Avoid Even The Appearance of Impropriety

We should not take advantage of others in conducting business just because they may allow us to do so. There may be a variety of reasons why people may make special offers to us during our lives and we must use discernment to understand when it is right and good to accept a gift and when better to graciously refuse an offer.

The most obvious scenarios involve bribes or services that people offer to get special favors in return from us do to some position or influence we may have. This type of behavior is not proper, but unfortunately very common in our government, business, and politics.

Genesis 23 provides insight into one such matter in the life of Abraham as he seeks to bury his wife, Sarah.

     1Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. 3Then Abraham rose from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, 4“I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” 5The sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, 6“Hear us, my lord, you are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our graves; none of us will refuse you his grave for burying your dead.” 7So Abraham rose and bowed to the people of the land, the sons of Heth. 8And he spoke with them, saying, “If it is your wish for me to bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and approach Ephron the son of Zohar for me, 9that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he owns, which is at the end of his field; for the full price let him give it to me in your presence for a burial site.” 10Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the sons of Heth; even of all who went in at the gate of his city, saying, 11“No, my lord, hear me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the sons of my people I give it to you; bury your dead.” 12And Abraham bowed before the people of the land. 13He spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, “If you will only please listen to me; I will give the price of the field, accept it from me that I may bury my dead there.” 14Then Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, 15“My lord, listen to me; a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.” 16Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, commercial standard.

      17So Ephron’s field, which was in Machpelah, which faced Mamre, the field and cave which was in it, and all the trees which were in the field, that were within all the confines of its border, were deeded over 18to Abraham for a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city. 19After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20So the field and the cave that is in it, were deeded over to Abraham for a burial site by the sons of Heth.

Abraham recognized that he was in a position of influence and financial strength and that those who offered him the land for free may have felt pressured to do so.

They may have felt obligated to do so out of fear of retribution or condemnation, or to gain favor for future “favors” from Abraham, or just out reacting to a quick decision based on sympathy. Abraham was wealthy and not all of the men he was discussing this purchase of land with were wealthy. Their decision in a moment may have been damaging to their finances. Perhaps Abraham just wanted to avoid even the appearance of impropriety to maintain his good name.

Abraham paid full price. He did not even accept a discount. Under different circumstances, he may have negotiated and received a better price, but he was content without negotiating or accepting favors in this scenario.

We can strive to follow Abraham’s example in our business. We can conduct business with others, considering what may help them as well as what is good for us. It should be our goal to conduct business fairly for all involved rather than to take advantage of people for maximum personal gain.  We should treat those we do business with as people God loves. Our behavior and attitudes should differentiate us clearly from those who do not follow God, even if it costs us money.

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

Prosperity and the Love of Money

Many today preach a false gospel about prosperity. They teach that if you have enough faith  you can command God and use His power to give you a bigger house or more money. For those who study the Bible for themselves this can quickly be recognized as foolishness.

There are plentiful examples of wealthy people who served God such as Abraham, Solomon, and David. As a matter of fact, wealth used to honor God can be a great resource. Great wealth was used to build God’s temple. Wealth can be used to help people around the world and of course to share God’s word.

However, there are even more abundant examples of poor people who served God with great faith, such as the prophets and disciples… and even Jesus Christ Himself.

Luke 9:58

58 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

Wealth is not an indicator of someone’s relationship with God.

The love of money on the other hand, when it replaces the love of God, leads many to ruin.

1 Timothy 6:6-10

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

Matthew 6:24 reminds us of the following:

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

It is easy to give lip service and say that we serve God and not money. If you truly reflect on how you live and where you spend your time… would it tell a different answer?

Want to look at it more objectively? Take on a challenge for a week. Without doing anything out of the ordinary in your schedule, keep track of where you spend your time. You can, of course, do this for more than a week. At the end sum up by category where you spent your time putting the most time at the top and the least at the bottom. You will likely see things like “sleeping” near the top and that is ok. You will have “eating” and “TV or internet or online  entertainment” and such. You may have a hobby. Many of us will have jobs to include. Mom’s who take care of their children full time should absolutely give them self credit for the category “taking care of children” for this is one of their most important responsibilities before God. Where in the list does “prayer” show up? Where in the list does “Bible study” show up? How about “rest”, as God commanded us to observe the Sabbath? What about “helping others”? Do not exclude work from the analysis as a “must do”. How much we do and what job we do are choices and they do compete with the time we can devote toward God. If your work is pleasing to God and honoring His kingdom (e.g. ministry outreach formally or informally in your workplace or mom’s taking care of their kids, etc.) do not feel bad that you spend a significant portion of your time there. If, however, work is only a means to gain an income it may have a different consideration. Ultimately you are the “judge” and you should prayerfully consider what changes you should make rather than get defensive and just rationalize why you are already doing everything right. Consider involving an accountability partner whom you trust and who shares a true faith in Jesus Christ.

