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It's only Money

Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Money should be a blessing, not a curse. As we can see it in the Scriptures, there are three reasons God gives us material blessings. First, he gives them to us to sustain our lives and the lives of our children. Second, he gives us money that it may be used to advance his kingdom. And last, he gives us our financial resources that we might help the poor and practice hospitality. All of these are good and righteous purposes. The Bible further teaches us that every blessing we have comes from God and that everything God created is good and should be used for his glory.

James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

1 Timothy 4:4
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

Why is it that something God intends to be a blessing becomes a problem in our marriages? Our attitude is typically the problem. As there are three proper uses of money, there are three wrong attitudes about it.

(i) First, the love of money is wrong. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. Money itself is not wrong - it is living for money and the love of money that is wrong.

1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

(ii) Second, money becomes a problem when it becomes a source of division and conflict. Arguments over money and the budget are common and destructive in marriage. Disagreement on money matters can drive marriages apart and create continual tension.

(iii) Third, money becomes a problem when it is a source of anxiety. Worry about paying bills, buying a home, taking care of the children's college education, etc., can become such a burden that it creates constant pressure in marriage.

But all these attitudes can change! This lesson let us see nine attitudes that can revolutionize your thinking about money and can make it a blessing instead of a curse.

Attitudes Towards Finances

1. Establish the Right Priorities

In the theme scripture of this lesson, Jesus tells us that we should seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and that when we do, all of our other needs will be met. Our first priority in life is not to make money or to pay the bills, but to serve God and advance his kingdom. When God sees that we have an attitude of putting him first, he moves powerfully to sustain and support us in living the life-style of a disciple.

Jesus declares that we must choose between God and money: (Matthew 6:24).

You must decide once for all that God will come above everything else, including material possessions. When we do this, it removes anxiety about money from our lives. Most people who worry about money have either placed too great a value upon it or have little faith in God.

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Proverbs 23:4-5
4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.
5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

2. Live Within Your Means

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.

Proverbs 22:26-27
26 Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts;
27 if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.

Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.

Proverbs 24:27
Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.

We should live happily and thankfully within the life-style that our income will support. The apostle Paul addresses this issue:

Philippians 4:11-13
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Many of us need to learn the lesson of contentment. Paul was content whether he had much or little. If God has blessed you with abundance, be grateful - don't feel guilty! Use your abundance to bless God's kingdom and the lives of God's people, and to meet the needs of the poor. If you have less, do not worry or be envious of those who have more. Work hard to advance your situation, but do not allow yourself to be robbed of gratitude and contentment. So many married couples feel that they would be happy if they only had more money. The truth is, joy and happiness do not depend on how much we have, but on how close we are to God.

Living within your means is especially important for young couples just starting out in married life. The temptation for you is to want to have immediately the car, the home and the furniture that you parents worked all their lives to accumulate. In many cases, your parents had to work, suffer and sweat to earn what they have, and you need to realize this and be patient.

We must continue to live within our means even after we have children. We can look around and see the nice clothing other people's children are wearing and become embarrassed. We see the bicycles, video games and toys that others may lavish on their kids, and we begin to feel that our children cannot be happy unless they have these things, too. What a terrible mistake! What a horrible lesson we are teaching our children! We can find ways for our kids to be well-dressed and have the things they need and still live within our means. The mistake we make is trying to be more than we are and having a worldly, competitive attitude about how we evaluate our worth and the worth of others.

3. Design and Stick with a Budget

Proverbs 16:3
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

Sit down and calculate your monthly income and your best estimate of your monthly expenses. Put it all on paper. Come up with a plan by which you can make the payments in a timely, organized fashion. If you do not know what your monthly income and expenses are, you are headed for disaster. Never spend outside your budget unless both of you have talked it over and are in complete agreement. Making a budget is an activity that both of you should do together and that both must understand.

4.Put God's Work First in Your Budget

Under the Old Covenant, families were expected to give a tithe (a tenth) of their income to God's work.

Malachi 3:8-12
8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings.
9 You are under a curse--the whole nation of you--because you are robbing me.
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.
12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.

Numbers 18:21
I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.

Leviticus 27:30
A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.

