In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus told us,
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Wherever your treasure is, usually money or valuable items, that’s where your heart will be, meaning it’s important to us. It’s important to us because we need it to live, to pay the bills, to buy essentials such as food and clothing and shelter. We also need it to buy or pay for entertainment. Because it’s so important, we need to deal with it correctly, in a Biblical fashion, in a way that’s pleasing to God.
The free enterprise system, which is what America uses, runs on money. So does government. The difference is; in the free enterprise system (incorrectly known as capitalism), money comes from earning it through long hours of hard work. In government, money comes from the taxing it away from those who’ve earned it. It doesn’t take a genius, or an Ayn Rand, to spot the conflict between the two. One wants what the other has and power goes to whoever gets the most.
The third section of this book, ‘Dangerous Servant’, deals with issues of government, and one of those issues, naturally, is taxes. Money, like the discussion of Islam in the next chapter, is the kind of topic which is both cultural and governmental in nature so there’s obviously going to be a great deal of overlap between this section of the book and the next. You can’t really split them apart, although the specific issue of taxes, how they’re imposed, calculated and collected; deserves, and receives, a separate chapter. Here we’re going to look at family finances, church finances and the free enterprise system, with occasional forays into governmental matters as required, then tackle taxation in the next section.
The Bible has a lot to say about money. Jesus Himself, talked about money more than any other topic, even more than heaven and hell. One of the key passages on this topic, with an extremely broad application, is in Luke 14, where Jesus was addressing a large crowd, and through three parables, tries to get them to understand the cost of following Him as well as that they have to finish what they start. The second dealt with building a tower;
Luke 14:28-30 - For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.”?
Counting the cost, in financial terms, means counting your money. Do you have enough for whatever project or plan you intend to carry out? If you want to buy a house, do you have enough for the down payment? Can you afford the monthly mortgage payments without shorting yourself on food, clothing, gas, electricity and other essentials? Do you have enough saved and set aside for emergencies? Are you sure of your figures or are they just ‘guesstimates’? If you haven’t budgeted and planned properly, you’re going to come up short, and deserve any and all derision which comes your way. It’ll wind up costing you more than you have to get out from under the mortgage, then you’ll be worse off than if you’d never started in the first place. To manage your money effectively, the first thing you need to do is get out of debt. Proverbs 22:7 tells us,
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant (or slave) to the lender.
If you’ve ever sweated a loan payment on a car or house and had to cut and scrape to make it, you know what this Proverb is talking about. All you have to do is miss a few payments and you’ll find out who really owns it. Here’s a hint: if you owe money on it, it’s not yours.
Courses on Biblically-based, family budgeting and planning are readily available, usually through your local church. Dave Ramsey’s courses are among the most well-known, but there are many others too. You and your spouse need to take the courses together, learn together, agree together and plan together. You have more money than you think you do if you’ll only create a wise budget then stick to it. My wife and I took the Dave Ramsey course and were frankly amazed at how much of our money was being literally frittered away on nothing. It ran through our hands faster than it came in. Some years ago I heard a pastor, by the name of Blain Markham, preaching on this subject and for most people, he said, “There’s too much month left at the end of the money.”
Truer words were never spoken!
So get out of debt. Do whatever you have to. Take some of those courses, put their methods to work in your life. Make a budget and stick to it. Cut back wherever you can and put all the excess on your smallest debt first. Once it’s paid off, roll all that money over onto the next larger debt and pay it off, then the next, and the next, and the next, until you’re completely out of debt.
Next, save up 3-6 months of money in the bank, enough that if you and your wife (or husband) were both laid off and had zero money coming in, you could live off your savings for 3-6 months. If an emergency comes up where you’d normally use a credit card to take care of it, use your savings instead. Pay cash instead of racking up all those outrageous credit card interest rates. And don’t worry; once you’ve accumulated enough money to pay for emergencies like that, you’ll have confidence in your ability to replace it in short order. It’s a very powerful feeling.
Set up a second savings account to save for predictable, upcoming expenses. For instance; if you know you’re going to need a new car in a couple of years, start saving for it so you can pay cash instead of taking out another high-interest loan from the bank. Have another savings account for your vacations. A separate account lets you keep your vacation money from getting mixed up with your money, so you don’t wind up short when you want to take that trip of a lifetime.
Another thing you might want to consider is keeping your money in a safety deposit box in cash instead of putting it in a savings account. Interest on savings accounts rarely, if ever, keeps up with inflation, so you’re not really losing anything by “stuffing it under the mattress” so to speak. You also ensure the bank can’t freeze your account during a financial crisis, which they have been known to do. The contents of a safety deposit box are beyond their reach, and while they may lock their doors for a day or two, once they open up you’ll have full access to all your cash while your neighbors may be stuck only being able to withdraw small amounts of their money at a time. And it doesn’t do any good protesting because once you deposit your money in a banking account; technically, legally, it belongs to the bank. I know it sounds crazy, but if you read the fine print when you open an account, it’s right there in black-and-white.
