The Bible & Finances

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Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

July 9, 2006

The Bible & Finances

Selected Scriptures

This morning we are going to be looking at some very practical commandments & principles found in Scripture that will help you deal with your finances in a godly manner. In the materialistic society in which we live it is very easy to succumb to consumer credit and end up with financial disaster, the ramifications of which are much more than just financial. In 85% of divorces, the reason has something to do with money!

The first couple of principles are really simply reminders of things we have already talked about in the course of this series.

1) GOD OWNS IT ALL. YOU ARE A STEWARD – a manager, administrator, caretaker. We learned this from the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. More to the point are verses such as Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it. Also Psalm 89:11 The heavens are Thine, the earth also is Thine; The world and all it contains, Thou hast founded them.

As a steward you have responsibilities, not rights, and God’s desire is simply that we be found faithful. He will take care of the measure of success. 1 Cor. 4:2 tells us, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” It becomes incumbent on us, therefore, to seriously follow what God says we are to do with what He has entrusted to our care. Everything you have is for your use only temporarily. Your current possessions will either be passed on to someone else or its elements will be returned to the earth. You do not own it, God owns it and one day He we will call you to give an account for what we have done with the things He entrusted to you.

2) MONEY IS A REFLECTION OF YOUR HEART. As Jesus said in Matthew 6: 21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Verse 24 adds “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

You will never handle anything less significant than money nor more revealing of your heart.

The focus of our attention must on the Lord Jesus Christ and not what the world has to offer. John warned in 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and [also] its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.

Trying to gain a sense of success from what the world has to offer will always be fleeting and in the end be of no lasting value. God wants us to find our success in Him which is of eternal value. That is why Jesus promised in Matthew 6:33 that as we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things” – what is needed to live on – shall be added unto you.” God will provide for us.

True success is:

1. To love God with all your heart, soul and mind (Matt. 22:37)

2. To be like Christ – Rom 8:29

3. To serve God and man (Mk 10:45; Matt. 22:37, 39)

3) GIVING REFLECTS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. The first area of practical demonstration of your love and trust of God to provide for you is in your giving back to Him.

We have had two sermons on the topic of godly giving. The bottom line of each of them was that God wants you to give what you want with a joyful heart as a reflection of your love and trust of Him. You cannot give to God’s work cheerfully unless both of these are true. You must trust Him. Proverbs 3:5-10 puts is this way, 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your body, And refreshment to your bones. 9 Honor the Lord from your wealth, And from the first of all your produce; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine. You must trust Him in your daily life to both guide and provide.

You must also love God and want to be involved with his work. Paul had commended the Macedonian believers because of their sacrificial giving. Paul says in 2 Cor. 8:4, “begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints.” Their love for God overflowed in sacrificial giving for His work.

We also saw that God does not impose any sort of tax on Christians. We are to give freely and cheerfully, and if you can not give that way, then don’t give. Instead work on your heart until you can. Examples of godly giving range from 10-100% of income.

4) CHRISTIANS PAY THEIR TAXES. I am sure there are many sad faces when checks to the IRS are written for income taxes. I don’t think anyone smiles when they look at the amounts deducted from their paychecks for taxes. I think that even the smiles that occur when someone gets an income tax refund would disappear if they would consider the fact that the refund amount is actually their own money that the Government has held onto for however many months without paying any interest.

Now God does not say we have to be happy about paying our taxes, but He does say that we are to pay them. Jesus was questioned on this very issue in Matthew 22:16 and His response in verse 21 was “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” Paul also gives direction on this subject in Romans 13:7, “Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax [is due;] custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”

Paying our taxes also means we pay the full amount we owe. Men may think it fine to cheat on their taxes if they can get away with it, but we who are Christians are to live according to God’s standard, not man’s. I remember when the man that figures my taxes for me as a personal ministry pointed out one year that because I had not paid enough quarterly on my estimated Income Tax that I would have to order another form and pay a penalty. I didn’t like it. In fact I think that I could even make a case about it being unjust, but I ordered the form, figured out the penalty and sent in the check. Certainly we should take advantage of any legal deductions that we can, for that is simply good stewardship, but we do not inflate or deflate figures to our advantage. That is fraud. That is sin. Prov. 13:11 warns, “Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases it.” My position and your position as being representatives of Jesus Christ is more important than any
amount of money we might keep for ourselves by trying to beat the tax code.

5) DEBT IS UNWISE. The scripture gives stern warning about debt, yet it is a major problem in this nation both as a society and as individuals.

The national debt is now over $8 trillion. That is just shy of $28,000 for every man, woman and child in our country. At a repayment of $1 million per day, it would take 22,000 years to pay back the debt. At $1 billion per day it would take 22 yeas. And as Ron Blue has said, “Someone must pay this debt through a literal repayment (future taxes), a deceitful repayment (future inflation) or cancellation (political upheaval). There are no other alternatives. The debt will not merely disappear.”

