Friday, June 29, 2012

Money 101

 Here is an amazing plan for your finances.  At the beginning of each month or whenever you are paid set aside 10% for your home church (1 Cor 16:1-2).  This is called a tithe.  There is a lot of arguing going on about this issue, but my point is that the church is the vehicle through which the community is most likely to be blessed.   
Image by selbstfotografiert

The idea of a tithe is that you are giving back an amount immediately that has been given to you.  In fact none of your money is yours, it is all God’s, so 10% is a reasonable amount (Deut. 10:14).  Failure to bring this tithe leads to natural economic consequences (Malachi 3:8-10).  While the rest is yours to live on, you should also consider giving.  Giving and tithing are separate issues and should be handled differently.  An additional amount can be set aside for charitable giving, but it should be considered something you want to do.  

 Do not bow to pressure to give without consulting God, for if you resent having to give, then it is not pleasing to God (2 Cor 9:7).  If you fall into debt you may be tempted to stop paying your tithe, but this is unwise. Dave Ramsey in his book The Money Answer Book: quick answers to your everyday financial questions has noted that many people fall into worse financial situations once they stop tithing.  He further explains that 10% is a reasonable amount and if a person cannot live on 90% then they cannot live on 100%.  The effort to pay the tithe forces a person to budget, which can lead a person out of debt.

Earlier we talked about the ability to utilize gratitude as a way to follow God’s commandments.  By focusing on the tangible and intangible gifts of God, you reach a point where change happens.  God’s plan will take you out of your debt.  You need to set aside 10% of your salary for tithing and an additional 10-20% for debt repayment and the rest is the amount you must live on.  Living this way takes faith in God’s provision for your life (Matthew 6:31-33).

A good way to reason out the tithe in your mind is that God gives you a total amount containing the tithe on top of your amount, the total amount is really determined by Him.  What if a stranger knocked on your door and handed you $110 and walked away.  Cool.  But, what if that stranger came back an hour later and demanded $10 of the money back, you would be bitter, wouldn’t you?  But what if the stranger told you the deal up front?  What if he said, “I’m going to give you $100, but I’ll also give you $10 that you need to give back to me. Oh and by the way as long as you are faithful in giving back the $10 I’ll keep dropping by with $100 for you,  if you are faithful I may entrust more to you”   This is a pretty sweet deal, but this is similar to how God deals with us (Matthew 25:15-30).  Remember that God gives us all of it, even if you work for it. He has brought about everything to give you the opportunity to earn it.  (James 4:1-3)

When you are faithful you are showing yourself able to handle more responsibility, but don’t think that God can be fooled into giving you more.  He won’t necessarily give you more money just because you are faithful, but by being faithful you are now able to access the blessings that flow from being obedient.  Remember, more money brings more responsibility for those around us who have less (1 Tim 6:17-18).  The Spirit that resides in you prompts you to be obedient to God’s commands.  When you obey the Spirit there are benefits that flow from obedience (Galatians 5:22-23).  These “fruits” are amazing characteristics that I want in my life and you should want them too. 
God is very clear that these are the blessings that flow from obedience. Monetary wealth is not promised.  It is possible to be poor and very happy, and at the same time to be very rich and miserable (Prov 13:7).  Wealth is not the purpose of life, in some ways it brings more hassles.  Most people live a lie by living above their means resulting in debt.  You have to realize this and not try to “keep up” with them.