This may surprise you, but money is the primary competitor with God for our affection. Jesus tells us we will serve–and love–one or the other…
When the Crusades were fought during the twelfth century, the Crusaders purchased the services of mercenaries to fight for them. Because it was a religious war, the Crusaders insisted that the mercenaries be baptized before fighting.
As they were being baptized, the soldiers would take theri swords and hold them up out of the water to symbolized that Jesus Christ was not in control of their swords, that they retained the freedom to use their weapons in any way they wished.
Many people today do a similar thing. They hold their wallet or purse out of the water, an attitude that says, ‘God, I yield control of my entire life to you except in the area of money—I am perfectly capable of handling that myself.’ And without realizing it, this attitude hinders their relationship with God and harms their finances. (Howard Dayton, Your Money Map)
I thought this quote from this Christian author was amazing and thought I’d pass it on to everyone who wants to learn to spend money the way the Lord would have us do. People of all faiths and all countries struggle with putting money before God whether we’re rich or poor.
What can one do in order to put the Lord before our money? I won’t claim to be an expert, but I’ll share some things that have helped me.
- Acknowledge all things are Gods and I am a Steward When you really think about it, everything we have comes from God. The air we breathe, our families, our life, and of course our money. We are merely stewards. As I pray to realize and recognize this, I find that I am more careful with being frivolous with spending and have greater respect for the money God blesses me with.
- Be Grateful for Blessings and Tell the Lord I’ve found that when I express gratitude to the Lord for any blessing He gives me, that my heart grows less hardened and more apt to use the blessing as He would have me do. Regarding money, when I think about how grateful I am for the money he blesses me with and pray to use it how He would have me use it, I find myself become less attached to the money.
- Pay Tithing I’ve seen miracles by paying my tithing. I feel the first two steps mentioned are the “mental” action steps and paying tithing is the first “physical” action step on how to spend money the way the Lord would have us do. No matter what, pay your tithing and you’ll be blessed. I’ve been blessed by paying my tithing because when I do, I become less attached to the money and more drawn to the Lord as I pray that the money will be spent how He would have it spent. I also have seen physical blessings come as a result of paying tithing.
- Give to the Needy King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon talks about how we should always give to those in need. We all see people on the streets asking for money (especially in the Seattle area where I live). I’ve found that when I see this person if I ask him what he will do with the money I trust him if he says he’ll use it for food. Who am I to judge? However, some of them are honest enough to tell me they’ll spend it on drugs and beer and then I don’t give them the money. In addition, our church (the LDS or Mormon church) has an option to pay additional funds for humanitarian causes and I pay towards that as well. I’ve found that by doing this, I become even less attached to the money and grateful that the Lord has blessed me so abundantly and I pray the people that receive the money will feel the same way and be blessed.
- Pay Yourself The next thing I do each month is pay myself in two ways. 1. Retirement funds 2. Emergency Savings
- Make Extra Payments Any debts I have such as student loans and car payments we pay extra money towards them. This reduces the amount of time to be in debt as the Lord has commanded us to stay out of debt and pay our debtors.
- Do Not get into Credit Card Debt I heard on the radio today the average American has $15,000 worth of credit card debt.If you have a credit card, pay it off every month. If that is too hard, don’t use a credit card.
- Avoid “Get Rich Quick” schemes I’ve been scammed a few times and it hurts. If it sounds too good to be true it usually is.
- Live within Your Means My wife and I were talking yesterday about how our grandparents lived in small homes and raised big families. Today we live in big homes and raise small families. We need to be very honest with ourselves and really pray to see what our needs vs. wants are. If we can afford to pay tithing, give to the needy, save money, and pay the other bills and still get a house, then get a house that is within your means. Pay cash for purchases such as cars, furniture, etc. If you don’t have the money, save up for it.
- Be Honest in Dealings ALWAYS be honest in business dealings, on our taxes, etc. It’s the right thing to do and keeps the Holy Spirit with us in our decisions.
- Pray for Strength against Pride As we give to the needy and express gratitude to the Lord, we’ll be blessed with more abundance (at least that’s what I’ve found). When the additional blessings come, pray that you’ll stay humble and that you won’t be prideful.
These are steps that have helped me, but I’m sure there are many more and I feel like I’m learning every day about how to be a better steward. Are there any scriptures or any other things you do to help you be a better steward over the Lord’s money?