Category Archives: Plan Carefully and Seek Wise Advice

A Light In The Darkness

We have probably all experienced a time when we are in true darkness. Perhaps camping in the woods on a very cloudy night? Maybe just in our house when the power goes out at night or we wake up at night and walk around the house without turning lights on so as not to disturb our family. Sometimes we can start to remember our way around if it is familiar circumstances… but how well do we do when there are unexpected obstacles (e.g. toys left out in pathways, etc.) or imagine if someone rearranged all the furniture! Usually we will not do well. We will trip or fall or gather bumps and bruises. It is really hard to get around without being able to see where we are going… to recognize clearly what are the obstacles that could hurt us and which is the safe path to travel. This is how many feel about managing their personal finances and trying to get beyond paycheck to paycheck or day to day living and into planning and strategy to prepare for what is to come in the future.

That is why God has given us the Bible! What a glorious gift to His people to have His written instruction book for life. If we choose to use it, it serves to light up our path so we can safely find the right path for living and avoid the traps and obstacles that could hurt us.

Psalm 119:105

105Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

Proverbs in particular serves to provide timeless wisdom for us in how we should deal with our fellow man and also with God. It reminds us of what is good and what is bad. Remember, true goodness is that which is identified by God as right, not that which is identified by man as right. Man often gets it wrong. That is why God wrote it down!

Read Proverbs often, and not as if you are trying to win a race for reading quickly but rather pausing and considering how each verse is relevant not only in life today, but specifically how it may apply to your life. Then allow yourself the humility to admit where you are wrong and work to change your behavior and attitude. Those who are too proud to admit they are wrong, never get the benefit of learning to do better.

Proverbs 16

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked

       1The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.

      2All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the LORD weighs the motives.

      3Commit your works to the LORD
And your plans will be established.

      4The LORD has made everything for its own purpose,
Even the wicked for the day of evil.

      5Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD;
Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.

      6By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for,
And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.

      7When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

      8Better is a little with righteousness
Than great income with injustice.

      9The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.

      10A divine decision is in the lips of the king;
His mouth should not err in judgment.

      11A just balance and scales belong to the LORD;
All the weights of the bag are His concern.

      12It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts,
For a throne is established on righteousness.

      13Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And he who speaks right is loved.

      14The fury of a king is like messengers of death,
But a wise man will appease it.

      15In the light of a king’s face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud with the spring rain.

      16How much better it is to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.

      17The highway of the upright is to depart from evil;
He who watches his way preserves his life.

      18Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

      19It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

      20He who gives attention to the word will find good,
And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

      21The wise in heart will be called understanding,
And sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

      22Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it,
But the discipline of fools is folly.

      23The heart of the wise instructs his mouth
And adds persuasiveness to his lips.

      24Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

      25There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

      26A worker’s appetite works for him,
For his hunger urges him on.

      27A worthless man digs up evil,
While his words are like scorching fire.

      28A perverse man spreads strife,
And a slanderer separates intimate friends.

      29A man of violence entices his neighbor
And leads him in a way that is not good.

      30He who winks his eyes does so to devise perverse things;
He who compresses his lips brings evil to pass.

      31A gray head is a crown of glory;
It is found in the way of righteousness.

      32He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.

      33The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.

Challenge yourself to identify at least one, but maybe even up to three specific things, that you want to try to work on related to managing your personal finances. As an example, you might consider focusing verse 3 or verse 8.

      3Commit your works to the LORD
And your plans will be established.

8Better is a little with righteousness
Than great income with injustice.

Apply these goals to specific decisions and strategies you need to make in regards to your personal finances. If you can, share what you are working on with a trusted friend or family member who is a genuine follower of Christ. There is something for all of us to work on… we just need to admit it and then get about pursuing it!

My top pick for me personally today…

20He who gives attention to the word will find good,
And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

What will you work on? Remember to ask God in prayer to help you!

—-

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

Get Started. Do Not Wait For Perfect Timing.

