The Prudent Consumer

Biblical Financial Principles: The Prudent Consumer

One who enjoys the fruits of their labor yet guards against materialism.

Beware of idols.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” (Deuteronomy 5:8). Materialism — which so saturates our culture — is nothing less than a competing theology in which matter (things) is of ultimate significance; that is, things become gods or idols. “They… worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

Guard against greed; things do not bring happiness.

“…Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (Luke 12:15, NLT).

Seek moderation.

“…Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9).

Be content.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12–13).
“…Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:6–8).

Don’t waste God’s resources.

“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted’” (John 6:12).

Enjoy a portion of God’s provision.

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17–19).

Watch your finances (budget).

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations” (Proverbs 27:23–24).

A Better Gift for your Children

News You Can Use: A Better Gift for your Children

According to T. Rowe Price’s 2016 “Parents, Kids, and Money” survey, parents commonly overspend on their children. This year’s survey of just over 1,000 parents of children aged 8-14 found that:

  • 46% of parents have gone into debt to purchase something their kids wanted
  • 57% confessed to spending too much on things their kids don’t need
  • 58% worry about spoiling their kids
  • 57% acknowledge the expectations of their children that they will buy what their kids want.

Despite parents’ concerns over their children’s relationships with money,

  • 71% admitted to reluctance to discussing family finances with their children
  • Only 44% said that they take advantage of teachable moments to discuss finances with their children.

Of course parents want their kids to be happy. But too often, parents are choosing the “instant gratification” path to a happiness for their children that is fleeting, sometimes even endangering their own financial security in the process.

Perhaps a better gift for parents to give their children is the Biblical and practical wisdom to handle finances with confidence. According to the survey, children of parents who discuss financial topics with them at least once a week are nearly twice as likely to feel smart about money than children whose parents do not regularly discuss finances with them (68% to 36%).

With the cost of college education increasing significantly faster than the overall rate of inflation and the increasing burden of student loan debt on young adults, giving kids the understanding and confidence to handle money wisely while they’re young may well be one of the best gifts parents can give.

Statistics in this article taken from, accessed on October 8, 2016.

Teach Them to Your Children

Truths That Transform: Teach Them to Your Children

“Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” — Proverbs 22:6, NIV

Training children in the things of God has always been a high priority in God’s sight. As the Israelites prepared to cross the Jordan, God instructed them to teach His ways to their children. Moses recalls God’s words to him on Mount Horeb: “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10) and repeats this instruction again to the people (Deuteronomy 11:19). Why this instruction at this time? Why would it have been more important now than during the wilderness wandering years?

God knew that Israel was about to encounter cultures very different from their own. There would be unprecedented pressure to adopt the ways of the peoples around them, and to the extent that the children weren’t coached in the ways of God, they would be vulnerable to the temptation to adopt pagan practices. Parents preparing children to follow God was a matter not just of obeying God themselves and hoping that the children would imitate them; it was also a matter of intentionally teaching their children God’s laws and commands.

What happened in families with parents who followed God closely but neglected to train their children to do the same? The last two judges of Israel illustrate the results clearly. God appears to young Samuel, who served Eli the priest, and says this about the future of Eli and his family: “At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” (1 Samuel 3:12-14). In the very next chapter, God’s word is fulfilled, as Eli’s sons are killed in battle and Eli dies when he hears the news.

The lesson appears to have been lost on Samuel, who succeeded Eli as judge. When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as leaders in Israel; but they did not walk in God’s ways. They took bribes and did not rule justly; as a result, the elders of Israel came to Samuel and asked for him to appoint a king to lead them. Samuel described all the ways in which a king would abuse them; but apparently even this description was not as bad as what they were suffering at the hands of his sons, and they insisted on having a king (1 Samuel 8).

Scripture has many examples of leaders whose hearts were devoted to God, but who didn’t raise their children that way. David’s children were a collective disaster, committing incest and murder among themselves; one even rebelled and took the kingdom from David briefly. Time and again we see a God-fearing king in Judah followed by a son who undid all the good his father did.

Proverbs tells us that children who are trained in the ways of God will follow those ways as an adult. That’s not a guarantee; Proverbs is not a collection of iron-clad promises but of wise observations about the way life works. One thing is certain: children who are trained in righteousness have a much better chance of living in righteousness as adults than those who are not trained.

Stewardship is a key area of living for God, and an area in which our culture exerts a strong influence, much like the Canaanite culture did on the Israelites. To balance that pull, children need to be trained in God-honoring stewardship. Are you a parent? What are you doing to train your children in stewardship? Are you a stewardship leader? How are you equipping the parents in your congregation to train their children in stewardship?

Plans and Interruptions

October 2016 Good $ense Newsletter: Plans and Interruptions

Dear G$ Friends and Partners,

Ding. Another meeting notice. Fifteen minutes prior to a meeting, my smart phone dings, letting me know that time is ticking away. Sometimes I find this helpful like a sweet whisper, “Your next appointment is now here.” Other times I hear it yelling at me, “You have to hurry up and finish what you are doing.”

There are little red notifications on the screen telling me I have e-mail to be read, appointments to keep – and more often than I like to admit, my time is double booked. Frankly, between family, work, church, friends and daily tasks I don’t have time to spare. It’s just a season, right? Wrong. I am choosing to be busy with family, work, church, friends and laundry. Who has time for laundry???

I’m becoming disturbed that I am less often available to be interrupted. I am so busy planning, going, doing that I am not making space to be interrupted. “Interrupted by what?” you may ask. By life. Type A people tend to be planners, so the planned meetings make sense to me. Interruptions disturb me by shifting my plans and wresting control from my hands.

Recently, a serious diagnosis of a young family member jolted my plans. Reeling as I tried to understand why, I found comfort speaking to my uninterruptible life through Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

I can plan and prepare but God has gone before me, planning each step according to His purpose. God has done my planning long ago and he wants me to clear my schedule more often to be interrupted by a diagnosis, a financial challenge, an opportunity to give, an opportunity to serve and moments to simply be present in the season I am in right now. Does this ring true for you? for your congregation?

As stewardship leaders, may we help people plan their finances, prepare for the unexpected, and open their hearts to whatever interruptions God allows.

Brooke Bartlow
VP, Communications and Operations
Good Sense Movement
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