Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Archive for the ‘Money.’ Category

7 Triggers to Wasting Money.


woman shopping
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

On that sunny afternoon, as my husband and I took a fitness walk along a row of car dealerships, I never dreamed we would be cruising home in a brand-new red Saab convertible. The car just seemed to fit the day. After all, this was Southern California, where sunshine and fancy cars abound.

It is also a place where many judge you by what you drive. Of course, we already owned a prestigious foreign convertible, but it had become a real headache with its never-ending expensive repair bills.

As we negotiated with the Saab salesman to purchase the car, we abandoned the idea of a trade-in because of the tremendous loss we would have had to take on the market value. Besides, we had driven my husband’s car that day, and the problem car was at home. We would just have to sell it on our own.

After several hours of waiting while the salesman repeatedly checked “with the manager in the back,” we drove off into the sunset basking in the exhilaration of having purchased a new toy.

It took only a few days for us to face the sobering reality that we now had three cars to insure and maintain. Plus, the monthly note was so huge that it rivaled the note on a rental property investment!

It took us much longer to sell the headache car than we had anticipated. We finally admitted that we had made an emotional purchase. We had bought the Saab out of frustration with the old car plus a desire to maintain a certain image.

I take no pleasure in sharing this story. In fact, I experienced a great deal of guilt over the transaction because I am a certified public accountant and am assumed by most people to be frugal with myfunds.

My husband is also an astute financial manager. Even though we have never made a purchase we could not afford, emotional transactions simply do not reflect good stewardship of the money God entrusts to us.

After a year, we sold the car and invested in a single-family home, which ultimately yielded a handsome return. God graciously redeemed our mistake.

Unfortunately, the Saab was not the last of our emotional spending.

Emotional Triggers

The problem with an emotional purchase is that it doesn’t eliminate the emotion that motivated it, nor will it bring any lasting satisfaction. Isaiah the prophet asked, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” (Is. 55:2, NIV).

Spending to pacify an emotion is like being given an anesthesia but never getting the required surgery; you get temporary relief, but the problem remains.

I did some honest soul-searching about the car acquisition and concluded that many of my purchases emanated from my basic personality temperament. As a hard-driving, goal-oriented person, I found that my acquisitions were a way of saying, “I’ve made it.”

I wanted to be recognized as a success without having to say a word. After all, I abhorred braggarts, egotists and others who openly exhibited pride because of their possessions.

Having counseled singles, seniors and soulmates—and having observed their spending habits—I have concluded that everyone must come to grips with their emotional view of finances before they attempt to master the mechanics of money management. I can lecture until I’m blue in the face about the importance of having an emergency cash reserve or contributing the maximum amount to the company’s matching retirement plan or getting out of debt. But despite my admonitions, a single overriding emotion can cause anybody to abandon sound financial judgment.

Here are seven emotions that may cause you to spend in an unwise manner and some ways to deal with them:

1. Stress. “You deserve a break today,” declares the popular McDonald’s fast-food slogan. If you are constantly confronted with stressful situations, you do need to find relief—but not through spending.

My husband and I purchased a 32-foot cruiser boat with the hope of finding relief from our stressful schedules. The boat show was held at the marina, so we experienced on the spot what it would be like to chill out on our own boat. Just the thought of leisurely weekends cruising around Southern California’s harbors was enough to seal the deal.

It wasn’t long before the boat itself became a source of stress. Whoever said, “The two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day he purchases it and the day he sells it” was right!

In my book 30 Days to Taming Your Stress, I list 30 ways to address stress, including controlling your finances, setting boundaries, exercising, releasing unrealistic expectations, delegating, saying no and a host of other actions. There are numerous choices available to you to reduce stress—other than spending money!

2. Anger. Shopping may help you work off a little steam; however, if you peel your anger onion, at the core of it you may find you are angry with yourself. Perhaps you tolerated someone’s bad behavior, failed to speak up, put yourself at risk, disappointed God or indulged in a number of other regretful acts.

Before you run to the mall, get in touch with why you are feeling the way you do and deal with the root of the issue. Repent, if necessary, or confront the people involved.

If face-to-face is not possible, then write a letter expressing how you really feel about what has happened and what changes you desire. Ask God to give you His words and His wisdom so that you can be direct, honest and godly in your approach.

