As a Pastor and Biblical Counselor for many years, one of the greatest hindrances to a lasting marriage that I have seen is the lack of understanding of how to handle finances. We live in a day of easy credit, and much “over spending.” Most Christians fight more than anything else over their finances. I want to give 7 thoughts for a Christian couple on finances.
- To truly deal properly with finances I must first of all be a Spirit controlled person.
Ephesians 5:15-21, See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, (16) Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (17) Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (18) And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (19) Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (20) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (21) Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Without being a Spirit controlled person I will be a failure in most areas of my life as a Christian. What we have found in counseling people about their marriage is they are emotion controlled in their purchases. One young married husband I talked with said, “She wants to quit her job and have children. We are barely making it now and I am work overtime and we are still falling behind. We both have student loans and more than $10,000.00 in credit card debt. I want to have kids but she goes to mall every day after work with her mom and she buys something every night! She spends money like a wild woman! Also, we have to spend every holiday and weekend with her parents!” She said, “He is never home, and when he is home he sits in front of the television and never pays any attention to me! When we talk about finances it is always a fight! I like being around my family!” Sounds like a recipe for disaster.
When dealing with this couple we found both of them did not have a real, intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God. If you do not understand what it means to have a real relationship with God please read the following: http://mismallbusinessweb.com/LoveOfTheFamily/2016/05/how-to-have-a-real-relationship-with-god-the-work-of-the-holy-spirit-in-a-persons-life/
- Why was our couple in trouble? They were living for their lusts.
James 4:1-10, From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? (2) Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. (3) Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (4) Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (5) Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? (6) But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (7) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (9) Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. (10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
So, why do most couples fight? They fight for their lusts. They buy for their lusts as well! This is a purely emotion led couple that rationalizes everything they do. The formula goes like this for an emotion led person. Desire, rationalize, compromise, and spiritualize their actions.
- We encourage couples to seek God first in their lives and their finances.
Matthew 6:33, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Jesus gave us the guideline in Matthew 6:33. Don’t set your goals to accumulate first.
4. Once I have a real relationship with God I should pray about everything I purchase.
Non-Spirit controlled people never learn to ask God questions. Never rush into a purchase if at all possible. Take time to pray about it and make sure you have the leadership of God about it. Ask God if this is something I really need? Also, can we afford this?
A rule of thumb is to never by anything by credit card that you cannot pay off in the current month. I have a credit card because I fly to meetings and I use it to get flight tickets, motels, and rental cars. Nothing goes on the card that I cannot pay back that month. If I am using my credit card to buy things such as groceries, gifts, vacations, clothes, excessive eating out, and I cannot pay it off by the end of the month, I will pay a high interest rate that will only get worse. Just remember credit card debt puts people in a lot of distress and trouble and they will end up with more debt that they can ever pay back.
- Know how to balance your check book and keep records well.
Proverbs 24:3-4, Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: (4) And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
It is impossible for couples to have their finances under control unless they understand the basics of good record keeping. Years ago my wife worked for a bank. She would receive several calls a day from people who wanted to know how much money they had in their checkbook. They did not understand that the balance the bank gives them is not necessarily what they have as spendable because of outstanding checks. Therefore, they bounce checks and have to pay a fee. One lady called in and she had bounced 30 checks! Her explanation was these were things we needed. However, for each check the bank charged her $37.00! She cried and said her husband was going to be upset and threatened that if the bank would not take off the charges she was going to kill herself! Emotion led people are many times drama queens. That is the real reason they are in trouble. Balance your checking account monthly. If you do not know how go to your bank and ask for their help. Currently, statistics show that only 2 out of 10 Americans know how to balance their checkbook!
- Get organized! Have a central place to put your bills.
I was dealing with a couple who had filed for bankruptcy three times. Totally disorganized. I went to the home and the mail was all over the floor, under couch cushions, in the bathroom, under the dog’s bowl! I encourage young couples to get a money bag from their bank and put it in a central location. Each time the mail comes any bills go immediately in the bag. When you get paid you can pay the bills by due date. Always make sure you give to God first. Understand all money is God’s money. I encourage couples to have no installment debt other than a house and a car. Obviously, these will be your biggest purchases. Make sure you are educated on interest rates and lender policies. It is not necessarily the payment but how much will you ultimately pay for that purchase?
Always pray about what God would have you save. Kim and I have practiced praying about the amount God would want us to save. One pastor friend I know practiced giving ten percent to God and saved ten percent. They lived on the other eighty percent.
- Make sure you think about your finances and plan ahead in how you handle your finances.
Many times people never set down to plan until it too late. They get deep into debt which can be a real challenge to get out of. They are emotion led and they react to everything in their life and in the financial realm by their emotions. We encourage people to plan by writing down their goals. Everyone needs to understand they must have a balanced budget and they need to consistently review it. One of the first goals should include understanding that they need to stay out of additional debt and they need to commit to paying off existing debt.
Finally, biblical stewardship begins with understanding that God wants us to manage well what He has given to us. One day we will stand before God for how well we have taken care of our resources and the people in our lives. A godly husband and father understands that I am required as a steward to be faithful in all aspects of my life including our family’s finances. I Corinthians 4:2, Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.