his life. Through his study of the Scriptures, he became convicted to fight for the unborn through peaceful, nonviolent protests at abortion clinics. Through his peaceful protests, he was arrested, sent to jail and sued by the abortion clinic. He agreed to pay his fine to the government, but would not give his money to support the taking of innocent lives. The church he was pastoring was about to be ordered by a local judge to garnish ¼ of his wages to pay to the clinic. He had no choice, but to resign from the church and he had to relinquish the rights to all his book royalties. The only way he could avoid having his wages garnished in the future was to make no more than minimum wage.  

            Alcorn was eventually sued again for participating in another non-violent protest. He lost this case as well which awarded $8.2 million dollars to the abortion clinic. So he had to remove his name off the deed of his recently paid-off home and could never legally own any assets again if he wanted to avoid supporting the work of abortion clinics. How would you handle that? How would you deal with being forced to resign from a job you love, giving up all your assets, and only ever being allowed to make minimum wage?  By all worldly appearances, Randy Alcorn would look like a failure. He had no assets and could never make more than minimum wage, but if you were to ask him, he would say, “It was one of the best things that ever happened to us…My inability to legally own assets was nothing I sought after and nothing to be congratulated for, but God used it to help me understand what He means by, ‘Everything under heaven belongs to me’ (Job 41:11).’[1]

            Randy Alcorn learned the secret of being content in every situation, whether having plenty or living in want. Sadly, many Americans have yet to learn this lesson. According to a recent report issued by the American Psychological Association, almost ¾ (72%) of Americans feel stressed about money. Almost one in four Americans say they experience extreme stress about money.[2] Another recent survey done by SunTrust Bank says that the number one cause for stress in relationships is the stress caused by finances.[3] We all have to deal with money. And we all have our own perspective of money, but the key is do we have God’s perspective on money?

            The theme most emphasized in the book of Proverbs is financial wisdom. Money problems are ultimately spiritual problems. Our checkbooks are an indication of our spiritual health. A wise perspective on money will help limit stress, avoid folly and, most importantly, help us to honor God with our all of our lives. 

The Wisdom of Financial Perspective

     
       God is the owner of all wealth. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). Everything under the Heaven belongs to the Lord (Job 41:11). He gives people strength in order to get wealth (Deut. 8:18). All of our wealth belongs to the Lord, not just the 10% we are called to tithe. The Lord distributes different gifts to different people. He gives some great wealth and others he gives a relatively small amount. This may frustrate us, but God’s ways are above our ways and his thoughts are above our thoughts. We know that he works all things for the good of those who love God and are called according to our purpose. We have to believe that God knows our needs and will provide for us the way that is best (Mathew 6:19-34). With that being said, there are three simple ways to view wealth that will help to make us financially wise.

Wealth is a Blessing

            When Wisdom speaks in Proverbs 8:18, she says, “Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness.” The rich man will be able to endure more easily in the day of trial because he wealth will provide him some protection. Proverbs 10:15, “A rich man's wealth is his strong city; the poverty of the poor is their ruin.” Proverbs 14:24, “The crown of the wise is their wealth, but the folly of fools brings folly.” Wealth is a blessing from the Lord. Those who have wealth should recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from above.  Proverbs 22:4, “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.” Wealth can be a blessing to people in a vast number of ways.

            It is important to point out that proverbs are maxims which generally come true. We may be those who live in wisdom, but still may not possess great wealth. We know people who work hard and are poor and others who live extravagantly while piling up debt. When we look at money, these are general principles that typically are proven true based on our experience.

Wealth is Dangerous

            Wealth is a gift of God, but also can prove dangerous to the soul. Riches pose a very real threat to salvation (just ask the Rich Young Ruler). The rich are tempted to put their hope in their wealth instead of their hope in Christ. Proverbs 11:28, “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.” Many have walked away from Jesus Christ because of their desire for wealth (1Timothy 6:9-10). You cannot serve both God and money.

