I’m going to start out with a very controversial statement: God wants you to be rich. Yes, you read that right. God’s desire for you, is for you to have money well beyond your current means. I’ll explain why in a moment.
Let me give you an easier statement first. God wants you to be financially free. When we started talking to you about God’s perspectives on finance, we started with the tithe. The tithe is the foundation for everything involving money and resources, because it is God’s first evaluation of our obedience. Until your giving is in line with God’s call on your life, you are living in sin and preventing yourself from receiving God’s full blessings. Giving is the first step to becoming financially free.
God wants you to be financially free. Debt keeps you from being financially free, because you are in bondage to the people or companies you owe money to. Debt keeps you from giving your resources to God. Debt causes health problems. Debt causes fear. Debt hurts your family, and debt keeps you from hearing from God. Becoming debt-free is the next step to becoming financially free.
Today, we’re going to talk about God’s Provision for Your Family’s Future and What He Expects You to Contribute. God wants you to be financially free. The Scriptures say that He provides for His children. His first provision for you is right in front of you. God has provided for you the means to earn money. And He expects you to work. Paul told the Thessalonians, “we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.” Yes, there are some people who are unable to work. However, if you are able to work, God requires you to. God expects us to work as if we were laboring for Him.
Likewise, you should teach your children to work when they are of a responsible age. Work is God’s first provision for you and your family.
Our response to that provision should be gratitude. Gratitude that leads to personal responsibility. I told you before that the tithe is never mentioned in the New Testament. In fact, the writer of Hebrews does mention the tithe. That letter was written to the Jewish Christians. Christians who were wondering what parts of the Jewish Law they should obey. In Hebrew 7, the Apostle Paul explains that in Jewish history, recorded in the book of Genesis, Abraham offered a tenth of his spoils from war to Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a priest-king, and Paul suggests that Melchizedek is, in fact, Christ. So by offering Melchizedek a tenth of his resources, Abraham fulfilled the law before it became the law. The point made in Hebrews is that the tithe was voluntarily given, not because of a rule or requirement. Giving back to God is a voluntary response to God’s blessings.
And that response does not stop or change simply because you are in retirement. I do not believe God intends for us to work for money our entire lives. I believe that at some point, God plans a different work for us. A lot of Christians hold a hope for heaven in the next life. I believe that God wants us to bring heaven into existence here on earth. This is not a new age idea. Read Revelations 21 & 22. Jesus comes back and takes up residence here, on earth. A new earth – an earth renewed by His people working as He has called them to. God wants you to be financially free so that you can devote more of your time, money and energy to bringing about His kingdom on earth.
When we talked about a spending plan, 10% was to be dedicated to saving for your family’s future needs. In practical terms, there are four areas you need to be saving for. The first is an Emergency Fund. We don’t know what the future holds. Regardless of your health or work situation at this point. There is always a chance you could lose your job or become disabled. How would your family cope if your income stopped? Having an Emergency Fund protects them and gives you time to recover.
Next, you should save for your short term goals. These include vacations, appliances or a new vehicle. Saving now eliminates the need for debt later.
The third area you should save for is your child’s college education. Some people believe that they should pay all of that expense. Others feel that the child should work to pay for school. Either way, there is one thing to consider. If you have the capability to help your children, you should. It is irresponsible to allow your child to go into debt, when you have the ability to help them avoid it.
Second Corinthians 12 points out that, “children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.” That’s not to say they shouldn’t earn the help – with good grades or even repaying a non-interest loan. But until they are no longer under your care, they are your responsibility – and part of that is educating them properly – in word and deed.
The fourth area you should save for is retirement. In the old days, you could rely on your employer. That’s no longer the case. Between 1983 and 1998, two-thirds of the defined benefit or traditional pension plans in the US were terminated. Most of us don’t remember a time without Social Security. But the government can’t help much anymore, either. The Social Security Administration has even told us, “Social Security was never intended to be your only source of income when you retire.” But people aren’t saving. USA Today reports that, “10.6 million people live on social security alone.”
God wants you to be financially free. And He expects you to know what it will require of you. Lack of proper retirement planning leads to the same stress as debt – and the same consequences. Yet, almost three-quarters of workers surveyed had not done a calculation, but only guessed to determine how much money they would need at retirement.
USA Today found that “54% of people in the workforce think they’ll still be working at 65 or older.” Not because they want to. Because they don’t have a choice. 40-percent will need to work, but won’t be able to, for health reasons. And one-third of workers did not save anything for retirement last year.
