The number one problem when it comes to family living isn’t our failure to communicate, as important as that may be. Nor is it what takes place behind the bedroom door, or keeping our in-laws from becoming outlaws. The greatest, single problem facing families today is the handling of money. Scrutinizing this fact, it becomes apparent that the real issue isn’t how much you have or how little you have, but rather it’s our inability to agree about what to do with the money we have.
There are but three things that you can do with money: (1) You can spend it, (2) You can save it, or (3) You can give it away. Generally, we spend far too much, which means there is little, if any, to save, and practically nothing to give, either to charity or to God’s work.
Few people ever consider the fact that God has given us a great deal of direction when it comes to using the resources that we have. In the New Testament, one in 27 verses deals with the wise use of our resources. Considering the four Gospels alone, one verse in seven addresses this issue. There are entire chapters which address the handling of our money. For example, in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians which we know today as 2nd Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9 meet the issue head on.
A tithe of everything…belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. Leviticus 27:30
Obviously, today, with a lot of us in trouble when it comes to the use of our money, we’ve missed some important insights. The result: massive financial problems. For example: Consumer debt today is increasing at an unprecedented rate. Like the person who said, “I’m going to live within my budget even if I have to borrow money to do it,” we’re borrowing money we do not have and then facing greater financial pressure when it comes to paying it back.
As the budget becomes more strained, we borrow more money instead of bringing our expenditures into line with our budget. It’s like exhaling twice without inhaling. It can’t be done, and eventually the debts pile up and create problems. “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another,” wrote Paul to the Romans, and with one sweep of his pen, Paul is saying that borrowing money to pay for your lifestyle is not only bad business, but is contrary to God’s plan for your life.
One of our problems is that we have never taken seriously what God says in His word when it comes to money management, and thinking that Scripture is well meaning but not relevant, we’ve plunged head-on into financial bondage, which is hurting lives and marriages today.
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he said pointedly that God blesses us so we may give, and that as we give, He further multiplies the blessings. Strange mathematics? You bet it is, but it works.
Under the law, God taught that a tenth, or a tithe, belonged to Him, and that this was to be given first—not last, as we often do. When people failed to do this, financial adversity followed. “You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it,” instructed Haggai. “Will a man rob God?” asks the prophet, and the people say, “How do we rob you?” The reply: “In tithes and offerings.” And God said, “You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me” (Malachi 3:8-9).
There is one thing for sure: Consumer debt is a curse today which is stifling many of us. It’s time to go back to the fundamental principles of Scripture, which, incidentally, are good business, and get out of debt and stay out of it.
It begins by recognizing that giving, saving, and spending are an integral part of our relationship with God and that ignoring Him and His direction for our lives produces confusion and chaos. It’s worth thinking about.
Resource reading: Proverbs 22:26-27