Category Archives: Ethics

Reconcile with Both God and Man

Our culture emphasizes selfishness and coveting what others have so much, it becomes quite easy for many to rationalize taking advantage of others financially. Some may steal outright. Others may borrow and not pay back. Still others may just deceive someone for personal gain. As followers of Christ, we do not want to follow these practices. If we find that we have done so, let us make haste to reconcile with both God and man.

We have been called to love God and love one another.

Matthew 22:35-40

35One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

If or when we find we have sinned against someone with regards to finances, let us take action to reconcile with them and with God.

Leviticus 6:1-7

Guilt Offering

      1Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD, and deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion, 3or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things a man may do; 4then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him or the lost thing which he found, 5or anything about which he swore falsely; he shall make restitution for it in full and add to it one-fifth more. He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering. 6“Then he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the LORD, a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering, 7and the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt.”

If you have sinned against someone in this way, first stop sinning. Then do not delay in reconciling with both God and man.  This will move you forward into a deeper relationship with the Lord even if it causes you to face some uncomfortable accountability for your past actions.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

What Guidance Does God Provide for Finances?

God has a lot to say about wisdom and folly, righteousness and wickedness in His word. Proverbs, in particular, is filled with wisdom that applies as much today as it did when Solomon wrote it thousands of years ago. Human nature has not changed and neither has application of God’s word for how we are to deal with our fellow man.

Let us explore some of what God has said in Proverbs 11 that pertains to finances. I have included a link to reference to the whole scripture but pulled out some selected verses that are more directly relevant to finances. We can walk through them together.

Proverbs 11

1A false balance is an abomination to the LORD,
But a just weight is His delight.

God clearly calls us to be treat one another as we would want to be treated. Be just and fair. Note the emphasis revealed through scripture… God is not just academically identifying right and wrong, but actually considers one an abomination and the other to bring delight! It matters to God and thus it should matter to us.

2When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom.

Let us not act in such a way as to honor ourselves or make ourselves feel better than others, but rather seek humility and seek to honor the Lord and treat others with respect.

3The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.

Knowing and following God’s way provides a clear path to righteousness. Temptation of the flesh often tempts us to go the way of the world, but God wants us to live His way. When we pursue deceit and treachery, it will consume us and we will find no lasting satisfaction or joy.

4Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.

There is no amount of riches that will mean anything when it is time for us to leave this world and face judgment before God. Only our right relationship with God will matter. Why give that up just to try to get a few dollars more or even a lot of dollars more?

5The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.

6The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.

In business as in life, a righteous lifestyle of godly attitudes and behavior will take us closer to God and bring much success. Greed is an empty pit which can never be filled, it will consume you and dominate your life if left unchecked or worse, embraced.

14Where there is no guidance the people fall,
But in abundance of counselors there is victory.

In personal finances, whether budgeting or reducing debt or investing, do not try to do it all alone as if you have all the answers. Seek good counselors to help you! Seek firm guidance from God and those who have already experienced and overcome the challenges you face today.

15He who is guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it,
But he who hates being a guarantor is secure.

It is unwise to be a guarantor for someone you do not know. How can you trust them? Do not lend what you are not willing to give.

17The merciful man does himself good,
But the cruel man does himself harm.

18The wicked earns deceptive wages,
But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.

Show mercy to others as you would like to receive yourself. Avoid cruelty. Treat others as you would like to be treated. You may think you get ahead with deceit and wicked schemes, but it brings much emptiness and trouble along with the ill-gotten gain.

24There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more,
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.

25The generous man will be prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered.

26He who withholds grain, the people will curse him,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.

Be generous in helping others and give the glory to God. Bless others in His name and watch as the blessings flow into your own life. The blessings will almost surely outweigh what you gave, though it is not necessarily dollars that God gives you but rather joy and closer relationship with Him!

28He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.

Trust not in money and wealth, but in God, Himself, and you will flourish.