You can of course complete a similar activity tracking over the course of a month where you spend your money.

For most of us, the results will make us think and more objectively challenge ourselves on how much time we really devote to what we serve. Do we serve money, our own selfish desires, or God?

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

Biblical Guiding Framework For Financial Freedom

God lays out important principles for managing finances in the Bible. He wants His people to be wise stewards of the resources He provides.

In this article we lay out a high level framework that  provides valuable insight for those who take time to genuinely understand and apply it. I have paired the elements of the framework with some of the scriptures that support them, but there are many other scriptures that could be added.

You can also check out our Resources section of the website for other organizations with a great depth of material on this subject.

1 – Earn Money: Develop a skill and work hard to generate income.

  • Colossians 3:23 – Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
  • Proverbs 6:9-11 – But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? 10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

2 – Control Spending:  Set a budget that matches your income and stick to it in order to control spending. This budget should include short term “monthly expenses” but also saving ahead for long term expenses like a house, university education, future medical expenses, retirement, and contingency funds for the unknown.

  • Proverbs 6:6-8 – 6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! 7 Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, 8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.

3 – Control Debt: Carefully consider any debt before committing.

  • Proverbs 22:7 – Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.
  • Romans 13:8 – Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another.

4 – Invest: Choose to invest your financial resources for growth. Don’t stuff your mattress with cash in hopes of avoiding risk.

  • Matthew 25:14-30 – Jesus teaches us through the parable of the talents. Click the link to read the scripture.
  • Ecclesiastes 11:1 – Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you.

5 – Diversify Investments: Diversify investments to manage risks.

  • Ecclesiastes 11:2 – But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.

6 –Consider Carefully and Seek Wise Counsel: Whether choosing how you will earn income, how to control spending or debt, or how to invest to grow your finances you should carefully consider your strategy and seek wise counsel.

  • Proverbs 22:3 – A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
  • Proverbs 15:22 – Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success
  • Proverbs 14:15 – Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.

7 – Steward Your Financial Strategy: Once you establish your financial strategy you must periodically review and analyze all elements to ensure you are following it and it is effective. This applies to earning income, spending, debt, and investment.

  • Matthew 25:14-30 – Jesus teaches us through the parable of the talents not only that we should invest, but that a good steward periodically checks on the effectiveness of his investments and makes adjustments according to their performance.

8 – Ethics: Following God’s instruction in how we manage our finances is more important than the actual dollars themselves.

  • Proverbs 22:1 – Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.
  • Proverbs 22:5 – Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it.
  • Ecclesiastes 12:13 – That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.

9 – Do Not Be Greedy: To those who love money, they will never have enough. Money is a tool to serve God and to support yourself and your family. The draw to “get rich quick” brings much risk.

  • 1 Timothy 6:10 –  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10 – Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!

10 – Store Up Treasure in Heaven

  • Matthew 6:20 – Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7 –  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.”
  • Proverbs 22:9 – Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor

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

 

Fix Your Thoughts on What Is True, Honorable, and Right

There are many traps that can lead us to fail in executing our personal financial strategy. One of the most common mistakes is to take our thoughts off of what we are trying to accomplish and focus instead on the obstacles in our way or get distracted focusing on what others have that we may want.

We can easily get distracted by lies and frustrations that are not productive focus for accomplishing our goals.

“If I only have a better car, bigger house, newer phone, etc. then I will be happy.”

“I deserve (or need) a better job, and more expensive clothes, etc.”

“I will save more in the future, when I am making more money.”

“I don’t have the job skills I need, so I can never accomplish my goals.”

“Others had an easier road than me. I am just not lucky enough.”

Scripture tells us to avoid the trap of coveting what others have and comparing ourselves to them.

17 “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” [Exodus 20:17]

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he gives additional guidance to help us.  

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. [Philippians 4:8]

This instruction applies broadly to all aspects of our lives and is certainly applicable to how we manage our finances. We do best when we focus on what is true and honorable and right. Instead of focusing on what others have or what we think we deserve or our frustrations over obstacles we face, we stay focused on our financial plan and working toward achieving our goals.

