Z is for a review with quick links. A to Z isn’t the end, but I hope this covers the biggies and give you a great place to start. With 2,000 verses about money, the topic is second only to love in God’s word. I believe He wants us to handle with care. –Kristin
Category Archives: A to Z Blog
When I was in high school, a family member of mine thought I shouldn’t date an African-American because we would “unequally yoked.” This was a phrase I had heard and heard it applied to marriage, but that interpretation sounded really wrong. It’s another instance of scripture being taken or quoted out of context to say something God never intended. The scripture actually says this:
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 [a wicked being, devil]? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)
The picture of this binding relationship is one of two oxen in a yoked together. Yoked the two become “one working unit…for the purpose of accomplishing a task” and this applied to business partners and marriage because in both situations two make a contract where “each is individually and jointly reliable for each action of the marriage or business.” Larry Burkett goes on to say that “God admonishes us…because we have different value systems. People with opposite goals and values will not be compatible.” It’ a recipe for conflict and hurt.
Frequently partners discover how not-on-the-same-page they are when money issues rise up, when tough times press in. Being of one mind, and especially of one Spirit will make all the difference in the world, and it has nothing to do with the color of our skin.
Do you ever have a surplus? A bonus? An unexpected windfall? A raise? Do we make a plan for these funds? Or do they all get spent so fast (sometimes before they’ve actually come in) that a month later we can’t even remember what happened to the money?
When my husband and I were in debt,we always had a well-defined plan for windfalls: 10% tithe, 50% debt, the rest split between savings, spending and additional offerings. It was after we’d lived debt free which frees up money in and of itself, that the decisions became muddied.
People tend to think budgets are for people with restricted finances, but I believe a spending plan is even more important for those who have plenty. Revisiting the question, how much is enough? Setting a limit on spending when the world will always offer bigger, faster, better than HD, luxury items is a challenge. It’s one reason the Bible contains so many warnings about wealth.
Jesus looked at him an said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God? For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:24-25)
We hear this scripture and think it sounds impossible for the rich man. But in the days when towns had walls and gates, the smaller opening in the large doors that could be opened just for a man to walk through were dubbed “the eye of the needle.” So it wasn’t impossible to get a camel through that opening, just extremely difficult.
Can we be content with a stow-and-go van purchased second-hand for a 1/3 of the price when the world tells us with a little financing we can afford the extended SUV with a premium package? When the bank runs the numbers and says we can easily buy a $250,000 house on a 30 year loan with a fixed 5% interest, do we shop for a $150,000 house that has just as many rooms and meets our needs?
If you have a shopping list, you can probably break it down by needs, wants and desires. We were running short with the transition out of army life, and for grocery shopping I got the ground beef (need) when the ground chuck (want) was healthier and the London broil (desire) was looking tempting. God doesn’t promise us everything we want.
We acknowledge and pray the verse “May God supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19), and when our needs are supplied, we actually get lots of our wants, then we look to our desires. Are we looking to the needs of our local church? The poor and needy? The projects and missions we’ve always said we’d love to support? Do we put our money where our mouth is, or do we go upgrade our phone and complain about the new operating system?
These questions are for me as much as anyone. God has come through in a big way for us recently with regards to post-military finances. Asking God for direction and waiting for His answers is what I need to be doing with Ryan.
All these financial matters from A to Z of this series are not only issues of money, possessions, finances and attitudes. These are kingdom issues, areas to make decisions to build up treasures that God holds for us beyond “where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19).
Do we want to do more for God? More for our savior Jesus Christ? More Spirit-lead?
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust true riches to you? (Luke 16:10-11)
Dear Lord, help us search your word and apply directions to become faithful in the little things. We don’t want to miss out on serving you with all we have and being entrusted with true riches.
Have you ever been folding a t-shirt and wondered how many times you’ve washed and folded it? Cleaning a plate or a pot and wondered how many times you will wash it? Much work is repetitive and menial, but even these small chores can be done for God.
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17).
“Thank you, Lord, for this t-shirt. I folded it in Your Name.”
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men (Colossians 3:23).
Teaching these students for God. Balancing the checkbook for Jesus. Moving the lawn for the Lord.
He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty (Proverbs 28:19).
He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues vain things lacks sense (Proverbs 12:11).
What vain things am I pursuing? We all need rest, but do I spend too much time watching TV, playing app games? Am I disconnecting from the important people in my life too much with headphones of music or my nose stuck in a book?
Are you “making the most of your time” as we’re directed in Ephesians? Are we “numbering the days” so we can “present You a heart of wisdom?”
Reading through the Proverbs you’ll practically trip over scriptures to do with either the diligent, hard, wise worker or the opposite, the sluggard, slothful, lazy fool.
These verses are not to berate us. We are not to beat ourselves up for our failures. No. And they are absolutely not a measure we should apply to others and point fingers. No. This is written to encourage us, to show us better paths, to live purposeful lives not only filled but fulfilled.
I don’t want to just be busy when I could be diligent, resolute, and working toward higher things. Not only doing what is good but doing what is actually best for this time, this place, these people in my life. Falls are inevitable, but my God lifts me up to help me go forward again. He shows me that all work, if done for Him, holds value. So I can vacuum the floor, shop for groceries, and fill the gas tank for greater things.