3. Boredom. Television and Internet shopping companies thrive off the boredom that drives buyers to indulge their fantasies. The best way to combat boredom is to invest time in meaningful diversions that move you toward your goals or make life better for others. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take a crafts class or other class of interest at your local community college. They are usually low-cost and short in duration and are a great way to meet new people with common interests.
  • Host or teach a class at home on a subject of interest to those in your circle of interaction.
  • Volunteer with a church or other charity to visit nursing homes, hospitals, orphanages or shelters. I used to get great satisfaction from just combing the hair of elderly people who never received any visitors. The staff will welcome your support, and the patrons will never forget your act of kindness.
  • Keep a supply of blank notecards. Send a word of encouragement to someone who needs it (for example, your minister, a college student, a mom with small children or someone who is ill). Helping others is personally rewarding and usually requires little more than your time.

Even if your expenditures seem to be minor, beware. Those frequent discounted purchases can really add up.

Anne, a receptionist, visits the 99 Cents Store when she is bored. She rationalizes that her spending is relatively harmless since the items cost so little. She doesn’t want to face the fact that her regular $5 to $10 purchases exceed a few hundred dollars during the course of a month.

Remember that boredom spending is just a temporary cure. The thrill of the purchase will fade in record time, and then you’ll need another fix. This vicious cycle is sure to keep you in a financial pit.

4. Depression. Recall the last thing you purchased with the hope that it would cheer you up? Did it? If so, for how long?

I know I’m treading on sensitive ground here, but if you are depressed, it may be because you have become the center of your world; you have focused all your attention on how things are affecting you. If you dare to step out of the spotlight and shine it on someone else, you’ll find amazing results.

See the list above for possible activities that may refocus your attention. Also, consider getting a psychological evaluation by a medical professional.

5. Insecurity. When you are unsure of your inherent worth as an individual, you may buy things you think will impress others. One of my counselees, Lucy (not her real name), drives a pricey BMW but cannot afford to go out for Sunday dinner even at an inexpensive restaurant.

“I want a car that’s a good investment,” she lies to me and to herself. The truth is that her entire self-worth is wrapped up in sporting the car around and being admired for owning it. It is her only asset besides her clothes.

If you are like Lucy, ask the Holy Spirit to give you the courage to stop living a lie and to begin spending at your affordability level. Value the intangible assets that you bring to the table such as a sense of humor, integrity, dependability, perseverance and so forth. Don’t be like Haman, the insecure Persian official who needed the king’s horse, the king’s robe and association with a noble prince to feel honored (Esth. 6:7-9).

Rather, adopt the mindset of the Proverbs 31 woman: “She perceives that her merchandise is good” (v. 18, NKJV). This woman was not dependent on outside validation; she knew inwardly that her merchandise (what she brought to the table) was good.

6. Frustration. Thwarted plans, unmet expectations or other unfulfilled desires can send you running for mall therapy—unless you have totally embraced the truth of Isaiah 14:27: “For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart Him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (NIV).

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

10 Ways Money Can Mess Up Your Family Life.


Man and his money
(Suphakit73/Free Digital Photos)

The pursuit of personal achievement and financial gain can often create a destructive gap in your family life. Parenting requires a delicate balance of both. If you only make time for the highlights of your child’s life, then you will have upset the balance … forcing you to always make adjustments just to keep from toppling over.

That kind of lifestyle leads to an unsatisfying experience for everybody involved. Hey, we know you gotta make money. It’s a fact of life. In some cases, however, we can get so focused on the bottom line that the pursuit of money becomes an addiction the same as any other. We all know what addictions do to families.

Here are 10 ways money can mess up your family life.

1. Broken promises. In order to climb the corporate ladder, to claim that extra bonus, to gain favor with the boss, we can choose to sacrifice so much along the way. When we place too high a priority on money, a long string of broken promises usually lie in the wake. “But Dad, you promised you would be there.” Almost nothing can make a man feel lower than seeing the disappointed eyes of his child staring up at him saying those words. Just like at your job, let your word be your bond. If you make a promise to your child, keep it.

