Sunday, June 24, 2012

What God Says about Your Money, Quine

Matters of Your Money
Now that we know the benefits of work, and the work ethic of the believer, we can expect to make some money.  It naturally follows that from work comes money.  What do we do with our money? How can the believer who desires to serve God in every area of life, honor God with money? Proverbs speaks of at least three wise uses of this commodity.

1.      Glorify God with Your Money
This is an overall principle.  It comes from Proverbs 3:9-10. To "honor God" is a general reference to the righteous use of money.  The word honor also involves "give" or "pay" (See Isaiah 43:23).  In other words, we are to "give to God with our wealth;” use our money in a way in which. He would approve.

Notice, nothing specific is said in this passage.  There is, for example, no reference to the Mosaic Law's requirement of the tithing tax here.  It is just a general principle of using your money righteously (which would include giving today, or  tithing then).  This does not preclude spending money for things like entertainment, but it may effect the ways in which we are entertained.  We are to spend our money with God's own character in view, so that by its use He will be honored.  Proverbs does mention some specific ways in which we can honor the Lord with our money.

2. Generosity, Giving, and Benevolence
One way to "honor the Lord with your wealth" is by being benevolent to those who are poor.  Read it for yourself in Proverbs 3:27-28 and 11:24-25.  Generosity was a sign of righteousness and an act of one rightly related to the Lord.  It fulfills the general principle of Proverbs 3:9.

Notice in these two passages another truth: by honoring the Lord with your wealth through generosity the Lord will honor you! The fact that the Lord is generous to the generous is more clearly stated in another passage.  Read Proverbs 19:17.  The Lord repays! Read on in Proverbs 22:9 and 28:27.  This is not prosperity theology (that if you are a believer He will bless you), but does confirm the principle in Proverbs 3:5,6 that the Lord takes care of those who trust in Him.

It is unfortunate that Christians are not known for their generosity.  Our giving is considered first a tax deduction, and second a burden.  We find it difficult enough to give to the church, let alone ever consider giving to the poor!  What we give is what we don't need; what is left over, rather than being the "first of all our produce,” Proverbs 3:10.

David and Jeannie were on furlough from their missionary work in Kenya, traveling the country to visit and thank those who had supported their work.  One Sunday they walked into a supportive church wearing what we would consider rags.  David had on a badly worn jacket with blown out pockets and holes in the elbows. Jeanie wore stockings which gathered around her ankles and had several runs in them.  Her dress was filthy; its color was faded. They began addressing the congregation by thanking them for their support and for the care packages they received.  "In fact," David said, "to show our appreciation we thought we would wear for you the clothes you have sent us."  Christians are cheap.  Who would ever think of getting the size of a missionary and buying them a new coat or dress.  Instead, we give what we don't need--what we have left over.

Christians today are not known for their generosity.  Yet Proverbs is clear. One way to "honor the Lord with your wealth" is our generosity, giving or benevolence.

3.    Grow it For the Future
Besides giving, Proverbs also teaches that the accumulation of money for the future is a legitimate way to "honor the Lord with your wealth."  But, first, three quick warnings:
-          Do not overestimate your financial abilities, Proverbs 28:11.  You may need some help.
-          Do not overestimate the value of money, Proverbs 11:4,28. Its accumulation is not to be your preoccupation in life.
-          Do not weary yourself to gain riches, Proverbs 23:4,5.  Our efforts are not to be spent pursuing wealth in itself.

So, in addressing the legitimate accumulation of money, these three warnings should be kept in mind.
If the accumulation of wealth is legitimate, (with these limitations) then how does the Christian do it? Again, Proverbs is specific in how to grow money.

A.    Be Honest and Diligent in Your Work
These two aspects of the Christian Work Ethic discussed above also apply here.  Those verses which mention the blessing from honesty and diligence are certainly one way to grow money.  These are combined in Proverbs 13:11.

B.   Minimize Borrowing
Turn to and read Proverbs 22:7.  If there ever was a verse addressing the spendthrift yuppie generation it is this one.  We somehow think we can spend ourselves rich.  We want right now what our parents worked a lifetime for.  And there is a quick way to get it--charge it.  So quickly we mount huge debt.  Through the use of plastic it doesn't even seem like spending money, but a $7,000 or $10,000 limit is quickly reached.  We are financially enslaved to our bank cards. 

Read a very interesting verse, Proverbs 22:27 - If you have nothing with which to pay, then CHARGE IT!  a commercial might say.  But not Proverbs; "why should he (the lender or creditor) take your bed from under you?"  It is as if the one with “nothing to pay with” has used for collateral the very thing which gives sleep, comfort, and rest.  Perhaps it is describing the sleepless nights spent worrying about the debt accumulated from borrowing.  In a figurative way, the creditor has "taken your bed from under you."

Be careful with debt.  Don't spend more than you make.  If we complain about the huge federal deficit can we be so two-faced and spend ourselves into debt?  If in seeming uncontrolled debt then get some professional help.  Many bankruptcy attorneys offer methods in family financial planning short of bankruptcy.  Seek out some help.  The avoidance of debt, or getting our debt under control is one way to make your money grow.

C.      Save It
Another way to make your money grow is by saving it. Encouragement to saving money is imaginatively stated in Proverbs 13:22.  Read it for yourself.

An attorney friend of mine who handled many personal bankruptcy cases first fully analyzed a client's financial situation.  More often than not he was able to consolidate their debts, arrange their accounts and payment structure so that not only was filing bankruptcy unnecessary, but also provided a way for them to start a family saving program!  Admittedly, it was usually not much (maybe only $50 or $100 per month) but it was something.  More importantly was an attitude they developed.  Most people want to save, but they would not think of not paying on their accounts.  This attorney advised them to "think of yourself as one of your creditors."  Such a mindset allowed them to grow their money through savings.

Amazing things happen to savings which generate interest and accumulate over time.  Even with relatively modest amounts, figures of compound interest are sometimes startling!  Yes it is possible even with an ordinary income to make your money grow through savings, and leave an inheritance for your children.