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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?

This scripture is in 1 Nephi 2:16:

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

Just a little preface for those who may not be familiar with this scripture.  Nephi’s father, Lehi had just had a vision that was difficult for his family to understand.  In this example, Nephi turns to the Lord rather than to science, other men, etc. to learn the Lord’s mysteries.  As a result, the Lord visits him and softens his heart.  This experience serves as a building block for the rest of Nephi’s life as one reads through the Book of Nephi and sees how strong Nephi is in the Lord throughout his life.

As I read over this again this morning I thought about my own life.  What are the “mysteries” that I’ve experienced and what are some that I’ve seen others struggle with?  Examples include: is there a God? Which church is true? Is the Book of Mormon true?  The Bible? Why am I sick? What job should I take? Who should I marry? What school should I go to? Why do we have temples and what is the meaning of what we do in temples? How can I experience God’s love?  How can I love my enemy? How can I trust in something I can’t see (Jesus, God, etc.)? Why did I lose my job? Why don’t I feel happy?

I could go on, but the point is that “mysteries” to me are basically anything we don’t understand (which is about 99% of life!).  Since there are so many things in life that are incomprehensible, that makes it even more important to turn to the Lord. 

In the very next verse (1 Nephi 2:17) Nephi describes how we can know the mysteries of God, which is through the power of the Holy Ghost.  Other scriptures state that the Holy Ghost will “teach us all things,” and by the power of the Holy Ghost we’ll “know the truth of all things.”

Receiving an answer and recognizing the answer from the Lord through the Holy Ghost may not come all at once.  It didn’t for Nephi, but eventually the Lord visited him and said in 1 Nephi 2:19:

Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. 
 

Notice that the Lord didn’t simply give Nephi an answer, but it was because Nephi was:

1. Humble (i.e. didn’t rely on the philosophies of men and science but relied on the Lord)

2. Never gave up (he didn’t just ask once and call it good and then blame the Lord for not answering.  He diligently sought)

3. He had faith (he believed the Lord would answer him)

I encourage all of us to follow Nephi’s pattern when we have a question or do not understand something whether it be gospel or spiritually related or something else in our lives such as our children, job, friends, spouse, or anything else. 

One thing I’d like to add in conclusion.  Although we can apply this formula to virtually any question we have in our lives, these scriptures are specifically referring to the “mysteries of God.”  People ask questions such as “Was Joseph Smith really a Prophet?” “Is the Book of Mormon a true Book?” “Did Jesus really exist and atone for the sins of the world?” “Is there a God?” “How do I recognize answers to prayer?” “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”

Whatever questions we are asking ourselves, I hope we can apply these principles in our lives and turn to the Lord rather than man or science.  I don’t know much about God’s mysteries and many of life’s mysteries, but the little I do know has been revealed to me through the Holy Spirit when I follow this pattern to know the mysteries of God. 

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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