2. The parentless child. The decline of the American family can be directly traced back to the rise of the two-income household. To get the “right house” in the “right neighborhood,” they need just a little more money. So Dad works 60-70 hours per week and is often out of town. Mom works 40 hours per week and has long commute times to and from work. Morning time is a blur. Dad’s in a rush to get to the airport. Mom’s in a rush to get the children ready so she can beat the traffic. The family does not assemble again until sometime around 6 p.m. on the way to soccer practice, karate and gymnastics. Dinner isn’t eaten at a table but is quickly woofed down as Mom zooms through a drive-thru. By the time the lights go out, everyone is exhausted.

This is far from a healthy family life.  Is the exhaustion and depravation really worth it?  We are not certainly condemning every two-income household. It’s a necessity for some, and the family can be fine. But if the motive is primarily to work to support a greater lifestyle, something is amiss.

3. Missing the small things. When your humble author here had his first child, my father said he was going to give me his best advice for parents: “Don’t miss the small things.” That is all he said. It took several years to figure out what he meant.

As parents, we tend to put a great deal of emphasis on the big moments, but life really happens during everything in between. Random moments of joyous laughter. Inside jokes that come from a great deal of time spent together. These moments are the bricks for creating strong family foundations. If dad builds a hugely successful business and a good name for himself, what he misses in the meantime are all the small things at home. Build what will last—your family.

4. The materialistic child. When family existence revolves around money, the end result is children who are skewed heavily toward materialism. Money becomes the family religion. Is this positive parenting? When you held your newborn girl in your arms, you dreamed many things for her. It’s doubtful any of those dreams included a shrill-voiced teen girl screaming at you for the credit card. Did you dream she would demand a brand new BMW on her 16th birthday? Placing money at the center of your family life leads only to disciples of the deity you have created.

5. Disregard for those in need. Every closet, cabinet, nook and cranny in your home is at full capacity with “stuff.” You don’t even know what most of it is. Meanwhile, just down the road, a child is eating ketchup packets for his dinner. It goes without saying that’s an unacceptable reality.

We should already know how to help children in need. Yet in most cases, we just don’t seem to get it. We hold on to things we will never use when we could share. Wealth should be shared, not by force, but by generous hearts that see a need and offer a solution. A heart that loves money at the core has great difficulty giving things away. To be a successful family, you need to be able to embrace generosity.

6. Loss of sleep. Time is money, right? Who needs sleep? In our quest for the almighty dollar, we give up many things, but the first to fall is generally sleep. However, the first advice most parenting articles will give is to make sure everyone in the family gets the proper amount of rest. The right amount of sleep is essential to our health and happiness. The pursuit of money is relentless. The man on the chase usually does so with blurry eyes and a yawn when nobody is looking. Love of money has many consequences.

7. Stressed to the max. Money worries create high levels of stress. Stress is a killer. Just as with lack of sleep, stress is highly detrimental to your health. It also spreads itself to many other areas of your family life—an unpleasant demeanor toward your wife and children, for starters. Money is at the root of more divorces than any other factor. That’s something to think about.

8. One-trick pony. The man obsessed with financial matters is generally a one-dimensional individual. But life is about experiences and the wisdom gained from them. Your mother made you take piano lessons because she wanted you to be a “well-rounded person.” Remember? You can talk all day about why the market will stay above 11,000, but can you hold an intelligent conversation on any other subject outside of money matters? Even if you can, you will quickly grow bored with it and guide it back to your comfort zone. Mom didn’t raise you to be a one-trick pony.

9. Justification. Sometimes we use the need for money as a justification for escape from an unhappy marriage or family situations we do not understand. As an example, a man with a special-needs child may use the real problem of education costs as a justification to work extra hours to meet the need. The reality is that he could make other adjustments to absorb the additional costs. He could cut off the cable television or drop the gym memberships. Instead, the man focused on money will chose being gone more as a solution. Escape. Are you using money to run away from your troubles?

10. The company we keep. There are many types of parenting. There are many ways to come to the same successful outcome. There are just as many ways to mess things up. The people we surround ourselves with have an enormous influence on the type of person and parent we are. Generally, when money is at the forefront of our existence, we are surrounded by those of like minds as well. Consider the company you keep. Are there diverse and varied schools of thought? Do they challenge you as person and not just as a breadwinner? When you begin to surround yourself with high-quality, well-rounded people, you will begin to see your own life take the same shape.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ NEW MAN.

