God is interested in how we use our money and possessions, so let’s follow His ways, says MARK LLOYDBOTTOM
What has happened to your finances over the last 10 years? Have you balanced the books, increased debt, saving ... your giving? In 2000 there were few who could have foreseen the collapse in the global economy, although it was clear that change was on its way.
The last decade has witnessed an unprecedented increase in unsecured lending. In January 2004 household lending had reached £1 trillion – and four years later, this had increased by more than 50%.
Likewise, Government debt has just burst through the £1 trillion ceiling. Yet, even after the planned cuts and tax increases in 2011, this debt will continue advancing until the next General Election (by almost 50%).
A new decade provides an opportune moment to assess plans for the future. The last one was characterised financially by the controversy over MPs’ expenses and City bonuses. What are your expectations and goals for next year – or the next 10 years? If 2010 is a yardstick then we will continue to reduce household debt and increase saving. Maybe our giving will increase, or will the end of 2011 and 2020 reveal that these are just unfulfilled hopes and desires?
As Christians, our faith is grounded in the Bible which contains more than 2,300 verses dealing with money and possessions. When you ‘join the dots’ a picture emerges which shows that God’s way contrasts sharply with the world’s way. However, unlike man’s economy, the good news is that God’s economy is not broken and never will be.
The Bible on money
It all belongs to God. “... for everything in the heavens and earth is yours,” says 1 Chronicles 29:11-12. This verse is reinforced by Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” The writer of Ecclesiastes has a graphic description of this, reminding us that naked we arrive and naked we leave.
So what should our attitude be towards money? Paul tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evil,” while Proverbs 23:4-5 warns us not to “wear yourself out to get rich ... cast a glance at riches, and they are gone.” Many of the world’s possessions are acquired through debt, but often debt exacts a physical toll on us and also induces stress and disharmony in the home.
Taking on debt involves a presumption – that we will be able to earn enough to repay the debt. How do we avoid falling for the world’s consumerist lures? The Apostle Paul counsels us to practise contentment.
Asking God for guidance, and finding out what the Bible has to say about handling money and possessions, is one of the best ways to enter the next decade. His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our paths, illuminating his desire that we should be financially free.
We can put our trust in God’s ways and his blueprint for handling money so that we become financially faithful.
Mark Lloydbottom is the national director of Crown Financial Ministries. Crown has a wide range of books and study materials for individuals and church groups to discover what the Bible has to say about money; how God uses money in our lives; practical steps for getting out of debt and gaining the vision of financial freedom.
Eight financial keys for the next decade
1 Study what the Bible has to say about how we handle money and possessions – the 2,350 verses on the subject represent more than 7% of the Bible.
2 Get on a budget. Many people in the last 10 years spent 105% of their income. Plan now to live and give within your income.
3 Have a reserve fund of £500 for when the car or washing machine needs repairing. We should expect these unexpected costs and ensure our finances are not derailed by unwanted and unplanned for events.
4 Got a car debt? Keep your car after the loan has been repaid and build up a car replacement fund. Use this and the part exchange value of your car to buy your new vehicle.
5 Plan to give. Most plan their holidays in great detail but fail to plan their giving. Remember that everything you have belongs to God, so give back to him knowing that you are never more like Jesus than when you are giving.
6 Save regularly. Proverbs 21:5 encourages us to be steady plodders.
7 Work hard (Proverbs 6: 6-11).
8 Always be honest and obey God (Deuteronomy 25:13-16).
Go to www.crownuk.org
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