Nobody wants to talk about this stuff, especially believers. We’re supposed to just “believe” that things will happen for us financially if we just hope and pray hard enough. It’s what I was always told to do.
It’s a tough subject, I know. But since I’ve been openly talking about it for at least 9 years now, it’s not tough anymore 🙂
There’s all this mantra surrounding money and debt.
Saving is hoarding.
Planning is nerdy.
Loaning money is helping someone out.
Debt is a tool in today’s society.
Money isn’t everything, so why worry about it.
Rich people are evil.
The wealthy are greedy.
If you save up for rainy days, you don’t have faith.
What if we went to scripture about it?
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
So how can we make sure that we get on top of this money thing and also make sure that we’re not “serving” it?
Many misquote scripture, saying that “Money is the root of evil,” when the Bible does not say that.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
1 Timothy 6:10
It’s not hard to see that money is something that can be worshipped. You see, the love of money is a feeling, a craving.
If it’s causing a lot of stress in your life or you don’t have enough of it to make ends meet, other people won’t think that you worship it. And if you have a lot of it, others think that you worship it. Is this really the case? Which one is it?
A poor man who, in his heart, worships the idea of being rich is more vulnerable to its evils than a rich man who has a heart to use it for the Lord.
The amount of money that you have has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you worship it. It’s all about the ATTITUDE surrounding it.
What do you do with the money that you DO have?
Things started changing in our household when we started learning the truth about money. This is in no way an exhaustive Bible study about money and debt, but to show some of the things we’ve learned along the way, and how they can be applied to our lives in a way that glorifies God. We’ve stood firm on these principles, and they’ve proven to be a helpful guide to keep us on track in our faith concerning money.
Should we really be living under a constant pile of debt? Then, when something bad happens and we can’t pay those debts, we cry out to God to save us? We exclaim that it’s not our fault we can’t pay those bills, just hoping by some miracle we can make through another month. I’m not saying He won’t or shouldn’t save us, but most of the time we got ourselves into that mess with debt, and we do have to suffer the consequences of those choices.
Our bad choices have consequences. It’s simple cause and effect. The choices we make are what lead us to where we are.
We don’t always meet up with those consequences right away, you see; but soon enough they’ll come knocking at the door at the wrong time – always at the wrong time, right?
Debt (or overspending) is literally ruining people’s lives. People are killing themselves over debt. People are overworking and spending countless hours away from home to make more and more money to pay for their overspending. People are dipping into depression deeper and deeper because of the insatiable desire to have more than someone else, never being fully satisfied. Marriages are ending because of money problems and endless money fights. People are losing everything they have because they cannot meet their monthly obligations along with everything else in life.
Yet, they look good on the outside. We “looked” good on the outside, too.
Claiming the “economy” is why everyone is broke, many people aren’t looking to their own actions as being the main part of the problem. Then, when something happens, grandma is paying little Frankie’s bills because grandma knows what a rainy day fund is. It’s old-school.
We had no clue that owning something that goes down in value that totals more than 50% of our yearly income could be detrimental to our overall success with money.
For example, let’s say Samuel makes $60k a year, and just financed a $60k truck. When you put the numbers in front of you like that, it’s absurd!
It’s so much easier to see those things when you write everything down, use a budget, and plan ahead. That truck won’t be worth much when he’s done with it, and Samuel will have had to make sure he continues to make enough each month to cover that vehicle payment. If he gets hurt or loses his job, the truck is gone and his credit is ruined.
Do you even think that Samuel has enough money leftover at the end of the month to help out a family member or friend in need?
It’s simple common sense and math, but it’s these types of things that we didn’t see clearly before we started learning the truth about money.
When we first decided to crack down and pay off our debt, we had about $50k in consumer debt (this is everything except a mortgage), and we were making about $65-$70k per year. How in the world could we pay that down quicker with the income we had? It took us a total of 4 years to finally pay it off, but it wasn’t until the last two of those years that we really started gaining momentum.
If we would’ve only paid minimum payments, we’d still be in debt today (and that was about 8 years ago). We would’ve never made it out, and it’d still be a dream of ours to pay off debt one day.
I’d faithfully been in church since 2001. Every time the doors were open, that’s where I’d be. I was a part of a few different ministries and was even one of the Sunday and midweek teachers at the time. I thought I knew what the scriptures said about certain things, especially about giving. It’s what we’d been taught all this time, and what we’ve learned over the years. Yet, here we were – broke and stressed.
Did I really know what the Bible said about money? As I kept learning and reading, there was so much more to learn than the famous Malachi 3:10.
If we call ourselves believers of the Word of God, shouldn’t we know what it says about money and debt? Although it’s not the most important thing in the world (or is it?), it’s a pretty important part of life! Shouldn’t we first go to what we call “The Truth” to see what it says?