Many know they do not have an adequate personal financial strategy to manage their finances today or plan for the future. They may feel inadequate to the task or simply overwhelmed not knowing where to start, so they wait for “a better time” to do it.

Every task or journey, no matter how complex, can not be completed until you begin. When we continue to put off planning our finances we are like a farmer who never plants his seeds because he is always watching the weather and worried that it is not the perfect time to do so.

Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. [Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT]

It is essential to get started. Set aside some time, even if only in small pieces, and begin. It is an important step to get over the psychological barrier many have to start an intimidating task they are not familiar with. If you wait for the perfect time to take the next step, you will never take the next step.

Lay out some easy commitments you know you can make, even if 1 hour a week, or 15 minutes a day to start studying and preparing. Get away from distractions for that time and get started. Many resources are available for free on the internet (such as GrowGodsMoney.org). We have included several that we think are very good in the Resources section of our website.

Wherever you are on your journey to developing a robust personal financial strategy… whether you are waiting to take the first step in planning or whether you have the plan but have not begun to implement or even if you are already implementing but you have not come back to steward your results… take the next step.

If you have it all together and are well-planned and executing well… there is still another step. Find someone who has not come as far and help to encourage, mentor, and guide them.

—-

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

Diversify Through Fixed Income

When I first started investing, I did not know where to begin in regards to researching the fixed income (e.g. government or corporate bonds) asset class. It is a significant asset class to consider for our portfolio which typically may have more modest returns but less risk than stocks. It can seem overwhelming to at-home investors, or even those who are trying to understand recommendations from their financial advisors. However, we do not win by guessing or by always assuming our advisor is right, but by studying and asking good questions to improve our understanding.

I recommend spending some time at the Vanguard site online to research and possibly invest in diversified government or corporate bond funds. They provide a lot of choices and effective diversification through bond funds. They also have a good search tool to help you sort through the many options available and find what is right for you.

vanguard bond funds

Take the time to research and study either with the Vanguard search tool or other similar tools at different investing sites. Browse through and drill down to read about the different options. For those working with a financial advisor, use this research to help focus your questions and validate the advice they may be giving you. Compare the fee structure of products you are offered vs. the low fee structure at Vanguard.

For the record, I have no affiliation with Vanguard or any other products I comment on in my articles.

—-

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

Diversify Within Stock Investments

Once you have used your personal financial plan to decide how much money you have to invest within an asset class like the stock market, you still want to ensure you diversify within that asset class.

In other words, if you have 5,000 dollars to invest in the stock market you should not put it all in one stock or even in a set of related stocks that could all lose value simultaneously. For example, I am not diversified very effectively if I spread my investment across 5 stocks, but they are all banks… or all oil companies… or all technology companies. If everything goes well I may feel like a genius, but I am also taking a significant risk if something disrupts a whole sector. If I invest in all oil-related stocks, then I am subject to the changes in the price of oil affecting my entire portfolio.

There are many options for investing, even in how to diversify. One way to diversify is to invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that represent sectors of the stock market instead of single stocks. Another way is to pick specific stocks but make sure they are diversified (e.g. maybe 1 financial, 1 oil, 1 tech, 1 healthcare, etc.). However, the more specific you get in investing in individual stocks, the more homework you need to do to keep up with each individual company and what may affect the stock price. You should never just buy and hold without continuing to follow the stocks or groups of stocks you hold.  You should visit the performance of your investments and underlying sectors or companies on a regular basis.

Many are well served to consult an investment professional. However, even those who rely on professional investors to help them should do their own homework to understand the recommendations and investments that they are making. You would not just tell a real estate agent to buy a house for you… you go with them, look at the data, look at the specific houses, you get their input but you make the decisions. The same is true for investing.

For those still trying to find out what diversification across sectors of the stock market means, or for those trying to find effective ways to steward their investments, there are many valuable tools to give you information at a quick glance with the opportunity to drill down for more detail. I found one example of a good tool for sector analysis at Fidelity. You can start with a sector overview and drill down for more information within each sector.  I have included a picture below as an example of different sectors of stocks. In the live version, you can click on the “+” and drill down further on their website.

fidelity sectors

I hope these quick thoughts help you stay properly connected to your investment decisions!


