FINANCES IN THE MODERN FAMILY
Here are my notes for teaching at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, February 2, 2020.
MAKE MONEY WORK FOR YOU
Alan P spent so much time working on the platform last week. I'm so grateful for his hard work. I noticed he had a lot of tools here - skill saw, electric drill, and so on. Why? Because tools help get the job done easier and quicker.
Today, we begin a new teaching series on the modern family. We start with a focus on money in the modern family. And here's the main point I want you to take home with you: money is a tool that God provides to help the modern family get the job done.
Since money is a tool, it's very important to learn how to use it. You can make money work for you and it can bring many positive benefits, such as housing, food, clothing, and so many other good things for your family.
Today's teaching has two parts based on two Bible passages. In part one, I will show you God's perspective on money - both positive and negative. In part two, we'll look at four laws of financial fitness that will make money work for you.
PART ONE: GOD'S PERSPECTIVE ON MONEY
1 Timothy 6 provides a good look at God's perspective on money. We need this insight because it will shape how we manage our family finances. Let's read verses 6-10 and 17-19.
What did we learn? Bottom line: it is good to manage money but it is not good to be managed by money. Paul told the believers in Ephesus that greed leads to grief and generosity leads to gain both now and in eternity. Obviously, our goal is generous living.
On a recent flight on a puddle jumper, Kim and I sat in front of two strangers and I listened as they introduced themselves. The man quickly revealed what was most important in his life. It was his seven car garage, his classic muscle cars, and his 401K. He talked openly with this complete stranger about his wealth. I was stunned; I'd never heard anything like it. I was also sad; here was a man who was controlled by wealth so much that it had become his god; a god who will ultimately disappoint him in a major way. This idea is illustrated in God's pleading with Israel in Isaiah 55:
(Isaiah 55:1-2) Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Let's look a little more closely at God's perspective. I've created a comparison chart to make the teaching clear:
God's perspective on money is that it either hurts or helps us. It all comes down to how we manage it. If we make it into our source of security and satisfaction and focus on getting more of it, it will ruin us because it drives us away from God and from following Jesus. That's tragic. On the other hand, if we make God the source of our security and pursue him, then we can manage our money to help people and to build an inheritance in heaven.
The choice seems obvious: Pursue contentment in God, not money, not anything else. A great way to pursue contentment in God is to keep a gratitude journal. Take five minutes every day to thank God for all he is doing in your life, for all his good gifts, for his love and care and provision. Gratitude brings peace. It crushes idolatry. It combats greed. Thinking through Psalm 23 as an act of gratitude brings me into a state of inner peace and contentment in God.
PART TWO: FOUR LAWS OF FINANCIAL FITNESS
The four laws of financial fitness are all found in a parable Jesus taught in Matthew 25. This is the story of three money managers. Take a look at Matthew 25:14-30.
A wealthy man (who represents God) hires three money managers (who represent the people of the Kingdom of God) and he gives them each huge sums of money - millions of dollars worth of gold - to invest for him (represents everything God gives us). In this parable, Jesus taught us four laws of Kingdom money management:
1. THE LAW OF OWNERSHIP - verses 14-15.
(Matthew 25:14-15) Again, it (the Kingdom of God) will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
The first law reminds us that everything we have belongs to God. He owns our lives, our money, our time, our families, our skills etc. We have it for our lifetime, then he gives it someone else. He gives us different amounts, but ultimately it's all his.
The law of ownership shapes our attitude towards money and our experience of life. Author, Todd McMichen wrote:
"Financial stress stems from the belief that we own our resources, which means we deserve the right for more and are responsible for the pressure to deliver. It inherently creates a tightened fist with sleepless nights rather than a generous open hand" (Leading a Generous Church, p. 29).
2. THE LAW OF MANAGEMENT - verses 16-18.
(Matthew 25:16-18) The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
When God gives us money or anything else, he gives it to us to manage on his behalf. That's an amazing insight. God gets stuff done on earth through us, his money managers. He wants us to invest it in people and causes that matter to him. We must follow God's investment plan with a generous heart that trusts his wisdom.
If you want some really good insights into God's money management plan, read through the book of Proverbs and list every money principle you find. Top save you time, I've included a comprehensive list in the appendix.
3. THE LAW OF ACCOUNTABILITY - verse 19.
(Matthew 25:19) After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.
It's God's money and he gives it to us to invest in ways that match his plan. In the end, he will ask us to give an account. He will ask us, "How did you manage my money? Did you do something good and generous with it? Did you advance my cause with it? Is the world a better place because of it. Did people give thanks to me because of it?"
The law of accountability isn't meant to make us anxious, but it is meant to encourage us to take money seriously. This is why money management skills matter. There are simple and practical steps all of us can take to get better at this. For example:
Order a copy of Rick Warren's Financial Fitness video kit at the book table and work through it. You could do this at home or in a small group.
Attend Colleen DeLong's Budgeting Seminar. I went to it and it was so helpful. I got some great ideas for my own finances. Stay tuned for future dates in the weekly program notes. I've talked to Colleen and she is willing to meet 1-1.
Pick up a copy Ron Blue's Master Your Money on our book table. I read it in the 1980's and it changed my life. It was updated in 2016. It's so practical.
Check out crown.org.
Do whatever you must to be ready to give God a good accounting for your money management.
4. THE LAW OF REWARD/REGRET1 - verses 20-30.
(Matthew 25:20-21) The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 “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!
Those who manage God's money according to God's plan will reap a harvest. God will reward them with affirmation and even greater opportunity.