Further study of the Old Testament shows that there were other offerings given by the Jews throughout the year that meant their total giving was probably double the tithe. In the teachings of Jesus there is no set number or percentage given, but we can have a conviction that the ten-percent figure is the place to start, and then we need the faith that we can go higher. In the early church they went far beyond ten percent in meeting the needs of God's people and God's kingdom. (2 Corinthians 8 and 9)

The work of God's kingdom depends upon our monthly contribution, and we should be openhearted and generous in the way we approach this need. It is my observation that couples who love God's kingdom and put it first in their giving and who are disciplined and generous in their offerings are blessed financially. Above all, they are blessed spiritually as they return to God some of what he has given to them.

5. Avoid Credit Buying

Proverbs 22:7
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Do not fall into the credit-card trap! It seems harmless and painless to lay a piece of plastic on the counter when we buy something. "It's such a small purchase," we think. "We'll pay it off in just a few days." But then we do not pay it off because of the pressure of other challenges in our budget. We run that card to its limit, then we get another and we do the same, then another and another. Soon we have thousands of rupees at high interest rates eating away our financial resources. SAVE and then BUY. Avoid borrowing money on interest / chit funds, etc.

6. Pay Bills on Time

Romans 13:8
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

Whether we are paying our monthly bills or paying off loans, house rent, bike money, we are under obligation to pay on time. Too many of us are willing to send in payments late saying, "Well, they really don't want the money until they send the second notice." This is unfair, undisciplined and poor example. Pay your bills on time!

7.Listen To Advice

Proverbs 12:15
The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listen to advice.

Proverbs 13:10
Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

Proverbs 19:20
Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.

The scriptures above tell us clearly that we need to listen to others as we live our lives. In no area is openness more important than in finances. Many couples have gotten themselves into financial trouble because they refuse to take and listen to advice. Some of the people who have had the most confidence about how to invest and earn money have made some of the most foolish mistakes. You should seek advice in tow primary areas.

First, you need to listen to your spouse. It is a terrible mistake for one marriage partner to make all of the decisions about money. Even if that person is more gifted and effective in managing the finances, it is a mistake for him or her to do it alone. Their intellectual ability may not be equal in strength to their spirituality, and they may make bad priority decisions. Often the wife is clueless about the finances in the family. The other spouse needs to understand why, how and where the money is being spent and be in agreement. Without this the marriage is headed for disagreement and difficulty.

When both have been involved, financial challenges or difficulties will not bring the temptation to lose confidence or to have a bad attitude.

If you want to run the finances without input from your spouse, the question for you is "What are you trying to hide?" The second question is "Just how smart do you think you are?" If, as a couple, you do not want anyone else involved in your financial decisions. It takes humility to open up our lives for the viewing and comment of others, but the rewards are immense.

8. Set aside some of your income in a saving account

Wisdom dictates that we should save some of our income on a regular basis to help us deal with special and unexpected needs, both in our lives and in the lives of others. Start saving now for your children's college education and for your retirement.

Even if it is a small amount, you will be surprised and pleased at how quickly it adds up. And you will be happy the next time there is an unexpected expense and you can cover it out of your savings without destroying your monthly cash flow.

9. Be generous

Proverbs 28:22
A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him.

Proverbs 28:27
He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

Proverbs 11:24-25
24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

An attitude of generous openhandedness with what we have is a beautiful thing. The Bible teaches us the God gives generously, even to those who do not appreciate or understand it (Matthew 5:45). We should cultivate an attitude of generosity and giving in our everyday lives. If we are always worrying about how much things cost and begrudging what we do for others, it makes us unattractive people:

Proverbs 23:6-7
6 Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies;
7 for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. "Eat and drink," he says to you, but his heart is not with you.

Some of us are stingy in what we give our spouses and our marriages. We won't buy a nice birthday gift or anniversary present, or surprise our mates with something we purchase spontaneously. We excuse ourselves by saying, "Oh, those are just material things." What we must realize is that gifts are a way to express love. Jesus appreciated and affirmed such a expression even when his disciples thought it was a waste

Matthew 26:8-13
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked.
9 "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.
12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.
13 I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

Be generous and giving in your marriage!

Don't be always worried about how much we are spending there is a time to sacrifice and give. Another vital area for generosity is in giving to the needy. The Bible is full of examples and teachings about helping those who are less fortunate.

Proverbs 19:17
He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he had done.

All around us are people who have needs. We can get involved by helping the poor directly with our own gifts even the poor in the church. Supporting them in their times of suffering.