Last week I was driving down the road after dropping my kids off at school when the disc jockey of a local radio station started sharing some shocking statistics. They were so shocking that I found myself dictating them into my phone at a red light. He said that 45% of people have given up taking care of themselves in this season. Once the end of October hits and the candy starts flowing like water, 45% of people lets go of taking care of themselves and prepare for a new year’s resolution. He went on to share that the average person gains 6 pounds during the Christmas season and only 12% of people make it through the Christmas season without gaining weight.
It reminded me of a time that I went to go visit a young father who was in the hospital from suffering a massive heart attack. As I walked out of that hospital, I found myself wrestling with the question, is this God’s intended purpose? Is this God’s highest for my friend? Are those statistics God’s highest for us? It is easy to over-spiritualize our lives and neglect the stewardship of the everyday gifts God gives us like our health, our time, and our finances. God’s intended design for our physical lives can be seen in 1 Corinthians 6:19–20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”God has entrusted us with our physical bodies to steward responsibly.
Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 9:24–27, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” The Lord gives us our physical bodies to steward and He gives us the Spirit of self-control and discipline to make this happen. When the Holy Spirit is guiding us in our lives, we will take care of the temple entrusted to us.
Physical fitness is easier to see and define than financial fitness. When it comes to our finances the same question applies, what is God’s intended design for them? One of the most significant needs and best kept secrets of our nation is the need for financial fitness. Many don’t want to talk about their lack or mishandlings. Shame loves to condemn and beat people down, so they will not take the necessary steps to redeem their resources. It is much easier to isolate and slowly drown than make a decision to partner with Jesus to bring fullness to what He has entrusted to us.
Finances are a big deal and highly spiritual. What we do with our finances reveals our hearts and reveals a lot about our priorities and motives. God knew how much our lives would be impacted by them that He speaks over 2350 times and Jesus spoke more about finances than heaven and hell combined. Marriages that have real conflict because of finances. Enormous debt. Thinking of bankruptcy. Finances are the leading cause of stress in relationships and most Americans spend 8% more than they take in. In the midst of the stress and anxiety, there is hope in God’s financial fitness plan.
Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” The word “plans” in Hebrew means, “plotting a way of rational thought and behavior.” This is thinking and behaving rationally. This is making a plan and implementing the plan consistently. The word diligent in Hebrew means to, “persevere in carrying out the task.” This means creating a plan and implementing it every day. This is the daily decision to put this plan into action in an ongoing way. If you are this type of person, you will live a life of abundance. You will have what you desire if you do these things. On the other hand, the word hasty means, “behaving in a way that is senseless.” Meaning, you know the truth, but you choose to live a different way anyways. You know what’s right when it comes to stewardship, budget, and bills but you ignore it. You know it but ignore it and choose to live senselessly. When a person decides to live this way, their life will be marked by lack or scarcity. We all land in one of these two options, either abundance or scarcity.
How financially fit are you? Here are four questions that will reveal your financial health.
- Where do my finances come from?
- What do my finances come for?
- Do I have a plan to manage?
- Do I live out my plan?
We all fit into these four questions somewhere and our answers to them will show how healthy we really are. Your answers to these four questions profoundly impact your life and if we don’t get the answers to these four questions right, we will never be financially fit.
God has clearly answered these four questions for us and desires for us to live in His intended purpose for our resources.
- Where do my finances come from? Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” In reading through the first few chapters of Genesis, we see God created everything before He created man. He wanted to make sure we knew when we saw all the amazing stuff around us that we did not bring it into being. We didn’t have anything to do with making it we don’t own any of it. It was all there before, and God blessed men with it.
This helps us understand how to interface with the resources He has given us to steward. Stewardship is managing the assets of someone else. A steward knows that the money and resources they have are His that He has given me the responsibility to invest His way. It is His money, He determines where it goes, He decides according to His will. “Owners” are those that believe, “It’s my money to do with what I want. I determine where it goes based upon my rights.”
The truth is that everything you have came from God. Deuteronomy 8:17–18 says,“Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” The Lord gives us everything we have and asks us to manage it for Him.
- What do my finances come for? What is the true intended purpose of the paycheck? Budgeting is not about living within your means as much as determining the intended purpose of why God gave you what you have and aligning them to the right place and purpose. Why did He give you what He gave you? We have only grasped stewardship if we realize that all our money must be under God’s control. And that is actually the path to financial fitness. You see, if I consider all of my money to be under God’s control, then I can seek and find God’s help in every decision about material things. What a relief! God is not only the owner of my possessions; He’s my advisor about how to manage it all!
What are your spending priorities? When you take 2350 scriptures, God tells us the sequential order of what we are to do with what He gives us. The first thing as we look at the Word, we give the first to Him. We give the first to Him because it’s His in the first place. The order in which God wants us to do things is to advance His purposes. God’s children give to Him first, not last. What we give to God, we don’t lose because God redeems it for us but what we withhold from God, we will lose. Proverbs 3:9–10 says,“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; 10then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” Malachi 3:10 tells us the only time we are told to put the Lord to the test is with our tithe, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
The second reason God gives us resources is to take care of our needs. He is an extremely generous father that gives us resources to our needs. It is worth noting there is a big difference between our needs and our wants. The third area is for us to be generous. This is living life beyond ourselves. If you are generous with what you have, He will give you an abundance of more to give. If you are stingy you won’t get much. The fourth reason why the Lord gives us resources is to leave a legacy. This is saving to leave a legacy to our children. Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” The fifth and last reason we are given resources is to enjoy life and its pleasures. It’s okay to enjoy life as long as it is in this order.
The problem is that we often get our spending priorities mixed up and live the exact opposite of the Lord’s desire. This is the world’s way which starts with what brings enjoyment to us and then we get to the end and realize there is nothing for the Lord, for others, or to pay our bills. We live in torment and pain because we spent our money the wrong way. There is great victory and life that comes when we spend God’s resources His way.
- Do I have a plan to manage them? Do I control them, or do they control me? National statistics who us that 76% of all Americans do not live on a budget which means that 8 of the 10 of us reading this blog don’t have a budget. Of those 2 out of the 10 that have a budget, 85% of us don’t follow the budget that we have created. No wonder why there is so much stress in marriages and financial hardship is one of the number one reasons why people divorce.
You have to develop a plan to get financially fit. You have to develop a plan. Some have tried to implement a budget but have failed. Some of us are overwhelmed by the idea of a budget so never get around to creating one. Like everything in life, we must work at it and not give up. The first step of building a budget it to be honest with where you are at. Talk with your spouse. Take an honest look at yourself. What do we really see? Proverbs 13:16 says, “Wise people think before they act; fools don’t—and even brag about their foolishness.” The second step is to find out where you need to be. Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Those that fail to plan, plan to fail.”
- Do I live out my plan? Do I actually take the plan and implement the plan? It is a discipline to consistently implement your budget. This consistency accompanies the life of the “abundant” person. Proverbs 6:6–8 says, “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! 7Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, 8they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.” Out of all of creation, the Lord talks about the preparation of ants that work tirelessly to make sure they make it. Live the budgeting plan. What is stopping you from making the decision today?
God desires us to live in His intended purpose in all areas of our lives. When we steward what He has entrusted to us His way, abundance follows. Choose today to live His priorities for your resources and you will find yourself living a financially fit life.