The Christian and money
Money is the central theme of almost every issue in life. No wonder then the bible accords it very prominent position. Money is one thing in life of which we can never have enough. In fact, the more money we have, the more of it we seem to want.
The bible variously describes money in superlatives. Two of such descriptions will suffice.
“A feast is meant for laughter, and wine maketh merry; but money answereth all things” Ecclesiastes 10:19.
“For wisdom is a defence and money is a defence but the excellency of knowledge is that wisdom giveth life to them that have it” Ecclesiastes 7:12.
The foregoing glowing descriptions underscore the all-pervading importance of money in life. Of course, this includes Christian families. Much of the teachings of Jesus Christ revolved around money. It is an issue of paramount importance because just as the above citations said, with money, a kind of security is assured and without it, one appears lost and marooned on the dreary sea of life’s courses.
Joggling the family budget has been a long drawn issue in every home. It has led to needless tensions and wrangling. But most people fail to unde1rstand that as desirable as financial success is, it does not subsist in how fat your bank accounts are but in how well you have managed to use whatever you in the service of the Lord. That is what the bible refers to as laying up treasures in heaven.
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” Matthew 6:20 - 21.
Man has been known for his consistent accumulation of wealth much of which he deploys to protecting his acquisition. It would have been wonderful if he devoted such resources to doing God’s business. That, perhaps, is the bible rates wisdom higher even though it is as much a defence as money. To this extent, it is noteworthy that though money answers to all things as the scriptures say, all things do not and should not answer to money.
That is the difference between how a Christian regards money from how others do. For Christian marriages to be successful financially there are basic godly principles for money management that a Christian couple must imbibe.
There is no doubt that the desire of every Christian couple is the have a successful marriage that is free of financial challenges. Indeed, this is possible. However, before this is realized, the couple must set themselves apart for exemplary lifestyle in Christ. They should not live as people of the world do
“And ye shall be holy unto me for I the Lord am holy and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine” Leviticus 20:26.
If you allow the cares of this life to becloud your Christian mandate, you risk getting the same results the world gets. You may end up continuing to struggle endlessly but even if you get what may look like financial success, it would amount to nothing in the long run.
“For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Mark 8:36.
So, the very first pillar of financial success in Christian marriage is to anchor on righteousness and totally depend on God. There should be no middle part in devotion to God because any divided attention would spell financial ruin.
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” Matthew 6:24; 5:6.
Observe the Principle of Tithing
Tithe is a tenth of your income and it rightly belongs to God. It is very fundamental to financial success in marriage. Many couples neglect or deliberately fail to give God tithe as a result of which they continue to wallow in financial privations.
I think the problem is failure to recognise that one tenth of your income rightly belongs to God and so, you should be eager to give Him back His money, which is the foundation of your financial success.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it” Malachi 3:10.
Simply put, if your income is a thousand dollars, don’t bank on that. One hundred dollars (a tenth of one thousand dollars) of that belongs to God and that is not negotiable or subject to any condition. It will do you good to recognise that your money is actually nine hundred dollars, not one thousand dollars as one hundred dollars rightly belongs to God. You should plan whatever you want to plan based on your nine hundred dollars; you would be defrauding God if you appropriated the one hundred dollars to your use.
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” Malachi 3:8.
It is not enough to give God His one hundred dollars. You must make sure that He gets His money first before you begin to spend from yours. What this means is that you must put aside His one hundred dollars from your one thousand dollar-income before you spend anything. There lies the honour. Spending the money and later sourcing for money from other sources to give God is not acceptable.
Some even ‘borrow’ from God. They spend God’s money in anticipation to repay but whether you pay back or not, you have devalued your tithe. People often default in tithing because the money involved is either too negligible or too huge to just give out like that. I think the problem is our failure to appreciate the fact that the money originally belongs to God. If we did, we would realise how wrong it would be to withhold from the Lord, who graciously gives us everything we possess.
“Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also with all that therein is” Deuteronomy 10:14.
You have to accept that fact and that you are a mere custodian, you would not stint in following God’s financial principles, which are the basis of your own financial advancement and security.
Save Part of Your Income
Yet another pillar of financial prosperity in Christian marriage is to imbibe the culture of saving or putting aside part of your income for the rainy day. You cannot spend all your income with excuses that it is not enough in the first place. If you cannot save when your income is small, there is every tendency that you will also not save when it is huge. If you want to prosper, you must squeeze out something out of your income to put aside in case of emergencies. It may be small amounts initially but when you do that consistently over time, you will be surprised at how much you will be able to accumulate.
The secret of saving is to save first before spending. In other words, if you have decided to save fifty dollars every month, take it out of your nine hundred dollars before spending. Make it as compulsory as the tithing. If you want to spend before saving, you will definitely not be able to do because there will never be a time you will say you now have enough to be able to save. No, you do not save because it is convenient to do so but because it is a sacrificial necessity that must be borne for a brighter tomorrow.
Watch Your Expenses
Don’t spend on frivolities. Human wants are insatiable; the more you have, the more you want. It is more appropriate to spend on what you really need. If you spend time to trail your expenses, you will discover needless things you lavish money on, which you could actually do without; cut them off. Your ability to give good account of what the Lord has given you is paramount to Him deciding to entrust you with higher income. God prefers prudent managers and you could as well forget to be further blessed if you are profligate in your expenses. So, think about it whenever you go on a spending spree. Would the Lord say:
"Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things" (Matthew 25:23) or reprove you for being unprofitable?
Invest in Business
The savings are not meant to rot in bank vaults. Look out for opportunities where you can invest your savings for much bigger returns. Investment multiplies your income. We have wrong notions of investment. Some Christians think investment is meant for business men and since they are salary earners, it has nothing to do with them. However, in reality, no man has ever made it big by depending on his salaries alone. There is always some small business you can do on the side to augment your monthly income. To that extent, we are all business men. Categories and levels may differ but we all do business. From that small part time business, you could grow big and from being somebody else’s employee, you could also graduate to becoming an employer of labour yourself. So, seek out business interests where you can invest your savings and multiply your wealth.
The bible encourages us to do charity works.
“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house…Cast thy bread upon the waters for thou shalt find it after many days” Isaiah 58:7; Ecclesiastes 11:1.
Every act of charity is a deed done unto the Lord. Nothing prospers one as giving to the needy and the cause of the gospel.
“Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down and shaken together and running over shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” Luke 6:38.
Prosperity does not come by prayer and fasting; it proceeds from giving. The reward for whatever you give is usually greater because man can never give more than God. A sure way to get out of financial crisis is to give to worthy causes. However, you must give according to the principles of God otherwise; you would be sowing on hard ground.