There is every reason to be pro-active in making money work for you. Use the resources I suggested and develop a plan to manage your finances according to God's plan.
TAKE/GIVE CONTROL OF YOUR MONEY
One of the dangers we face is loving money and using people. That's the opposite of God's plan for our lives. He wants us to love people and to use money. Jesus wants us to live generously and to use everything he gives us for his plan. That is the best life anyone can live now. It's beautiful and useful and it blesses the world.
What we've learned today makes it clear that managing our finances is more than a practical skill; it is a spiritual discipline and God cares about it very much. Therefore, I want to get very serious with you for a moment and ask you three questions. The answers will shape your life now and for eternity, so think carefully and prayerfully.
Are you ready to agree that everything you have belongs to God? That's your attitude towards finances.
Are you willing to manage everything you have according to God's plan? That's your approach to finances.
Are you open to learn and to follow biblical principles of money management? That's talking about your accountability for finances.
Where are you at? If you're struggling, please reach out for help. I'd be happy to pray with you this morning. I'd love to encourage you and point you to some great resources. Today, you can ask the Lord to set you free from greed and the love of money. What a difference that would make in your life.
Let's decide together that we are going to be the most generous, caring, and merciful church ever. And then we'll all hear the Lord say to us, "Well done, good and faithful servants! Come and share my happiness."
PETER'S ROADMAP TO FINANCIAL FITNESS
If you Google financial fitness, you'll find a great many lists of steps to take to managing your money well. The following list is a brief snapshot of what I've learned from the Bible, books, seminars, websites, and personal experiences:
Live with an attitude of gratitude and praise for all God is doing for you. Gratitude reduces cravings and puts worship, peace, and contentment into our hearts.
Commit to managing your finances according to God's principles and plans. Both Jesus and the OT book of Proverbs provide helpful money management insights.
Focus more on God and less on money and stuff. God is more satisfying than anything money can buy. Submit your money management to God in prayer.
Build a budget. The budget is a flexible plan for managing money. Without a budget, the chances are good that you will overspend or neglect to allocate funds to things that are important to you.
Sow generously into your church family and into other causes that fit God's plans. Pray about it and ask the Lord to show you how much to give and where to give.
Create a $1,000 emergency fund. Cut out some non-essential expenses until you've filled the emergency fund. This will allow you to stay on track even if, for example, your car needs an unexpected repair.
Pay yourself. Set aside a fixed amount each month for a savings fund. The goal is to save the equivalent of three to six months wages as a back-up plan. After achieving that, begin to invest monthly in a retirement fund.
Minimize expenses. Do you really need it? Cook at home instead of eating out. Drive your car until it stops working. Decide not to stay in fashion. Cut your own hair. Eat rice and beans. Try a staycation.
Plan to spend less than you make. Do not take on new debt. Follow a debt-reduction plan for existing debts. Set a goal to get out of debt.
Don't give up if you get derailed from your budget and plans. Start over as soon as possible.
FINANCIAL WISDOM IN THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
The book of Proverbs contains practical wisdom for life for those who trust in God. The sayings provide insights into the way the world works and how we can prosper in it. They are framed as observations and pithy sayings rather than absolute commands/rules. They show how life tends to work.
(Proverbs 11:4) Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
(Proverbs 11:18) A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.
(Proverbs 15:6) The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings ruin.
(Proverbs 17:3) The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.
(Proverbs 22:1) A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
Wealth (all verses from New Living Translation)
(Proverbs 3:9, 10) Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.
(Proverbs 8:18‐21) I [wisdom] have riches and honor, as well as enduring wealth and justice. My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver! I walk in righteousness, in paths of justice. Those who love me inherit wealth. I will fill their treasuries.
(Proverbs 10:22) The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.
(Proverbs 14:24) Wealth is a crown for the wise; the effort of fools yields only foolishness.
(Proverbs 19:40 Wealth makes many “friends”; poverty drives them all away.
(Proverbs 21:6) Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap.
(Proverbs 22:4) True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.
(Proverbs 23:5) In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.
(Proverbs 13:22) A good person leaves an inheritance for their children's children, but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous.
(Proverbs 20:21) An inheritance claimed too soon (early in life) will not be blessed at the end.
(Proverbs 27:23-27) Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; 24 for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations. 25 When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in, 26 the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field. 27 You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family and to nourish your female servants.
(Proverbs 31:16-18) She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable and her lamp does not go out at night.
(Proverbs 3:27-28) Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I'll give it to you”— when you already have it with you.
(Proverbs 11:24-25) One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
(Proverbs 14:21) It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor. (NLT)
(Proverbs 14:31) Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
(Proverbs 19:17) Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.
(Proverbs 22:9) The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.
(Proverbs 28:27) Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
(Proverbs 31:20) She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
Hard Work and Wealth
(Proverbs 6:6-8) Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
(Proverbs 10:4) Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.
(Proverbs 12:11) Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.
(Proverbs 13:11) Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
(Proverbs 14:23) All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
(Proverbs 24:33-34) A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—34 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
(Proverbs 1:18-19) These men (thieves) lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves! 19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.
(Proverbs 11:26) People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God's blessing on the one who is willing to sell.
(Proverbs 22:16) One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.
(Proverbs 22:22-23) Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, 23 for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life.
(Proverbs 28:11) The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.
Debt and Lending
(Proverbs 11:15) Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.
(Proverbs 17:18) One who has no sense shakes hands in pledge and puts up security for a neighbor.
(Proverbs 22:7) The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.
(Proverbs 22:26-27) Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; 27 if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.
(Proverbs 27:13) Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger; hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.