ALLPRODAD.COM STAFF


All Pro Dad is Family First’s innovative and unique program for every father. Their aim is to interlock the hearts of the fathers with their children and, as a byproduct, the hearts of the children with their dads. At AllProDad.com, dads in any stage of fatherhood can find helpful resources to aid in their parenting. Resources include daily emails, blogs, Top 10 lists, articles, printable tools, videos and eBooks. From AllProDad.com, fathers can join the highly engaged All Pro Dad social media communities on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Materialism: Money and Greed.


I Timothy 6:6-10; 17-19

INTRODUCTION: The Bible is replete with warnings against loving money.

Matthew 6:20-21, “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.”

Jesus commends the use of financial assets for the purposes which are heavenly and eternal.

Ecclesiastes 5:10, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase.
This also is vanity.”

The love of money is never satisfied.

Ecclesiastes 5:12b, “But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.”

Proverbs 11:24-25, “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right,
but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich,
and he who waters will also be watered himself.”

The principle of generosity; stinginess leads to poverty. The one who gives receives.

Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the LORD with your possessions,
and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

Calls for us to give our first and best to the Lord

J.D. Rockefeller said, “I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness.” Later he said, “The poorest man I know is the man who has nothing but money.”

Cornelius Vanderbilt said, “The care of millions is too great a load, there is no pleasure in it.”

John Jacob Astor described himself as “the most miserable man on earth.”

Roman proverbs put it this way, “Money is like sea water, the more you drink the thirstier you get.”

I. THE TEMPTATION OF THOSE WHO DESIRE TO
BE RICH. 6-10

A. PRINCIPLE. 6

Jesus is the source of the believer’s contentment; self-sufficiency; unmoved by external circumstances

Note v.5 teaches that false teachers would have you believe that “godliness is a means of gain” – the driving motivation of monetary gain

v.6 Contentment -means to be satisfied and sufficient, and to seek nothing more than what one has

2 Corinthians 3:5, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God

2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”

Grace here refers to money and material needs. You give and God replenishes so you always have plenty and will not be in need. 2 Corinthians 9:9 teaches that the Lord rewards now and in eternity.

People are truly rich when they are content with what they have. The richest person is the one who doesn’t need anything else.

SECRET OF CONTENTMENT

“Add not to a man’s possessions but take away from his desires.”
Greek Philosopher Epicurus

By Johnny Hunt

The Love Of Money.


“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.Matthew 6:24

We had better look very carefully into the meaning of these words, remembering that it was our blessed Lord who spoke them.

“Mammon” means riches.

To “serve” means to be the slave of.

Paul loved to call himself the servant or slave of Christ.

Now Jesus says here that we cannot be God’s slave and mammon’s slave too.

We cannot belong to any two masters at the same time.

If we are mammon’s slave, that ends it, we are not God’s. If we belong to God, mammon is not our master.

Think, too, what a degrading thing it is for any one bearing the image of God to be the slave of money.

To use the word “serve” in its mildest English sense, no man should ever be the servant of money.

Riches are meant to be man’s slave; now think how degrading it would be for any man to become servant or slave to his own slave.

A man should be ashamed to call riches his master.

Money is meant to be man’s servant, and so long as he is its perfect master it may be a blessing to him, and an instrument with which he may do great good.

But when he gets down on his knees to it and crawls in the dust for its sake, and sells his manhood to get it, it is only a curse to him.

Thus it is easy to see why any one who serves God cannot serve mammon.

God must have all the heart and must rule in all the life.

He will not share His throne with the god of gold.

God’s true servants may have money, and may even be very rich, but they must use their money as a means for honoring God and blessing the world in Christ’s name.

They must own the money; the money must not own them.

They must carry it in their hands, not in their hearts.

This is a very important thing for us to learn.

Many Christian people are in danger of forsaking the sweet, blessed service of Christ for the servile, slavish service of mammon.

By Vine.


Bible In A Year: May 9th…

By Book Old Testament New Testament Proverbs & Psalms
2 Chronicles 31-33 Judges 9 John 6:1-24 Psalm 58:1-11

Money: Seeing the Eternal Through the Temporal.


I would submit that some of the financial difficulties our nation is experiencing may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Most humans look up only when we have been sucker-punched and are lying on the floor flat on our backs.