Vows are usually associated with weddings, as in someone took marriage vows. Maybe I’ve read it for monastic orders as well. Really we don’t hear the word any more–at least I don’t. Perhaps that is part of the reason people so easily break their word. Marriage is a big vow–you vow your life. There are also every day little vows. “I’ll get that done.” “You’ll have it next week.”
In the Bible “vow” is usually used with regards to paying what we’ve said we would pay. “Keep you word” would be the modern translation, especially with regards to money.
If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth (Numbers 30:2).
You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God, what you have promised (Deuteronomy 23:23).
When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it, for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you owe! (Ecclesiastes 5:4).
It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay (Ecclesiastes 5:5).
Any “earnest promise or pledge that binds one perform in a certain manner” is a vow (The Word on Finances).If you’re word means something to you, unpaid vows may hang over your heard until fulfilled. That’s probably conscience urging you to do right just as God’s word does. My own to-do list is packed with small vows that I’m not always the best at performing. It seems so simple, but it is an area where I need to improve.
Yikes, the new pump for our below ground bathroom will cost $1000 if we can’t find a part to fix the old one. It’s not quite an arm and a leg, though, the phrase we use to say something is terribly expensive. Usury is a word we don’t use much these days, but it also describes cost, specifically the cost of interest on loans.
Usury is interest that is too high, and it’s not just an old problem in the Bible. California has usury laws today stating that 10% is the most an unlicensed lender can charge.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Wow, all those credit card bills in California must be less, right, since credit card companies with good rates start at about 15% and go on up to 26% or more. I found out it doesn’t work that way. Licensed lending institutions can charge more as can real estate agencies and others.
Loan sharks are already violating the law before they start busting knee caps, because they charge usurious interest. You and I could get into trouble too just helping a friend out if we charge more than our state usury laws allow.
He who increases his wealth by interest and usury, gather it for him who is gracious to the poor. (Proverbs 28:8 NASB)
In case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God… (Leviticus 25:35-36)
A Psalm of David. O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart… who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.(Psalm 15:1,5)
In the Bible usury is condemned and charging interest from a fellow God-follower is blasted. What strikes me in that last scripture above? Lending money for interest is included in a list right next to taking bribes to condemn innocent people. Yowser! I didn’t see that coming.
Larry Burkett, founder of Christian Financial Concepts, sums up the usury principle this way:
The vast majority of interest charged regularly in America is probably usurious, meaning it is an exorbitant or abusive rate of interest….Obviously you can’t call your creditors from whom you’ve borrowed and say, “I’m sorry you’ve broken God’s principle of usury, therefore I don’t owe you any money.” What you can do,if you have charged others usurious rate…is to tell them they don’t owe you any more than one percent a month, because that’s what God allows…”
In college I loaned a friend money and quickly learned how easy it is to start second guessing how they spend. Did she really need all those movies on her bookshelf? I caught myself thinking that and realized I was allowing the loan to twist my attitude within our friendship. I had to take those feelings to God, to ask him to help me be gracious instead of judgmental. Lending even piece of yard equipment or a book and having issues can become a stumbling block.
Am I really listening when I pray the Lord’s prayer saying “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors?” (Matthew 6:12).
My prayer for you and me this day is to let us “excel in the grace of giving.”
Since you excel in so many ways–in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us–I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:7 NLT)
Let’s talk about taxes and Jesus.
There are often levels of meaning in a conversation. On one deployment my husband responded to what was said with a first level understanding response. What most of the soldiers didn’t know was that Ryan’s response was also a quote from a TV show. One soldier got the subtext, though, and laughingly accused Ryan of watching Gilmore Girls. After that the two of them continued to bond over this shared interest they’d picked up from their wives.
Jesus was excellent at building levels into his teachings, and studying the scriptures in the Bible year after year opens the eyes of a seeker to new levels even though the same words are on the printed page. There were two kind of taxes in Jesus’ day and before, there were church taxes and government taxes. He addresses both in his teachings recorded for us in the New Testament, later time and portion of books in the Bible.
One is the “two drachma tax” teaching where Jews from the temple question whether or not Jesus is paying the tax for the maintenance of the temple (Exodus 30:13-16). The freedom of the children of God, obligations, and payments all come into play, but I’ll refer you to John Piper’s excellent post about this for more information.
Instead let us look at two levels of Caesar’s tax when Pharisees asked Jesus about taxes hoping to trap into saying something so the Roman government would take care of Jesus.
“Tell us therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:17-21, Mark 12:14-17, Luke 20:22-25).
Should the children of God pay their taxes even when the government over them is from an invading force that oppresses them every day? Jesus said to pay. That’s level one meaning.
A couple of times I’ve heard someone say they paid using the E-Z form, and I became concerned. Jesus said to give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, not to give more. If we are able to take legal deductions and credits, then by all means, take them.
The second level of meaning has to do with Jesus asking about the “likeness” on the coin. How many of the religious leaders, teachers of Moses’ writings caught the second meaning? The first book of the scripture for Jews and Christians says:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness….So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Genesis 1:26,27)
Give to God the things that are God’s. What things are these? Ourselves. Made in His image, in His likeness, I am to give all of me for Him, to Him, each day. A-day was All Belongs to God, and T-day underlines this truth further. Not only the gold and silver, not only the cattle on a thousand hills, not only the whole earth, but also me, I belong to God with a freedom to give myself back to him or not. It’s not one and done, it’s making that decision and acting on it moment by moment.
It is often a struggle, a challenge. But I know I am never taking it on alone.