He who has been stealing must steal no longer , but must work , doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need . Ephesians 4:28
1) Steal to get
2) Work to get
3) Work to get to give
Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 2 Cor. 8:8
Simple Living or Strategic Living?
Questions: What are your experiences with debt?
What debts have you incurred that you consider wise decisions? Which have you later regretted?
If you were give sixty seconds to talk to a 19 year old about debt, what would you say?
Debt: Borrowing and Lending
Their property held them in chains …chains which shackled their courage and choked their faith and hampered their judgment and throttled their souls. They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they rather who are owned : enslaved as they are to their own property, they are not the masters of their money but its slaves .
Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, AD 240
Owe nothing to anyone.
Romans 13:8, NASB
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender .
No man can serve two masters.
You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
1 Corinthians 7:23
He will lend to you , but you will not lend to him. He will be the head, but you will be the tail. All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the LORD your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you.
Others were saying, “ We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.” Still others were saying, “ We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards .…We have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others .”
The wicked borrow and do not repay , but the righteous give generously .
Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later ; I’ll give it tomorrow”—when you now have it with you.
Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts ; if you lack the means to pay , your very bed will be snatched from under you.
My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another, if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, to free yourself , since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:
Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor! Allow no sleep to your eyes , no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter , like a bird from the snare of the fowler.
The debt mentality:
We need more than God has given us.
God doesn’t know best what our needs are.
God has failed to provide for our needs, forcing us to take matters into our own hands.
If God doesn’t come through the way we think he should, we can find another way. (e.g. Abraham and Sarah, Genesis 16:2).
Just because today’s income is sufficient to make our debt payments, tomorrow’s will be too.
Our circumstances won’t change. Our health will remain good, we’ll keep our present job, our salary will keep up with inflation, and God won’t direct us to another job with a lower salary or lead us to increase our giving.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Wait for the LORD ; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
Questions to ask before Taking on Debt
Is debt our way of getting around depending on God? ( Why trust God to provide when we can just go get a loan?)
Is debt our means of bypassing the God-created means of acquisition —including work, saving, planning, self-discipline, patience, and waiting for divine provision?
What are we saying to God when we go into debt rather than live on what He has provided? About God’s sovereignty, goodness, wisdom, or timing ? What does it say about our view of God?
What effect will going into debt today have on our ability or willingness to give generously tomorrow?
What effect will today’s decision to go into debt have on tomorrow’s freedom to follow God wherever he wants us to go?
By taking out a loan that commits us to make payments over years, are we presuming upon God? (Plans change, companies go out of business, and employees fail to get “certain” promotions.)
Although our income today might be enough to make debt payments, is it right to assume that we’ll continue to generate the same income? (Has God promised that to us? Where?)
Are we mortgaging the future to pay for the whims of the present ? Are we arm-twisting God by supposing to commit him to pay off something he may disapprove of?
Is debt our way of getting around depending on God? of circumventing prayer, patience , and waiting on God to provide?
If we “must” go into debt to provide for our “needs,” is it because our “needs” are really wants in disguise? Have we spent so much money on our wants that there’s not enough left for our needs? Have we robbed God and forfeited his financial blessing by failing to give him the firstfruits?
Have we exhausted all other avenues to avoid going into debt? Have we given up expensive activities, hobbies, and memberships, and liquidated valuable possessions? (We may think we have no choice but to go into debt, while we go right on making unnecessary choices driving us toward it.)
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
Instead, you ought to say, “ If it is the Lord's will , we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag . All such boasting is evil. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
When Debt Is Especially Dangerous
When a possession’s resale value is less than what is owed.
When it tempts us to violate our convictions.
When we’re tempted to rob our primary creditor (God) to pay our secondary creditors (people).
When our monthly payments leave us little freedom to respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to give generously to meet others’ needs.
When it restricts our freedom to respond to the Holy Spirit’s call to move or change.
Churches and Debt
Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work .
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it ? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him , saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.”
It is really just as easy for God to give beforehand . He prefers to do so. He is too wise to allow His purpose to be frustrated for lack of a little money; but money wrongly placed or obtained in unspiritual ways is sure to hinder blessing.
And what does going into debt really mean? It means that God has not supplied your need . You trusted Him, but He has not given you the money; so you supply yourself, and borrow. If we can only wait right up to the time, God cannot lie, God cannot forget: He is pledged to supply all your need.
The Unintended Consequences of Church Debt (Berg & Burgess)
Becoming the slave of a lending institution
Becoming a slave to big givers
Becoming trapped by financial pressure
Becoming mired in an endless cycle of borrowing
Losing flexibility to respond to ministry opportunities.
Portraying borrowing as a way of demonstrating faith rather than substituting for it.
Jeff Berg & Jim Burgess, The Debt-Free Church
Benefits of Not Borrowing for Church Buildings (Berg)
Creates greater dependence on God
Allows God to show His faithfulness
Teaches importance of giving
Teaches people to avoid debt and bondage
Testifies to the world about the reality of the gospel (Philippians 2:15; 1 Peter 2:9, 12)
Promotes biblical fund-raising by simply presenting the need and trusting God to provide through his people’s generous giving
Sets a financial example for believers
Helps guard ministries from hard economic times (Proverbs 22:27)
Allows flexibility for a church to respond to ministry opportunities
Is Borrowing an Act of Faith?
Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”—when you now have it with you.
How to Get out of Debt
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind . Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Immediately give God the firstfruits.
Incur no new debts.
Systematically eliminate existing debts.
Perform plastic surgery on your credit cards.
Stop rationalizing your debt habit.
If debt seems the best or a necessary choice, go slowly and prayerfully.
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22
Learn the difference between saving and spending .
List your debts and, if necessary, contact your creditors.
