Today we are beginning a new series of messages entitled “Four Steps to Financial Freedom.” Knowing the truth about money is the key to experiencing financial freedom, and perhaps the most foundational truth God reveals to us is the fact that God is the ultimate owner of all that we possess (Haggai 2:8). You and I are merely managers of what God allows us to possess, and, as managers, God expects us to handle his resources faithfully (1 Corinthians 4:2). There are only four things you can do with money: earn it, give it, spend it, and invest it. The key to enjoying money and experiencing financial freedom is to do each of these four things in a way that is faithful to God, who is the true owner. Financial freedom comes as a result of financial faithfulness.
Before there is any spending, giving, or investing, you must earn money. And God wants us to earn money honestly. The Bible teaches that “get rich quick” schemes should be avoided (Proverbs 13:11). There are many different kinds of “get rich quick” schemes. Some involve pyramid schemes. Anytime the business model is based on you bringing in people under you—you need to look out. In an attempt to get rich quick, some gamble, some steal, some sell drugs, some try their hand at day trading, where you buy stocks low and try to sell them high. The schemes are different, but the motivation is the same: to get rich quick. God says, “Don’t go there.”
The Bible teaches that to earn money, we must be willing to work hard (Proverbs 20:4). Not only must we be willing to work hard to earn money; we must earn it honestly (Luke 16:10). God wants us to earn money without cheating, lying, stealing, or taking advantage of others. Every time you get money, someone has given up money. If you earn money from a job, your employer gives money up each hour that you work. Every transaction where money is exchanged involves one person getting and another person giving. What happens when one of the people in the transaction is dishonest? The other party loses; they get robbed! That is true even if the other party is a big company. It is still robbery, and God doesn’t like it (Proverbs 16:11). Earning money, even if you earn lots of it, doesn’t lead to financial freedom. Freedom comes only when you earn it within the boundaries of financial faithfulness.
After you have earned money honestly, God challenges us to give money generously (1 Timothy 6:18). When you give generously, instead of running out of money, God multiplies it (Luke 6:38). When you earn honestly and give generously, financial faithfulness requires you to spend money wisely. The first priority is to take care of yourself and your family (1 Timothy 5:8). The Bible tells us that God will supply all of your needs (Philippians 4:19). That raises a question. What is the difference between a need and a want? The answer is found in 1 Timothy 6:8: “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.”
Oftentimes, because God is generous, he gives us way more than we need. But he only promises to meet our needs, not our wants. Part of spending money wisely involves not spending money on things you don’t need before paying for all the things that you do need. One indicator that you are spending money on things you don’t need is revolving credit card debt. The Bible is clear that with respect to debt, the borrower becomes the lender’s slave (Proverbs 22:7). Revolving debt tells you that you are spending more than you are earning.
Once you have earned money honestly, given money generously, and spent money wisely, the remainder should be invested carefully in order to multiply our wealth (Matthew 25:20-21, 27). The goal of investing money is to make the money grow. Spending money on things that decrease in value, like cars and boats, is not investing. Hoarding money in a place where it doesn’t grow isn’t investing either. Investing is buying something today that can be sold for more money in the future. Investing carefully is another way to earn money honestly. Earning money honestly starts the whole cycle again. Eventually, you could have enough money invested that the earnings from your investments could pay for all your giving, spending, and reinvesting. True financial freedom is found within the boundaries of these four biblical principles.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Make it your goal to be here for the next three Sundays—this will radically change your life.
- Invite a friend—and the younger the better (so they can get an early start on financial freedom).
- Begin getting a handle on your money by completing the Budget Planning Form.
- Take advantage of Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar app to put your budget planning to work.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)