Many people put their faith into practice in many ways, but people rarely think about Biblical finances today. Managing your money is important. Make the wrong mistakes and you’ll end up in serious financial trouble. The good news is that the Bible does provide some excellent money management advice that can help. Here is a look at just a couple Biblical principles that you can begin using in your financial life.
First, planning a budget is a biblical principle. Take a look at Proverbs 21:5 where it talks about the plans of the diligent providing advantages. Good planning can pay off in the financial realm. Start planning your financial life, through a budget and you’ll have a better idea of where your money goes and you’ll avoid squandering away money for no reason. A budget is simply a short-term plan that lays out how you are going to spend your money. While many people think that a budget takes away their freedom, you’ll actually find that the opposite is true. Developing and following a budget can help you ensure you don’t spend more than you earn and will help you avoid debt.
As you look at Biblical finances and the money management the Bible lays out, you’ll find that another important principle is to have a good savings plan. Proverbs 21:20 in the New International Version states that “In the house of the wise are stores…” This verse is talking about storing up for the future, which is basically developing a savings plan. Those who are wise are not going to spend everything. Storing up for future needs or emergencies is important. Saving some of the money you make can help you to manage your money effectively. It not only will add up and provide you with money if an emergency occurs, but it also helps you to develop wise spending habits as well.
If you’re interested in Biblical finances, there are just a few of the principles that you can find laid out in the Bible. Planning a budget and having a good savings plan are two important principles that can make a huge difference in your financial future. Begin using these principles in your own life and see the difference it makes.
We often talk about overcommitment (or entanglement), but what is it exactly? A simple definition might be the inability or unwillingness to say no when we should. So why would anyone get overcommitted when all he needs to do is say “No!” at the right times? I think there are four reasons:
- Often we don’t want to say no.
- Many of us don’t know how to say no.
- Most of us don’t understand what we should say no to.
Suppose someone approaches you at church and asks you to assume a responsibility. How do you react? If you’re already so overcommitted that you’re experiencing anxiety, you might say no in a very inappropriate way. You might be defensive or become angry. You may cry. You might respond with a lecture, or wither the person with your meanest look. What you probably would not do is thank him for being offered an opportunity to fill that need.
If you’re not already anxious despite being overcommitted, you might go to the other extreme. You know you shouldn’t say yes, but you might anyway. You may conceal your discomfort, even though you resent being asked.
There is a third category: If you’re the rare individual who is not already overcommitted, you may feel like someone who is not in debt. Have you ever just paid off a credit card bill and felt the irresistible urge to go out and charge something? That is exactly what overcommitment is–attempting to spend time that you don’t have, going into debt with your time.
Thankfully, God did not make provision for either saving up time or for spending it in advance. Instead, we suffer at the point where we would borrow if we could. Overcommitment, then, is our futile attempt to “borrow” time. Each of us, at one time or another, fails to say no when we should. But that is no excuse for being overcommitted as a way of life.
The average person finds himself overcommitted far too often. Many people don’t know what it would be like not to be overcommitted! Ironically, among Christians the person most likely to overcommit himself is one who reflects much of the fruit of the Spirit as expressed in Galatians 5:22, 23–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness. Eagerness to serve and exercise spiritual gifts can prompt a detour to the path of unrighteousness because of overcommitment.
You may have noted that the one fruit of the Spirit that I didn’t mention was self-control. The Christian without self-control or self-discipline (actually Holy Spirit-directed discipline) can display all the outward signs of a Spirit-led life and yet be ineffective due to poor discipline. Our strengths almost always relate to our weaknesses. Lack of self-control can neutralize even those whom God could use the most, despite how many good traits they have.
A different kind of person often guilty of overcommitment is the self–centered individual who wants it all–and right now! He constantly drives for success in the secular sense. He never has enough time to accumulate all the wealth, acquire all the knowledge or achieve all the power that he feels he needs. This person suffers from greed; he will never have enough. He refuses to say no for the opposite reason as the servant. He fears missing something for himself, rather than an opportunity to serve someone else. Then there are the rest of us. We are at neither extreme; we just haven’t learned when and to what we should say no. Our yes or no is haphazard, a response to circumstances of the moment rather than planning. Generally, we attribute overcommitment to lack of personal organization, but even the most organized person finds himself overcommitted once in a while. Here are some ways you can avoid the trap of entanglement:
Establish Goals and Priorities.
If you know enough about yourself and how you use time, you should avoid chronic overcommitment. You know where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going. Based on your goals and priorities, you can be prepared to say no to things that are not consistent with those objectives.
For instance, an opportunity for career advancement almost always comes with a cost attached. You may be asked to devote 75 percent of your time over the next year to travel. If you haven’t set goals and priorities for yourself and your family, you have no rational basis for turning down such an opportunity. You suspect this will create problems at home, but you have no objective way to analyze the consequences. (And let’s face it–that’s not something we like to do in advance.) But if you have specific goals and priorities, it is much easier to recognize potential conflicts and arrive at the right decision. In this way, we can be more confident about knowing when God wants us to say yes and when He wants us to say no.
