Gratitude Day 579
1 Corinthians 9:12 – And if you have supported others, don’t we rightfully deserve this privilege even more? But as you know, we haven’t used that right. Instead, we have continued to support ourselves so that we would never be a hindrance to the spread of the gospel of Christ.
Being “rich” is all very relative.
Hubby Rick and I do not live in the fanciest house on our block. We don’t drive the newest vehicles available. I’m confident there are plenty of people whose retirement funds far outshine ours.
Yet, we are very blessed. We’re not blessed because we have super large bank accounts or everything we want. We’re blessed because we have more resources than probably 90% of the world’s population. Our feelings of blessedness derive from our understanding of deeply connecting our resources to our faith.
Because we are in the middle of planning a life transition, we’ve had more conversations about financial planning of late. As we navigate these changes, one thing that isn’t changing is how we view our blessedness, resources and faith. The three are held in tandem together. Likewise, we’re staying true to our basic beliefs about finances. How we look at all of this isn’t changing even as we move into a new phase of our lives.
What are those basic financial beliefs? So glad you asked! Here are our six most important beliefs about finances and how faith affects them.
We believe that everything we have – money, assets, belongings, literally EVERYTHING we own – isn’t really ours. It’s all on loan to us from God. We’re serious about this. Yes, we talk about “my car” and “Rick’s car.” But really, they are God’s cars. Just like our house, our bank accounts, our retirement and everything else; these are all part of God’s kingdom that God has entrusted to our care.
For us, this is crucial. It’s easy to think that what we have comes out of our hard work and determination. This is true to a degree. But any of this can go away quickly. We see ourselves as stewards to the resources God has entrusted into our care. We’ve been designated to manage the things in our oversight. Our responsibility is to allow these assets to be used for the glory and honor of God’s kingdom … not only for ourselves. As we look at the resources in our care, we evaluate how we can best use these resources for God’s kingdom … and not just ourselves.
Give back to God first. When I began thinking about finances more keenly, it was before Hubby Rick and I were married. For years, I looked at was left in my checkbook at the end of the month and based on this, gave something back to God. Based on biblical concepts, I began to see that God doesn’t want my leftovers. God wants my first overs. People often want to know what amount this should be. This is purely a decision between you and God. Some like to follow the biblical concept of 10%. I believe there are folks who can’t do 10% just as there are people who can and should give more than 10%. Work out the amount with God. And then review this amount regularly.
Live below your income. For too many years, many Americans have chosen to live at 105-110% of their income rather than living at 90-95% of their income. This choice put folks in a perpetual position where there is never “enough.”
When your income is low, this may feel extremely difficult. Actually, I discovered how to do this when my monthly income was its lowest point in my adult life. If I wanted something extra, I figured out a way to earn enough income so I could pay cash. When we are regularly in a position where we’re trying to figure out how to keep everyone current, we have a problem. Some people may say, “Why can’t I live at 100% of my income?” I’m challenging folks to take a percentage of their income and put away for the future. This allows us to have even a little bit that we have set aside as an emergency fund, into retirement and/or for a necessary future purchase. Which leads to our next point.
Distinguish between want and need. We go through life expecting a lot of our wants to be fulfilled. And right NOW.
If we were clear about our needs, we would easily see that many of our “needs” are truly “wants.” It’s OK to have wants. I have plenty of them. Many of them have been fulfilled. Yet, I made sure our needs are taken care of first. Wants are established only when it financially makes sense and after needs are fulfilled.
Put into place ways to manage your resources. The best way to know exactly what you have available is to track income and expenses. From this, you can develop a plan that pays God first, helps you live under 100% of your income and prioritizes what is important to you. A basic tracking of your finances can be done in something as easy as an Excel spreadsheet. There are a ton of online resources available; many for free. Set-up a system that is simple, easy and works for you. We also work with a financial planner which has been beneficial for us over the years.
Live your financial choices, even when it’s hard. There will come a time when you’ll want to cut corners on your financial understandings. Please don’t. Or someone will ask you to assist them. If appropriate, go ahead! But make sure this is the decision that is the best and brings glory and honor to God’s kind.
There maybe times when saying, “Not right now” is best and OK. Recently, Hubby Rick and I were approached in such a situation. We knew that our decision would not be popular. We stuck with our decision and made it clear that we would be happy to look at this again in a future day. Just not right now.
On this Day 11 of our Lenten journey, today’s suggestion is to review your finances, assets and things entrusted into your care. As you do so, think about how you can bless God through this. If the whole concept of managing your finances feels overwhelming and difficult, stop thinking you need to do everything about this today. Begin with the next right choice you can make today. And then make another choice tomorrow. It’s one choice at a time.
I’m trying to do all the good I can for God’s Kingdom. This includes regularly making sure our finances are part of this equation. Nearly every day, Hubby Rick and I say that we’re blessed. This is a great way for us to celebrate our choices and ensure they bring glory and honor to God. This can happen many different ways, including finances.
For being please is on many ways, I am grateful.
Dear God – Thank you for entrusting so much from Your resources into my care. Now, help me honor You with the choices that I make. Amen.
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