Lesson: Dealing With Money Problems
in one form or another has been around and valued highly by most for
thousands of years. But money, debt and finances have also been the
source of many personal and family problems over those years. What does
the practical wisdom of the Bible teach us about how to deal with money
Skip, a Christian from California, relates this story:
"We were not making enough money to cover our needs. My wife had
quit her job because I thought that I was the one who should be the
principal income maker. Our income went from $14,000 per year in 1971
to $6,000 a year in 1972. We needed help.
"The first thing we did was to seek counsel. After that we both
sat down and admitted that this would have to be a mutual effort. Together
we would succeed or fail. Then we prayed, together.
"At this point we wrote down everything that we really needed
to live. Since I had a job, I needed to get to work. I had a car and
it needed gas, but I didn't need to stop before work for coffee. We
wrote down exactly what we needed and did not need and discussed this
with each other.
"Many things then became wants and not needs.
"We had no children yet, so we could evaluate a bit more ruthlessly
on items like food. All expensive items were eliminated; basics became
normal. Shopping is not a pastime if you are in survival mode! Soups
and casseroles were standard, and nothing was wasted. Lunch was often
leftover dinner from the night before.
"If you have a job, thank God and tithe on your increase! We did.
I had trained and studied to become a teacher, but there were few, if
any, openings in 1976 and 1977.
"It became disheartening, but with my God-given, vigorous good
health and working at all the labor jobs that I could find, we managed
to almost scrape by—actually going into the hole a little each month.
Things got worse before they got better.
"And then that recession was over, and school districts started
hiring again. I had gotten my credentials in 1975 but hadn't even looked
for a teaching job that year. But as soon as I interviewed for a teaching
job in 1978, I was told that one awaited me at the beginning of the
spring semester 1979.
"Were there lessons I needed to learn before God answered yes
to our prayers for a good job? They are too numerous to recite! But
in retrospect, not having much money was a valuable training program
for when we were blessed with more money. You can't really remember
what you never went through."
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What Does the Bible Say About Money?
How long has money been around? Probably ever since there were more people
than one extended family. The Bible tells about various financial transactions
Abraham made about 4,000 years ago (Genesis 13:2; 14:20; 20:16; 23:9).
It is obvious Abraham was a rich man, but he was also a generous, good
Does God object to riches?
The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.
If God gives riches, obviously money isn't bad in itself, and He does
not object to wealth.
What isn't good in God's sight?
Matthew 6:24, 33
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one
and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise
the other. You cannot serve God and mammon...
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all
these things shall be added to you."
1 Timothy 6:9-10
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and
into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have
strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through
with many sorrows.
Trusting in riches or wealth is wrong. Serving mammon (the New International
Version translates this "Money") and not God is wrong. Greediness is absolutely
wrong. But can we enjoy both God and the correct bounty of this world?
We can if we do things God's way. Matthew 6:33 indicates that God can
and will bless us abundantly if we get the right perspective in our mind.
Why aren't many of God's people rich or wealthy?
1 Corinthians 1:26, 29
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the
flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called...
that no flesh should glory in His presence.
1 Timothy 6:17-19
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor
to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly
all things to enjoy.
Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing
to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to
come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
God has not chosen to call many of the "important" or famous people of
the world now, but to use the weak and the poor to demonstrate that it
is God who makes a difference in our lives. "He who glories, let him glory
in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:31).
Paul's instructions to Timothy tell us that some Christians were rich.
But his warnings give some hints about the spiritual problems being wealthy
can cause. Unfortunately when and if we strike it rich, we tend to take
credit ourselves and not give credit to God. On the other hand, if we
have had to struggle a bit, we have a much better chance of learning that
the race is not always to the swift. As a result, we just might more easily
and readily thank God.
Can there be real problems with having more than enough money?
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing
you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and
But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great
Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it
is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!"
And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again
and said to them, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust
in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go
through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom
And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, "Who
then can be saved?"
But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible,
but not with God; for with God all things are possible."
What if God asks us to give up the good life? This parable shows a real
challenge that a wealthy Christian could face.
The world around us bases financial decisions on self-interest—and
even blatant greed. But what underlying attitude does the Bible teach?
"I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you
must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that
He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
The apostle Paul showed by his own example and by a quote from Jesus
Christ that we should live a way of give, rather than basing all our decisions
on what we can get. We can give to others in need and give gifts to show
our love. We are also instructed to give tithes and offerings to God,
since everything we have comes from Him in the first place (Malachi 3:8-9;
Matthew 23:23). Offerings state to God that we know where our blessings
really come from.
Using Money Wisely
Is there a correct sequence for living life?
Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and
afterward build your house.
The New Living Bible translates this: "Develop your business first before
building your house."