That’s when we tend to see the eternal through the temporal.

As you read this, the financial markets may be shooting toward the moon, or they may be in the tank.

Historically, stock market investments go up roughly 70 percent of the time.

Over the last 100 years, stocks have gained value in most every ten-year period, including during the Great Depression

The question laid squarely at our feet is how will we respond to the tempests in the teapots of our lives in view of eternity? What if tough times caused Christians to again become the salt that Jesus directed us to be?.

  What if we, again, led by example?.

 What if we bought fewer “extras?”

  What if we paid off our credit cards and purchased only cars we could afford?.

  What if we saved more than we spent?.

 What if we always had money to give to others and were truly ready unto every good deed?.

 What if we got serious about being all we could be as God’s witnesses before the world?

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (2 Peter 2: 11-13, NIV)

Three Reasons Why People Who Are In Debt, Stay In Debt

As I write this, I’m on a plane returning home to Nashville from a No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar that we concluded last night in Montana.

The church was filled with sweet, godly people. But many of them were struggling with their money.

 I was especially touched by a couple of situations where the people felt hopeless. I’ve learned several things through the years as I’ve taught the seminar around the country, and one of those lessons is that people who are in debt stay in debt for three reasons: 

1. They feel hopeless. In truth, they are usually not hopeless. Most people who follow what we teach in our seminars can get out of personal debt (not counting their homes) in a one- to four-year period.

 Granted, there are huge benefits to starting this process early rather than later in life. But if you’re already in your late forties, fifties, or older, it’s not too late.

There are people who start savings plans in their seventies and still see helpful results. Remember, it’s never too late to start doing the right thing.  (By the way, in addition to the financial implications in that comment, there are also some profound theological implications.

The God we serve is not only the God of the second chance—He’s the God of the ten thousandth chance, too!)

2. They feel all alone. This is where Satan does his best work—he convinces a person that he is the only one with the problem.

So, naturally, he’s embarrassed and tries to hide it by putting on his mask and pretending like everything is okay.

 Yet, inside, he’s dying. His spiritual vigor is gone. He’s fighting with his spouse.

 He doesn’t have time for the kids.

 He can’t sleep at night. He’s depressed. 

The truth is if you’re in debt, you’re not alone.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m convinced the majority of Americans are only one paycheck away from trouble.

 It’s been estimated that many of us are spending 20 percent of our income paying off short-term, high-interest rate debt.

And as long as the devil keeps us convinced that we’re the only person hurting—he wins! 

I’ve about decided that the devil is nothing more than a roach. Have you ever gone into a dark room, turned on a light and seen a roach in the middle of the floor?.

 What does it do the second the light hits it? That’s right—it runs for cover! Dear reader, the devil is a roach. When we begin to shine the light of Jesus on him, he scrams!

What we need to do as Christians is develop the “koininia-style” fellowship that the Bible tells us to develop.

 We need to become each others’ best friends and confessional partners.

When we start to talk openly with each other, things change. Church is much more than sitting for an hour looking at the bald head in front of you! It should be the place where we develop our closest friends and confidants. 

But to be painfully pointed here, the church is sometimes its own worst enemy.

  In many churches, “that sort of thing just isn’t done,” some Christians might say.

After all, if we’re God’s kids, aren’t we supposed to have our acts together? Sure, we can admit to some of the socially acceptable sins: “I wish I didn’t lose my temper so easily” or “I spend too much time at the office and not enough at home with the kids.”

But that’s where we draw the line. After all, many of us are “people of the mask.”

When we come into the church building, our neckties are straight, our dresses are in fashion—and our lives had better appear to match up.

Maybe it’s time to shine the light of Jesus on that old roach!  

When we become involved and invested in one another—and start telling the truth—we’ll begin to open up.

Some of you guys need to begin a weekly men’s prayer breakfast so you can cultivate this kind of atmosphere.

Some of you ladies need to get gut honest in your prayer circles.

 Some of you husbands and wives need to invite another couple over, pop some corn, and start the conversation.

And if you don’t know what to say, try something like: “I’m sitting bolt-upright in bed at three o’clock in the morning scared about my debts;” or “My wife and I are at each others’ throats;” or “I haven’t given anything at church in six months.” 

