When it comes to money, what’s your philosophy? Where do you spend the most?
Do you have at least 6 months of living expenses tucked away in savings? And, be honest with yourself for just a moment… do you even have a savings?
Regardless of where you’re at with your money, your spending, and your income, I would invite you to consider joining the movement “Give, Save, Live.”
Importance of Budgeting
When it comes to budgeting, I could do with more accountability. A better system could stand to be in place, and don’t get me wrong, I’ve been through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, I’ve heard of the envelope system, and while I know the system holds stock for a lot of people, I haven’d found it practical for me.
I’m not one to carry a large stack of bills with me anywhere. In fact, I rarely see my actual money any more. It’s all kept on cards. But lucky for me, I have a great church that teaches applicable lessons like how to budget every Sunday. And the lessons on money we teach apply to even those of us who keep all our money on pieces of plastic.
Our church, Woodstock City Church, part of the North Point Ministries based out of Alpharetta, GA, is more than just a typical church by the way. For us, our church is family. And within any good family, there are lessons. Lessons learned and lessons passed down, from generation to generation.
And for me, the most memorable lessons are the practical ones. What could be more practical than lessons on how to be a good steward of my money? Are you with me?
Because it’s with a whole lot of regret, I’ll admit I haven’t always been the best about that. Being a good steward.
I haven’t always been the best steward of my money, or my time. But I’m willing to learn, and our God is full of mercy. And so, I’m trying to do better.
Being a Good Steward
I remember spending years of wasted time skimming through magazines. Magazines about running, fitness, health, pregnancy, and parenting, among others. And while spending time on those topics is fun for me, and it can be educational, I know me. I know what my time would have been better spent on. And for me, some words of wisdom sprinkled in these magazines about financial responsibility would have done me worlds more good than learning which shoes were best for running on trails.
What did it really matter what number marriage the latest celebrity queen was on? What did it matter who wore what to the latest red carpet awards program? It didn’t, and still doesn’t, affect me so it’s not purposeful. So in regards to being a better steward of my time, I no longer spend time on those magazines. Or I should say, I don’t spend nearly the amount of time on them that I used to.
Nowadays, I’m more likely to be seen reading my Bible or listening to a recent broadcast from a church service past than filling my time with the unimportant celebrity gossip. That’s because the Bible is far more practical. The advice in it far more important to my every day life.
Unlike the latest issue of Teen Vogue or People, The Bible offers something far more important. It offers wisdom for the taking. And the offer of a free gift (salvation) worth valuing.
The Bible is full of practical advice and lessons. It’s positively filled with applicable life lessons- not just historical ones. And several of those practical lessons center around something all peoples still value today. Values, beliefs, and how to live not just a moral, but better life. It’s all there, tied in amongst the parables our Lord Jesus Christ was so famous for. Parables on things like… money.
What to do with money. How to store it, how to use it. And does it truly matter. All of those topics are addressed in the Bible. And one of my favorite parables about money is in the book of Matthew.
Matthew 25:14-30 talks about the parable of talents. Meaning money. In it, a master leaves home, but not before giving three of his servants money to be cared for in his absence.
The first servant is able to invest the 5 bags of money he was given, and upon the master’s return has doubled the amount. His master praises him as a good and faithful servant.
The second servant was given 2 bags of money and doubled it as well. The master praises this servant the same as the first.
But by this point, we in the audience are antsy and uncomfortable. Because we know that the third servant was only given a single bag. So what did the third servant do with his one bag? Did he, like the first two, double his share and receive praise from the master? The answer is… no. He did not.
We learn upon reading Matthew that the third servant not only disappointed, but angered his master. And it wasn’t just his actions, but his thoughts, words, and heart that fell short. The third servant accuses the master of reaping where he had not sown. *gasp!*
He accuses his master of being a hard man. *gasp again!* And the servant uses these reasons to justify why he had taken his one bag and buried it. To be given back to the master upon his return, just what had been given the servant.
Not good. Not good at all.
This story clearly illustrates what it means to be both a good steward of what has been given to us (see the first two servants) and what it means to be a poor steward of what is given to us (cue the third servant).
The third servant, for his lack of using what had been given him, received not only a scolding, but ultimately lost everything he had once had. He was thrown out into the street. Tossed out of his master’s house, and out of his life.
A harsh lesson, but a good one, in driving home the importance of being a good steward. Using what we have been given, both time, money, and all else. Which brings us to the principle I mentioned at the beginning.
The idea of Give, Save, Live.
Give, Save, Live
At least once a year in our church, because it does bear repeating, is this lesson. The lesson to give, save, spend. That’s the gist of what we ought to do.
Or as some would say, give, save, LIVE.
To break it down, we need to give first. Give at least 10%.
Second, we need to save. Means pay yourself. A good rule of thumb is to save at least 10%. And again, this is a biblical principle because the rain falls on the just and the unjust. In this life you will have tribulation and trials. And during those storms, those rainy times, you’ll be grateful to have a savings to fall back on.
And the other 80%? Live off the rest. Live off the 80%. To which many of us, myself for the longest time included, balked.