It is not right or helpful to say “I was born this way” as an excuse to continue in wickedness or foolishness. To remain in foolishness does not improve our situation, does it? It does not help us manage our money or our lives more effectively, does it?

We are all born to sin and selfishness. No one needs to teach a child to grab or demand something for themselves or hit someone when they are angry, but we certainly need to teach them to forgive and share and think of others. We can say that an alcoholic may be born with a tendency to become addicted to alcohol but do we not encourage them to turn from it and overcome that sin rather than embrace it and accept it? Of course! So it is also with other sins.

We must be careful to look to God’s definition of sin, of right and wrong, rather than the world’s definition. If we follow a broken compass, will we not get lost?

Each of us must decide if we will take the difficult, narrow path that leads to Jesus or if instead we will stay on the wide, easy path that leads to eternal separation from God… following our own selfish desires and the deception of Satan.

I pray as many as will hear the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ will accept it and travel the narrow path.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

What Did Jesus Say About Paying Taxes?

What did Jesus say about paying taxes?

Jesus knew the Pharisees and Herodians were trying to trap Him when they asked Him about taxes, but He took the opportunity to deflect their trap and lay out  straightforward guidance for all of us.

Mark 12: 13-16

Jesus Answers the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes

      13Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15“Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.

Clearly Jesus did not agree with everything the Romans were doing, but He still gave guidance to pay the taxes to Caesar. Some may speculate that He was just deflecting the trap question, but Jesus never provided a wrong answer just to avoid a trap. He always took the opportunity to address the trap and make a point on the right way of doing things also.

For those who need more convincing… the Bible has it.

Romans 13:1-7

Be Subject to Government

      1Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

It is ok to work lawfully to reduce the tax burden. Governments usually waste money badly. Often they spend on things which may not honor God. However, just refusing to pay is not the guidance that Jesus provided for His people. Also let us not take Romans 13 out of context… we are not to blindly obey government when it conflicts with the instructions of God. There are plenty of examples, such as that of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, where they disobeyed unrighteous government commands because they conflicted with God’s instruction. However, paying taxes does not conflict with the instructions of God.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

How Do We Deal With Those We Cannot Trust?

How shall we deal in business with those we know we cannot trust or even perhaps just those we are not sure we can trust?  We stand firm to the principles and values inherent in God’s word. Even while we work diligently to ensure others do not take advantage of us, we hold ourselves accountable not to take advantage of them.

Let us consider how Jacob prospered, documented in Genesis 30:25-43. Remember that Jacob was a relatively new believer at this point while he labored under Laban. Jacob was living his life committed to God but doing so imperfectly… like all of us who try to serve God.

As we read this scripture, remember that Laban was certainly not one to be trusted. He deceived Jacob quite significantly, in tricking him to marry the wrong daughter after seven years of work. Laban was looking out only for Laban. So, too, we can remind ourselves that Jacob was also not one to be trusted before he committed to follow God on his way to Laban’s. Prior to that, Jacob actually deceived his own father and brother to steal Esau’s birthright from him. However, here we see Jacob is maturing and learning to do things God’s way… hard work and honest accounting with the flocks.

Jacob Prospers

      25Now it came about when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own place and to my own country. 26“Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me depart; for you yourself know my service which I have rendered you.” 27But Laban said to him, “If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the LORD has blessed me on your account.” 28He continued, “Name me your wages, and I will give it.” 29But he said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you and how your cattle have fared with me. 30“For you had little before I came and it has increased to a multitude, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I turned. But now, when shall I provide for my own household also?” 31So he said, “What shall I give you?” And Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this one thing for me, I will again pasture and keep your flock: 32let me pass through your entire flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted sheep and every black one among the lambs and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages. 33“So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come concerning my wages. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, will be considered stolen.” 34Laban said, “Good, let it be according to your word.” 35So he removed on that day the striped and spotted male goats and all the speckled and spotted female goats, every one with white in it, and all the black ones among the sheep, and gave them into the care of his sons. 36And he put a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.

