How to Be Wise With Your Wealth
God is not opposed to wealth. Many of the greatest believers in the Bible were wealthy. But God is opposed to the misuse and abuse of wealth. James 5:1-6 deals with the four key aspects of wealth.
James mentions four common abuses of wealth.
1. ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH – don’t hoard it
James 5:3 "You have hoarded wealth in the last days."
God says that money is not to be stockpiled, collected in piles just for the sake of having it. He's not talking about savings. He's referring to getting more and more simply for the sake of getting more -- so you can have it.
Once in a while you'll read in the newspaper of an elderly person who died. They were in obvious poverty. When the bed mattress was moved, they found hundreds of thousands of dollars. This isn't somebody who saved their money but who had hoarded it. Accumulating had become the goal of life.
In the New Testament times you can hoard wealth three ways:
1. Stockpile food
2. Collect clothes
3. Gather precious metals and jewels
James 5:2-3: "Your wealth has rotted, moths have eaten your clothes and your gold and silver are corroded."
Everything you've gotten (the food has spoiled, the moths have eaten your clothes, the gold and silver is rusting, corroding) -- the point he's making here that whatever you simply accumulate, deteriorates. Which clothes get moth-eaten? The ones you wear all the time or the ones you keep stockpiled in the back of your closet? The ones that you hoard. God doesn't want us to get wealth just for the sake of getting wealth. He wants us to put it in circulation.
2. APPROPRIATION OF WEALTH – how we got it
James 5:4 "The wages you have failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you."
God is not only concerned with what we've got but also how we got it. In the New Testament, a man would go into town and hire the workers. There were no contracts or labor unions, no laws to protect workers. If the boss wanted to rip you off, he could. You could work all day and the boss come out and say, "I don't like your work," then you went home with no money. He kept the money and also got your work. This is what James is criticizing.
Don't use dishonest means to rip people off. If I charge too much, if I sell a used car to you and don't tell you about major repairs, if I cheat on taxes, if I waste time and I'm being paid for it, that is wrong and I'm no different that the unscrupulous employer.
3. ALLOCATION OF MONEY - how we spend it.
James 5:5 "You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourself for the slaughter "
The way we spend our money is very important. James blasts these guys for how they spent their money. I can afford something doesn't mean I ought to buy it. James says don't waste it. It's very easy to waste your money, the more you have of it. We are not to waste our wealth.
4. APPLICATION OF WEALTH – how we use its influence
James 5:6 "You have condemned and ruined innocent men, and they are powerless to stop you."
He's talking about how we use it's influence. He says, don't abuse it. Wealth gives us much more than simply buying ability. Evidently in James’ time, the rich were buying off judges. If they wanted to take advantage of a guy, they'd take him to court, talk to the judge and slip him a couple of bills, and then they would get their own way.
The consequences of misused wealth are in verses 2-3. Hoarded wealth is going to decay and devalue. Dishonest, wasted and abused wealth will be judged in eternity.
HOW TO MANAGE MY MONEY?
A) RIGHT ACCUMULATION – save money faithfully
Proverbs 21:20 "The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets."
Proverbs 30:24 "Consider the ant how it stores up in the winter."
This is the principle that the Bible says, we ought to save money faithfully. I want it now whether I can afford it or not. I'll put it on my credit card, says the foolish man. God says the wise person saves and invests his money.
In order to develop the habit of saving you've got to do two things:
1) You need to learn to live on a margin. Someone has said, "Save 10%, tithe 10%, live on 80%." The principle of living on a margin applies also to our time.
2) You need to learn contentment. You've got to learn contentment with what we have. If you don't learn contentment you'll spend all the money you have as soon as you get it.
What is the purpose of saving?
Here's where the Bible differs from the world's thinking in a major way. The world thinks you save money for security. If I could just accumulate a big enough bank account I would be financially secure. The problem is, there is no such thing as absolute security. No matter how much money you've got, you could lose it instantly. Everything that I have in life can be taken away from me: my family, my money, my reputation, everything. There is only one thing that cannot be taken away from me and that's my relationship to Jesus Christ. I've got to put my security in Christ and not a passbook account, stock.
Why do we save? The Christian saves for stewardship reasons, not for security reasons.
Three reasons for saving:
1. It prevents us from impulse buying. If we're not saving it, the tendency is to spend it as soon as you get it. Proverbs 21:20 "The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets."
2. It allows us to be able to help other people when they have a need. We save in order to help others.
3. It gets your money working for you rather than you working for your money.
B) RIGHT APPROPRIATION – make money honestly
Proverbs 13:11 "Wealth from gambling quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows."
What is gambling? A get-rich-quick scheme. In the book of Proverbs, at least six or even times, scripture teaches us don't get involved in get rich quick schemes.
Proverbs 14:23 "Hard work brings a profit; mere talk leads to poverty." Over and over again in Scripture the Bible teaches the value of hard work. What matters to God is not so much how much money you make but how you make it.
Scripture says you can make as much money as you can in your lifetime as long as you meet these four qualifications:
1. As long as it doesn't hurt your own health. Proverbs 23:4 "Do not wear yourselves out to get rich. Have the wisdom to show restraint."
2. As long as it doesn't hurt my family. How many homes have fallen apart because kids are being ignored?
3. As long as it doesn't hurt other people. Proverbs 21:20 "A fortune can be made from cheating but there's a curse that goes with it."
4. As long as I keep my spiritual life on the same level. The principle of balance. 3 John 2 "Beloved I wish that you may prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers."
C) RIGHT ALLOCATION – spend wisely
Proverbs 21:5 "The plans of the diligent lead to profit as sure as haste leads to poverty."
He's talking about planning your money and planning your spending.
How to spend wisely?
1. Have a budget. What is a budget? Planned spending. Telling your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went. Part of this means keeping good records. Proverbs 27:23 "Riches can disappear fast so watch your business interest closely."
God wants us to make money honestly, save it faithfully, spend it wisely.
D) THE RIGHT APPLICATION.
Proverbs 11:24-25 "It is possible to give away and become richer. It's also possible to hold on too tightly and loose everything. Yes the generous man shall be rich. By watering others, he waters himself."
How do we use the influence that money has? This principle is taught over and over again in Scripture. Give and it will be given unto you. Just like seeds, the more we sow the more we reap. He wants us to learn to be givers because God is a giver. In order to live abundantly, I've got to give abundantly.
Giving is to be regular. It is to be consistent.
I Corinthians 16:2 "On every Sunday, put aside something from what you have earned during the week, and use it for the offering. The amount depends on how much the Lord has helped you to earn."
Deuteronomy 14:23, ‘The purpose of tithing is simply to teach us to put God first in our life’.
God doesn't need our money. He's wealthy. But he wants us. He wants what money represents. He wants our lives.
God wants us to be financially free.
If your finances are in a mess right now, God promised over and over again to care for us who will place our financial burden in His care and follow His principles. These principles are all through Scripture. When you think about it, unmanageable finances are really a symptom of a much deeper problem -- an unmanageable life. That is, trying to live without God's guidance. If we try to live without the principles of this book we're going to get into trouble -- in our time, money, relationships, health, any area of life. Unmanaged finances simply mean misplaced priorities. The starting point for financial freedom is to make Jesus Christ the manager of your life. You start to live abundantly by letting Him come into your life and making Him the manager of not just your money but of your time, home, past and make Him number one in your life.