            We should be very wary of the dangerous pull of wealth. Proverbs 30:7-9 give us a wonderful perspective on money,

Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Sadly, too many are full and deny God and say, “Who is the Lord?” The prosperity of this country has drawn many people away from God. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Wealth is a blessing, but it also can be a curse.

Wealth has limitations.

We all need to realize that money has its limitations. Proverbs 11:4, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” No one will be able to pile their money before the Lord on their day of judgment as a reason to enter heaven. You never see an armored car drive behind a hearse. Once someone asked JD Rockefeller’s accountant how much he left behind and he replied, “All of it.”  1 Timothy 6:7, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” And Job said after losing all his possessions, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

Do not put your trust in riches. Do not expect money to give you ultimate happiness. A bigger car, a nicer house, or more vacations will not fill the longing in the soul, neither will denying yourself all of those things for a larger savings account. Benjamin Franklin has said, “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.” Wealth has limitations so do not give wealth the place it should never hold.

The Wisdom of Financial Pursuit


            Solomon provides two general principles for those in their pursuit of wealth which should frame how we approach our pursuit of financial gain. We should work hard and honestly.

Pursue Wealth by Working Hard

Those who do not work hard should not expect riches. The best way to acquire wealth is simple, good old-fashioned hard work. Proverbs 10:4, “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Proverbs 12:27, “Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.” As we have said before, proverbs are maxims that provide a general rule of how things work out. There are lazy people who have acquired wealth, but the majority of the world acquires wealth by simple, diligent, faithful work. Do not look for the get-rich quick schemes, but diligently work to slowly acquire wealth. Proverbs 13:11 says, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Do not listen to the spirit of the age with the promise of quick and easy money, but be willing to give yourself to a life of hard work to acquire wealth.


One thing I have heard recently is how often young people expect to start their careers and home life at the same standard of living as their parents. Young adults want their dream home and their dream job right when they get out of school. We need to readjust our expectations and realize that it will take hard work over a long time to get where we want to go.

Pursue Wealth by Working Honestly

            We should not only pursue wealth diligently, but also honestly. People should work hard, but do it with integrity. An honest day’s work is more valuable than great wealth.

Proverbs 22:16, “Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.”
Proverbs 28:6, “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”
Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
Proverbs 8:11, “for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.”
Proverbs 28:8, “Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.”

Which would you rather have: money or a good name? Wealth or wisdom? Christians should value integrity and honesty more than making money. If you value money more than righteousness, you will probably fall into temptation. “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.” (Proverbs 15:16)Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8 ESV) Can you say it? Would you rather have little wealth and Christ, or great riches without him?

            There is a reason that Paul says, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (1 Timothy 6:9) The desire for great wealth is tempting, but may lead you to ruin and destruction. Tim Keller warns that, “money can become much more than money. It can become a powerful life-altering, culture-shaping god, an idol that breaks the hearts of its worshippers.[4]” Do not underestimate the power of wealth and the desire to be rich. Choose wisdom over wealth, righteousness over riches.

The Wisdom of Financial Practice


            We should work hard and honestly to pursue our money, but how should we spend our money? There are three simple rules that I see taught in the Proverbs on how we should practice with our wealth.

Practice Generosity

            Christians should be generous. Christians are freed to be generous because they understand that all their resources have been given to them by God. Therefore we should practice generosity. Proverbs 3:9, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce.” Generosity protects people from idolatry and shows they value the Lord above riches. When we are free to give our money to the Lord, then we show that money does not master us. We show that we are serving God, not money. Throughout Proverbs we see the generous being promised a reward from God.

Proverbs 19:17, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”
Proverbs 14:21, “Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.”
Proverbs 14:31, “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”

God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). Christians should practice generosity because God has been generous to them. We give because God has first given to us. It is more blessed to give than to receive. Those who sow generously will reap generously. Practice generosity.

Practice Restraint

            One of the greatest tools in how one uses their money is to practice restraint. We do not need as much as we think we need. Solomon encourages restraint in three specific ways.