      37Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white stripes in them, exposing the white which was in the rods. 38He set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the gutters, even in the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink; and they mated when they came to drink. 39So the flocks mated by the rods, and the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. 40Jacob separated the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban; and he put his own herds apart, and did not put them with Laban’s flock. 41Moreover, whenever the stronger of the flock were mating, Jacob would place the rods in the sight of the flock in the gutters, so that they might mate by the rods; 42but when the flock was feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s. 43So the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks and female and male servants and camels and donkeys.

Laban realizes that he is blessed because of association with Jacob, who serves God. Jacob, despite his mistakes, has been a witness to Laban and Laban wishes him to stay. Before we give Laban too much credit, though, his reason for wanting Jacob to stay is selfish and greedy. He has financially prospered with Jacob. Laban shows no interest in worshipping or serving God or even thanking God.

Jacob, however, also realized that he needed to begin investing not only in Laban’s flock but also in preparing for his own household for the future.  Jacob was willing to leave without pay other than the wives (and children) he had agreed to previously… even though Laban’s flocks have clearly prospered under Jacob’s care. Jacob demanded nothing extra, and was willing to leave with only his agreed upon wages (e.g. his wives and children) and God’s promise. He did not demand more than he agreed to just because Laban had prospered. He did not resent Laban and wish him ill because of his success.

However, God made a way for Jacob to prosper from his hard work helping with Laban’s flocks for those fourteen years. When Laban suggests Jacob name his price, Jacob finds wisdom in a solution that meets both his need and Laban’s, so he stays. Jacob tends the flocks and prospers exceedingly.

Each of us should consider:

  • Am I planning responsibly for my future needs and those of my family similar to Jacob?
  • Do I trust God to provide for me, adhering to His principles and values?
  • Do I keep my word and live up to my agreements? or do I demand more from someone just because they prosper from the work I agreed to do?
  • Do I resent someone else’s success or am I satisfied with the wages I agreed to?
  • Of course, it is also acceptable when our agreements have concluded to negotiate for better terms in the future based on the quality of our work. If all parties agree, we have a new agreement. If not, we should not resent the other, but just make a different choice to pursue our goals… just as Jacob was willing to leave. At no point did Jacob perceive Laban to be his enemy or adversary.
  • Do I recognize that if / when God blesses his people in financial matters it seldom comes overnight or without hard work, faith, and planning? Jacob, like Abraham before him, trusted God and worked hard over many years to generate his wealth. God blessed his hard work and it was fruitful. God does not reward laziness or lack of faith.

Prayerfully consider how to apply these lessons to both how you generate your income as well as how you fairly deal with people you may not feel you can trust. We have the opportunity to represent God to those who do not know Him. Imagine their surprise when we deal fairly and unselfishly with them! Plan and prepare and work hard and trust God by doing things His way, rather than the way of the world.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Wise Are Those Who Follow God’s Instruction

Are you looking for some “get rich quick” schemes and gimmicks? or are you looking for wisdom and advice that has stood the test of time. I find all of the wisdom in Proverbs to be applicable to our lives and situations today. Human nature has not changed and neither has God’s wisdom for how we should manage our relationships with other people and manage our own decisions for how to live our life and manage our finances.

Read Proverbs 10 with the belief that God can speak to you through it about specific things you should keep doing or change regarding your life decisions. Pray He would give you insight into applying the wisdom specifically for your life.

Proverbs 10

  1The proverbs of Solomon.
A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish son is a grief to his mother.

      2Ill-gotten gains do not profit,
But righteousness delivers from death.

      3The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger,
But He will reject the craving of the wicked.

      4Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.

      5He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely,
But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

      6Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

      7The memory of the righteous is blessed,
But the name of the wicked will rot.

      8The wise of heart will receive commands,
But a babbling fool will be ruined.

      9He who walks in integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will be found out.

      10He who winks the eye causes trouble,
And a babbling fool will be ruined.

      11The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

      12Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.

      13On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found,
But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.