God teaches us that we should be saving money for the future. In Proverbs, King Solomon wrote a lot about our financial future. “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its way and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”
The biggest challenge for most families is getting started. Procrastination kills the future and leaves us a double burden to bear tomorrow. Take for example a plan to save $500,000. If you start at age 25, you need to only save $78 a month. Wait 10 years and you have to save 3 times as much. Wait until you’re age 45, and you need to save $653 a month. And waiting until you’re 55 is a serious expense. You have to save almost $2500 a month – 31 times as much as you could have saved 30 years sooner.
But where do you put your money? I recommend that everyone puts their long term savings into the global economy, in the form of mutual funds. Although some funds existed in the late 1800’s, the concept of mutual funds was expanded in the 1930’s following the stock market crash. Mutual Funds protect their owners by spreading the risk of the stock market out across hundreds of companies. They also increase the benefit to their owners by allowing them invest, even if they start small. I believe that the use of mutual funds is supported by the Scriptures. Solomon wrote in Proverbs that “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” And in Ecclesiastes, he encourages his readers to “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”
Rule of 72
I started off tonight by telling you that God wants you to be rich. As I said, that is a controversial statement. But it shouldn’t be. As you know, greed is a sin. But once you get adjust your perspectives on finance to agree with God’s principles, you are on the road to financial freedom. And we know that God wants us to be financially free. But for a Christian, that freedom comes with a price. God wants you to be financially free – not so you can sit back and relax, line your pockets, or hoard wealth. No, God wants you to be financially free, so that you have the freedom to serve Him in everything you do.
God wants you to have enough money that it no longer dominates your life. God wants you to have so much that your family is cared for. So much that you can give it away without worrying that you are going to run out. So much that you can move to a higher level of obedience and trust.
Bill Orender says that, “You should earn as much as you are capable of… not necessarily to make your standard of living higher, but to have the freedom to help others when God calls on you. Rather than saying, ‘someone should do something,’ you can be the one glorifying God in the doing.”
The King Solomon agrees: “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” and “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.”
A man named Larry Stewart, from Kansas City, recently died of cancer. Shortly before his untimely death, he admitted to the world that he had been giving away money for 26 years, as a “Secret Santa.” In all, he personally handed out more than 1-million-dollars, anonymously. In addition, he publically gave thousands of dollars to various charities. His story is even more interesting. In December of 1979, he had lost his job – for the second year in a row – the week before Christmas. He was feeling sorry for himself while eating at a drive up restaurant. Then he noticed that the girl who was bringing him his food was wearing a thin coat and shivering from the cold. He tipped her $20.00. Every year after that, every December, he would give away money to people he felt needed it. When he died, he was a millionaire. But when he started giving money away, he was out of a job and close to broke. What lesson can we learn from this?
There is a popular misconception that many Christians labor under. It’s called the ‘scarcity mentality.’ They believe that there are limits to God’s generosity. They believe that there is not quite enough to go around, so they have to hold onto what they have. I’ve even heard one person say that they were careful not to be too generous. There is an old saying that is still true today. You cannot out-give God.
Bishop Larry Goodpaster puts it this way: “This abundant outpouring of God’s Spirit is not to be wasted, hoarded, protected, guarded, or saved. It is to be shared, believing that there will be more than enough for any and every good work undertaken in the name of Jesus.” And Jesus himself is quoted by Luke, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Which measure would you like for God to use when He blesses you? A measure of fullness and generosity or one of greed and stinginess?
In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes, “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
Your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. How would you feel, knowing that God was praised as a result of your giving? Wouldn’t that be a legacy to leave behind? Imagine not being remembered as a man who earned millions of dollars in his lifetime. But instead, as a man or woman or family or church who gave away millions of dollars? This is a spiritual law we can depend on. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
You see the greatest legacy you can leave behind is your example to others. If you have no debt, there is nothing monetarily keeping you from obeying God’s commands. If you give at the level you are called to give, God will bless you in many ways. And if you do your part to preserve your family’s future. If you save what you can when you can so that at some point your life can change. If you dedicate yourself to becoming the man or woman of God that He has called you to be. If you do all these things, your life will change. Your children’s and grandchildren’s lives will change. Your church, your neighborhoods, your cities, your states, your world will see the glory of God reflected in hearts that are truly devoted to Him.
God wants you to be financially free. God wants you to be rich. He wants to be able to bless you far beyond what you can imagine. He wants to do all this so you will be free to serve. He wants to use you to enact His will upon this world. His good, pleasing and perfect will.
I work everyday with families that want to get on that road to financial freedom.
Are you ready to begin? Are you ready to take the first steps towards financial freedom? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to open the doors and allow Christ to influence the way you think, feel and act about money?
I hope you have learned something along the past three weeks. But knowledge is pointless without action. If you truly want to make a change… you must put your beliefs into action.