A Biblical Stewardship Top 10

February 2016 Good $ense Newsletter: A Biblical Stewardship Top 10

If someone asked you to summarize a top ten list regarding Biblical stewardship, what would you have on the list? I will always be on a stewardship discipleship journey myself so if you ask me for a top ten list in the future I may have some additional thoughts but here is a developing list to ponder together as we move forward in 2016!  These are listed in no particular order, with the exception of the last two being most important:

  1. The ultimate goal of frugality is generosity. It’s wise to save and I believe we’re called to live a lifestyle of moderation and contentment. But it’s not just so we can amass more money. It’s so we have more to give to those in need and to give to causes that advance the work of God in the world.
  2. Good financial stewardship is not rocket science. There are just a few basic principles: Have a plan, spend less than you earn, avoid consumer debt, save for the unexpected (but avoid hoarding), and be generous and learn contentment.
  3. Have a support network. Financial stewardship may not be rocket science but because of the temptations of our culture, it’s still hard! So have one or more support folks who believe as you do and with whom you can give and receive encouragement as you pursue a counter-cultural way of handling your financial resources.
  4. Our culture lies – very persuasively! You know the big 3 lies from the G$ courses: Things bring happiness, debt is expected and unavoidable, and a little more money will solve all our problems. We shouldn’t be surprised by the lies and temptations – they are part of the epic struggle between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. Be conscious of the need to refute them – the means to do it is all around us if we look for it.
  5. We live in a materialistically berserk environment. Lots could be said on this but to prove the point: Houses are twice as big as in 1950 and families are 25% smaller, but our attics, basements, closets and garages are so full of stuff that a whole new growth industry, self-storage facilities, has emerged. We are madly building bigger barns (pretty foolish according to God).
  6. It may be hard (especially at first) but “You can do it!? Irrespective of our means, we can practice good financial stewardship. While there are particular challenges for the poor, there are also unique challenges to the wealthy upon whom money can exert a very strong hold. The reason we all can do it is God is for us and really wants us to “get it right” in this area of our lives.
  7. God is faithful – if not through providing materially to the degree we had desired, then in teaching what we need to learn through difficult times.
  8. Contentment is key, creates peace in place of anxiety, and can be learned. Pray hard and reflect on this. Replace envy with the joy of giving. Allow your supportive friends to challenge you in this area. Paul learned to be content in all circumstances – it may not be easy but it can be done!
  9. Financial stewardship is a huge spiritual issue. That’s what should drive our passion to grow in this area! Money can be, and is for many, the chief rival god. It’s all about where my heart is, who I am serving, whether or not the deceitfulness of riches will choke out God’s Word in my life and whether or not the love of money will lead me to all kinds of evil. (See Matt. 6:21; 6:24. 13:22 and 1 Tim. 6:10.)
  10. We really are not owners of anything, just caretakers… and all we have is a gift from God. In earthly terms, yes, we own things. We have deeds and titles. But in eternal terms the earth and the fullness thereof belong to the Lord. And the means by which we acquire possessions (our minds, healthy bodies, talents) have come from God. Further, one way or the other, we will lose all those earthly treasures, either while we’re here or when we die. Ownership is incompatible with stewardship.

I’m sure if I gave it more thought I’d come up with things to add. What are the key things you would want to say about financial stewardship?

In the past few months there have been some additions to the Good $ense Freed-Up line of resources that might be helpful to you and your organization and you can explore them here.  I hope the New Year is off to a good and joyful start for you and those you love.

Sid Yeomans
President, Good Sense Movement
Transforming Finances! Transforming Lives!

Stewardship – a God’s Eye View

Truths That Transform: Stewardship – a God’s Eye View

Last year we looked at Jacob, and how God had transformed him from a grabbing to grateful. This month, we look at the continued transformation of his life – from putting a priority on money to putting priority on honoring God.

(Genesis 43) “The famine continued, and no relief was in sight. For nearly two years, crops had failed and food had been scarce. Once already, Jacob had sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain, and they had been forced to leave one of the brothers, Simeon, in Egypt. Now, the food was again almost gone, and Jacob asked his sons to return to Egypt to buy more grain.

On their return from their first trip to Egypt, the brothers had discovered that the money they had used to buy grain had been returned to them in their sacks of grain. Now, as Jacob got ready to send them again, he instructed them to take gifts to Pharaoh’s second-in-command (not yet knowing that it was his son, Joseph!) and to take double the amount of money, returning the money that they had found in their sacks.”

What a transformation Jacob had undergone! The man who had once taken advantage of his brother (Genesis 25:29-34), tricked his father into giving him the family blessing (Genesis 27), and manipulated his uncle’s flocks to build his own wealth (Genesis 30:37-43) now insisted on treating the prince of Egypt fairly and honestly. He had no plans to ever meet this man personally and no reason to believe that the money in the sacks would come back to haunt him. What happened to bring Jacob to this point?