      14Wise men store up knowledge,
But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.

      15The rich man’s wealth is his fortress,
The ruin of the poor is their poverty.

      16The wages of the righteous is life,
The income of the wicked, punishment.

      17He is on the path of life who heeds instruction,
But he who ignores reproof goes astray.

      18He who conceals hatred has lying lips,
And he who spreads slander is a fool.

      19When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.

      20The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver,
The heart of the wicked is worth little.

      21The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of understanding.

      22It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich,
And He adds no sorrow to it.

      23Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool,
And so is wisdom to a man of understanding.

      24What the wicked fears will come upon him,
But the desire of the righteous will be granted.

      25When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more,
But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.

      26Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
So is the lazy one to those who send him.

      27The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened.

      28The hope of the righteous is gladness,
But the expectation of the wicked perishes.

      29The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the upright,
But ruin to the workers of iniquity.

      30The righteous will never be shaken,
But the wicked will not dwell in the land.

      31The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom,
But the perverted tongue will be cut out.

      32The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable,
But the mouth of the wicked what is perverted.

Notice how God’s word integrates how we deal with our money into a broader context of righteousness or wickedness. How we manage our money is absolutely a function of our relationship with God and the condition of our heart in submission to Him. One can not be fully righteous without learning how to deal properly with finances according to God’s word. Conversely, one who becomes increasingly righteous will understand much about managing finances.

God provides clear warning about the dangers of the love of money. Money must never be our master, but rather a tool or servant to help us serve God while we are here on this earth.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

What behaviors or attitudes do you need to change in your life? Pray for God’s help in dealing with money.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Give to Caesar What Is Caesar’s; and to God What Is God’s

If we gathered together with 100 people in an auditorium and asked for a show of hands for who is looking forward to paying their federal taxes this year… not many hands would go up. If we further asked who thought the tax money was managed responsibly and spent efficiently… even fewer hands would go up. If we were so bold as to ask who was planning to pay extra because they felt the U.S. federal government was such a good steward of their money… probably not even one hand would remain up. Very few in the U.S.A. actually believe they money they pay is being spent wisely. There is good reason for that… mostly because they are right. The U.S.A. federal government is wasteful and actually downright immoral with the expenditure of much of our hard-earned money. They collect money from people in the states and then threaten not to give it back to the states if they don’t go along with what the federal government wants… whether it is over controlling education or building roads or many other spending programs.

Now… should we do something about it? Yes. Get involved in politics and elections. Vote for smaller federal government and vote against those whose policies and behaviors are offensive to God.

Should we pay our taxes according to the law? Yes. Why? Because Jesus said so. Yes, He actually did comment on paying taxes.

Matthew 22:15-22

      15Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. 16And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. 17“Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” 18But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? 19“Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. 20And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” 22And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.

While the question was not intended to be a genuine question about taxes, it was intended to be a trap, Jesus still provides insight into paying taxes.  The answer still applies today. Much of what Rome was doing was evil in the sight of the Lord, but Jesus pointed out that the money in question comes from Rome and thus can be used to pay lawful taxes to Rome as the civil governing authority.

Paul also wrote about taxes in Romans 13:1-7.

  1Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Let us not be confused… there are many or perhaps most governments which are not serving God. Many or most are in fact dishonoring God. None the less, there is a certain authority which we are to give to the civil government so long as they do not cause us to disobey God’s commands. God’s authority is always the highest. We can, however, respect and pay taxes to a civil governing authority to the extent they do not require us to disobey or dishonor God.

7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Pay your taxes, but only what is due. There is no requirement to like paying taxes or to pay extra… so do your taxes well and avoid giving more than is due. Then go out to vote for someone who will reduce your tax bill in the future! Even if you want to give money away to help those in need, you can do so in a much smarter way than giving to the inefficient federal government. And when you give to help someone directly, you can give glory and honor to God for the blessing!

