I have been thinking a lot about how to take what I have done in getting out of debt and moving it into a curriculum that could be used in churches. I like the Dave Ramsey method and what he talks about, but it is a very narrow way of getting out of debt. Finances are personal, and I feel like his rigid “only way to do things” method is limiting and constricting. I think it is a great starter for talking about debt, but the application of some of his ideas can – and often times should – vary person to person. It is also a great structure for people to follow. But I want more. I want to change the way people think about money and others. I don’t want to give them a structure and set of rules to follow, I want to change the mindset and outlook on finances, money and charity.
What I am going to talk about is largely, if not solely, based on the Bible. So for you non-religious types out there, just hear me out. This is going to be directed at Christians, but the principals (like Mr. Ramsey’s) can still be useful for those who are not Christians.
As Christians, we believe everything is God’s. The Scriptures sing this out over and over again. Psalms 24:1-2 says “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.” This encompasses everything in and on the earth, including yourself. If you need more proof, look at Leviticus 25:23 and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. The point is, as a Christian, it is so easy to say that everything in creation is God’s. That he controls and owns everything.
But it is also really hard to understand that he controls even my possessions or the things I cannot always see, like my money, time, or attitude. He controls EVERYTHING. And if we truly believe that, then we must approach all areas of our lives as a gift from God. It is not my money, my time, or my attitude; but rather it is God’s gift to me. We see this in Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 “Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.”
Since everything is God’s and he gives it to us as a gift, your mindset of how you approach money should change. It’s no longer, “I give 10% to the church and the rest is mine,” but instead it is, “I give God 10% as a sign of gratitude of the gift he has given me and I will use the other 90% in a way pleasing to him because he has given it to me as a gift.” It changes everything. It makes you stop and wonder what am I spending my money on? Am I using it to maximize glory to God?
Now that we have the mindset that everything is a gift from God, what do we do with that? Ephesians 5:1-2 says “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” We are to act as God acts and love each other as he loves us. This is fully demonstrated in his sacrifice on the cross to give us the greatest gift of all, eternal life with him. If we are to do as he does, we need to be good gift givers. We need to sacrifice for others. Not just with money, but with time, energy, compassion, EVERYTHING! Why? Because it is not my life. Christ paid for my life with his life that I might live for him. I am to act as he acts.
This means giving my money and time to others. This means making a change in my neighbor’s life, in my neighborhood, in my city, in my state, in my country, in this whole world. So that is the question I have for you today. How are you making a change? How are you using the money, time, and life that God has gifted to you? What are simple ways you can do this?
This is getting really long, so I will just write down some of the ways me and my wife do this specifically with money.
- We give 10% of our income to our church
- We have a compassion child that we are sponsoring
- We donate to organizations that work to help out those in need from our communities and those around the world
- We give to mission trips and missionaries
- We give to those raising money for charities
- We help out our neighbors when they need help paying rent
- In Portland we have a large homeless population. We have started buying 4 packs of $10 gift cards from Safeway and handing them out to any homeless people who ask for money
Long post I know, but it’s something that has been in heart and my head for a while.