The average person does not have a good idea about how to manage money. The consumer debt in America has tripled; the average person in America has more debt than they can handle. Most American families spend more than they earn in a year or just break even. Personal bankruptcies have increased in the last decade. A lot of families worry about money and debt. It is probably the number-one cause of divorce and family feuds.
I want to paint a bright picture for you. The problem today is not that people do not make enough money. The problem is that they do not manage it well. My encouragement to each one of us is that money management is easy, if only we can learn to prioritize, build a realistic budget, and have self-discipline to stick to a budget.
There are three things we can do with money: spend it, save it, share it. I want to share with you God’s method of money management. First Timothy 6:7, NASB, says, “For we have brought nothing into this world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.” Therefore, whose money is it? It is God’s. God owns everything that we have. The truth about money is this: you did not bring it into the world and you cannot take it with you. It is His money and it not ours to hold. We are managers of the money, not the owners of it. It belongs to God.
Put God First. When we put God first, we have to change our order of using money. When we put giving first, God responds to our giving by getting personally involved in our finances. Proverbs 3:9, 10, NIV, says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” When we tithe, it is an act of thanksgiving.
Save Money. 1 Timothy 6:8, NKJV, says, “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” After you return your tithe and offering and meet your immediate needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and personal needs, then you need to pay yourself in the form of saving. We should not spend all that we have. We need to learn to save for the future, for emergencies, for unseen circumstances, for retirement, and for old age.
Spend Money. 1 Timothy 6:6, NASB, says, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” Many of us have rich taste and great spending habits that can be cured with one word: contentment. People think that once we have returned our tithe, we can spend the rest of it any way we want to. I want to remind you to be wise in spending.
The average person spends money quickly, impulsively, and unwisely. We have become slaves to financial institutions that do not know our names; we are only a number in their sight. Remember, the only person who is looking out for your interest is you. Ecclesiastes 6:9, NLT, says, “Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have.”
Proverbs 21:5, GNT, says, “Plan carefully and you will have plenty.” Be cautious of how you spend your money; the best way to do it is by having a realistic budget and sticking to it. It is painful, but it is rewarding.
The question is not “Who owns the money?” The real question is “Who owns you?” Jesus has a claim on you. He signed it with His blood. He died on the cross to pay for your sins and also to pay for you. He is risen from the dead to come into your heart, not just to help you manage your money, but to help you manage your life. The God who owns it all wants to own you, as well.
Leon Thomassian is the Atlantic Union Conference treasurer and trust services director.