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

How We Achieve Results Matters

Most people would agree that how we achieve results matters, but not everyone agrees on what defines the standard. Many would agree that it is based on applicable laws and regulations. That is a good start as a minimum reference point, but laws written by men often do not sufficiently or correctly (consistent with God’s word) define a standard for ethics and morality.

The only true and unchanging standard of ethics and morality is the one defined by God and documented throughout the Bible. This standard is higher than just “can we” do something within the laws of men, but instead builds to “should we, even if we can legally”.

  • Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.
  • Proverbs 22:5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; he who guards himself will be far from them.
  • Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

By clearly defining what you consider to be acceptable ethical behavior ahead of time, you will have a much easier time making the right decision later when confronted with the opportunity to choose an unethical option that seems to offer profit.

For example, you may have an opportunity to make money by selling a product to people and getting a commission. However, you have to decide if you will really consider your clients and their needs… when your product will actually benefit them… or if you are willing to sell it to them at all costs, even by lying to them about the product or trying to make them fearful of not buying your product.

Don’t wait until you are in the moment to decide what your standard will be, it is too easy to make the wrong choice.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Who’s Financial Advice Can I Trust?

There are at least three common pitfalls associated with seeking advice…

  • Some do not seek wise advice from anyone but rely solely on themselves and then fail to do adequate research.
  • Some take advice from friends or people they know, but regardless of even the best of intentions… these people may not actually have financial wisdom and can lead them astray.
  • Others seek professional advice from strangers they do not know because they have a degree, a certification, or work at an investing company and say they are here to help. But take care, for not all who say they have your best interest at heart really do.

It is important to diligently do your homework when seeking financial advice and weighing alternatives. Do not be lazy or hasty.

Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.

Seeking wise advice is a good idea, but you must use discernment in whom you trust and in which advice you follow.

Proverbs 15:22 Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.

Advice from friends and family may be very good sometimes… and sometimes not. It is ok to seek it, but you will do well to verify by consulting other sources or doing research on your own.

When seeking advice from professionals, many are genuinely there to help you and some are wolves just trying to collect their fees . It is important to evaluate each on a case by case basis. Know how they get paid, or if they do not get paid. It may influence their behavior.

2 Timothy 3:1-5  But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

Keep in mind… those who are wolves in sheep’s clothing… will not wear a sign as such. They will appear to be friendly and helpful… they likely hold to a form of godliness, but deny its power. Avoid men such as these.  Discernment is important.

I have heard of many issues with honest people seeking advice from professionals. In one example, when the fee structure was a percentage of the money at time of opening account the client could not get meaningful support later to help with investments… the professional had already had been paid and lost incentive to help.

Another example includes someone giving advice that was paid by fees or incentives based on selling certain “recommended” financial instruments. He tried to lock his client in on a long term annuity while interest rates were the lowest in 30 years! That is when you get a mortgage, not when you get a long term annuity. (If you don’t know what an annuity is, think of it like loaning money to someone else and they pay you interest.)  When the client did not buy it… the professional tried to pressure him… “Don’t let me down again.” Who is working for whom?

The answer is to seek advice from multiple sources and to do personal research to confirm. In other words, get a second opinion.  By taking shortcuts in deciding whom to trust with your money you may be taking unnecessary risk without even realizing it. People do not have to break the law to take advantage of you.

Don’t be paranoid either… most professionals are actually trying to help you… you just need to verify your decisions by doing your homework to understand the investments they recommend.

Remember too, you can always trust God’s word to be true and careful study of His word combined with obedience to His commands and a consistent pray life can lead you through all things and bring you much peace.

Proverbs 3:5-8  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Tax Time Again… arrgh. What Would Jesus Do?

It is that fun time of year again… tax day is approaching. No doubt, most of us… with rare exception… would prefer to pay less taxes (or no taxes) to the government. Many are tempted to lie and misrepresent their income to the government in order to reduce their tax bill. We should take care to consider what God wants from us, instead of what we want. There is no qualification about agreeing with the government on how the money is to be spent in order to pay the taxes. We are simply to pay the rightful taxes due.

