GAINING FINANCIAL FREEDOM
Key Scripture: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well -- Matthew 6:33.
Christians have been given dominion over the earth in a stewardship capacity. God wants to bless his children, regardless of the world’s financial and economic situation. But in his infinite wisdom and mercy, God sometimes withholds his blessings from those who refuse to walk in obedience to his Word.
Financial contentment is a biblical goal for Christians and is reached through personal responsibility and reliance on God’s direction. "Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things" (1 Chron. 29:12). Furthermore, the Lord "delights in the well-being of his servant" (Ps. 35:27). To be content financially is to be free from the bondage of financial stress while fulfilling your God-given responsibilities. Contentment lies in obedience, not abundance.
The following steps are important in moving from financial bondage to financial freedom:
Give tithes and offerings. God will not bless a person who withholds from him (Mal. 3:7-12).
Get out of debt and stay out. Use credit cards only if you can pay them off within the grace period without incurring an interest charge.
Develop a meaningful spending plan or budget. Discipline yourself to stay within your budget.
Set up a regular savings program. After giving your tithe, give to yourself. Since your earning capacity won’t last forever, you are called to be prudent with your current income.
Invest in low- to medium-risk growth vehicles. Choose from U.S. Treasury Bills, bonds, perhaps mutual funds or stocks—after your basic savings plan is functioning smoothly. Seek out competent, loyal, and trustworthy counsel before you invest.
Invest in adequate insurance in several areas. Automobile liability insurance is legally required for all vehicles, and collision insurance is recommended for newer ones. Then enroll in a good life insurance plan. Carefully examine both term and whole-life policies. If health insurance is not provided by your employer, obtain adequate health coverage. Depending on your occupation, disability insurance should also be considered.
Save to pay cash for your major purchases. Live within your means, and don’t buy until you can afford what you need.
Build up a reserve for emergencies. Try to save two to six months of income.
Prioritize your spending and investments. Pay bills first before embarking on an investment program.
Keep accurate records. These will help you control your finances as well as prove invaluable if the IRS decides to audit you.
Be charitably minded. Christians have a responsibility to help others (Matt. 10:42).
Keep your estate plan current. Stewardship does not end with death. Families must be provided for, and the cause of the gospel must be advanced.
The most important aspect of stewardship is to acknowledge that God owns it all, thereby placing him first in your priorities. Misplaced priorities may cause prosperity to be denied. It seems a severe mercy, but a wise man once said, "One of the most devastating punishments is for God to allow us to prosper—and not be able to see our own need."
Stewardship also involves being honest, punctual, and meticulous in handling money. In addition, financial management requires integrity and responsibility. Knowledge is not enough. You must put into practice what you have learned. Only then can you receive the commendation of our Lord: "Well done, good and faithful servant! . . . Come and share your master’s happiness!" (Matt. 25:23).
Do an independent word study on "prosper." Click on the word "prosper" to go to a suggested resource.
What does the Bible say about prosperity? In what areas of your life are you prosperous; in what areas are you poor? At his coming, will Jesus greet you: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" List several steps you are taking to become "rich" in the things of the Lord.