Even though we never had much money leftover, the first thing we always made sure we did was give to our church. What was leftover after that is what we lived on. I could go into a lot of details about that also, and the controversy surrounding it, but I’ll just leave you with this passage of scripture about giving:
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, he has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9
After several years, it began to bother me that we gave so much to our church (because it’s what we were taught and I wasn’t about to break those rules), yet we didn’t have anything leftover to help out the people WE really needed to help who were in need.
The church couldn’t help all those people. It has it’s own mission and outlets for giving. I felt like we were called to do it, but we couldn’t. We all are – our neighbors, friends and family. Before there was government welfare, people helped each other out. It’s just what you did.
Isn’t the “church” also considered being outside of the physical walls of the church building? Aren’t WE as believers considered the “church” no matter where we attend on Sunday?
Has our culture sadly fallen away from that and replaced it with selfish wants instead? Now that people can get government assistance, have we taken our extra efforts to give and directed them toward our own desires, and then claim we can’t help? Do we have too many of our own bills that we don’t have enough left to share, even though we make more than the average salary? Have bigger houses and more expensive cars gotten in the way of our true calling?
We would always say that we wanted to do this and do that with our money, but never felt like we could GIVE the way our hearts desired.
The Father provides the seed, and we’re responsible for sowing out of our own abundance. Should we be giving “as we have each decided in our hearts” like the scripture says, or should we be giving what the “church requires?”
Why does He multiply the seed for the sower? For more sowing! In turn, the harvest of our righteousness increases!
It was always taught that we’d be prosperous if we just tithed our ten percent. We did that for many many years. It wasn’t until a portion of that was redirected to what we call our own “Widows & Orphans” fund, that we started to be able to step into what God was calling us.
I am NOT by any means saying that’s what YOU should do, but it’s what we were being shown and convicted to do.
What does God want us to do with our stuff, our money, and our time? If I’m a firm believer in obedience to Him, shouldn’t I be more concerned with what He wants me to do with every single part of my life? Including money?
It was time to start searching the scriptures for what we needed to do with our money. When we started praying about that, we started to see a vision for the future.
First of all, it’s not ours. If we’ve given everything to Him, aren’t we simply stewards of what we’ve been blessed with? Yes, we get up and go to work to make the money, BUT He gives us the strength and might to go to work everyday and make a living! Let’s not forget where our strength comes from. He owns it all.
We started to see how we could be used to DO things in His name – things he calls all of us to do, but we usually say that we “can’t” because we just can’t “see” how. We “can’t” because we have our own mountain of bills. We “can’t” because…. [fill in the blank].
However, we must also put our faith to work because the scripture says that faith without works is dead.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
The scripture is basically saying to DO what you say you are. God is calling you to do something? Then DO what you should be doing, according to what God is calling you to do. We ALL know what we should really be doing. That’s where the “I can’ts” get in the way.
Well, I’m here to tell you that YOU CAN.
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
This can be true for many things, but here I’d like to reference the simple act of planning ahead. This parable is referring to building a tower, but let’s say we’re laying a financial foundation for our family. We must make sure that we have enough to complete the month. If we don’t, we just might be mocked, right?
How do you do this? With a budget!
The word BUDGET scares people to death. They think they can’t do or have anything if they “live on a budget.” Living on a budget simply means that you have a plan. That’s it. You’re responsible enough to make a plan for your money before you actually spend it. You’re making sure you have enough.
So the question remains: How can we make sure that we get on top of this money thing and also make sure that we’re not “serving” it?
Take control of it, instead of letting it control you. Instead of you serving money, make your money serve you. When you can tame the beast, you can become its master, instead of it being your master.
How do you tame it?
With a budget! Tell your money what to do before it gets used. If you don’t, you’ll be wondering what happened to it.
Money itself is not evil. If it’s in the hands of an evildoer, the money becomes its master. If it’s in the hands of a giver, it becomes its master. Money can be either good or evil, depending upon whom it belongs.
This is why the LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil. There are many people who will do whatever they need to do to get money, even if it’s not right. It could be little things or big things – it’s all the same evil.
The love of money will make someone an adulterer, a liar, and a thief. The love of money could also simply take too much time away from our families.
In the hands of a righteous man, money becomes a wonderful tool. It can bless, and it can build. It can pay a whole year of an electric bill in advance for a single mom, or it can leave a hundred dollar tip for a restaurant server.
There are no words for being able to see how much good it can do and then literally being able to do it.
Saving for a rainy day and living paycheck to paycheck
The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.
The Bible calls us a fool if we use up and spend everything we make! I didn’t say it, the Bible did! It’s basically saving for a rainy day – not hoarding. Hoarding means that you’re saving for the sake of saving, without purpose. Like the parable of the rich fool:
The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Some may say that this passage of scripture contradicts the one in Proverbs that tells us to store up choice food and oil, but that’s not the case here. Case and point is that this “rich fool” was storing up all these things just for the sake of storing. He was being greedy, pretty much. He built larger barns to fill up! And it was all for himself, so he could eat drink and be merry!
Yes, we should be saving “choice food and oil” for a rainy day, but it becomes a problem when we become hoarders of these things simply for the sake of saying, “Look at all my stuff.”
The last line of the passage is the kicker, “…lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” All of what we have means nothing if we aren’t rich toward God with it!
I had no idea that the Bible talks about cosigning!
One who lacks sense gives a pledge and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.
As much as you may think you’re helping, you just might not be. As quoted in The Total Money Makeover,
“Parents cosign for a teenager to buy a car. Why would parents do this? ‘So he can learn to be responsible.’ No, what the teenager has learned is, if you can’t pay for something, buy it anyways.”
I’ve never heard a good story yet from someone who has cosigned. If they’re out there, it’s only about a 1% chance. What I mean is, most of the cosigners end up in a bad spot, if not financial, it’s emotional. The reason they need a cosigner is because the bank doesn’t think they’ll pay it back! Yet, we’ve always just acted like this is a normal way of life. Don’t have credit? No problem. Mom and dad or Uncle Freddie will cosign.
Things can get really sticky when things go downhill. The same is true when lending money out to a friend or family member. Don’t lend it. If you have money to give, just give it. Give according to what you think you should.
If they need you to lend them $1,000, instead simply give them $200 and tell them not to pay it back. If you lend them money and they don’t pay it back, but they spend their money frivolously, there will be hard feelings between the two of you. Avoid that by not lending it at all. If they really need the whole $1,000, they’ll have to figure it out. Sometimes life’s hardships are the best teachers.
Loans can ruin relationships, and it’s not worth it in the end. Proverbs 22:8 says that the borrower is slave to the lender. Let’s not go there. Even if you don’t feel like a slave to your lender, the scripture says you are. It’s a principle.
If applied correctly, that means that if brother lends sister $1,000 and says to pay it back when she can, sister will pay it back when she “feels” like she can. Sister pays it back, but before she did, she also bought a new camera and coffee pot, and maybe a few other things. Brother saw all that, but he felt like she could’ve paid him back sooner since she didn’t really need those other things she just bought.
What if she hasn’t paid him back yet? Now everything feels icky and sticky at dinner one night. Why? Because now sister is slave to brother. Whether or not anyone actually feels like a slave doesn’t matter…
The principle remains. The borrower is slave to the lender.
Is a ruined relationship worth $1,000? Of course not!
Using debt (or pledges) in general
“Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts.”
The Bible tells us not to go into debt. It’s not calling debt a sin, or saying that you won’t have salvation because of it. It’s saying not to do it, and it’s calling us a fool if we do.
But if we do, scripture tells us this:
1My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
have given your pledge for a stranger,
2 if you are snared in the words of your mouth,
caught in the words of your mouth,
3 then do this, my son, and save yourself,
for you have come into the hand of your neighbor:
go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor.
4 Give your eyes no sleep
and your eyelids no slumber;
5 save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
If you’ve put up security (or surety, debt), get out as fast as you can. Don’t take your time with it. Dave Ramsey calls this “Gazelle Intensity.” It’s the best lesson in Financial Peace University, and it’ll have anyone watching it ready to get up and start paying off debt ASAP. The only problem is that we get back into our normal routine and tend to forget what’s going on here.
We can’t be taking our time with this stuff. We’ve got to get out! There’s only one way out of it forever, and that’s fast. We know from experience. If you want to get out of debt and stay out, do it fast or you’ll lose motivation to continue. You’ll give in too soon, and never finish. Cut your lifestyle, find a way to make some extra cash, and get it over with!
Our Debt-Free Journey: How We Got Out of Debt for Good is our personal story of what we did! It wasn’t until we got into gazelle intensity that we started gaining some serious traction. Once we paid off our debt, we just kept going.
This process of changing the way we looked at money led us to put our money where our heart is, and we’re now able to bless others and help those in need that God is calling us to at the moment. Giving really is the most fun you can have with money.
15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
The Bible also tells us not to brag about that and not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen (Matt 6:1-4), so I don’t ever want you to think that I’m bragging about the fact that we’ve finally figured out this money thing. I’m in TOTAL AWE of what God has done through us, and I know that by sharing these personal stories, it can give you hope to do the same! My motto will always be “If I can do it, YOU can do it!”
If you read our stories, you’ll know that we were living paycheck to paycheck and unsure how we were going to pay the next house note, and we were living in debt. Now, we’re in the process of putting our faith to work, literally doing what God showed us years ago if we just kept going. We’re just regular folks who said YES when he called, and He’s been blessing us ever since (and I don’t always mean financially).
There’s a lot more scriptures to study about when it comes to money, but I hope this helps you get a bigger picture of some of these things.