Individual consumer debt has also escalated to unbelievable heights. Excluding things such mortgages and auto loans, Credit card debt alone has topped $800 billion. That averages to $8,000 per credit card. With only about 40% of credit card holders paying off entire balance each month the banks and other lending institutions are making $208 million per day. Sears has made more on its charge card than on its retail sales for several decades. Now you know why you keep getting those credit card applications in the mail!

What does the Bible say about debt? Well, it does not say it is a sin, but it does discourage it because of its ramifications.

The first consequence for the Christian is that it always has to be repaid. Psalm 37:21, “The wicked borrows and does not pay back, But the righteous is gracious and gives.” This means that we must be very careful what we take out loans for, because it all must be paid back. Prov. 22:26 adds, “Do not be among those who give pledges, Among those who become sureties for debts. 27 If you have nothing with which to pay, Why should he take your bed from under you.”

What a difference there would be if people really honored their commitments and paid back the loans they took out. Bankruptcy has become too easy of a way out for too many people. The only time the Christian should go into bankruptcy is when forced to do so by their creditors, and even then for the sake of righteousness, they should seek to repay all they possibly can.

Let me give you 4 other dangers of debt.

1. The interest works against you. In other words, your debt level can increase. The price you actually pay for an item escalates rapidly. For example, a 15 year $100,000 mortgage at 6% APR compounded monthly will cost you at total of $151,895. A 25 year loan at the same rate will cost you $193,290 total. If the rate goes up to 7% the totals are $161,790 and $212,034 respectively. A $20,000 car loan at 9% over 3 years will cost you a total of $22,895. Over a 5 year period it will cost a total of $24,910. If you maintain the average credit card debt of $8,000 at even an excellent rate of 8%, it will cost you $351 per year in interest. If you have that amount on a store card which may have a 16% rate or more, it will cost you $710. Do you really have that much extra money to afford that type of interest payment?

2. Debt becomes a trap. Why? Because it is hard to live, pay the interest and pay down the principle on the debt. And if your debt was caused from having too high a lifestyle then you invariably continue to increase the debt in the effort to maintain that lifestyle.

3. Debt mortgages the future. What could have been savings and/or discretionary income is paid out in interest and with it the money for investment and future purchases. In a sense you become a slave to it and to your creditors.

Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower [becomes] the lender’s slave.” The point of this proverb is that the rich rule over the poor because the poor become indebted to the rich when they borrow from them. If we define slavery as working for another without being paid wages, consider how many hours a week you must work to earn money to pay interest. You are a slave for that amount of time. The Research Institute of America reports that the average American family pays 1/4 of its spendable income on debt!

4. Debt affects your spiritual life.

Debt is often symptomatic of other problems including such things as greed, self-indulgence, impatience, fear, lack of self-discipline, etc. Credit card debt, consumer debt and often even high mortgage debt frequently arise because the person is seeking after the things of this world. We have spoken about this previously that these are things which Christians should not be pursuing. As Jesus put it in Matt. 6:32, those are the things the Gentilesungodly seek after. Jesus adds in Luke 12:15, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”

Business debt and investment debt can also be a problem when they are pursued in get-rich-quick schemes. It is faster to borrow than to save. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.”

Let me give you five questions that should be answered before you borrow for anything.

1. Does it make economic sense?

2. Do my spouse and I have unity about taking on this debt?

3. Do I have spiritual peace of mind?

4. What personal goals and values am I meeting with this debt that can be met in no other way?

5. Have I sought Godly counsel concerning it?

6) INVESTING IS WISE

The parable of the talents that we talked about two weeks ago demonstrates the Lord’s approval of investing, for each of the good stewards invested what was entrusted to them.

What is an investment? Financial speaking, it is money that we commit to some use for the purpose of gaining a financial return. There are many types of investments including commodities, real estate, precious metals, stocks, bonds, etc. I am not going to comment on any of these in particular. I am simply going to give you some Biblical principles so you can evaluate any investment.

A) Invest with the right attitude & for the right reasons. I Tim. 6:6-10 tells us, “6 But godliness [actually] is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.”

Proper investment must begin with contentment otherwise it will be pursued for some ungodly reason such as greed, envy, pride, or hedonism. You should invest only what is surplus and not what you need to live on. If you are not content you will be spending what you have striving to be content and therefore not have any surplus left to invest. Therefore contentment with what you have at present is the foundation for investment.

There are two proper reasons for investment. 1) To create additional wealth for God’s work. Those in Acts 4:34 were selling off real estate investments to provide for current needs among God’s people. Investing to serve God better requires that you first give to meet the current needs God places on your heart, and then invest what is beyond that for future needs.

2) Provide for family responsibilities. 1 Tim. 5:8 tells us that a man that does not provide for his family is worse than an infidel, and Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. This requires that the family first determine what it does need to live on so that there is a s
urplus to invest. Next, it requires a plan of action for any future profits before they come, otherwise we can rationalize anything and will spend it unwisely.

