Simplify Your Life: Family Comes First
The first two steps for money management—and ultimately, simplifying your life—are simple: generate an income by working hard at the job God has called you to and tithe ten percent of the income you make in that job as an acknowledgement of God’s authority in your life.
What do you do then with the other 90% of your income? Well, in learning to manage your expenses, we’re going to talk about the three basic concerns of expense allocation: family need, debt elimination, and seed.
Family Comes First
After the tithe, your family comes first. You have needs and your family has needs. These needs have to be addressed. Once you’ve labored at that which is good, you now have a responsibility to use that income to meet your family’s needs. First Timothy 5:8 says:
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
This is a strong statement, but it shows how important it is to God that we provide for our family. After generating an income and giving God the tithe, the needs of our family are a top priority.
How do we determine what is need? Well, need is very subjective. Nobody else can define your need for you. It’s between you and God. God does give you a guarantee, though, that provides a self-check for determining need in your life. If you labor at that which is good and tithe off your income, God promises that you’ll have something left over to give to him in need.
Ask yourself this: “After my needs are met, do I have any seed left to sow into God’s kingdom?” If you don’t, you’re calling something a need that really isn’t. Ask God to help you identify what that is and adjust your financial plans accordingly.
The next concern of expense allocation is debt. Unfortunately, it’s something many Christians wrestle a great deal with. Romans 13:8 says:
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
This doesn’t mean that it’s sin or somehow wrong to borrow money. The Word translated “owe” here means “to be under obligation with the emphasis on failing in that obligation or duty.” Scriptural debt only occurs when you fail to meet an obligation to repay what you’ve borrowed.
If it were wrong to borrow, would God then turn around and tell us to lend? Of course not. Yet He says, “We’re going to lend and not borrow” (Deut. 15:6). He even tells us that we might be lending to other believers, and if we do, we shouldn’t charge them usury or unfair interest (Deut. 23:19). God wouldn’t be telling us to lend if it was a sin to borrow. It’s not.
With that said, realize that it’s not God’s best for you to borrow money. He says you’re in a subservient position to the lender when you do (Proverbs 22:7). Therefore, part of your financial management plan must include a strategy to eliminate debt.
The best way to eliminate debt is to manage your finances in a way that leaves you money to sow as seed. Debt elimination can only occur supernaturally when God brings increase to the seed you’ve planted. Supernatural increase in the kingdom of God does not come through wise investing, astute choices of stocks, or a strong 401k program. It comes by the seed principle. It comes through sowing and reaping.
So to generate the increase needed to eliminate debt, you’re going to have to get some seed into the ground. Therefore, your financial management plan must involve managing your expenses in a way that leaves you with something left to sow into God’s kingdom. Ultimately, that’s what makes it possible for God to take care of debt on your behalf.
There’s nothing more liberating than being debt free. It’s a place that we should all strive to be. Understand that the seed principle is what will bring you there—and that’s what I want to take a closer look at in a future blog post.