Article: MONEY, MONEY, MONEY…, WATCH OUT, BE ON YOUR GUARD! | JACOB VARGHESE

Who doesn’t want just a bit more money? Financial freedom is not based on how much you make; it is based on how you spend what you make. But the more we dream about money, wealth, comfort, and the various things that we would like to have, the more it becomes a hindrance to our faith in Jesus. Money management for a Christian must start with this question: In whom or what, do you place your trust? If you are a follower of Jesus and you want to experience God’s blessing in your finances, “Plan carefully and you will have plenty; if you act too quickly, you will never have enough” (Proverbs 21:5). If you don’t know how to manage money at your current level, you are not going to know how to manage it at the next level. No matter how much or how little income you have, you need to learn how to plan your spending.
It surprises me as a Christian to learn that approximately two-thirds of the parables that Christ used in teaching, deal with finances. Christ never said money or material things were problems. He said that they were symptoms of the real problems. He constantly warned us to guard our hearts against greed, covetousness, ego, and pride, since these are the tools that Satan uses to control and manipulate this world. If you want God to bless every area of your life, including your finances, then be bless-able. Show God that you can be responsible with whatever he’s given you. The first thing is to understand that God is your provider, regardless of where you work. He is the one who supplies your every need. If you think something or someone else is the source, then you are always going to be nervous because that source may not always be there for you; whether it be your job, money, or possessions. The Bible says in Philippians 4:19, “God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”
Financial pundits of this world teach us; If you don’t have the money, borrow it. Even if it is too expensive to afford, you deserve it; and so stretch yourself if you want to be successful in this world. But God’s words on the contrary tells us to learn to be content. Jesus says in Luke 12:15, “Watch out and guard yourselves against every kind of greed; because your true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be.” How do you break the habit of impulse buying? You need to squeeze it into the budget and master your money! You set up a plan and tell your money where you want it to go. One simple step is to shop less. But during times of difficulty and shortage of resources, remember that God is with you and He wants what is best for you.
There is a great temptation to trust in the security money and wealth can provide. The greater the wealth, the greater the temptation to indulge in self pleasure. That is why those who are rich must guard their hearts and minds with the principles of God’s word. God’s plan is clearly stated in 2 Corinthians 8:14 -15 “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written:“The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
We must learn the dangers of wealth and we must master the money we have. ‘Money is an excellent slave but a terrible master’, so don’t let money master you. We all incur some debt at one time or another in our lives so if we can’t get rid of debt altogether, we can at least manage to keep it down to a level where it does not affect the way we live our lives. Credit options are available too easily these days but the fact of mounting unpaid bills can result in feelings of helplessness. Perhaps the instalments of a home loan, vehicle loan, the balance on the credit card, education loan, and many other kinds of personal debts. As a matter of fact, credit options could help enhance your purchasing power for today and postpone your repayments. But each time you take a loan or borrow for something your current income cannot afford, remember that you will end up paying a lot more in the long run.
If you are an impulsive buyer, it would be wise to wait for some time and see how the item you wanted fits into your budget and then make a decision accordingly. Many times, during a sale at your favourite shopping mall, you might not have an urgent need for anything there, but you decide to go window shopping. Finally, you/your spouse found that the pink sari/dress was so reasonable and you bought it even though you already have many including the pink colour. You also bought 2 ties or 2 socks because you got a third one free and the list goes on and on.
You should not spend all that you earn; you need to save for tomorrow. You might need the money during unforeseen rainy days ahead. Save today and the magic of compounding would ensure that you would be able to afford much more tomorrow. Setting a budget for yourself will help you stop impulsive buying. Estimate what you think it costs you to pay your bills of groceries, gas, milk, school fees for children, sundries, and so forth. Then write down everything you actually spend and compare the actual expenses with your estimate and you have probably spent much more than you think you do. Based on that come up with a real budget within the limits of your earnings.
Last but not the least, learn and practise tithing as an important thing in your Christian life. The purpose of tithing is to put God first always in your lives. If you want God to bless something, you have to put Him first in that area. So, if you want God to bless your finances, you have to put Him first in your money. This is the principle of tithing: You give the first 10 percent of your income back to God, though it is a controversial and unpopular topic for Christians. At the beginning of every month, we must cheerfully set apart tithes and offerings for God, and not give Him a part of the leftovers at the end of the month. I believe that if we set apart ten percent of all we earn, the ninety percent will carry us much farther than the hundred percent. Malachi 3:10 says, “‘Bring to the storehouse a full tenth of what you earn . . . Test me in this,’ says the Lord All-Powerful. ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour out all the blessings you need’’”
If we earn ten thousand rupees a month and spend only nine thousand five hundred, we are trouble-free men financially. But if we spend even a hundred rupees more than we earn, we are heading for trouble. A determination ‘not to borrow’ is essential for financial security though on rare occasions we may borrow, the habit of borrowing is best to be avoided. Finally, Christian families should aim at maintaining a simple lifestyle. Many people get into financial difficulties because they try to maintain too high a standard of living, though they cannot afford to, simply because their neighbours do.

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