First, Jacob had had multiple encounters with God and had been assured of God’s care and provision (Genesis 28, 32). He had come to recognize God as the true source of all he owned.

Second, Jacob had learned when to say, “enough”. On meeting his brother Esau, he had given this testimony of God’s faithfulness: “God has been gracious to me, and I have all I need.” (Genesis 33:11). No longer concerned about accumulating all he could, Jacob had sent lavish gifts ahead to his brother in hopes of a reconciliation. Other priorities besides worldly wealth now dominated Jacob’s mindset.

Finally, Jacob was aware that Someone else was watching – One who valued integrity and character. He appealed to God, his Provider, Protector, and Sustainer, for mercy on his sons’ journey to Egypt – little realizing at the time how God had already set his merciful plan into motion years before!

Stewardship is about more than earning, giving, saving, and spending. It’s about our attitude toward money, and about the character that’s revealed in how we handle money, especially in our dealings with others. Integrity – from simple things like returning excessive change at the counter to more complex things like business dealings and taxes – is noticed. Sometimes it’s noticed by non-believers around us and testifies to the character of God. But it’s always noticed by God.

Good Sense Movement Team
Good Sense Movement
Transforming Finances! Transforming Lives!

The Generous Giver

Biblical Financial Principles: The Generous Giver

is one who gives with an obedient will, a joyful attitude, and a compassionate heart.

We are made to give.

We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). God is gracious and generous. We will lead a more satisfied and fulfilled life when we give to others.

Give as a response to God’s goodness.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above…” (James 1:17). Therefore, we give out of gratefulness for what we have received.

Give to focus on God as our source and security.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

Give to help achieve economic justice.

“Our desire is … that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14). Throughout Scripture, God expresses his concern for the poor and calls us to share with those less fortunate.

Give to bless others.

“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2). If we are blessed with resources beyond our needs, it is not for the purpose of living more lavishly but to bless others. We are blessed to be a blessing.

Be willing to share.

“Command them [the rich] to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).

Give to break the hold of money.

Another reason to give is that doing so breaks the hold that money might otherwise have on us. While the Bible doesn’t specifically say so, it is evident that persons who give freely and generously are not controlled by money but have freedom.

Give joyfully, generously, in a timely manner.

“Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:2-4).

Give wisely.

“We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift” (2 Corinthians 8:20).

Give expectantly and cheerfully.

“…The one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NLT; see also verses 10-14).

Motives for giving are important.

Unless our motives are right, we can give all we have — even our bodies as sacrifices — and it will be for naught (I Cor. 13). We can be scrupulous with tithing and still not have the right motives. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his day for this very thing: “…You hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23).

Help the people in your church or organization develop a stewards’ mindset with a year-round stewardship ministry.  The Good $ense Stewardship Ministry Pack contains the resources to get you going.

Looking at Student Loans through Untinted Glasses

News You Can Use: Looking at Student Loans through Untinted Glasses

Last August, we included an item regarding student loans and the burden they place on young adults and families. A recent Presidential Prayer Team news item has put this topic back on our radar.

According to the PPT article, several thousand students facing significant student debt are now suing their colleges for “failure to live up to promises” of careers, income, etc. The article went on to predict that the lawsuits had little chance of success, but indicated a growing dissatisfaction with the return on student loan debt.

All debt presumes on the future. The person who buys a new car, for example, assumes that current employment and income will continue so that the loan can be repaid. The same is true of any debt taken on by a working person.

Student debt is different than these other debts in that it makes the more dubious bet that circumstances that don’t exist at the time of the loan (that is, having a job to repay the loan) will exist at some point in the future. Any number of assumptions are tied up in this speculation, including the assumptions that a student will successfully complete a college career and will almost immediately get a job that will provide sufficient income to repay the loan (often tens of thousands of dollars) in addition to affording living expenses, etc. When marriage and family enter the picture, the number of assumptions multiplies.

Scripture teaches us that it’s foolish to start building a tower without first sitting down to count the cost (Luke 14:28-30). High school students nearing graduation and their parents are wise to take a look at real circumstances in determining whether they can afford to take out student loans, and how much debt they can afford. Here are a few questions to consider:

  1. How much debt is anticipated, based on known and projected college costs?
  2. What will the payments on that debt be? When will they start?
  3. What is the average entry level income for graduating college students in the chosen field? (If the field hasn’t yet been chosen, be conservative and project an average or slightly below-average paying industry for calculations.)
  4. What are average living expenses – rent, food, clothes, etc., in the community where the college is located or in the student’s current community? (Many college students will begin their job careers relatively close to their college or their home prior to college.)

If you have a student considering taking on college loans (or taking on more loans), spend a bit of time working through a projected budget based on the above, considering taxes, giving, and saving as parts of the budget. None of those numbers are guaranteed, of course (which takes us back to the statement about presuming on the future), but this will give you a more realistic starting point than the average college admissions officer might paint. Download the Spending Plan spreadsheet from our Freed-Up Financial Living resource page to help you plan.

Stories of Transformation