I’ve read the books.
I’ve taken the courses.
There is no shortage of sound, Biblical advice out there when it comes to our finances. But no matter what expert you listen to, they all seem to leave something out.
After racking up more than $10k in credit card debt in 2007, I knew something needed to change. I was a chronic spender throughout my 20′s, living beyond my means and robbing Peter to pay Paul. I tithed more than 10% and spent more than 100% of each paycheck. As the Federal Reserve can attest, this is the sort of fuzzy math that can get you into trouble.
When my interest payments finally caught up to my income, I quickly realized what a world of hurt my finances were in. I prayed for God to teach me about finances, to help me be a good steward of what He has blessed me with.
Before I knew it, I was enrolled in a Crown Financial class. Meeting others in my unfortunate financial position was comforting, but it also opened my eyes to how widespread poor stewardship in the church had become. After 10 weeks of immersion into a subject I previously knew little about, I was fired up and ready to lay some serious skid marks down the road to financial freedom.
To be honest, most of the financial books I devoured during that intensive learning period, from Christian advisors like Ron Blue, Randy Alcorn and Matt Bell, quote the same verses, and if there’s a step-by-step strategy (Dave Ramsey refers to the order as “Baby Steps”), it goes something like this:
1. Start an emergency fund (usually around $1000, to be used only when unforeseen circumstances arise)
2. Pay off credit cards (Some diehards insist “cash is king,” and that not using credit cards, or even debit cards, is the wisest decision)
3. Build three to six months of savings (in case you lose your job and need a buffer while you seek employment)
I’ve seen the remaining steps in varying orders, but they usually include: paying off your mortgage, saving for large purchases and investing for retirement.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Dave Ramsey’s radio show, and admire his no-guff tendency to respond to poor financial decisions with, “That’s stupid.” I think he’d probably agree with what I’m about to say in theory.
What I read in Scripture, from the same Book referenced in Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, is story after story about faith.
Simple, trusting, unadulterated faith.
When I tell someone about a ministry opportunity, and they answer me with, “I’d love to, but I’m only on ‘Baby Step Two,’” I get concerned.
Read the books.
Enroll in courses.
Learn everything you can about being a good steward and preparing for the future. Aesop’s The Ant and the Grasshopper fable comes to mind. Just don’t rely on any gimmick, strategy or certification to give you peace – financial or otherwise. Surrendering your life, and everything in it, to the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, is the prudent course.
Be obedient when you hear the Spirit calling you out of your comfort zone. If God has given you a vision you feel is laughable when looking at your current financial situation, may you be bold enough to answer the call anyway.
So, what do you think? Is the Bible promoting financial peace, spiritual prosperity, or both? In Scripture, does God seem in favor of substantial IRA accounts, or men who will leave it all behind and follow Him with reckless abandon?
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