We frequently become overcommitted because we aren’t accountable to anyone. If you are married, make a habit of consulting your spouse before making commitments. A friend of mine has spent half his life making unrealistic commitments–and the other half undoing them after his wife finds out.
Consider Other Factors.
Sometimes the reasons for overcommitment are beyond our immediate control. If your boss is unrealistic about your workload or abilities, you may stay overcommitted without fully understanding why. Or you may have physical or emotional problems which inhibit your performance. These must be identified and addressed before you can do anything at a reasonable rate.
Put God’s Desires First.
Disobedience is the underlying problem with overcommitment. We don’t do what God wants and we do what He doesn’t want. So the first step in dealing with overload is to understand what He is saying now. You may have to follow through on commitments that you now know were not in God’s plan for you, but you may need to go back and say no to other commitments. The cost may be high, and it’s difficult to break commitments, but if that’s what God wants you to do, you must be willing–if not exactly tickled pink about doing so.
Wait Before Saying Yes.
Form a habit of never saying yes until you have had time to pray about a request. When asked to do something, give a specific time when you will be able to give an answer. Make a note of the request and pray about it during your next quiet time.
God is seldom, if ever, in a hurry. Even when you know your answer will be yes, don’t respond immediately. If it’s important to God, it will wait at least one day. It’s surprising how much difference a one-day delay can make. You may still say yes, but you will have much more insight into your decision. For example, you may determine that a different completion date for a project is needed, or someone else should also be involved.
One final word: Follow the axiom, “If in doubt, don’t.” You may occasionally miss a blessing, but you also will avoid tons for grief. I find it’s much better to run the risk of missing God than to bear the pain of getting ahead of Him.
A healthy Christian life requires balancing spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical needs. Nutrition, sleep, and stress management are the three keys to good health. Nutrition, providing the body with the nutrients it requires while avoiding the toxins that pollute this most intimate of God’s temples, is essential to a healthy Christian life.
A healthy Christian life is a life of balance. In a modern world, Christians must balance work, family, church, and community as they allocate time and energy in their lives. To maintain physical health, nutrition, sleep, and stress must be monitored and kept in balance. The first of these requirements for good health, nutrition, requires yet another balancing act. Therefore, maintaining Christian health, nutrition included, can be envisioned as maintaining a balance-in this case, a balance in what is allowed to enter the body.
One Christian principle provides a ready guide to proper nutrition: the perfection of God’s creation, and the fallibility of humankind. Around the world, many people are recognizing that the best food is also the least altered from its original form. Fresh, raw fruits are obviously better choices than the same fruits baked into cobblers or mass-produced cookie bars. Whole grains are better choices than processed flours. To maintain health, nutrition at its best begins with accepting God’s gifts in their most natural form, with an understanding that every layer of human meddling introduces more flaws into the diet.
This principle also suggests that living as naturally as possible, according to God’s plan for human beings, is a better plan for maintaining a healthy Christian life than is eating according to the dictates of giant modern food industries. God gave His first people a garden, indicating His intent that people eat freely of an abundance of naturally-growing foods. Having evicted these first people from the original, paradisiacal garden, however, God did not take away the cornucopia of food available to nourish His people. Indeed, the earliest peoples were hunters and gatherers, often taking about 80% of their food from the plants indigenous to their homelands. Most of their animal protein came from seafood, and in most cultures the treat of red meat was to be had only occasionally in the form of lean game animals. Modern Christians do well to emulate this diet, originating as it did with God’s own plan for humankind, rather than from people’s greedy rewriting of it to include far more fats and sweets-intended as very rare indulgences, as indicated by their scarcity in nature-than is appropriate for good health. Nutrition, according both to the scientists and to God, begins with simplicity: a natural, plant-based diet supplemented by seafood and, more occasionally, lean meats.
However, the foundation for health-nutrition–involves not only what is allowed into the body as nourishment, but also what is not allowed. Excessive sugars, fats, and processed foods are obviously inappropriate nourishment for the body. Of even more importance are those substances more difficult to discuss: alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Alcohol and drugs, used recreationally, are poisons that both destroy the body and inhibit spiritual growth. Tobacco, inhaled or chewed rather than ingested, may seem to play no role in nutrition at all. Yet, its use damages all the body systems, polluting God’s temple with soot and tar, literally blackening the corporal host for the eternal soul. This damage keeps the digestive system from processing other foods properly. Tobacco use is inappropriate for anyone concerned with a living a healthy Christian life.
Any reasonable diet that acknowledges these principles will serve a Christian body well. By avoiding poisons such as alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs, the body is better able to process nutritional foods. The best foods are the most natural foods, and the best diet the most natural diet-because God’s plan for His people includes the foundations of a healthy diet. By eating healthful natural foods in the proportions God made readily available without the human intervention of mass food production, and by avoiding toxins, Christians can maintain the good nutrition essential to a healthy Christian life.