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A former LDS prophet and president of the church, George Albert Smith, stated the following:

We might learn a lesson from the ant. He harvests his supplies when they are available and stores them up against the day when it would not be possible to obtain them. The result is that his larder is usually well stocked. The grasshopper, a much larger insect, does not operate that way. He does not lay up anything in store for hard times, but depends upon providence to provide him what he needs, and the result is that most grasshoppers starve to death.

I fear that some human beings are like the grasshopper and do not take advantage of the opportunities that are theirs in a reasonable way. If they would take a lesson from the ant, they would lay up the food that they need and always have some on hand.

Smith is obviously discussing the need for preparing ourselves temporally against life’s challenges and there are scriptures that support doing this.  As we discussed the need to store things up and prepare for a rainy day in Elders Quorum (Men’s Group), some of the ways we should prepare included:

  • Eliminating debt
  • Having food and water storage
  • Savings account and also money on hand
  • Investments
  • Insurance
  • First Aid education
  • A way to protect or defend family
  • Having a Will
  • Self Reliance such as knowing how to repair, raise a garden, etc.

These are all good, but I can see where people could interpret scripture to mean that we should be grasshoppers instead of ants.  For example, Jesus teaches in both the Book of Mormon and Bible to “take no thought for your life what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body what ye shall put on…” (the Book of Mormon shows clearly that He is talking to the apostles and not disciples in general.  However, the Bible isn’t as clear about singling out the apostles). 

According to that scripture, it would seem that Jesus is admonishing us to not worry about worldly things and all we really need to worry about is following Him and He will provide us with what we need.

I can see a benefit of both.  For practical reasons, it is good to prepare for the future.  However, I can see why people think doing so is a lack of faith since the scriptures seem to show a case for doing it either way.

What are your thoughts?  Are you a grasshopper or ant, and why?

I read an interesting post the other day called “Have you Ever Prayed for your Sports Team to Win?”.   The post and the comments caused me to reflect on how detailed God is in our lives and whether or not he wants us to prosper.

The Book of Mormon is full of stories of people obeying Gods commandments, becoming prosperous, turning away from God, and then losing their faith.  Also, I’ve heard many Christians say that proud people are rich and God wants a humble people.  Finally, scriptures such as 1 Timothy 6:10 are quoted often alluding to the fact that money is a sin. 

Personally I feel that those who think wealth is a sin are wrong.  I feel that God wants us to be successful and rich as long as it is done in the proper order.  That order is as follows:

  1. Seek the Kingdom of God
  2. Strengthen Yourself
  3. Strengthen Others

Seek the Kingdom of God

Jacob 2:18-19 reads:

18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

  19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.
In addition, Matthew 6:33 admonishes us to seek first the kingdom of God and he’ll then bless us with what we need.
Strengthen Yourself

Alma 34:24-25 discusses praying for prosperity over our livelihood.  For me, I compare this with the scripture in Luke 22 that discusses once you are converted, to strengthen your bretheren.  How are we to help other people if our own houses are not in order and if we don’t have means to take care of ourselves and our families?

Strengthen Others

Once we are established by putting God’s kingdom first and also have enough means for ourselves we are then in a situation where we can bless the lives of others more richly.  It is important to note here that all along we should be paying tithing and giving some extra along the way, but what I am writing about here is the excess money we make. 
In my opinion, these scriptures show that God does want us to be happy and to prosper, if that’s what we want.
  However, he first wants us to seek Him and turn our hearts to him so that if and when we do prosper, we will use the money how He would have us use it.  If we don’t have financial ground to support ourselves, how are we to bless the lives of others?
Recently, I had a conversation with one of my co-workers.  She had been shadowing me and was asking me how I’m so successful in my job.  I asked her if she really wanted to know the truth and she said she did.  I asked her if she believed in God and she said she was a recent convert to Christianity.  I then shared with her the scripture in Matthew 6:33 that tells us to seek the kingdom of God first and then He’ll provide for us.  I told her about how I had started to schedule a lot of my sales presentations on Sundays since that was when many of the organizations had time to meet with me.  However, I felt I wasn’t putting God first and that if I truly was converted I would put God first and honor the Sabbath by not working on that day.  I called all my companies that were scheduled on Sunday for the year and cancelled them.  This was a risky move, but I felt very good knowing that I was putting God first and then allowing Him to bless me how he saw fit.  I then prayed that I would be successful.  Not only did God bless me for putting Him first, but this year I’ve more than doubled the amount of sales that were projected had I kept the Sunday appointments. 
I told her that it was by putting God first that we will be truly successful.
So in conclusion, I feel that God does indeed want us to be happy, successful, and rich as long as we are good stewards by putting him first, taking care of our own, and then taking care of others. 

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. Pay Yourself  The next thing I do each month is pay myself in two ways.  1. Retirement funds 2. Emergency Savings
  6. 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.
  7. 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. 
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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?

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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