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

How Do I Diversify My Investments?

Congratulations to those of you who are ready to consider investing as part of actively managing your finances. Now… a common question is “How do I know how much to invest in what assets?”

Truly it can be overwhelming at first. To start, it is important to assess your personal risk tolerance. Are you wanting to take more risk for more potential gain or minimize risk and accept more modest returns?

There are lots of good tools online if you look for them. For example, Charles Schwab provides good information to get started investing on their How To Invest page. Vanguard also has a similar investor page to help you assess your risk tolerance to guide your investments as well as information on asset allocation. Fidelity.com also provides a lot of information for those getting started. There are many sites you can research, and you probably want to look around for more than one. Another example may be the Motley Fool, a funny name to be sure, but a good site.

There are also investment advisory firms like TradeSmith and Stansberry Research.  These last two will try to sell you investing tools or research. You can consider carefully and decide if or what you want to buy. For a few hundred dollars a year you can get good investment advice without a big financial commitment. If you are interested in managing your own investing more actively, some of their tools are worth considering.

Information on sites like these is available to a large extent even if you don’t invest with them. Of course, each website will have contact information for you to contact them and get more information.

It is important to get a feel for how you may want to invest and diversify your money. How aggressive or conservative do you want to be? Always consider that the highest returns generally bring the highest risk, meaning that you could lose money chasing high returns.

I encourage you to pray and take time to assess your comfort with the various risk/reward balance associated with different asset allocation approaches. Do not rush into investing. It is a long-term activity not to be hurried and decided in 30 minutes or even a single day. That said, you will never get there if you don’t get started.

—-

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

Are Fear and Greed Really an Investment Strategy?

Warren Buffet is a well-known and well-respected long-term value investor. He invests in companies when he sees the cost is low relative to the value of the company and then sells later after the stock value has increased. He is not a day trader and typically invests with a long-term horizon. When Buffet speaks, many who want to make money investing will listen closely.

We should take caution whenever we put someone on a pedestal as a role model or guide for our lives. We should test what they say against what God teaches in the Bible to ensure we are not following a “false prophet” who appears to lead to prosperity but in reality leads to destruction or separation from God.

Whatever I may think of Mr. Buffet’s political opinions, he certainly has some real credibility with regard to investing.  One of his well-known quotes can actually be quite helpful in establishing a certain mindset for us to consider when we are investing.

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” Warren Buffet

I could certainly do a study on the words “fearful” and “greedy” and make a case that we should not literally let fear and greed make our investing decisions, but that would truly be missing Mr. Buffet’s point. What he is suggesting is that the average investor, and many professionals as well, have a tendency to allow emotions to guide their investing and not for the better.

When the market is priced very high, people get greedy and forget about the danger of a market pullback. The same investors who were too fearful of buying when stocks were low now jump in when stocks are high.  Then when difficulties around the world cause the same stocks to tumble in value, people become fearful and sell while stock values are low. This represents “buying high” and “selling low”, which is not a robust strategy.

Of course, Buffet is not suggesting we blindly buy when people are fearful, as we could easily buy stocks that are still going lower. He is simply suggesting that we take note of when people are widely fearful about stocks plunging down and look for bargains that we are confident will increase in value over a several-year time frame as market forces settle out. On the flip side when the market seems “unstoppable” and we are tempted to keep putting more money in… consider selling some of what you bought and taking profits. Then you are once again ready with cash in the account to buy the next time people panic and the stock values fall.

—-

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

A Wise Man Will Hear and Increase in Learning

Who among us believes it foolish to seek wise counsel from those who have experienced the same things in life that we now face? Not me. Quite the contrary, I value advice from others who have already experienced the challenges I face. We must carefully discern who is providing wise counsel and who is providing only loud opinions… but once we do we can feast on the wisdom they share and seek to apply it to our lives.

Scripture tells us that Solomon received a gift of great wisdom from God. He used it to lead God’s people and govern a prosperous nation.  People came from near and far to hear his wisdom.

1 Kings 4:29    29Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. 30Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31For he was wiser than all men, than Ethan the Ezrahite, Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was known in all the surrounding nations. 32He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. 33He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that grows on the wall; he spoke also of animals and birds and creeping things and fish. 34Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.

We have it available to us in the book of Proverbs in the Bible. How much easier for us to learn from him than even those of his own time! What good reason would we have to avoid reading what Solomon wrote and considering how to apply it in our lives? It is free and we can test what he says for ourselves.

Proverbs 1:1-7

The Usefulness of Proverbs

      1The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:

      2To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding,

      3To receive instruction in wise behavior,
Righteousness, justice and equity;

      4To give prudence to the naive,
To the youth knowledge and discretion,

      5A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,

      6To understand a proverb and a figure,
The words of the wise and their riddles.

      7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Solomon covers a lot of ground for how to improve our life in interacting with other people and with God. Much of it applies specifically to finances as well. To begin with we should recognize that to become wise, in any area, we must first admit we do not have all the answers and we can learn from others. If we stubbornly believe we already have all the answers than we will get no wiser because we will reject or not listen to the wisdom others share with us. If we admit we have more to learn and we seek wise counsel we will increase in learning.

   5A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,

Two more fundamental building block for a solid foundation on growing in wisdom are captured in verse 7.

      7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Honoring and obeying God is not just “something we do”, like going to church or praying or doing a Bible Study. Obeying God is “a way of doing everything”. Respecting, loving, and yes fearing God is the beginning of knowledge. From this foundation we can gain much wisdom.

Finally, we must admit that those who despise wisdom and instruction are quite plainly fools. Those who refuse wise counsel will remain fools. Let us strive to not be that fool, but instead remain humble enough to listen thoughtfully to advice from God, plainly available in scripture, and to advice from others whom we discern as having credible wisdom. That is how we grow wiser… and wiser… all the days of our lives.

Challenge yourself… are you listening to and considering God’s advice? the advice of others?

—-

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

Find a Financial Mentor You Can Trust

Each of us has the potential to have certain “blind spots” in developing or executing our personal financial strategy. For some it may be in developing skills or applying themselves to earn money. Many have a blind spot for spending without a budget or blowing the budget by overspending even if they have one. Still others have blind spot in long term planning or in how to honor God by what they give to others.

Finding a mentor or mentors you can trust in these areas can be very helpful, in some cases crucial, for success. When choosing a mentor, look at their life and finances to see if it reflects what you are pursuing for your life. Don’t just pick someone who has a lot of money but has made a wreck of their family life. Pick someone that represents the result or outcome you wish to achieve.

If you don’t already have someone you know that would fit this description, consider getting involved in your community or local church to develop relationships with the type of people you admire and want to be like.  Invest in developing a relationship with them. Get to know them. Let them get to know you.

Once you have established this relationship you probably want to ask them directly about being a mentor or accountability partner for your personal finances. Make sure they are ok making that commitment so they can put the proper time toward it.

You do not have to involve them in every detail but can have even general discussion that can help you get an unbiased “cold eyes” assessment of your plan and execution of your financial strategy. They can help you see more clearly where on your own you had a blind spot.

For a simple example… let’s assume Peter is trying to get out of debt and stick to a budget. Peter has always accepted that having over $100 / month spend on television programming is not only normal, but necessary. He may continually overlook this as an item he could cut from his spending. When he talks to Paul, Paul recognizes this is a “want” and not a “need” and can help challenge Peter to target spending reductions in that area. In this case, Paul is more objective to the decision, where Peter may be biased because he really likes to watch lots of TV. Peter finds a solution by signing up for a streaming service which replaces his expensive TV programming for less than half the cost.

Mentors that you trust and that have demonstrated the results you want for yourself in their own lives can be very helpful to involve in our financial plans and strategies.

—-

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

—-

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.

—-

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