Romans 13:1-7

Be Subject to Government

      1Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Matthew 22:15-22 

Tribute to Caesar

      15Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. 16And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. 17“Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” 18But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? 19“Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. 20And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” 22And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.

Ok. So we are supposed to pay the rightful taxes due. Got it. That said, paying taxes is a lot like spending money. We should do so carefully and only pay what is required. There is no “extra credit” in overpaying taxes. In fact, government often uses the money inefficiently and without wisdom. In almost all cases government uses the money without giving glory to God.

We should pay careful attention to how managing our money affects what we pay in taxes. Key decisions in investing and estate planning can have big implications. To ignore the significant impact of taxes on our financial planning is to be irresponsible and likely pay too much money to the government. If you want to give it away … that is great, but find a way to honor God with the money and give it away wisely rather than overpay the government.

Many reputable investing sites have resources to help such as those at Charles Schwab’s online resource center section on taxes or Fidelity’s online guidance and retirement section on taxes. These resources can be very helpful. So too can relatively affordable tax software like TurboTax which make complying with your tax requirements accurate and more efficient… saving much time and headache. If you prefer, consult your financial advisor and tax professional for impacts that you should consider for your financial planning.

The money we pay in taxes (federal, state, local, income, sales, inheritance, etc.) represents a lot of money. Understanding how to optimize your tax burden will help you achieve your overall financial goals more effectively.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .

Responding to Jealous Anger

When we pursue the things of God and receive His blessing (whether financial or otherwise), others will often become angry or jealous. They want our joy or success and resent us for it. For the wise, it is an opportunity for them to listen and learn about our relationship with God and how He is blessing us. However, many act foolishly and refuse to listen. How we respond matters.

Genesis 26:12-25 records that Isaac was living in Philistine land. Jealousy of others toward the success of Isaac (due to God’s blessing) drives conflict which ultimately leads to Isaac’s departure from the area.

12 When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. 13 He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. 14 He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. 15 So the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.

16 Finally, Abimelech ordered Isaac to leave the country. “Go somewhere else,” he said, “for you have become too powerful for us.”

17 So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down. 18 He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them.

19 Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. 20 But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). 21 Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). 22 Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

23 From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, 24 where the Lord appeared to him on the night of his arrival. “I am the God of your father, Abraham,” he said. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.” 25 Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug another well.

We see that human nature has not changed in thousands of years. When we experience God’s blessing and succeed, fools will look to  harm to us out of jealousy. The wise will instead seek to understand how we have prospered so they can learn and replicate it. Abimelech becomes concerned by Isaac’s great wealth and commands him to leave.

Isaac respected Abimelech’s authority and relocated to where Abraham had previously settled. When he dug wells, he was met with more adversity and hostility from those nearby who challenged his rights to the water there. Isaac avoided conflict again… and again… and eventually found open space. He gave glory to God. He was not complaining about all the hostility he faced but rather thanking God for providing space for him to occupy.

Later God revealed Himself to Isaac at Beersheba and affirmed the promise to Isaac that was first given to Abraham. Isaac responded by building an altar and worshipping God.

I have a lot of respect for Isaac in that He did not try to react in this situation to hostility with violence. He sought open space to peacefully flourish, and God granted it to him. While there are times when it is appropriate to fight, as Abraham demonstrated in Genesis 14, Isaac demonstrates that there are times when the best response is a peaceful one. In this case Isaac was in someone else’s land under Abimelech and then moving into land near where others already occupied. He avoided a conqueror mentality in both cases. With his great wealth it is reasonable to conclude he could have mustered a significant fighting force. Else, why would Abimelech have been concerned?

God provides many examples in scripture where fighting is appropriate and others where a peaceful solution is best. We should be careful not to gravitate to easily toward a one-size-fits-all solution of violence or peace-at-all-costs and try to fit it to every situation. Instead, we should study God’s word and seek Him in prayer for wisdom in how to respond to adversity and threats in our lives as individuals, families, and nations.

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Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .