The Great Commandment is very clear when Jesus responds to a scribe’s question in Mark 12:28-33, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to Jesus, “You are right, Teacher… and there is no other besides Him. 33… to love Him with all the heart… and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.” And, we will be blessed by following this Commandment.
1 Corinthians 10:26 tells us God owns it all: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,” and 1 Peter 4:10 tells us we are His Stewards: “… use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards.” That includes our Time, Talents and Treasures (money and assets). And Proverbs 22:9 promises: “A generous man will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.”
Financial Advisors counsel us on using our money and assets to Live, Give, Save, Owe and Grow in our life. From that, we learn it’s important to “live within our means,” to be charitable, save and invest regularly to meet future goals and to pay our obligations, taxes and debts for any real needs … but avoid consumer debt with Proverbs 22:27’s warning, “If you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.” These can help us grow a “Financial Well-being” and be able to serve others in our Family, Church, Community and Legacy, specifically:
- Our Family, where 1 Timothy 5:8 tells us, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Caring for our family is also a fine basis from which to serve others.
- Our Church, where God tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” And planned giving in our lifetime can serve the missions of our church family.
- Our Community, as Jesus related to followers in Mathew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” And Jesus added in Matthew 25:40, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” The Bible doesn’t say that money is evil… but our love of money is, and our giving allows us to ‘Love our neighbor as ourself,’ and that helps us break the power that money can have.
- Our Legacy, for which Proverbs 13:22 tells us, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” And how we live our life can pass a legacy of character and faith.
Through our giving, we can ‘Love our Neighbors,’ ‘Serve one another,’ and ‘be Disciples for the Lord.’ That service can also bring us joy and fulfillment as we work with those we serve and with others. Scripture tells us it’s more blessed to give than to receive, and when we’re giving, it’s very hard to be selfish. As a result, our giving will serve others while we also develop important relationships that can bring many blessings driven by the love we are sharing.
So, a proper focus on finances can build a Well-being in our family that strengthens us in many ways… including a peace of mind that can open our heart to focus on other things and to increase our productive time with family, close friends and the activities we value. In doing this, marital unity with our spouse is very important as we set goals, plan and make choices on how we’ll use our hard-earned money.
10 Steps to Managing the Money that God Entrusts to Our Care
- 1 Cor. 10:26: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,” and we’re His Stewards to Manage It.
- Take responsibility to pursue a career with passion (based on the education and training that’s needed for your work) and to wisely plan and make choices to meet your family’s needs. Prov. 10:4 tells us: “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth,” Prov. 21:5: “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty,” and Phil. 4:19: “God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Yes, God will care for real needs, but we must act responsibly, work diligently and avoid unneeded “possessions.”
- Find real contentment with what you have, as Hebrews 13:5 clearly tells us: “Be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I forsake you.”
- Don’t use costly consumer debt to live beyond what you earn. Romans 13:7-8 tells us: “Give everyone what you owe him… Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” And, Proverbs 22:27 tells us, “If you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.” Avoid buying “Stuff” beyond what you need and can afford.
- Focus on what you need, seek proper advice and plan. Prov. 13:16 tells us: “A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t and even brags about it.” (TLB) Prov. 20:18: “Plans are established by seeking advice.” And studies show that those who follow a plan have 2-3 times more assets.
- Serve others in His Kingdom: 2 Cor. 8:12, 9:7: “Give eagerly, according to what you have… in your heart decide how much to give.” 1 Tim. 6:18: “do good, be rich in good deeds… and be generous and willing to share. In this way lay-up treasure… as a firm foundation for the coming age.” Prov. 13:22 adds: “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”
- Save Regularly as 1 Cor. 16:2 tells us: “On the first day of every week, set aside money in line with your income, saving it up.” And your “Attitude of Thrift” can truly help you do this.
- Diversify Investments as Eccl. 11:2 tells us: “Divide your portion to 7 or 8, for you do not know what misfortune may occur.” Plan your investments based on the “time horizon” of key goals and diversify across and within asset classes to help avoid unexpected investment set-backs.
- If you invest little, you’ll earn little and “You’ll Reap What You Sow.” 2 Cor. 9:6 says: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” (And inflation can reduce the “real value” of your savings to less than what you had saved.)
- Prov. 13:11 tells us: “Dishonest money dwindles away, but money gathered little by little grows.” And, “Compound Growth” can double the investments you make with money you “gather little by little” in (72 ÷ R%) years, where R is the Annualized Return. So, 9%/year could double $1,000 to $2,000 in 8 years… to $4,000 in 16 years and to $8,000 in 24 years, but a 3% Return will only double once to $2,000 in 24 years… which may barely keep up with inflation.
Use your income to cover what it costs your family to live, give, save, grow (investments) and pay what you owe (like taxes & debts on a home or business, but avoiding consumer debt).
Often we face difficult choices that are so important to Financial Well-being, for which James 1:5 tells us, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.”
— Respectfully submitted by Dr. Don Calhoun, 2023