And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
First and foremost, as a former Certified Financial Planner with 10 years of experience in the finance industry, my next statement cannot carry enough weight! If I could scream it at you so that you would hear and feel nothing else in your mind, body and spirit, I would! And that message is:
No matter how much money you have, don’t have or want to acquire, TRUE peace and happiness can only come from accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior!
Without the salvation of Jesus Christ (See my blog entry, “What Is the Path To God?” on how to be saved), you will never find peace and happiness! Money is fleeting, which means that money comes and goes. It is like trying to walk around with water cupped in your hands. No matter how hard you hold onto it, it will slowly slip through your fingers. For Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 tells us, “Besides, money is fleeting. Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. So what is the advantage of wealth – except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers!”
The bible warns us over and over again about money! And Matthew 6:24 tells us, “No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.”
After providing financial advice to family, friends and clients for many years before changing careers to becoming a Doctor in Physical Therapy, I have learned that the best advice I can give anyone regarding their financial future is to be content with what God has given you! It may not be enough by YOUR standards, but whatever God has given you, He can also take away! Be thankful for every blessing He has given you! Believe me, IT CAN GET WORSE! Listen to Apostle Paul as he writes to the Philippians from a jail cell and says,
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
Therefore, Salvation + Contentment = Peace and Happiness! So don’t worry (See my other blog entry, “Worry: God Doesn’t Want Us To Worry”), Jesus advises in Matthew 6:31-33, “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Now that we have covered the REAL keys to happiness, I can cover some of the other topics of importance regarding financial matters, because planning ahead and making prudent decisions about your money is only wise. And here are the steps to financial freedom as a Christian:
- Become Debt-Free
- Plan For the Future
- Wisely Handle Your Prosperity
Tithing (See my blog entry, “Tithing: Are You Stealing God’s Money?” for more details)
There is a reason why this is listed #1. It is the most important component. This is God’s test of your faith and obedience. The bible tells us that we are to give 10% of our gross income to God. The money we earn, was given to us by God. He is our provider. We can do nothing apart from Him. Because Jesus said in John 15:5-8, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
So, if we are obedient and give God our tithes and offerings, we can lean on God’s promise written in Malachi 3:10-12, which states,
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the LORD Almighty.
Therefore, you are a steward over God’s money. So remember,
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. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? (Luke 16:10-12)
This principle is simple: Get rid of your credit cards and pay in cash! If you don’t have the cash, don’t buy it! Because Proverbs 22:7 teaches us, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Now I understand that in today’s world, that is almost impossible for certain expenses to be paid in cash, like paying for college, purchasing a house, buying a car, and paying for large unexpected expenses. And if God has blessed you with abundance to pay for these expenses with cash, praise the Lord and get on your face to thank Him! However, for others who are not at that level of wealth, you need to closeout all but one of your credit cards and pay down your debt. Keep one card in a safe place at home ONLY in case of financial emergencies! Do not carry the card in your purse or wallet to avoid temptation of purchasing those new Jimmy Choo shoes or that 80” flat screen TV that you “GOT TO HAVE”!!! Because Romans 13:8 tells us, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”
Did you know that every purchase you make on a credit card is like restarting your loan again from the beginning? Most credit cards calculate your minimum payment over 48-60 months. However, every time you make a new purchase, the credit card company recalculates your minimum payment over a new 48-60 months. That’s why your balances never seem to go down! So the only solution is to closeout your credit limit and pay more than the minimums. But be patient and consistent, it takes time to unwind the damage that has been created over time!
Plan For the Future
Simply, you need to save and plan for future expenses. I know in today’s society, “living paycheck to paycheck” is a common lifestyle. And if you are fortunate to even have a job in today’s economy, “Praise the Lord!” But even if you can only set aside a small amount, you need to do it! The diligence and patience it takes to save a small amount over a long period of time is a good exercise. And you will be rewarded with compounding interest. For Proverbs 21:5 teaches us, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.”
However, if you still have high interest rate credit cards, I recommend taking the money you were going to save and pay that towards getting your balances down. Paying down a 22% interest credit card balance makes a lot more sense than saving your money in an account earning 2-5%.
But if you can save, start saving your money in a low-risk account, like a savings or money market account, until you have acquired enough to cover 3-6 months of your monthly expenses. This is your emergency fund.
But once you have saved up at least $2500-3000 over your emergency fund, see a financial planner to help you diversify, so that you can maximize your interest rate and not be subjected to the highs and lows of one investment. “Diversifying your investments” means spreading your investments over several types of investments. So don’t just keep all of your savings in one thing, like a savings account, a money market account, a stock, or a bond. Mutual funds are great for this purpose. Ecclesiastes 11:2 says, “Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.” So work hard! “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4). God wants us to work hard and earn an honest living. Proverbs 12:11-13 tells us, “He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.”
God wants us to be generous with our time and money in helping others. For 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 says,
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
But don’t be prideful in your giving (See my blog entry, “Pride: The Bearer of Sour Fruit” for more on pride). Don’t begin telling everyone the money you have given or the works you have done. Listen to Jesus when He says,
“When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:2-4)
So time has passed. You have been faithful, prayerful, obedient and hard-working. God has blessed you with wealth. Remember how you got there and who provided for you to achieve it! Wealth is both a blessing and curse. It is a blessing, because money can make life easier and you can help a lot of people with it. However, money can also lead to greed and pride. Both of which have already been addressed earlier. Take heed to the words from the Books of Luke and Mark, respectively:
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36)
As a steward of wealth, follow the advice of 1 Peter 5:2, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve God.” Because Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:5, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-such a man is an idolater-has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” As a result, take great care in whatever wealth that God has entrusted you to oversee.
In summary, I leave you one last thought from 1 Timothy 6:6-12 says,
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. But you, […] are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.
I wish you many blessings from God and hope that you will accept the free gift of God’s grace that He has offered you. This is the TRUE riches and glory that can only come from believing that Christ Jesus died for your sins.
In His Light,