Not long ago I received a kind comment to one of my blogs from a college student. Quite distinct from the subject of the blog that the young person had just read, he or she described a dilemma that so many of their generation face – one which they hoped I would soon address. Most college students today are focused on just getting through school. Then when they graduate they are faced with trying to survive on their own in a difficult economy. Yet the financial marketplace tells them in both situations that they need a good credit history to initiate “standing” before they can get the credit they need to take that first step forward in life.
This is a dilemma I never had to deal with when I was in school. Four decades ago it was a much different economic and social climate. My parents, products of the Great Depression, engrained in me a mind-set of “put off purchasing or doing anything you don’t have the cash in-hand to pay for.” Yet the subject is one that I have first-hand knowledge of, through my three kids – as each have had various degrees of financial turbulence in their lives, which began in their college days.
Still, I was tempted to avoid the request, because it is a complex issue and there are so many good Christian men and women who have already written excellent books on the subject of managing finances. Then I attended Wednesday night service at my local church. I’m not saying God spoke to me – but somewhere in my pastor’s message an urge was triggered in my heart to try to address the young person’s plea. I’m not sure if the student is a Christian or not, but nearly everything I write takes a Biblical approach.
Finances are a very important part of Christian living
Many times Christians are tempted to poopoo the importance of money. Very often they misquote a famous scripture as “Money is the source of all evil.” That’s nonsense! It’s the “love of money” that the Apostle Paul warns is a source of evil. Money itself is a necessary ingredient in God’s plan for mankind. That’s one of the reasons it’s talked about so much in the Bible. What it really comes down to is whether we use money or money uses us. Are we slaves to it, or do we think of it as a tool to help us and the Church carry out godly purposes?
Individual motivation is always one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to our obtaining and using any material thing God desires to bless us with. Our motivation always has to be directed at doing what is pleasing to our Lord. And to know what is pleasing to God, we must study the Bible, His written Word. The following are just three things the Bible tells us are pleasing to God:(1) working and providing for ourselves and for those whom God has given us to care for; (2) educating ourselves and our families as we prepare for our God-ordained purpose in life; and (3) spreading the gospel. Yes – even the spread of the Gospel throughout the world requires money.
Byproducts of faithful and obedient Christian living
Yet, so much of what we worry about, or seek God for should be byproducts of what is normal Christian living. In several places in the Gospels we hear Jesus tell His followers not to worry about the basics in life: what we are to eat, what we are to wear, where we are to lay our heads at night. If we put God first in everything we do, He’ll take care of us. He’ll meet our needs. These are byproducts of our faithfulness and obedience to God.
But what about getting the funds to pay for our education? What about getting a car to drive to a part-time job at WalMart? Are these basic needs? It probably won’t matter once we learn to imitate some of the great men and women of the Bible – for then we’ll have all the tools we need to accomplish these goals as well.
Tool Number One: Get Wisdom
Take Solomon for example. This son of the Israeli King David was once given the option by God to choose anything he desired. He chose to be blessed with exceeding wisdom. Later, when he wrote the Book of Proverbs, he recommended to his own children and to anyone who would later read these works to ask God for wisdom. Why? Why didn’t Solomon choose riches or good health or long life? Because getting wisdom is a first principle for getting all the other desires of your heart.
What is wisdom? Wisdom is not just knowledge. Wisdom is the correct application of knowledge – to your personal benefit and that of everyone around you.
Wisdom is also insight, or the ability to discern when someone you are dealing with (e.g.: a salesman in a store, or a person who sends you a credit card application in the mail or a person who calls you on the phone trying to get you give out your personal information) intends it for your good or for your harm.
Wisdom will help you to order your steps when you have to multitask: when you have to finish that lab report and write that term paper, and study for your chem exam, all due on Monday, knowing you have to work twelve hours over the weekend, but you promised that beautiful girl down the hall you’d take her out for pizza on Saturday.
Wisdom also is the foresight to recognize that single people who have sexual relations introduce all kinds of complicating factors into the relationship and into their future lives – factors that they’ll never be able to walk-back.
Wisdom is a check in your spirit that tells you when to walk away from a disagreement – before either of you say or do something you’ll regret. The list goes on and on. And it’s a tool God wants you to have and to use.
Get a clear perspective of the problem – there’s always a solution
The pressure of financial problems is immense – and we need the tools to be able to see beyond and through the pressures. Wisdom is just one of those tools. There are so many more that can guide a follower of Christ through the challenges of life. Two more are what are called revelation gifts of the Holy Spirit: the Word of Knowledge and the Word of Wisdom (different from natural wisdom.) There are no shortcuts to learning of these spiritual tools – you have to read and study the Bible – but the task is made magnitudes easier if you associate yourself with a good Biblically-based local church. Paul explained it well in his letter to his new young pastor, Timothy: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
A personal tool
Let me share with each believer reading this blog a personal tool. A friend of mine shared this with me a few months ago. Mike went through the Bible and collected many of the promises God has made to His people regarding His desire that we find favor in everything we seek to accomplish and with regard to resolving every challenge we face in life. He calls it a “Daily Favor Confession.” There’s no magic in the words. It’s simply our proclamation that we believe and trust God that He is going to fulfill every promise He has made on our behalf. By speaking this confession at the start of your day, not only are you putting God first in your life, but you are also building self-confidence that will enable you to face your challenges head on, with the knowledge that the Lord is by your side guiding you.
In the Name of Jesus, I decree from this moment forward, to see myself the way God sees me. I am highly favored of the Lord. I am crowned with glory and honor. I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I am reigning as a king in life through the one man Jesus Christ the Messiah.
In Jesus’ Name, I declare by faith that I walk in divine favor. I have preferential treatment, supernatural increase, restoration, prominence, petitions granted, laws changed, policies and rules changed and battles won which I do not have to fight, all because of the blessing and favor of God in my life.
In Jesus’ Name, every morning when I rise, I will speak and expect divine favor to go before me and surround me as with a shield, with goodwill and pleasures forevermore. Doors are now open for me that men have said are impossible to open. No obstacle can stop me, and no hindrance can delay me.
In Jesus’ Name, I am honored by my Father, as I receive genuine favor that comes directly from God. I am special to Him. I am the object of His affection. I am the apple of His eye. I am blessed and highly favored of the Lord, in Jesus’ Name. Amen!