The plans of the diligent lead to profit.
The Scriptures speak about money more than any other topic. Approximately 2000 passages deal with the topic in some way or other. In the gospels alone, one out of every four verses deals with money.
Many other passages draw from the economic world. Redemption, ransom, forgiveness, sin-debt, are all terms that have financial undertones.
This only highlights how much of our lives should be dedicated to developing faithfulness in stewardship. But how do we do keep from feeding the urge to get and acquire? How do we honor God and keep from falling into the trap of materialism? Scripture is clear in its guidance.
1. The Power of "No."
This one word can kill off the materialism germ significantly. The disciplined power of delaying gratification and resisting the urge to impulsively buy shows that your heart is governed more by God than by things.
Esau's unbelief was expressed in how he rashly bought that fateful pot of stew. He was governed by passion and the moment, not reason and self control.
While a "hope deferred may make the heart sick" (Prov. 13:12), it is a fruit of the Spirit to be able to say, "No, I don't really need that right now."
2. Contentment vs. the Splurge
From whence does that "power of no" come? It flows from a heart that rejoices in God and His supply. We don't need to splurge and spend when we recognize the immense generosity of God in all that we already have.
Of course, the key to contentment is the upward focus. It's being immensely satisfied with God, and not so much the stuff He's bestowed upon us. Someone who can be content with the older model, the second hand buy, or with not having in the first place is someone who has made the Lord his greatest yearning above all else.
3. Keeping up with the Jesus
One doesn't feel the need to keep up with the Joneses if he's keeping up with Jesus. If you are not nurturing your relationship with Christ through regular worship, personal devotions, and prayer, let's admit it: you will be more susceptible to a spirit of materialism.
The Lord uses the means of grace to squelch our raging fleshly passions. We gain new desires and are conformed more to the image of Christ as we fellowship with God.
To put it another way, when you are worshipping God, you will be less apt to worship your wallet.
4. Plan a Budget & Diligently keep it
Growth takes diligence, accountability, and self control. A budget is just that for our finances.
Developing a detailed budget helps to set parameters on what we can and cannot have. It tells us "You can't have that," and makes us cut certain things out.
On the positive side, a budget will tell us what we really value. We're forced to say, "I'm putting this amount towards the Lord." Or it reminds us that diapers are more important than yet another trip to Macy's.
5. Spend, Save, Give Principle
That is biblical stewardship in a nutshell. We buy what we need, save what we can, and give with intentionality and liberality as much as we can.
Let's not forget about saving too. Too often teaching on stewardship focuses on spending and giving. But there's a great deal in Scripture about investing, saving, and building wealth for the future (and future generations).
Use Jars with Your Kids to Teach the Give, Spend, Share Principle.
6. All the Cool Kids Do It
Being cool is expensive. It is also vanity. When we value prestige and admiration, it's going to cost us. On the other hand, if we have our minds set on being esteemed by God, there will be less incentive to bust the bank on the latest fashions, phones, and trends.
7. What do you Value?
Do you value what the Bible values? If you do, you'll have a completely different financial focus.
For instance, what are your thoughts on kids? The world today prefers big vacations and exotic trips; that means fewer kids. But Scripture says that having children is a heritage (note the financial language again) from the Lord. In sum, kids have much more value in the eyes of God.
Take another example: Scripture commends the accumulation of wisdom over and above the accumulation of wealth. Wisdom is greater than gold (Pr. 16:16) and more precious than rubies (8:11). If you believe this, it will likely make a difference in what (and how much) you accumulate in life.
All this is to say, if you value what what the Lord values, there's going to be different spending priorities.
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More on Money
Want to delve further into some of those 2000 verses on money? Here is a nifty Bible study and devotional that you can use to further understand what God says about this important topic!
Local Apologetics Conference
Our friends at Covenant OPC are holding their annual conference this Saturday (Oct. 26). This all day conference will take a practical look at how to defend and commend the faith to unbelievers. (Registration is requested)