There’s an elderly couple who each have new vehicles plus new recreational vehicles. Awesome for them. I hope I’m financially savvy enough & hip-to-the-jive in my 70s or 80s to want a new car.
The problem is that they are financing all of the items. After monthly minimums are paid, they have very little left over and often can’t pay to heat or cool the house. Sometimes is challenging to even purchase food to fill their bellies. The local church and neighbors help extensively with small chores and tasks, as well as filling gas tanks and getting groceries.
This is a beautiful example of generosity and of the kindness of others to care for this elderly couple. It’s “do unto others…” and “love your neighbor…” in practice.
There is also a reminder in this scenario about financial management. Jesus spoke frequently about how we should manage our money. Who knew that the New Testament is filled with financial management lessons!?!?!?!?
1. Finances Are a Test of Our Trustworthiness
Most of us hate the idea that we’re being tested daily based on our thoughts, words, and actions. But our finances can be boiled down to yet another test. In Luke 16:11, we see that if we can’t be trusted with our worldly wealth, then it’s difficult to believe we can be trusted with Christ’s true riches.
So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? ~Luke 16:11 (NIV)
In visiting scripture concerning the Parable of the Talents, we are able to see the test of finances, as Jesus described them. The parable tells of a supervisor who trusts finances with three different employees…essentially to see how they will react to the management of money. Each employee was given a different amount of money: five talents, three talents, one talent. The man with the most success ended up doubling his money, while the man with the least, buried his thinking saving was good enough. The manager took the one talent back and gave it to the man who was able to make money with wise investments.
The test was to see how they managed the money. God will also test us in order to gauge what else we can be trusted with; perhaps once tested we’ll be trusted with ministry positions, adoptions, Gospel sharing or countless other things.
2. Financial Management Must Include Making a Budget
It may come a surprise that Jesus gave us instructions about creating a budget…and staying with it. In Luke chapter 14, we see the example of budgeting with estimates of final costs when investing in a new building.
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ ~Luke 14:28-30 (NIV).
God does not want his children to be in a scenario where we can’t finish what we’ve started due to poor planning. We must be financially responsible to plan our purchases, our investments, and our long-term projects.
You could argue that the design and execution of a budget is an extension of the test regarding our finances. If we are able to budget, as well as manage money, we should be trustworthy enough to manage God’s true wealth.
You can purchase new vehicles, go on fabulous vacations, purchase wonderful gifts, and have nice items in your life. However, those items need to be within your individual budget and managed appropriately.