I believe if you try a stunt like that you’ll be surprised at how the conversation will flourish.

And you know what the really neat thing is? There’s a high probability that the other people will breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Me too!”

3.  They feel dumb. It’s amazing how often when I’m talking to people about their debts, they’ll stop and look at me and say, “I feel so stupid” or “I’m such an idiot.”

Here’s the fact: Being in debt and being dumb are two entirely different things!   Sadly, it’s possible to be totally out of debt and still be a dumb person!

But, seriously, the opposite is also true.

It’s possible to be in debt and not be dumb at all! I could share a number of stories with you of people I’ve known who were smart business leaders but got themselves into terrible debt troubles.

Granted, most of our debt dilemmas are the result of dumb decisions. But making a dumb decision and being a dumb person are two totally different things!

Steve Diggs has presented the No Debt No Sweat! Money Management and ReTooled & ReFueled Essential Life-Skills Seminars over 500 times at churches, colleges, conferences and other venues nationwide. Visit Steve at www.NDNS.org, www.RetooledAndRefueled.com or www.SteveDiggs.com or call 615-834-3063.  Today, as the author of seven books Steve is a TV commentator and fulltime speaker.  For 25 years he was President of the Franklin Group, Inc. Steve and Bonnie have four grown children whom they have home schooled.  The family lives in Brentwood, Tennessee.

By Steve Diggs.

Thinking Wrongly About Money.


Product photo

Throughout this fall I have been able to spend some time teaching my church about money.
One of the first challenges I faced was in distinguishing between what the Bible teaches about money and what we, as Christians living in this time and this place, tend to believe.
What I found is that there are many ways that we think about money that owe more to the world than to the Bible. Let me share 4 of them.

Debt

We live in a debt-based economy. A strange fact about this economy is that it begins to fall apart when people stop living in debt or when people are no longer allowed to borrow.

We’ve seen this all across the world today, from the U.S. to Europe and beyond. Many countries are heavily in debt and governments have to borrow money from other countries in order to stay afloat.

The scary thing is that many countries now borrow money not to fund projects or services, but to pay the interest on their existing debt; they are borrowing money to pay the interest on money they’ve already borrowed.

It goes without saying that this cannot continue indefinitely.

It’s not just nations that fall into that trap, though. Many consumers—people like you and me—have borrowed far beyond our means.

Many of us have borrowed so much money that we have very little hope of ever paying it back. The recent and ongoing economic downturn was triggered at least in part by debt.

Many people bought homes that they could not afford and they did it by borrowing money. When the interest rates went up, which means their cost of borrowing got higher, they couldn’t afford those houses anymore.

Because they couldn’t afford their homes, they stopped paying their mortgages and that led to a collapse of the banking system and the economy with it.

Ironically, it was only borrowed government money that kept the problem from being far worse (another debt that will be called in at some point).

These are just 2 broad examples of debt in society—borrowing that leads to negative consequences. Lest we become proud, we must admit that almost all of us have at least one credit card and more than half of us have more than one.

Some of us use credit responsibly but many of us have accumulated a lot of debt by spending more than we should have.

Every store we go to is very eager to extend credit to us—to allow us to borrow money from them. The credit card companies are always trying to hook young people when they are in high school or college.

Everywhere we go we are offered stuff for borrowed money. Too often we take the deal. We somehow keep believing that we’ll have money tomorrow to pay for the stuff we can’t really afford today.

So there is the first way we can think wrongly about money—that it is acceptable and even wise to accumulate debt, that being in debt is just a modern-day inevitability.

Instant Gratification

Coupled with this dependence on debt and the fact that we think debt is acceptable is our desire for instant gratification. We want things and we want them now.

We think that it is our right to have the things we want before we have saved up the money to buy them.

This desire to have something before we can save up for it isn’t necessarily bad.

Not many of us would ever buy a house if we couldn’t borrow money from the bank and pay it back over 20 or 30 years, but the same mindset can also drive us to go to Best Buy and buy a brand new TV and sound system using the Best Buy credit card: It’s free for the first 6 months, but then suddenly they slap us with a big interest charge. We can buy furniture over 3 years and cars over 6 or 7 years.

Almost anything we want we can have now, but pay for later.

