Close relatives are currently in a serious financial crisis, and that has prompted a lot of thought and prayer regarding how to respond. It’s made me think long and hard about the financial principles that my wife and I strive to live by. I thought some of you may find it interesting (maybe even beneficial), if I actually wrote them down.
The man’s primary fiscal responsibility is to provide for his immediate family. This often requires working conscientiously, utilizing the talents and opportunities the Lord has provided him. Refusing to work or misappropriating his income is not only a disservice to his own family, but will likely make his entire household dependent on others. As Christians and members of society at-large, it is our duty to strive to be self-sufficient, not just for our own benefit, but also so that we may have the means to help those in genuine need.
Avoid getting into debt as much as possible, and if you do end up in debt, pay it off as quickly as possible. Credit cards are great in an emergency or if you pay off your balance each month, but relying on borrowing to make ends meet is a recipe for disaster (just take a look at our government!). Nevertheless, it’s virtually impossible in our present culture for you to own your own home, or even a car, without getting a loan. Do you really need these things, or can you rent and get around on a bike or the bus? Well, that depends on your situation; let genuine need be your guide, not "keeping up with the Joneses." This also applies to borrowing money or things from individuals. Even if they insist on not having it back, strive to return the item or repay them at the earliest opportunity. It not only expresses your thankfulness, but is also a testimony of your genuine Christian faith. To intentionally take advantage of others’ generosity is the same as stealing.
Make good spending decisions. Did you know that your money is not your own? As with everything else in this life, your income was provided to you by the Lord. Yes, you may be the one working the 40-hour-a-week job, but it was He who provided you with the skills and opportunity to even have that job in the first place. As such, you should be responsible with what you’ve been given, and use it wisely.
Do not lend to those in need, but instead give, without expecting anything in return. Lending money or possessions that you are not really ready to part with can engender bitterness and may put you in the position of having to borrow yourself. There is a saying about lending to the Lord, but that’s not entirely right, since it’s all His anyway! But when you give, don’t do it blindly. As with your spending, set priorities and use your judgment when deciding who to give to and how much. Hold those you give money to accountable for what they choose to do with that money. This is very hard to do, but if done in love and with mutual consent, it will bless both giver and recipient, as well as help ensure that the Lord’s money is put to proper use. Yes, this even applies to "tithes" at church. Hold the pastoral staff accountable for how they appropriate donated money and goods, and don’t forget that there may be weeks when there are others in your life who may need the money more than your church.
Are there any that I missed or that you disagree with? I would love to hear from you..., and I covet your prayers for the Lord's guidance through the current situation.
* Disney's Scrooge McDuck (best known from the Duck Tales TV show) loves to take swims in his giant safe, which is filled with treasure and coins. Hopefully he reads this blog....