Finances are an area that most people struggle with at one time or another in their lives. Sometimes those struggles are not of their own making: an unexpected health issue, sudden loss of a job, etc. But, most of the time, if we would follow our trails back to the very beginning of the management of our finances, we can see how failure to pray, plan and prioritize God's way has taken us down a path of financial heartache. God has taught me so much in the area of finances. I have certainly not arrived yet either. There are matters I still struggle with in this area. But, I am learning more and more that this area of my life is just as much of a heart issue as controlling my temper. So, we begin our discussion of finances with the matter of the heart.
What is the why behind our finances?
You know, there is a lot of discussion about getting finances in order...especially when we have just clicked over into 2010. The beginning of a New Year marks new beginnings for most of us and we look for areas in our lives that need improving and set goals to meet those specific areas. That is not a bad thing. But often, we forget the "Why" behind those decisions. What is our motivation to get our finances in line? Well, certainly debt brings stress to ones life. Constantly knowing that you "owe" something you are having problems with paying off is not a peaceful existence. There is something totally freeing in knowing that one is totally debt free. Is that a bad motivation? Absolutely not. But, I don't think that should be the main, or the most important motivation. At one point in my life, it was for me. Getting out of debt was first and foremost to restore some "peace" in my life. I cannot deal with the thought of "owing" something. Anything could happen...job loss, health issues, economy problems (as we are seeing so clearly now) and then I might not be able to make that automobile payment. Then what? Bad credit, loss of vehicle? Yes, it could definitely happen. But, what about the stain on the reputation of someone who bears the name of Christian? As a Christian, that should be one of my first concerns? What does God say about debt? Whose money is it really anyway? These are some of the issues I would like to explore in a series I am going to be doing on finances. If we didn't have any other book, cultural norm, friends to persuade us, and we only had the Bible, how would that curb our spending and our view of what is debt and what is not?
I would like to leave you with something this morning that has revolutionized my way of looking at money. I have always known "everything is the Lord's", including my money. But, I suppose that was one of those mantras we hear from preachers and we know it's true, but do we really grasp the significance of that statement. IF everything is from the Lord, including my money, then it does matter how I spend it...big amounts or small? And if God cares how I spend my money, how often do I consult Him before I spend it? And lastly, how often do you hear this, "I am going to get a budget to get of debt so I can .... (fill in the blank)." It may be a myriad of things...buy a house, get a new car, go on that vacation, have more money for my hobby, save for my children's education, have some time for myself now...and the list goes on. How many times have you ever heard a Christian say, "I am going to do all I can to get out of debt so I can GIVE more to God's causes." Giving...isn't that one of the main reasons He blesses us? I know God expects us to plan for the future, but I don't believe He wants His children holding on to every single extra dime to put toward their interests. What kind of Christianity is that? God's example of giving is radical...not just the "extra" we may have leftover this month. So, if you are planning to get out of debt this year, how about praying and planning for all the ways you can give when you do. God loves a cheerful giver...how is your heart toward giving today? Are you ready to give Him the leftovers, or ready to give Him all? After all, whose money is it anyway?