The holiday rush is over and a new year has just begun. It’s a good time to take a look at where you are financially and check your financial goals for the New Year. This is a fresh start for you and a chance to be wiser on the way you handle your money. If you had some setbacks last year, this year gives you a chance to apply all the lessons you’ve learned so you’ll be in better financial shape.
The Bible is the best source of information when it comes to financial stewardship. Here are a few principles to follow so you can have a great start in 2018.
1. Be faithful in your tithe.
God is a giver, not a taker. So you ask, why do I have to give 10% of my income to him? Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” The portion that God asks from us is to make sure that our trust and dependence is on him not on money. It allows us to exercise our “faith muscles” since it is a way of telling the Lord that he is our provider.
Practice setting apart your tithe the moment you receive your paycheque. This takes away the temptation of spending it unintentionally. God is a generous God so we are to act the same way and give cheerfully. 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Wow! What an assurance!
2. Stick to your budget.
Too often, we make excuses to deviate from our budget because of impulsive shopping or unplanned holiday sprees. Find a way to be frugal. Learn to cook at home, instead of regularly eating out in restaurants. Learn to wash your own car. Never spend money you don’t have. If you cannot afford to pay it in cash, don’t buy it.
3. Pay your bills and debts on time.
Scripture tells us in Romans 13:8,“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” This means that we need to prioritise paying our bills and debt first before buying our ‘wants’. When you look at your cash flow, do not make the mistake of getting your ‘wants’ then paying for your ‘needs’ afterwards. This is doing things backwards.
If you have credit card debt, paying it should be your top priority because credit card companies aren’t too kind when you delay your payments. Surely, you don’t want to throw money away by paying high interests and penalty fees.
4. Aim for assets.
Financially literate people understand this truth very well. Liabilities are things that take money out of your pocket. Assets are things that earn, appreciate in value, or put money into your pocket. As a rule of thumb, accumulate assets not liabilities. Your car depreciates in value the moment you purchase it, while real estate generally appreciates in value. TVs, iPhones, gadgets, shoes and clothes don’t increase in value.
5. Work with all your heart.
Similar to the ‘Parable of the Talents’ written in Matthew 25:14-30, God gave us something valuable that we can use and invest so that we can put our ‘talent’ to work and produce a profit. We all have skills that we can use to work and get an income, or perhaps wisdom to become an entrepreneur. In any scale, we need to be faithful in the talent we have received from him.
No matter what our position is in our company, “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”, says Colossians 3:23. Be on time, do excellent work to meet or exceed your company’s expectations, and promotion will follow. God always rewards those who are faithful in small things. When you put your heart into your work, you work hard and you work smart.
6. Be a church contributor, not a consumer.
Your church is your spiritual family. It is one of the places where you can feed yourself spiritually, have fellowship with other believers, and be mentored by experienced church leaders. This means that as a member of the local church, you must be a contributor and not just a consumer. You should be an active participator, not just a passive spectator. Become a volunteer.
Aside from giving your tithes, support a fund-raising project of your local church and give sacrificially. You’re probably familiar with the scripture, “It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).” Although you have your own needs, helping provide the needs of other people results in great joy and comes with tremendous blessing. 2 Corinthians tells us that, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” Sowing into other people’s lives can go along way.
7. Believe God’s promises.
The great thing about God is that he knows we worry too much. Especially when it comes to our material needs, we always find a reason to doubt. The great thing about the Lord is that he knows us too well and has provided us a lot of promises in his Word to overcome our fears.
In reading Matthew 6:25-34, take comfort in knowing that God knows your every need and has promised to provide it. Have peace in knowing that God’s Word never fails. All of us need food, clothes, and shelter and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.The instruction is to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Therein lies the secret, put God first above everything else and expect the Lord to see you through.