You can’t go through life these days without a bank account of some kind, but keep as little money in it as possible. If you don’t like the idea of a safety deposit box, get a heavy, floor safe for use at home. But no matter what you decide, stay as liquid as you can. Perilous days are approaching and fortune favors those who prepare.
As America spirals further down the drain of corruption and sin, financial institutions, and even money itself, may not be trustworthy. Give serious thought to keeping some part of your money in sellable items. I know a man who, every time he gets some extra money, buys saddles. He spends a lot of time around rodeos where buying and selling saddles is the work of a few minutes. The bank, or these days, the government, might try to confiscate your money, but it’s doubtful they’ll look in the garage for five or six saddles to take from you. Keep your money in commodities where it’s safe(r).
The commodities you’ll use will vary depending on what part of the country you’re in. Some will be valuable no matter where you are. Gold, silver and land are obvious, but your personal interests may lead you to a commodity others wouldn’t think of, like my friend and his saddles. Look around and try different things. Be creative!
In summary; get out of debt no matter what it takes, save 3-6 months’ worth of cash, keep it where you can get to it quickly and store some of it in commodities that are easy to sell or trade. And don’t go into this in a lackadaisical way either; dive into it, be driven to succeed. Dave Ramsey is fond of quoting Proverbs 6:5 which says:
Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
If you’ve ever watched one of those nature shows set in Africa you might have seen a video of a lion chasing a gazelle – a variety of antelope – across the plains. The gazelle runs and jumps like crazy, turning this way and that to escape. He’s putting his whole heart and soul into it. After all, the lion is only running for his lunch; the gazelle is running for his life. That’s the way you should be about getting out of debt and saving up your emergency fund – run like your life depends on it, with gazelle intensity. We’re called to be wise stewards of what God has given us. Get on that budget and stick to it! There’s also the added benefit of knowing that everything is taken care of and you can quit worrying about money. It lowers your stress level. Like Forrest Gump said, “It’s one less thing.”
It’s also Biblical. As we’ve already seen in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus told us to count the cost, one of the best definitions for budgeting I’ve ever heard. We have similar advice from Proverbs.
Proverbs 10:4 – He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
Proverbs 21:5 – The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty surely to poverty.
Proverbs 27:23-24 – Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.
Counting the cost, budgeting, planning ahead, saving and being frugal, being a wise steward with your money, is the Christian thing to do. Which means the very first thing you should do with your money, before anything else we’ve talked about, is tithe.
The word tithe literally means, ‘a tenth’. In the Old Testament and the New, we’re called to give the first ten percent of our money back to God. Remember, He gave it to us in the first place, so we’re returning the part He says is His anyway. Trust God with the first tenth of your money and He will multiply the remaining ninety percent to cover all your needs. Also remember, tithing is an outward demonstration of an inward truth; that you’re saved, grateful to God and obedient to His Word. To put it succinctly, tithing is the result of your salvation. When I see a person who doesn’t tithe, I wonder if they’re really saved or not. I can’t see their heart, only God can do that, but their outward behavior makes me wonder.
Tithing assumes you’re attending church on a regular basis, preferably the same church each week. Church hopping is a convenient way to avoid accountability and provides a ready excuse for not tithing; “Oh, we’re just visiting. We’ll start tithing when we find a church we like.” Uh hunh. Sure you will.
If you won’t find a church to attend (and won’t is the correct word) you’ll never tithe. If you never tithe you’re being disobedient to God’s Word. If you’re disobedient to God’s Word you need to check your salvation to see if it’s real or not.
God promises us a blessing when we tithe. He even challenges us to test Him on it in Malachi 3:10,
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.
In Proverbs 3:9-10 we see this,
Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.
Trust God with your money. You won’t be disappointed. But don’t stop there. There are plenty of Christian charities that need money and volunteers. As the days get darker and evil descends on America, Christians will need to turn to each other for help more and more often. The government has become the enemy; we have to depend on ourselves and our own network of contacts and organizations. Don’t hold back because of fear. Be courageous, honor God with your first fruits and more and He will honor you.
This brings us to church finances. Leaders in the church are called to be wise stewards of the money brought in by the tithes of the members. The tithes should be spend only on those things which either support the local church and its congregation – mortgage, electricity, sewer, water, trash, etc. – or missionary work which advances the cause of Christ in the surrounding community, state, nation and around the world. Missionary work has always been important. To date, churches in America have mainly sent missionaries overseas. Today we should send them to, of all places, the United States. Our own country has become such a hotbed of apostasy, blasphemy and heresy as to make Sodom and Gomorrah look virginal by comparison. Send your missionaries across the street, downtown or to the grocery store; they’ll find more than enough non-believers to keep them busy for the rest of their lives!
