On June 26 I retired after being pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Doylestown for 35 years. I’ve taken some time to look back at the main lessons God has taught me during that time. Here’s one:
As I come near the close this series of blogs on what I’ve learned in life I must mention money. It’s a great servant but a terrible master. I learned good financial principles from my parent’s example and that has helped me avoid a lot of financial problems. Money is great when it serves me, but if I start to serve it then it becomes a terrible master.
God has provided well for me financially. We don’t have an extravagant lifestyle and many would say we don’t earn a lot of money, but we’ve kept down our expenses and are quite content to live within our means. I thank God that misuse of money has not been one of my weaknesses. My wife and I both are frugal but still enjoy sharing generously. We find a balance that works for us between spending and saving. We have found some ways of using money that bring enjoyment to us and we thank God for this.
The danger with money is when it becomes a substitute for trust in God. Too many people evaluate themselves and their ‘success’ in life in terms of dollars and possessions. Money does not bring security. In fact the more money God entrusts a person with the more they are accountable for their stewardship of this important resource.
We’ve established some principles concerning money which we have tried to pass on to our children. One is to not spend what you don’t have. God gives us 24 hours of time in a day and that’s all we have. It’s a limited resource and we must learn to live within it, although we often try to stretch it to its limit. Unfortunately today we can spend money we don’t have, and the temptation to do so can be great. But that will catch up with you and can cause many problems. Make sure you don’t spend money you don’t have.
A second principle we teach is that you can only spend your money once. While this might seem obvious, the truth behind it is that if you use it for the wrong thing then it won’t be there for what God intended it to be used for. In this country, with very few exceptions, God gives us the amount of money He knows we will need to live on plus extra to use for His Kingdom. He knows what He wants us to use it for. That’s why a budget can be a good way of discovering God’s will for the use of your money and make sure you stay within your limits. I can spend money I have (principle 1) but I must also spend it for what God intended it to be spend for (principle 2). If not I won’t have it for what I really need, nor will I properly use some of it for His Kingdom. That’s why we always remember that we can only spend our money once so we need to make sure we use it wisely. (December 12, 2016 Doylestown, PA)
Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Are you spending money you don’t have? Why is that unwise to do?
Do you have a workable budget you stick to? If not, how can you be sure you are making the best use of the money God gives you?
If Jesus would sit down with you tonight and all your financial expenditures would be laid out before Him, what would He say? Would He make any suggestions? If so, what?
Pray and commit your finances to God. Ask Him to direct you in their correct use. Write down any changes you need to make and apply them immediately.
INDIA UPDATE: The books we translate and distribute continue to be a great, great blessing to the pastors and Christians in Telugu-speaking India. Seven books are currently printed, or in the process of being finished. These equip pastors and leaders year round and in places we don’t reach. It is a real privilege and blessing to provide these. I have others I would like to write and make available also. Pray God would provide the wisdom to do so, as well as the finances to pay for them. A 100 page book costs at least $10,000 to translate and print 5,000 copies.
PRAY FOR the books that are distributed in India, and the ones that will be in the future. Ask God to protect them, to motivate the owners to read them and pass them to others, and to help them understand and remember what they read in them. Thank God for the books He has used in your spiritual growth as well.
Christian Training Organization