This past Sunday at Highway Community Church, I dove into the topic of finances with our church in the middle of a series on overcoming baggage in life. Due to our morning time constraints, I only camped out in two steps that God gives us to break free from the bondages that money can bring. Since we don’t want to bow at the alter of Money, we intentionally choose to put God first and pattern our lives after His instructions. ‘Giving’ and ‘Saving’ were the areas I spoke about, so feel free to watch the YouTube video of the morning if you weren’t there.
The third step that God leads us into is this: ‘Spend wisely’. The question can be and should be asked of ourselves, “How do you spend?” How do I spend my money and what do I spend it on? Most of the time, the issue isn’t how much you make but how much you spend. I know we all know this but the reality is still true, if we spend more than we make, we never will get free from financial baggage. So what do we do? I believe, if you want God to get involved with your spending, you need a plan. We often call a plan for money a ‘budget’, but if that word scares the living Bejesus out of you, than just stick with calling it a ‘plan’. One, if not the wisest man that ever lived is recorded in Proverbs 16:3 as saying, “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” (NLT) We want God involved with our family’s money, so what are you asking God to bless? Do you have a plan of how you will tithe…or work toward giving 10% or higher? Do you have a plan of how you will save a portion of your income? Do you have a plan to consolidate debt? Invest? Live on less? Cut coupons? And the list can go on and on. Yeah, you may never do the cash-in-envelope method, but you may come up with a plan that you can actually do. Create the plan, and then commit it to God and commit to do it. You will be glad you moved from wishful thinking to something tangible God can bless! After all, it should be His approval we are after, right? Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11 NIV) I want to be trusted…yes, by my family and church members, but especially by God! After all, He can’t trust me with more income if all I do is consume it all! Before God gives you more income—get control of the outgo of what you already have. Stop letting things…possessions…money consume you. How? Be generous! Hold everything with an open hand. Be ready to bless others. And yes, have a PLAN!
The fourth step is this (which you and I should find easy today of all days): Be grateful for what you DO have and be a good manager of it. I know it’s a challenge, but we can all learn how to have more contentment from the Apostle Paul…a life of gratitude for needs being met. It’s recorded in his first letter to a young apprentice he had named Timothy. 1 Timothy 6:6-9 NIV he said, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” The totality and balance of scripture doesn’t say not to have money or possessions; just don’t let possessions or money have you! Don’t be consumed with or LOVE it above God. We can stay in a place of contentment with an attitude of gratitude. Appreciate what you do have. Don’t belittle it, demean it or despise it. Remember, Esau despised his birthright and acted unwisely. He wasn’t grateful for what he had. Don’t despise it because it’s small! Whether it’s a gift in the offering, a deposit made into the savings account or a payment on some outstanding debt. God’s blessing on your little could far exceed your greatest expectations. So these are the last steps. Watch what you spend and learn to live in a spirit of contentment. After all, what do you have to lose…and you have everything to gain!