If you’ve done everything else and it still seems insufficient, consider ways to increase income in order to eliminate debts.
Financial Principles to Live By
Nothing is a good deal unless you can afford it.
Before you take matters into your own hands, God wants an opportunity either to provide your needs or to show you that they aren’t really needs .
Just because you can afford something doesn’t mean God wants you to get it.
In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
Genesis 41 : Joseph and Seven Years
Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. Hoarding is idolatry.
*I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones , and there I will store all my grain and my goods . And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years . Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”
“ You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” Jesus promises, “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
Whoever trusts in his riches will fall , but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. Proverbs 11:28
Now listen, you rich people , weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you . Your wealth has rotted…your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.… You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence .
This is what the LORD com-manded: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs . Take an omer for each person in your tent.’
The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.
Each one gathered as much as he needed .
Then Moses said to them, “ No one is to keep any of it until morning .”
However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell . So Moses was angry with them.
Distinguishing Saving from Hoarding
* 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.
2 Corinthians 8:14
God pours out his choicest blessings on those who are anxious that nothing shall stick to their hands . Individuals who value the rainy day above the present agony of the world will get no blessing from God.
Retirement Savings: Cautions
Poor Widow, Mark 12
Rich fool, Luke 12
Treasures on earth or heaven, Matthew 6
Neither poverty nor riches Proverbs 30:8
Not too much, not too little 2 Corinthians 9
Retirement planning so dominates the thinking of Christians who have sizable incomes that they overkill in this area enormously. The fear of doing without in the future causes many Christians to rob God’s work of the very funds he has provided. These monies are tucked away in retirement accounts for twenty to forty years.
God’s Word does not prohibit but rather encourages saving for the future, including retirement (Proverbs 6:6-11; 21:20), but the example of the rich fool, given by the Lord in Luke 12:16-20, should be a clear direction that God’s balance is “when in doubt—give; don’t hoard.”
How to Use Your Money Wisely
Christians often look to man for help and counsel, and mar the noble simplicity of their reliance upon their God .…If you cannot trust God for temporals, how dare you trust Him for spirituals? Can you trust Him for your soul’s redemption, and not rely upon Him for a few lesser mercies?
Is not God enough for thy need , or is His all-sufficiency too narrow for thy wants ?…Is His heart faint? Is His arm weary?
If so, seek another God ; but if He be infinite , omnipotent, faithful, true, and all-wise, why gaddest thou abroad so much to seek another confidence ?
Why dost thou rake the earth to find another foundation , when this is strong enough to bear all the weight which thou canst ever build thereon?…
Let the sandy foundations of terrestrial trust be the choice of fools , but do thou, like one who foresees the storm, build for thyself an abiding place upon the Rock of Ages . Charles Spurgeon,
Morning and Evening
Christian Foundations and Postponed Giving
Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need…There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need .
Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35
We who formerly treasured money and possessions more than anything else now hand over everything we have to a treasury for all and share it with everyone who needs it.
(2nd century church leader)
* 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: “He who gathered much.
2 Corinthians 8:14-15
*You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion , and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11
Neither in the privacy of his home, nor at the table, nor in the aisles of his church, nor during business hours, nor anywhere was he secure from insistent appeal.… He was constantly hunted, stalked, and hounded almost like a wild animal .
Frederick T. Gates, John D. Rockefeller Sr.’s chief philanthropic advisor
*People say, “The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.”
“ Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?
“ Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough… You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
Churlish souls stint their contributions to the ministry and missionary operations, and call such saving good economy; little do they dream that they are thus impoverishing themselves. Their excuse is that they must care for their own families, and they forget that to neglect the house of God is the sure way to bring ruin upon their own houses .
Our God has a method in providence by which He can succeed our endeavors beyond our expectation, or can defeat our plans to our confusion and dismay ; by a turn of His hand He can steer our vessel in a profitable channel, or run it aground in poverty and bankruptcy .
It is the teaching of Scripture that the Lord enriches the liberal and leaves the miserly to find out that withholding tendeth to poverty.
Insurance: God’s Tool or God Substitute?
“ Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the LORD, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.” Isaiah 30:1-2
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?.... For the pagans run after all these things , and your heavenly Father knows that you need them . But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness , and all these things will be given to you as well .
The Bottom Line: Dependence
Reserves are crutches and props which become a substitute for trust in the Lord. We can’t trust when we can see. Once we decide to provide for our future, we run into these problems. How much will be enough? How long will we live? Will there be a depression? Will there be
inflation? Will we have heavy medical bills? It is impossible to know how much will be enough. Therefore we spend our lives amassing wealth to provide for a few short years of retirement . In the meantime, God has been robbed and our own life has been spent in seeking security where it cannot be found .
How much better it is to work diligently for our current necessities, serve the Lord to the maximum extent, put everything above present needs into the work of the Lord , and trust him for the future.
Dixie Fraley: “Bag Lady Syndrome”
What do you think about gambling?
What would you say about gambling to a 19 year old, if you had 60 seconds?
He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty. A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor .
Love your neighbor as yourself.
“ Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial . “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
Can investing be appropriate?
The Stewardship Parables
You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow , because the LORD your God detests them both.
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness , but rather expose them. Ephesians 5:1-11
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.
As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
How Much Risk Is Appropriate?
The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
He who gathers money little by little makes it grow.
Four bad reasons for investing Larry Burkett
greed (1 Timothy 6:9)
envy (Psalm 73:3)
pride (1 Timothy 6:17) and
ignorance (Proverbs 14:7).
This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. Luke 12:21
Obtain wise financial counsel.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me. Psalm 16:7
Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors. Psalm 119:24
Wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Proverbs 8:11
The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Proverbs 19:20
The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure…for waging war you need guidance , and for victory many advisers .
Proverbs 11:14; 24:6
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.