Deeper Issues of the Heart
What our pastor Andy Stanley mentions for those of us that make excuses that sound a lot like “We just can’t”, he says this. When he hears people like myself once upon a time say
“We just CAN’T give 10%-” or “We just CAN’T live off ‘only’ 80%-”
What he says is that if we find that to be difficult- living off “only” 80% of our income. He says then that the issue is far deeper than money.
If we “can’t” live off “only” 80%, then we probably “can’t” live off 100% either. See where I’m going?
It’s all about this thing called a Budget. But more than that it’s about our hearts.
For many of us, a budget is no fun.
A budget means no spending. It means not getting what we want when we want it. It means putting into practice these virtues called persevering and patience. Yes, patience. Delayed gratification. Waiting for what we want most instead of getting what we want now.
In a society that is all about the now and the me, hearing we need to save and give are hard principles. Hard principles to adhere to and hard principles to hear. Because isn’t everything that comes my way for me?
Well, is it? What do you think?
When you get paid, where does that paycheck go? To buy food, buy gas, pay bills, all that. But after all the necessaries like rent and loans and electric bills are paid in full, what then? Is there any left over?
Could there be?
Good Stewards of Money
Our church is so focused on getting people on track with their money that Dave Ramsey, the financial guru himself, has spoken at our church. We also use his course, Financial Peace University, within our church’s Moneywise mentor program.
And it’s not so much that the church wants to get involved in our finances. But God does.
Think about it.
As Christians, something non-Christians mention repeatedly as the reason they have run away from Christ’s pursuit of them and why they have run away from the church is Christians and their HYPOCRISY.
Let me explain.
See, we claim to follow God. We claim we’re following the Bible and Christ’s teachings. We claim that the God of the universe has saved us and is in control of our lives.
And yet, so many of us, even Christians, run away from Him. We run from his teachings. The Bible actually has a lot to say about money and what we ought to be doing with it. And it’s not because GOD needs our money. Not even the church needs our money.
But we need to be good stewards of our money. It’s what we’ve been called to.
If It Comes My Way, It Must Be For Me
Do you believe that everything that comes your way is for you? I once believed that. I thought every time I got paid, it was for me, all for me. That every time someone gave me a gift, oh joy, it’s for me. But the truth of the matter is, is that as a Christian, I have been called to a higher purpose. I’ve been called to help others. To help them know Christ, and to help them in general.
So many of us, myself included, we operate under the assumption that everything that comes our way is for who? Me. But we’re wrong.
Because God doesn’t give us an abundance just so we can over indulge in the latest technology. He doesn’t give me a raise so I can get the newest iphone. God doesn’t give me an excess so I can add some more Asics to my ever growing shoe collection. He doesn’t allow a complete stranger to buy my over priced designer coffee in drive thru simply so I can turn around and order some Biscotti to go with it.
God gives to us, so that we can give to others.
And I know what you’re thinking because I was once in the same boat. But I don’t have money to spare, am I right? How can I be called to give to others, when I myself am living paycheck to paycheck. Which, according to a recent podcast I was listening to, that’s almost 1 in every 3 Americans.
1 in 3. So what is a Christian to do, in hard times?
Financial Peace, and Financial Security, are about more than what’s in my paycheck. It’s about how I spend what’s in the paycheck. Goes back to that thing called a budget.
But before I offend anyone, let me say that I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to have to trim my spending. Tighten my belt and stop over indulging. But I also know what it’s like to have to skimp on expenses because there is no other way. I know what it’s like to be broke.
Did you know that even Dave Ramsey once declared bankruptcy? Shocker!
It’s shocking because of where he is now. But I use him as an example to say, we’ve all been there. We all have.
We’ve all had to reach a place of brokenness, a time when we are completely dependent on God, for us to realize how much wriggle room we actually have in our budget.
We’ve all had to learn how to do better. Be better.
In one of Dave’s audio tapes for Financial Peace, he says that more than one person has come up to him and said, “You know. I think that bankruptcy changed you.”
And he replies along the lines of, “It sure did!”
Because after going through that kind of struggle. Financial struggle. Losing all his money. Losing most of his earthly belongings. And ALMOST losing his wife- because you can’t kid yourself. Financial trouble does put a strain on a marriage.
After all that and a lot of talks with God…
He got his head on straight. And got out of debt.
Both Dave and Andy will agree. In order to live right, and get right with our finances, we have to think of our money as not even belonging to us at all. Really.
Because our money is a gift. A gift from God.
And with such a gift, comes a lot of responsibility.
Because that gift is NOT just for us. It’s for us to further the kingdom of Christ and help others.
Which is why we implement the principle:
Give. Save. Spend. Or as I put it initially, and I meant it: Give. Save. Live.
Give 10%. To your church or favorite charity.
Save 10%. Put it in savings, a mutual fund, or what have you.
And the other 80%. Live off that.
And go from there.
Take Control of Your Finances
Do you agree that Give, Save, Live could make all the difference for the better in your finances? What about in your life?
Comment below if think Give, Save, Live would work for you, your family, and budget, or if you think there’s room for improvement.
How do you budget? Let us know!