In Spending- Proverbs 21:5, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Fools do not plan, but spend their money hastily. We should be cautious in our pursuit of entertainment and luxury. Proverbs 21:17, “Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.” We are an entertainment- and a comfort-addicted culture. We are trained to believe that we are entitled to pleasure and comfort. Whether its movies, video games, eating out, or a remodel, we have to be careful not to love pleasure. Think careful in how you spend your wealth.

Restraint is not the same as being stingy. Remember, we should be generous with our resources. We should be hospitable with others, including our families. God has given us good things to enjoy. He is gracious and kind to us and has given us wealth to enjoy his world. “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” (1 Timothy 4:4). Practice restraint in your spending, not stinginess.

To Avoid Debt – Proverbs 22:7, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Whether it is student loan debt, credit card debt, a huge mortgage or a car loan, debt can be crippling. Debt may hinder generosity. Debt may hinder one’s ability to serve others because they have to work longer hours or get a second job. Debt may also bring undue relational stress. There are certain debts that we cannot avoid, like a huge medical bill, but there are others that we bring upon ourselves. We should honor our debts. Proverbs 3:28, “Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.” Psalm 37:21, “The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives.” Practice restraint in your spending and your purchases to avoid being put in situations where you will not be able to honor your debt. Be not one of those who give pledges, who puts up security for debts. If you have nothing with which to pay, why should your bed be taken from under you? (Proverbs 22:26-27)

To Avoid Schemes – Restraint will help us discover the various financial schemes of our day. Whether it is getting a free t-shirt on a college campus to sign up for a credit card, being roped into a pyramid scheme, or receiving an email requesting help from Nigeria, restraint will make you think twice before falling to a financial trap. “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” (Proverbs 13:11) Restraint will protect you from the get rich quick schemes.

Practice Saving

            We should intentionally practice saving for the days ahead. The righteous plans for the days ahead like the ant prepares for winter. Christians should work to leave an inheritance for their children and to be prepared for the days of calamity. Proverbs does not specify how much one should save, but simply that one should save. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.”(Proverbs 13:22) “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5).

            We practice generosity to honor the Lord and thank Him for his good gifts. We practice restraint to protect us from worldly pleasures, debts and schemes. We practice saving to prepare for the days ahead. There are many other things that could be said in how we spend our money, but these three practices will help one grow in wisdom in the use of their money.

The Wisdom of Financial Payment

            There is little doubt that some of you feel weighted down when thinking about finances. Whether you are struggling with debt or bound to an apparent never-ending cycle of poor choices, there is hope for you. The beginning of financial wisdom, like all wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Always remember your greatest debt has already been paid.

Christ Paid Your Debt

            The wages of sin is death. We all rightly earn death because of our sin. We have a debt to God that we cannot pay. And through the fear of death we have been subject to lifelong slavery. Therefore God sent forth his Son to free us from our bondage to our debt. We who were dead in our trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14) After Jesus was dead and buried, God raised him from the dead proving that he accepted Christ’s payment in full. Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow. The greatest debt that stood against us has been canceled; paid in full, forgiven in the blood in Christ. All who turn from their sin and trust in Christ have their debt wiped out. You may be overwhelmed by creditors, but in Christ, you have righteousness credited to your account forever.

            The more we understand the debt that Christ has paid, the more we will love him and strive to honor him with all of our lives, including our finances. We have been bought with a price. We no longer are our own, but we belong to God. Jesus died as our ransom to buy us back to God. Our wealth, our resources, and our investments all belong to God. We should not be hesitant to give, but delight to give as God has given us so much. He did not spare his own Son, but give him up for us all, how will he not graciously with him give us all things? We cannot out-give God. We should delight in giving our all to him for Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe.

Christ Provided Your Contentment

            Let me close with one verse that should give us hope when we feel the squeeze of our checkbook. “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5) Beloved, keep yourself free from the love of money, be content with what you have, because you have Christ. Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. If you have Christ, the King of glory, what else do you need? Learn the secret of being content with living in plenty and in want, for you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.




[1] Alcorn, Randy. The Treasure Principle. Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving. 2001Pg 22-23
[4] Keller, Tim. Counterfeit Gods. Xv.