Set goals, steward progress, remain focused. Yes, be aware of obstacles enough to plan a way around them… but don’t focus on them as permanent blocks in your path. Instead of focusing on what you think others do not deserve, focus on what you need to do to be successful.

  • Stay focused on and content with what God has provided.
  • Focus on the plans you set to accomplish our goals, or on developing good plans.
  • Steward progress toward those goals.
  • Avoid distractions and traps that could lead you astray.
  • Pray for God’ s help, praise Him as He works in your life, and give Him thanks!

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

Live by the right, very high standard (which is set by God rather than man)

Yeshua sets a high bar when He instructs His followers on proper behavior in how they are to treat one another. We are to engage others using a very challenging and selfless standard He lays out for us in Luke 6. Ultimately we are instructed to treat other by the same standard we want God to apply to ourselves.

Luke 6:27-38

    27“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29“Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30“Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33“If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34“If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

      37“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. 38“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

The closing line says it all… we are to treat others by the same standard we wish for God to use in His relationship with us. Take time to dwell on that and truly allow yourself the humility to accept where you are not living up to the right standard. I clearly have room to go in this area. There is more grace and mercy I can pour out to others in my relationship with them… more love… more giving. I pray the Holy Spirit helps me and I know He will, because He always does. Praise God He is so compassionate and loving and filled with mercy and grace in His relationship with me. Let me be so to others.

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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 .

 

 

Let God, Rather Than Your Job, Define Who You Are

I find it is very common for people to identify who they are with what job they do. In particular for men, but also for women,  it seems that much of their identity can get wrapped up in what job they do. So much so that it is common when meeting someone for the first time to ask “Who do you work for?” or “What job do you do?”

While it is understandable that our work does reflect something about us, because of how much of our lives are spent working, there is so much more to someone than just what job they do.

If I were meeting Abraham today, and asked him those questions I may only learn that he was a shepherd. I would be missing out on finding out about his close relationship with our Creator!

What if I asked David about his job when he was a shepherd and again years later when he was a king? Was he a different person because of the job he had? No. He was a man after God’s own heart as a shepherd boy and still as a king. I would miss out on getting to know David and his relationship with God if I only ask what job he does.

Our relationship with God and our obedience to Him defines who we are. What job we have and often how we perform in that job may reflect our inner character to others, but it does not define it. We should remember this principle as we conduct ourselves in the workplace or seek to find employment to provide for ourselves and those we love. Our job provides income and should be acceptable in light of God’s instruction, but we should not try to define or measure our value as a person by the job we hold. In fact, many well paying jobs can also be very demanding and compete to take time and attention away from God and family in the pursuit of wealth.

As I reflect, I think I am going to challenge myself to hold a slightly different focus when I meet folks in the future, even if they are asking me about my job. I want to engage them with an open ended lead in such as “Tell me about yourself.” That way they can tell me about their job or hobby if that is what they want to discuss, or about their walk with Christ or their family if they prefer. A simple adjustment may help open up more meaningful discussion even from the starting gate as come to meet someone.

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

It Is Good To Help Fellow Brothers And Sisters In The Faith

It is good to help our fellow brothers and sisters who follow Christ and to help them financially when they are in genuine need. This is not to imply they are not to be striving to provide for themselves or that we must support someone else at the expense of all our financial means, but rather that we would seek our Father to lead us in giving willingly and joyfully to those in need.

In scripture, we see that Paul leads the churches he helped to plant to function as one body of Christ, regardless of distance or familiarity with one another. It is not a individual competition. It is a team event.

1 Corinthians 16

Instructions and Greetings

     1Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. 3When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem; 4and if it is fitting for me to go also, they will go with me.

      5But I will come to you after I go through Macedonia, for I am going through Macedonia; 6and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I may go. 7For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits.

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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 .

 

 

Our Entire Lifetime Is But A Moment To God

It is very easy to get wrapped up in our own earthly lives and put more importance in them than is due. Our lives on this earth are brief, our days numbered… our entire lifetime is but a moment to our Creator. We should take care to keep in mind our significance is best appreciated in the eternal impact we can have by helping others to find Christ rather than the worldly accomplishments we value so much and work so hard for.

Psalm 39

For Jeduthun, the choir director: A psalm of David.

1I said to myself, “I will watch what I do

and not sin in what I say.

I will hold my tongue

when the ungodly are around me.”