And we do want things right now. We live in a very fast-paced kind of a world. So many things are here today and gone tomorrow.

I’ll buy the iPad now instead of saving up to buy it, because by the time I save up for it, it will be gone and it will be replaced by the next big thing.

We have learned to follow that impulse, that reflex, that goes into a store and walk out with something we never intended to buy.

You can see how these 2 forces can work hand-in-hand to exacerbate the problems.

We want things now, even if we don’t have the money for them, and there are lots of people very eager to loan us the money to buy them right away.

Someone is always willing to take a chance that we’ll be able to pay them back eventually.

So there’s a second force—instant gratification. That is another thing borrowed from the world, not from the Bible.

That is a reflection of a mind that has not been transformed by the Word of God.

We Are Materialists

There is a third force that works against us and it can combine with the other 2 to bring us to an even bigger mess. We have an intrinsic drive toward materialism.

Materialism is a way of looking at life through what is material, through possessions. It tells us that material things are the highest good and in its fullest form it goes far beyond that.

It actually stems from the teaching that there is nothing in this world other than what is material—what is physical.

Most people don’t actually take it that far, but they may as well because they live as if that is the case.

So when we say that we live in a materialist culture, we are saying that most people live as if the physical world is all that there is.

If this is the case, then of course it makes sense that we will only pursue things that are material. It leads naturally to greed.

We will measure our happiness or our success in life not by any God-given measure but by a material measure.

As that bumper sticker says, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” You can look at Luke 12 for Jesus’ description of a materialist in the parable of the Rich Fool.

Here is the ultimate materialist, a man who lives consistently by his creed that nothing beyond the physical world exists or matters.

So when he fills up all his barns—when he has so much that he can’t possibly make anything else fit—he goes ahead and builds a bigger barn.

Because the guy with the most toys wins, right? But it turns out that the guy with the most toys still dies.

And when he dies he suddenly learns not only that there is more to the world than the material, but that he has missed out on the most important thing; he has ignored the spiritual at his own peril.

Materialism essentially promises us that happiness can come through the things we buy. It’s very seductive.

Maybe you wait every week for the Best Buy catalog and when it comes you find yourself looking at it, somehow imagining that happiness will come with that 60” TV or that iPad or whatever that gadget is (not that I ever do that myself, of course).

Maybe it’s the clothing catalog or Etsy or a list of new books. Whatever it is, materialism holds out the promise of happiness and fulfillment through stuff.

And to varying degrees we are all drawn to it.

So we recklessly fall into debt, we want instant gratification, and we live as if life can be measured in the stuff we’ve accumulated.

No wonder our finances—personal and national—are a complete mess.

Let me talk about one other way we may think about money in a way that reflects the world more than the Bible.

Asceticism

This one is a little bit different. We could call it spiritualism or asceticism and it can have a bit of a grip on some Christians.

Martin Luther said that humanity is like a drunk guy who gets onto a horse and falls off one side, then climbs back on and falls off the other side.

In other words, we tend to go too far in one direction and if we don’t like that, too far in the other. Asceticism is the very opposite of materialism, but it’s still wrong.

Some people kind of throw their hands up when it comes to money.

They get disgusted by all of it and declare that we can only really be happy and holy if we reject money; we need to give it all away; money is such a corrupting influence that we’re better off without it.

A lot of this influence has come out of the Roman Catholic Church, but it’s persisted even into Protestantism.

It may be monks giving away everything but the simplest things or Mother Teresa caring for the dying in the most rudimentary conditions even though there was money to spend.

Many people honor this kind of thought.

This thought is also reflecting worldly thinking because it rejects the idea that what is material, what is physical, is good.

It’s not money that is the root of all kinds of evil, but the love of money. Money and possessions are good.

They are gifts of God that allow us to fulfill his Mandate and exercise dominion over this earth.

Conclusion

So, we’ve got 4 worldly forces that on their own or combined in various combinations can lead us to live with minds that have not been renewed and transformed by the Word of God.

Ambivalence toward debt, a desire for instant gratification, materialism—that the only good things are material things, and asceticism—that the only good things are not material things.

I’d love to hear from you about other ways in which we, as Christians, fall prey to worldly thinking about money and possessions.

By Tim Challies.

Tag Cloud