By Cliff Dansby
Money, everyone says, is “the root of all evil”. Many Christians and non-Christians alike misquote this teaching from the apostle Paul in the New Testament book of 1 Timothy. However, it’s the love of money and its misuse that leads to evil, problems and behaviors that sadden God. Christians are asked to responsibly use money. Many believers today, however, aren’t sure how to do this.
God’s enemy, the adversary Satan, knows just how to plant the desires of materialism in each Christian’s mind. He urges believers to buy the latest gadget, upgrade to the newer car or purchase a home that is bigger and better than the one a friend or family member lives in. God, however, calls Christians to use the money they have to meet their obligations and give where there is a need. So how does the believer with a family, obligations and not quite enough salary do that?
Getting out of debt is the first and most important step anyone, and most especially a Christian, can take toward becoming financially responsible. Crown Ministries, founded nearly 40 years ago by the late financial teacher Larry Burkett, encourages believers to get their debt under control. When people, especially young adults, think of debt they think of student debt, with a total of 44 million borrowers owing $1.3 trillion. This isn’t the debt we are referring too. It requires a Christian to stop taking on any new debt, whether that’s new clothes, the latest smartphone upgrade or a request for help from family members. A responsible believer in Christ doesn’t hide from his creditors, either. He makes a plan to repay what is owed, shares that plan with the people to whom he owes money, and then follows the plan until the debt is paid. While this is a basic and simple step, it isn’t easy or painless
The money necessary to repay debts must be found somewhere in the funds a Christian might think are stretched so thin that there’s nothing left. The money is there; it just needs to be reallocated. James Dobson’s organization Focus on the Family teaches that the dreaded word “budget” shouldn’t be avoided. If he prefers, a believer can call it a financial spending plan. No matter what it’s called, funds from one category, such as entertainment or shopping, for example, can be moved to a debt reduction category. Putting just forty or fifty dollars a month toward debt reduction helps a believer begin to see the benefits of financial responsibility.
Giving is one of the hallmarks of Christianity. Believers in Christ are asked to give of their time and their abilities, and yes, their money, too, to thank God for the ways He’s blessed them. According to Christian money guru Dave Ramsey, believers are asked by God to be responsible stewards, or caretakers, of the money He’s provided for them. Because Christians are the caretakers of the money, rather than the owners of it themselves, their responsibility is to use it as the owner instructs them. Incorporating this mindset can be difficult since it goes against everything they’ve been taught by the world, but believers who attain it enjoy spiritual transformation.
Being financially responsible isn’t a chore that a believer in Christ must do to prove that he is one of God’s children. The believer who cheerfully and correctly handles money as God instructs him reaps the joy that comes from becoming closer to God.