The Bible also instructs us to financially support our spiritual forefathers, the Jews. In Romans 15:25-27 (NIV), the Apostle Paul, a former member of the Sanhedrin, tells us,
Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord's people there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.
The context makes it clear Paul is talking about the church in Jerusalem but he didn’t limit the material blessing to only the church. He specified the Jews. He even lays out the reasons. The Jews have given us spiritual blessings in the form of the Abrahamic Covenant, the Commandments, the Law and the Prophets, and Jesus Himself. We in turn owe them a debt which can be paid with material blessings in the form of financial support.
The church here in America should send two tithes to Israel. The first one to the messianic churches in Israel. Do a Google search for Messianic Jewish churches in Israel and you’ll be amazed at the whole laundry list of churches that pops up. The other tithe should be sent to the newly reconstituted Sanhedrin, ear-marked for the construction of the Temple. A tithe to the Jewish churches in Israel and a tithe to the Sanhedrin is double what the Bible asks for, but all things considered it’s the very least we should do for them. Remember what God said in Genesis 12:3 to Abraham,
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
The blessings of God are worth more than silver and gold. Don’t you want His blessings on your church? On your family? Give more than He asks for, because you want to honor His Chosen People, then watch the blessings flood over your life and your church.
The free enterprise system, contrary to popular opinion is not a secular invention. It is explicitly a religious one. There are numerous verses to back this up. Summarized below are some of them.
There is one verse so explicit it bears quoting in full. Let’s take a look at James 4:13-15.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
So you see, the Flying Spaghetti Monster didn’t invent free enterprise, or the mind of man, or anything else; God did. Since God never creates anything wrong or evil, we can be sure free enterprise is a good thing. The free exchange of goods and services is one God has blessed throughout Scripture. Therefore, because the free enterprise system was created by God you need to defend it wherever you go, whoever you talk to.
The enemy, Leftists composed of secularists, atheists, agnostics, progressives, liberals, socialists, Marxists and communists, fervently believe free enterprise is evil to the core. They believe this because they don’t trust individuals, they only trust collective groups. In their minds, individuals are unpredictable and hard to control, like herding cats or stacking marbles in a corner, and what’s hard to control is automatically evil to them. Their entire ideology is based on human control, specifically their control, of everything in the world, especially people who may not do the “right thing” as they conceive it. Consequently they attack the free enterprise system every chance they get.
They start by changing the name to capitalism. The name “free enterprise” contains that nasty little word “free” which too many of the great unwashed masses (that’s you and me) idealize and enjoy. They don’t want anything to be free unless they’re the ones supplying it, in which case its “free” only if you agree to their terms and conditions, in the same way welfare is “free” only if the woman is single. If she had the audacity to get married, no free stuff for her.
The moment they do this in a conversation, stop them in their tracks. Remind them that the word capitalism is a recent invention, mostly popularized by Karl Marx, the Father of Communism, so right there it’s a tainted word, used to mischaracterize the free enterprise system. Don’t let them use it. Every time they say, “Capitalism,” interrupt by interjecting the words, “Free enterprise system,” then watch how fast their heads explode.
The second thing they do is misquote Scripture or take it out of context to try to advance some Never-Never Land version of “fairness.” This is one of their favorite weapons against Christians. When you run into this – and you will – turn the tables on them by quoting one of my favorite passages to them, Psalm 50:16-17,
But to the wicked God says: What right have you to declare my statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew definition of the word wicked is “hostile to God.” A Leftist or any of the other types I listed above is, by definition, openly and actively hostile to God. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve seen it yourself a million times. They hate God and want nothing to do with Him, so calling them wicked is calling them exactly what they are. As such God emphatically says they have no right to quote His Word – none!
So they moment they try, quote this Psalm to them and let them know, in no uncertain terms, they have no right to quote the Bible and you’re not going to listen to them try. Completely ignore any Scripture they bring up. They’re only using it to twist it anyway.
The third thing they do is try to drown you in details, bog you down in arguing the minutiae of this regulation or that, the supposedly unequal results of some specific point as opposed to what it “should be.”
This is a trap. Don’t get caught in it. Instead, remind them of John F. Kennedy’s famous economic saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Kennedy is a favorite icon of the Left so quoting him puts them at an immediate disadvantage, but more importantly, it’s true. As the general economic welfare of the nation improves, everyone, from the richest to the poorest, benefits from it. Just look at the proliferation of mobile phones and computers created by the free enterprise system. Today they’re so cheap everyone has them. And government had nothing to do with it. Leftists especially hate that.
Since you can’t win an economic argument with a Leftist who is a policy wonk, which most of them are, by letting them define the terms of the debate, you have to change the terms. Otherwise they’ll run circles around you. Change the terms by arguing broad topics such as morality, freedom and right and wrong where you have the God-given advantage.
So the answer is…get out of debt, be a wise steward of your money, tithe to your church, and defend our God-given free enterprise system. It really is that simple.