B) Do not presume upon the future. James 4:13-15 warns us that we do not know what the future holds. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.” No matter how well we plan, things can change. Only the Lord knows the future. In addition, we must always keep eternity in mind because as James says here and Jesus warns in Luke 12 you do not know but that your life may be required of you tonight. What then of your investments? Do your investments reflect godliness?

C) Avoid hasty speculation and hasty decisions. A simple rule of thumb is that if you are pressured to make an immediate decision to invest then it is probably not a good investment. Prov. 28:20 tells us, “A faithful man will abound with blessings, But he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished, and Proverbs 28:22 adds, “A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth, And does not know that want will come upon him.

D) Avoid even the appearance of deceit. Prov. 13:11states, “Wealth [obtained] by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases it.” 1 Thess. 5:22 commands us to “abstain from all appearance of evil.”

E) Do not borrow to invest for that places you in a position of surety. Prov. 22:26,27 warns, “Do not be among those who give pledges, Among those who become sureties for debts. 27 If you have nothing with which to pay, Why should he take your bed from under you?” Prov. 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.”

F) Carefully evaluate the risk of investment. This involves several elements. First, invest only surplus and risk only what you can afford to lose otherwise you could end up in the position of borrowing to live. Second, Don’t invest in what you do not understand. David expressed himself on this point in Psalm 131:1 saying, “O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.” This truth is born out by the fact that the small investors that do best in the Stock Market are those that invest in companies they know and that produce something with which they are familiar.

G) Be in unity with your spouse. That is one reason God put the two of you together. If you say your spouse never agrees with you, then you have a different problem and you need to get your marriage straightened out before you concern yourself with investing.

H) Give to the Lord from profits of your investments. Prov. 3:9,10, advises us, “Honor the Lord from your wealth, And from the first of all your produce; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.”

7) KEEP YOUR FINANCIAL PRIORITIES IN ORDER.

Three are three areas of financial obligation.

1) Giving – as already pointed out (Prov. 3:9)

2) Taxes – as already pointed out (Rom. 13:7)

3) Debt retirement – as already pointed out

(Ps. 37:21)

Two areas of finances are discretionary

1) Living Expenses

2) Accumulation of wealth.

(Americans tend to place the order as

1 – Life style & because of that

2 – Debt retirement

3 – Taxes (because there is no other choice

4 – Accumulation of wealth

5 – Giving)

8) GUARANTEED FINANCIAL SUCCESS

You will have financial success if you keep these things in mind and follow them.

1) God owns it all and you are His steward. You will give an account to Him.

2) Money is never an end in itself but is merely a resource used to accomplish other goals and obligations. True success is found in loving God, becoming like Jesus Christ and serving God & others. Increasing your net worth is the priority of the world, not of Christians.

3) You will be financially successful if you spend less than you earn and do it for a long time and Prov. 13:11 tell us, “But the one who gathers by labor (little by little) increases it.”

Sermon Study Sheets

KIDS CORNER

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Keep count of how many times these words are used: “money,” “debt,” “investment.” 2) Talk with your parents about how you can use your money wisely.

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.

What does the use of your money say about what is important to you? Your relationship with God? How would you define “success? Why must Christians pay their taxes? Is debt sin? Why or why not? What warnings does the Bible give about debt? What are some of the consequences of debt? Which of these have you experienced personally? Can Christians file for bankruptcy? Why or why not and if so, under what conditions? How can debt interest work against you? What questions should you consider before you borrow? Define “investment?” Why is investing wise? What precautions need to be taken when considering an investment? What are the three areas of financial obligation? What are the two areas of financial discretion? What is the order of priority you rank your financial decisions and why? What must you do in order to have guaranteed financial success? Are you doing it?

 

Sermon Notes – July 2, 2006

Biblical Financial Principles – Selected Scriptures

1) God Owns it All – You are a Steward

 

2) Money is a Reflection of Your Heart

True Success is:

 

3) Giving Reflect Your Relationship With God

 

4) Christians Pay their Taxes

5) Debt is Unwise – Christians Must Repay Their Debts

A) The Interest Works Against You

B) Debt Becomes a Trap

C) Debt Mortgages the Future

D. Debt Affects Your Spiritual Life

Questions to Ask Before Borrowing:

1. Does it make economic sense?

2. Do my spouse and I have unity about taking on this debt?

3. Do I have spiritual peace of mind?

4. What personal goals and values am I meeting with this debt that can be met in no other way?

5. Have I sought Godly counsel concerning it?

6) Investing is Wise

A) Invest with the Right Attitude & for the Right Reasons

B) Do Not Presume Upon the Future

C) Avoid Hasty Speculation & Decisions

D) Avoid Even the Appearance of Deceit

E) Do not Borrow to Invest

F) Carefully Evaluate Investment Risk

G) Be in Unity with Your Spouse

H) Give to the Lord from the Profits

7) Keep Your Financial Priorities in Order

Areas of Financial Obligation: Giving, Taxes, Debt Retirement

Areas of Financial Discretion: Living Expenses, Accumulation of wealth.

8 Guaranteed Financial Success:


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