God anticipated that people could become infatuated before they had established
a trade or profession. Worrying about having a good, solid job might seem
somewhat mundane when you're in love, but you still need to earn a living!
Get a good education, the best that you can, but don't end up being a
perennial student with lots of smarts and no real wisdom.
Having good skills and good work habits will help in finding and keeping
a good job. And work is a vital aspect of the training program God has
for us in this life. See also our lessons on "Job
Satisfaction and the Value of Work" and "Dealing
What should we do to avoid money problems? How can we make sure
we spend our money correctly?
A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on
and are punished.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally
and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
A major part of financial wisdom involves planning. Have a budget and
follow it. We publish a practical and helpful booklet titled Managing
Your Finances that will help you begin to formulate your own
personal plan or budget. Seeking wisdom from God, His Bible and wise counselors
can help us avoid problems or map out a way through those problems.
Does God encourage saving?
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the wealth
of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
Saving for a rainy day (Proverbs 6:6-11) and providing an inheritance
are two things for which God encourages us to save money.
What do we need to do to improve our financial situation and
prepare for the future?
Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds;
for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.
When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself, and the herbs
of the mountains are gathered in, the lambs will provide your clothing,
and the goats the price of a field; you shall have enough goats' milk
for your food, for the food of your household, and the nourishment of
God encourages us to be diligent in our work and in attending to our
personal property and financial situation. When we do, our fleeting life
will not become a mad scramble to meet our needs in the retirement years.
What are some specific financial steps to take to avoid problems?
Romans 13:1-2, 6
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no
authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed
Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God,
and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves...
For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending
continually to this very thing.
"And if a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit and does not
cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls in it, the owner of the pit shall
make it good; he shall give money to their owner, but the dead animal
shall be his."
God expects us to pay taxes and obey the laws of the land we live in.
We should also work hard to avoid accidents (usually involving cars, not
oxen, today). But it is also wise, and often required, to have insurance
in case of accidents. Insurance is also a cost that proves its value should
you somehow run afoul of a litigious person who intends to sue you for
everything you've got.
What does the Bible say about debt and credit?
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
Why does God state that "the borrower is servant to the lender"? Because
it is simply true! Become frugal and ignore the pleas on TV that state,
"You owe it to yourself!" You will end up owing everybody who talks you
into believing that lie. If you don't need it, don't buy it. If you do
need it, look for a sale. Sometimes, like waiting 15 minutes after a meal
to have dessert, you find you don't really want it at all.
What is a credit card? A device that unlocks your personal wealth and
gives it to others. Okay, most people in the Western world need at least
one credit card to rent a car or establish a solid financial history.
Credit cards can also be helpful to cover short-term costs for a legitimate emergency.
But do not ever think that the company who gave you the credit card has
your best interest at heart. Unless it is the interest you will pay!
If you are in debt, make a plan for getting out of debt as quickly as
possible. Managing Your
Finances has practical information on paying off credit-card
debt, avoiding debt, a "buying self-test" and a sidebar on "credit counseling
Can money can be a test?
Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain
rich man yielded plentifully.
"And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since
I have no room to store my crops?'
"So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build
greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.
"'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many
years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."'
"But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required
of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?'
"So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward
In this parable the person obviously was successful, but instead of thanking
God for such a blessing and sharing it appropriately with others, he chose
to really protect his investment like Fort Knox. God saw his plan and
changed it by simply requiring that man's life that night.
All we have said about planning and even saving is true, but if it is
all only for self, as this man's plan was, it can be all for naught. "One's
life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke
What is it that people really want that money can't buy?
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace
of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and
minds through Christ Jesus.
Our consumer culture emphasizes what we don't have, but God wants us
to recognize and be content with what we do have (Philippians 4:11-13).
Being content, thankful and reliant on God will help us to have peace
of mind. And isn't peace what people really want? You can have peace of
mind and satisfaction that you have lived your life as God intended.
If we seek God's Kingdom first and foremost and if we diligently search
God's Word daily, asking God to help us understand His truth, then we
will be given resources now, brimful and overflowing, and eternal life
That is certainly more than money can buy.
There is much more to this subject than we could cover in this lesson.
Our free booklet Managing
Your Finances gives even more practical information that can
really help. Click on the link to read, download or order a printed copy
Please especially read the practical and helpful chapter "Keys
to Successful Money Management" to help you plan and manage your
budget. Even if you have never planned a budget before, these tools
can help make it simple and effective.
Also, if you are having money problems, then let our heavenly Father
know about it now. Yes, He already knows, but He appreciates hearing your
sincere prayer. And don't reject His response! Humbly work at what you
can until your plans for financial success begin to pay off.
Questions about this lesson? Feedback about
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