Part of what's so weird about where we live is that people look so successful. We live in nice houses, drive nice cars, wear nice clothes and we have good jobs. So we begin to think everybody around has their financial life together. That is…everybody except me. Everybody else understands how the economy works. Everybody has their house paid off. Everybody else can afford their lifestyle. Everybody else knows what their number is for retirement. Everybody but me! Truth is, most of us live with a sense of financial pressure.
The price of rental properties is increasing about 3.4x faster in Denver than the national average. The median home price in metro Denver is $353,500. This is up 12.3% from the same quarter a year ago. Cost of living isn’t going down. Cost of education isn’t shrinking. Levels of indebtedness aren’t declining. Despite appearances….we still worry.
Believe it or not, God does not intend for you to live under financial anxiety or pressure. He actually wants us to be good managers of our finances.
Here are Four Key Indicators Of Financial Health:
1. A Realistic Budget
There is more in the Bible about this than you might think. Prov. 24:27 say “Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” Here we see two categories and two consequences. Outdoor work and fields ready first. Indoor work and build your house second. Here's the idea behind this passage: there are two directions money can flow relative to you. Money can flow toward you (income) or money can flow away from you (expenses). If more is flowing toward you than is flowing away from you, you might be in pretty good shape. If more is flowing away from you, there’s a good chance you're in real trouble. To understand how you are doing, you must establish a budget and stick to it. A realistic budget helps you know when and where to spend your money. A realistic budget will help keep you from making bad decisions. There is no substitute for actually living by a budget. The writer of Proverbs says: Get your fields ready first; then build your house.
How are you doing on the budgeting? Can you say “I have a realistic budget.” “I know what my income is.” “I track my expenses.” “I keep my expenses below my income.”?
2. Freedom from Debt
The Bible has a fair amount to say about debt, and none of it is good.
Proverbs 22:7 says “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant (slave) to the lender.” That picture of slavery or bondage to debt is powerful. There is a law practice in Castle Rock that does a lot of collections work. You can find them by googling Squeezebloodfromaturnip.com That’s what if feels like if you’re living under a cloud of debt. We live in a culture that encourages you to go there. The two big words when it comes to money in our day are “more” and “now”. We are bombarded by messages all the time that tell us the secret to happiness is just getting more. But more never leads to contentment. Between more and contentment is a chasm so vast, nobody has ever been able to cross it.
So, how do you get out of debt? Pick one and pay it off. Some say, pick the one with the highest rate of interest. Others say, pick the smallest one and pay it off. Dave Ramsey wrote a book called The Total Money Makeover. He talks about what he calls the "Debt Snowball" He says, make a list of your debts starting with the smallest one and pay that off first. There's something about when you take that first one out. It’s like a snowball rolling down hill, gathering speed. Once you pay off one debt, you get excited. You realize you can do that again. You can even do it faster. Suddenly there is hope.
How are you doing with debt? Can you say, “I’m free from debt! “I have a plan!”, “I’m working my plan”?
3. Wise Saving
Proverbs 21:20 says: “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” They lived in an agricultural economy, so food, crops, olive oil were the resources of the day. The point is, wise people save…fools don't. According to the Wall Street Journal, 70 % of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck. That is unsustainable. If you want to be wise, be sure you know how much you have set aside for an emergency, for the unexpected. Because if there's one thing you can expect, it's the unexpected! Be sure you know how much is in the 401(k). Be sure you know how much you are setting aside for your children's education.
How are you doing with saving? Can you say, “Yes, I’m saving what I should!”?
4. Generous Giving
This is all about a life that's generous and openhanded and full of wise stewardship. The most important reason for you to manage your money well is that it is not your money. You didn't bring it into this world, and you're not taking it out with you. Psalm 24:1 says: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” We are the stewards, not the owners.
In the Bible, there are many key words. It's kind of interesting to look at how often they're used. Words like “Belief” or “Faith” are really important: 272 times. “Prayer” is really important: 371 times. “Love” is obviously huge: 741 times. The word “Give” is used 2,162 times. The most famous Bible verse is “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Generosity is at the heart of who God is. He is a giver. Our culture screams that it should be all about us, we should have more and now! But that is not how Jesus lived. 2 Cor. 8:9 says that “Jesus, who though he was rich yet for your sakes' he became poor.”
Money is just part of living in the kingdom and part of what God gives to us. It comes and it goes. When we use it for eternal purposes it makes eternal differences.
How are you doing with generosity? Are you living generously or hoarding for yourself?
To hear the sermon that this blog is based on, visit deercreekchurch.com/sermons
Visit an upcoming Sunday at 9:00 or 10:45 AM. More info at deercreekchurch.com/visit/