When I read through the five disciplines we're going to look at today I am amazed at how logical and common-sense they are! They are all pretty straightforward, but with the Biblical references to prove that the Bible really does have a lot to say about how we are to manage our money. Even if you are wonderful at managing it at the moment, take a moment to read through these because you never know when your ability will be tested. It could be that your washing machine, tumble dryer and car all break down in the same month and need replaced, or that one of you could be made redundant and have difficulty finding a new job. Whatever the situation, it's good to have a Biblical reference to hand when the tough times hit.
So onto the five disciplines...
1. YOU SHALL NOT BE IN DEBT...
"Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbour, you will fulfil the requirements of God’s law."
I know that this sounds like a really easy thing to do - but at this time of year, with Christmas just around the corner, how many of you will go into debt to buy your children presents? I'm definitely NOT saying to to buy presents for your kids - but there has to a happy medium and a way to do it without getting into debt. How about have a toy swap with some other mums you know, or have a look at the craft fairs or school fetes that happen this time of hear. I have a particular problem with this so I am totally speaking from experience here. You have all heard about my first Christmas as a married couple, but now with four boys to buy for and 12 nephews and nieces, I have to do my best to be so careful and really go bargain hunting! It is really fun if you enter into the spirit of it - you just have to stop thinking that your gifts are going to be second rate and really find that gem that the person will love!
2. YOU SHALL NOT SPEND MORE THAN YOU MAKE
This is how such a lot of people fall into debt and mess financially. You have to keep to a budget - for every part of your life - taking into account the money you make and the money you pay out on bills and essentials like food and clothing. There is no point in getting yourself into debt and spending more than you make just because everyone else just got the newest bag or you've just spotted a must-have pair of shoes. The cycle is one that isn't easy to get out of and it is so much easier to start off with this idea of living within your means. If you really can't do without the bag or shoes, set yourself a reward scheme - if you stick within your budget for two or three months (and manage to put away some money towards them) you can go out and buy them, knowing that you can and still be in budget!!
3. YOU SHALL NOT BUY ON CREDIT
"If you can’t pay it, even your bed will be snatched from under you."
My husband has a very struck policy about not buying things on credit and until I read this chapter of the book I just thought it was his good money sense coming into play. But the fact that the verse above a exists proves that God really is interested in our finances! We need to remember that 'buy one pay later' deals are just another way of getting into debt and spending more than you make. There is no easy way to say this - you have got to get it into your head (and mine - if I could tattoo it on my forehead I would!!) - if you can't afford something DON'T BUY IT. Sounds simple - so why is it so hard to do??
4. YOU SHALL NOT COVET WHAT OTHER PEOPLE HAVE
“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 neighbour.”
This one is easy enough - after all we've been taught this all our lives. As one of the ten commandments it is pretty important... and yet it is something that is nearly impossible to do. I can't help but think 'I would love that' when one of my friends get something new and beautiful, or think 'why doesn't that happen for me' when something good happens, but that's just my human nature coming out and that, my friends, is why God had to send Jesus to die for me. I can't keep His laws or commandments in my own strength - I am weak and fail far too easily. But Jesus gives me the power to keep trying and to succeed in His name. We are commanded to not covet anything - commanded... to... NOT... covet... so its simple - don't do it!! :)
5. YOU SHALL NOT LOVE MONEY
"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."
1 Timothy 6:10
The problem with money is that it is addictive. The more you have the more you want, and the more this verse applies. Obviously you have to work to earn money to pay the bills etc, but when the earning of money starts to come before your family, church and God, then it starts to become a problem. The love of money starts to erode everything that we are. Our families suffer as we spend more time at work or thinking up ways to earn more. Our spiritual lives suffer as we spend more time thinking about money - how to earn it, what to spend it on, how to earn some more... - and less about how our lives can glorify the Father. Our physical lives suffer because we spend too much time in work and not enough time enjoying God's creation. And our relationships suffer - friends never see us, family think we're just a provider and those around us don't know us anymore. We need to get a hold of this right away and make sure that we have a right perspective on money. We need it, yes - but it doesn't own us or define the way we live. Lets put money back where it should be something to be used when we need it but otherwise silent and in the background.
OK - so that's the first 5 - what do you think? Any of these problems for the rest of you? I know i certainly needed to write this to get my Christmas spending in perspective before I begin! In all your spending this week... keep shining...