Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Should Christians be Wealthy?

Most Christians are familiar with the words of Christ in the following verse:

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God."- Mark 10:25

For those untrained in theology, the verse serves as a serious warning to those looking to build up wealth.  Consider the following verse:

"The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty."- Proverbs 21:5

I believe that Christ was referring to the love of money, not the possession of it, which keeps a man from a right relationship with God.  In fact, I believe that financial discipline, lack of debt, and generosity are three great hallmarks of Christian living.

I am a shamelessly huge fan of Dave Ramsey.  I believe that he is one of the great leaders of our time because he focuses on the proven fundamentals of finances.  He constantly reminds his audience that he preaches "Grandma's" way of handling money; unfortunately, the lack of parental guidance produced by general neglect and the epidemic of divorce has largely purged such fundamental principles from the teenage syllabus.

As we all know, the financial system is in its worst shape since the Great Depression.  American voters are more concerned about the economy than they are about Afghanistan, entitlements, and social issues.  While many factors have impacted the economy, I believe it is where it is because people simply don't handle money responsibly.  We, along with most of the Western world, are literally addicted to credit, from the top of the federal government to the lowest level of earners.  The downturn of the economy is symbolic of the financial state of your neighbors left and right of you and of the young couple shopping at the mall while already thousands in debt.  In short, the economy will recover on its own when people, on a very large scale, get their own financial houses in order.  Ramsey would be in agreement with me as I say that neither government nor any elected leader will be the fix for the economy.  We are the solution.

The American political system is in shambles for many reasons.  One very prominent reason is the extent to which dishonest gain has influenced "leaders" to side with lobbyists.  Such alliances help erode the moral fibers of our nation and advance a politically correct agenda that favors the few at the expense of the many.  Perhaps such people should have been taught this basic truth:

"A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight."- Proverbs 11:1

Money is a form of both power and influence.  This is where stewardship comes in.  While the corrupt will always seek to persuade influential people to accomplish their goals, the prudent Christian can support worthwhile organizations that are determined to preserve that which is sacred- our heritage as a Christian nation.  The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is led by capable attorneys who have recently saved a statue of Jesus at a Montana World War II memorial from removal.  The statue had been at the center of controversy after the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group, questioned its Constitutionality.  They also intend to battle ObamaCare and constantly work to preserve freedom of expression as it pertains to religion.

The easiest way to avoid developing a love of money is to give it away.  This, of course, means that you must first have some money to give.  Some give ten percent, but the average evangelical Christian gives only 2.5 percent of his income to God's work.  While the actual amount you give should be between you and God alone, you cannot demonstrate dedication to the advancement of the gospel while constantly hoarding your resources.  This includes your own time.  Why should we expect anything but a society that pulls away from the religious values it once embraced when faithful adherents are cutting corners on giving of their time, money, and resources?

When a family operates on less than they make and has no debt, they set the stage for passing on the habit of self-reliance to future generations.  Poor financial habits lead people to depend on others to keep their necks above water; this is where the federal government steps in and increases societal dependence, which enslaves the rest of the public to make up for the shortcomings of their neighbors.

"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave."- Proverbs 22:7

Military officers are expected to be the best and brightest in every formation.  We are expected to be the standard-bearers in every aspect of leadership- speaking, writing, motivating, and physical fitness are some examples.  We are expected to not only meet the standards, but set the standards.  Likewise, Christians should set the standards for humanity in every area, which includes financial discipline and success.  What does it say for the faith when Christians pinch pennies, but point out the ills of society at every chance they get?  Adherence to Biblical financial wisdom leads to success one-hundred percent of the time.  If society saw Christians as fiscally responsible and financially prosperous because of their doctrine, don't you think they would be curious as to what that doctrine said about life, family, and eternity?

I understand that not everyone is fortunate enough to make even an average salary; however, we all have the ability to budget, pay off debt, and eventually build wealth.  It's not going to happen overnight.  We should be content with our relationship with God alone, but that doesn't mean we can't pave a successful path for our children to follow by learning how to handle money God's way and putting it into practice.  I will end with one of my favorite Ramsey nuggets of wisdom:

"Excellence equals diligence plus time."- Dave Ramsey

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