2But as I stood there in silence—

not even speaking of good things—

the turmoil within me grew worse.

3The more I thought about it,

the hotter I got,

igniting a fire of words:

4“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.

Remind me that my days are numbered—

how fleeting my life is.

5You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.

My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;

at best, each of us is but a breath.”

Interlude

6We are merely moving shadows,

and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.

We heap up wealth,

not knowing who will spend it.

7And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?

My only hope is in you.

8Rescue me from my rebellion.

Do not let fools mock me.

9I am silent before you; I won’t say a word,

for my punishment is from you.

10But please stop striking me!

I am exhausted by the blows from your hand.

11When you discipline us for our sins,

you consume like a moth what is precious to us.

Each of us is but a breath.

Interlude

12Hear my prayer, O Lord!

Listen to my cries for help!

Don’t ignore my tears.

For I am your guest—

a traveler passing through,

as my ancestors were before me.

13Leave me alone so I can smile again

before I am gone and exist no more.

Take time to prayerfully consider your priorities. Do not just list what you say is important and a priority. It is easy to say that God is number one. Instead, write down how you spend your time, energy, money, and talent. Is most of it spent honoring God and furthering His kingdom? or building your own through work or even family in which you place your value? Do you stand up for the values God reveals to us in the Bible? They are unchanging over time regardless of public opinion. Or do you change your view of what is right and wrong based on what people think today… and then change it again with them tomorrow to “get along” or “be tolerant”. God is not tolerant of rebellion to do things our own way! God calls out right and wrong clearly and it does not change over time.

If God is truly our priority than our lives should reflect it… as brief as they are. Do not put off to tomorrow submitting to and obeying God, but rather get started right away. The only things that will really matter at the end of our lives is whether or not we submitted to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior personally and the impact we had to further God’s kingdom while we were on earth.

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

The Way of a Fool Is Right In His Own Eyes

We should be careful to listen to God’s advice. Those who wish to become wise, who love knowledge, must accept discipline and correction… must recognize that others may have more wisdom in some areas than ourselves. That is how we learn and get better.

Proverbs 12:1 and 15

1Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
But he who hates reproof is stupid.

 15The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.

If you are not humble enough to acknowledge that others may have wise input worthy to consider, that you may have made or be making mistakes than you will continue to make mistakes.

Be humble. Seek wisdom. Accept correction from God and from others. Learn from it. Grow in wisdom.

These fundamentals apply to all aspects of life… and certainly to all aspects of managing your finances. There are great examples of public organizations or private advisors that can help. Most people even have others around them that may have good input.

For a few examples, please visit our resources section of our website.

Resources

Our mission is to help you. We provide the Resources section of GrowGodsMoney.org to help provide you with greater depth of resources by referring you to high quality organizations that have a lot of great content or provide a financial service (e.g. broker for investments).

We do not get paid by these organizations for referrals. We do not “compete” with these institutions, but rather see ourselves as part of the body of Christ in connecting you with helpful resources they already provide.

If there are resources you would like to recommend or give us feedback on, please send us information from the Contact Us page.

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

Victory Comes Through Wise Counsel

We are all at different experience levels and have different gifts in regards to many aspects of life that affect our finances. We have a certain perspective which contains some bias based on our prior experiences and personality. As an individual, we will not see and understand a situation as well as if we approach it from multiple perspectives including wise counsel from those we trust.

Proverbs 11:14

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

I remember a great example where my family was walking from a van to the entrance of some entertainment we were going to on vacation. I was focused on the destination, where is the gate, where do I buy tickets, and “marching” quickly with purpose. Yes I was focused on my goals. My wife, however, also interested in our shared goal, had a very different perspective. As I promptly walked passed a beautiful flower display she gently tugged at my arm and showed it to me. I am glad she did. We were approaching the same situation and had the same goals, but very different perspectives while doing so. Together we had a better view then individually.

This same concept is true for controlling debt, controlling our spending, behaving according to the ethics and guidelines that God has lined out for us in the Bible, making decisions with regards to generating income, saving, investing and stewarding our finances. Seek wise counsel from people you can trust or from professionals. To seek counsel does not mean you must follow it. It simply provides more background and understanding and perspective to help you make wise decisions and achieve victory on your goals. Of course, we should be cautious as to who we trust and how we weigh the opinions and insight of others. To listen to the counsel of a fool is to join him in his folly.

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

We help you create a simple but effective framework for a personal financial plan including generating income, managing debt and spending, investing and giving.