Are You a Broke Christian?

I apologize for the forcefulness of the question I presented in the title of today’s blog post. Understand this: It is not something I like to talk about. I had a pastor tell me that finances are my Goliath. What’s interesting is I was not shocked by his comment. Know why? Conviction of the Holy Spirit. Then, as if to truly solidify this truth for me [hopefully so I could deal with it better], he pulled out the tithe ledger, glanced at it, then said, “Hmm. Do you realize you have only given $467 in offerings this year?”

Christians should be able to be free. There is power in the Name of Jesus to Break Every Chain.”¹ Whatever your financial situation, there are numerous faith-based experts just waiting online to help. I took advantage of Dave Ramses’ wonderful free monthly budget²  It’s so cool. It’s malleable. I found it so simple. That was back in July! I haven’t used it since. There are two powerful forces at play in my case that right now I give over to the power of Jesus: (a) procrastination, and (b) a poor sense of self (I don’t deserve success). A man who thinks he’s worthless and has nothing good to offer will typically “let himself go.” This includes finances.

Now certainly none of this may be you, and to that I say Hallelujah! But maybe you struggle with money like I do. Maybe you never seem to have enough to make ends meet. Perhaps, like me, you seem to never have any cash in your wallet. I real low for me was not having a quarter for the parking meter, getting a $10 ticket, and not being able to pay it within 72 hours. That’s the magical period. After that, it’s $20. Because I don’t plan ahead or manage my finances, a 25 cent parking meter fee turned into $20. Whether you have a great deal of money or very little, until you really believe that money in your possession is not your money but God’s money, your finances will likely always be a source of discontentment.

Remember, God owns it all, yet we worry and fret over not having enough. We manipulate to get more, then agonize over losing what we have. How do we get free from this dreadful bondage? Personally, I find it hard to hear statements like, “True financial freedom is being content with what God gives you.” (See Hebrews 13:5) I’m starting to trust God and turn my money over to Him.

Let’s look as some myths and truths about money which I borrowed from June Hunt in her publication Financial Freedom. These major financial myths have led and will continue to lead many astray unless these beliefs are replaced with major financial truths

Myth.
If you live a godly life, Christian life, you will experience financial gain and prosperity.” Unfortunately, this message is shouted from the pulpit and printed in books by the millions, categorized “Christian.”One so-called preacher that I will not name here has a rather similar doctrine. It is difficult for his “fans” to see what he’s doing because he won’t talk about doctrine. He won’t talk about theology. He doesn’t even preach about repentance, the “fall,” or the wrath of God. He quickly back pedals when asked hard questions. He has an estimated worth is $40 million. Why is he well-off and you or I can’t afford to wash our car for Sunday school?

Truth.
According to the word of God, godliness is not a means to financial gain. The Bible calls this “a different doctrine” taught by false teachers.

Myth.
Money is the root of all evil!

Truth.
No! Money can be used for great good. Actually, according to the Bible it is the love of money that is the root of evil. It takes money, for example, to get tens-of-thousands of Bibles into the hands of Muslim and non-Muslim countries. It takes money to build refugees, housing, school, and hospitals in Uganda and other neglected areas in Africa. It takes money to fight AIDS and care for orphaned children.

Myth.
If I ever have enough money, or the right house, or earthly possessions, then I will be happy!”

Truth.
Happiness does not spring froth from your financial situation, nor does it com from possessions or the amount of money you have, but from faithfully and wisely managing what has been entrusted to you. Remember Mattthew 25:23? “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things: I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

[Note: Read the entire parable of the talents in  Matthew 25:14-30.]

Now what might lead to excessive debt? Just watch!

Lifestyles That Lead to Debt

  • Using money to keep up social appearance
  • Using money to feel important
  • Using money to manipulate others
  • Using money to appear “righteous” in the eyes of God and others
  • Spending money to escape personal tensions
  • Spending money to momentarily lift depression
  • Spending money to indulge in an obsession or addiction

Bitterness

When we are discontent with God or others over our finances, our anger spreads a deep root of underlying bitterness, affecting both us and the things around us.

  • Focusing attention and energy on gaining possessions
  • Indifference to the needs of others
  • Resenting the position, prestige, power, and popularity of someone else
  • Outbursts of anger that lead to sharp, cutting comments
  • Nurturing an ungrateful attitude

To sum this up, thousands have gotten themselves into this kind of trouble, me included, but it is never too late to take the reins. Seek advice. Get on your knees and ask the Lord to forgive you of your tendency to squander what God gave you. I will close out with four ideas I found on Crosswalk.com. You can find their basic steps in the financial planning process right  here:  http://www.crosswalk.com/family/finances/financial-planning-from-a-biblical-perspective-1324741.html

1. Goal Setting – Define both short-term and long-term goals (driven by your purpose). These will differ depending on your stage of life, your finances and the size of your family. Make sure you have these in writing and keep them up-to-date.

2. Creating A Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement – This is just a fancy way of saying that you should list all of your assets (property, stocks, bonds, etc.) and liabilities (mortgage, credit card debt, etc.) to get a clear picture of where you stand financially. You should also list all of your regular income sources and expenses for a year.

3. Develop a Budget & Financial Plan – Based on your analysis in step 2, determine how much you should save, invest, and spend. Your goal should be to spend less than you earn over the long haul. Your financial plan defines how you move from where you are in step 2 toward the goals outlined in step 1.

4. Assess and Adjust – Once you have begun implementing your plan, schedule a time to review your progress. Plan to do this on a monthly basis. In addition to regular assessment, make an annual date with your spouse to pray, review your finances, and discuss your goals for the coming year.

Times are tough for sure. But what if time is short? Suppose a major disaster occurs just minutes from your home or your church. With proper money management, you can be solvent, giving you a greater chance to help the injured and the displaced. It is critical to be prepared, because we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. To the extent that we let money, property, collectibles, video games, and $75 jeans define us and suck up our funds, we are actually wasting money that really belongs to God. Frankly, he can call upon us at any time to turn some of it over. Our duty is to be ready when that day comes.

  1. Reagan, W. There’s Power in the Name of Jesus. Published April 22, 2014
  2. Dave Ramses can be found at https://www.google.com/search?q=dave+ramses&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
  3. Hunt, J. (2014). Financial Freedom. Torrance, CA: Rose Publishing/Aspire Press

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