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This study © 2000 by David Humpal

1. Why do you think so many people like watching television programs such as ďDo You Want to Be a Millionaire?Ē Why do you think wealth and money is so important in our society?

Americans are obsessed with money and possessions. To many Americans, how much they earn and what they possess is what they value the most. It is not this way in other countries where people routinely live in poverty and have learned to place their values on more important things such as God, family, and helping each other. We are a very selfish society. So it is that state lotteries and widespread gambling, which were unthinkable and associated with sin fifty years ago, should now become so common place. It is no wonder many Christians have financial problems. Their priorities are based on the values of our society instead of on the eternal values of God.

2. How often do you struggle financially at the end of the month (or the end of your pay period)? Why or why not?

One of the most difficult things for me to get used to when entering the ministry was moving my bill paying to the first of the month. When you own your own business, you receive money throughout the month and can spread your bill paying over the entire month. But when you only get paid once a month, you have to make sure all the bills are paid up front so that the money isnít wasted on unnecessary expenses. I have noticed when going out to eat that restaurants are always busier at the beginning of the month and usually quite slow toward the end of the month. Before entering the ministry, we never thought about what time of the month it was, but now we have to watch our budget a little more closely.

3. Would you be happier if you had more money each month?

Most people think they would be happier if they had more money. Some people even believe that if they won the lottery, all their problems would be solved. This is not what the Bible teaches. Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21, ďDo not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Ē

If you think you would be happier if you had more money, itís because thatís where your heart is -- on money. God does not want us to have our heart on money but on him. Where is your treasure? Is it really on God, or do worldly finances and possessions maintain an allure for us?

4. Do you have a monthly budget? Do you use it?

A monthly budget does not have to be complicated. A simple listing of bills to be paid and an amount each month to set aside in savings is an adequate budget. You may want to be more detailed in your planning if that is your nature. The important thing isnít the budget, but whether you stick with it or not. It is a lot easier to make a budget than to keep it. But if you never make one, you will probably never get your finances organized.

5. How do you think God views your financial situation?

We tend to worry and fret about our finances a lot. In fact, they say finances is the number one reason for arguments in a young family. God views our finances differently than we do. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25-26, ďTherefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Ē

We are not to worry about our finances or about what we have. We are promised that God will take care of us. We may not have the latest or the fanciest items, but we will have all our needs met.

6. Which answer(s) best describes how you handle a financial shortfall? Explain.

a. You cut back on activities

b. Your dinner menus dramatically change

c. You postpone paying some bills

d. You borrow from a friend or relative

e. You cry and complain to God

Probably most people at one time or another have done all five of the things mentioned above. When you are having financial problems, itís important to be realistic about your situation. Sometimes dramatic changes are necessary in order to meet all your financial obligations. We get in trouble when we are unwilling to cut back on our expenses. If money is short, a family budget can help everyone be realistic about what activities the family can afford to do. Here are some comments on each of the five suggestions above:

Cutting back activities -- When money is short, this may mean that expensive hobbies and some entertainment activities will have to be curtailed. There are many family activities which can be substituted that cost little or nothing such as having a picnic in the park, going to the zoo, playing family games together.

Dramatically changing our meals -- When we donít have money, we must cut back somewhere. This may mean fewer trips to fast food restaurants and pizza parlors. It also may mean more meals of beans and soup instead of steak and dessert.

Postpone payment of some bills -- If you are really in a financial bind, most bills can be postponed or partially paid. Be sure to always contact your creditors and work something out with them instead of just leaving them in the dark about why you are late.

Borrowing from others -- This should only be used for emergencies. If you find that you are often in a situation where you need to borrow money or have others help you out financially, that means that you are not financially organized and need to make some hard choices and come up with a realistic budget!

Crying to God -- God does want us to come to him in prayer. But the emphasis should be less on our complaining and more on our listening to instruction from the Spirit and the word.

7. What do you think the Bible teaches about the importance of money?

Even the poorest American is rich compared to the standards of the world. People can learn to live on very little when they have to. We Americans are a spoiled and self-indulgent society. We want money and possessions, and we never seem to have enough. All those things that money can buy are so unimportant from a heavenly perspective. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 5:15-16, ďNaked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?Ē

All our efforts for riches and possession is nothing more than toiling for the wind. The treasure that will last for eternity is spiritual riches and heavenly possessions. We need to gain a spiritual understanding of whatís really important. Only then can we place our finances in their proper perspective.

8. Are you able to save something each month? How difficult is it?

Part of being financially organized is to have a regular pattern of saving. It doesnít have to be much, but it should be consistent. Once you are in a regular habit of saving, it is important that the savings is only used for emergencies, extra purchases, or special events. Once you have a certain amount of savings, if you are dipping into it every month, it will soon be gone.

By saving regularly, you gain financial independence. You take control of your own financial situation and you have reserves for those times of emergency or shortfall. Saving regularly should be an important part of every familyís budget planning.

9. What do you think is the appeal of playing the lottery, betting, or going to a gaming casino? Do you find these appealing? Why?

We Americans have become a nation of gamblers. It is a symptom of our societal greed and covetousness. We want to ďstrike it richĒ instead of being frugal and saving our money. Gambling has become a serious sickness which affects many Christians.

Ronald Reno wrote an article for Focus on the Family outlining reasons gambling is not Biblical. He says gambling violates the following eight areas of Christian teaching:

Exploiting the poor -- Poor people spend a larger percentage of their income gambling than any other income group. Things such as the lottery are designed to exploit the poor.

Work Ethic -- Gambling emphasizes luck over hard work. We should learn to live our life responsibly instead of hoping for luck.

Greed -- Most of us want money to spend selfishly on ourselves. Greed is not sanctioned in the Bible.

Covetousness -- We are specifically commanded to not covet, and yet thatís what we are doing whenever we buy a lottery ticket, bet on a game, or go to a casino.

Stewardship -- In gambling, the house always wins. Spending our money on a low-percentage promise of riches is not good stewardship of the money God has given to us.

Deception -- Not only do gambling outlets give a false impression of the excitement of winning, but we are deceiving ourselves to believe that money will make us any happier. God should be our treasure, not money.

Avoiding temptation -- We are specifically told in the Bible to flee temptation.

Lack of trust in God -- If we are trying to win a jackpot, it means we donít trust God to take care of us and provide for our needs.

10. How do you figure out how much to give in church offerings? What do you think the Bible teaches about giving?

Tithing was strictly taught in the Old Testament. Collections were taken up in the New Testament. Although many people still maintain the practice of tithing, Christians are free to give according to their ability. The early Jewish Christians sold all that they had and donated it to the church, but the early Gentile Christians gave offerings and special collections to support the work of the ministry. A guideline of about 10% is probably still a good standard for church support.

Footnotes:

This study on Why Donít I Have Enough Money © 2000 by David Humpal, all rights reserved.
All scriptures unless otherwise noted are from the New International Version © 1971, Zondervan Bible Publishers

Reno: Gambling and the Bible, electronic article © 1999, Focus on the Family (Reno gives more than eight reasons, and I have added my own comments to his eight reasons.)

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