Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Role of Money 3

In the first post I gave an introduction, using Matthew 6:24, on the role that money plays in our lives. It is either a tool that you use or a god that uses you. In the second post I gave ten indicators that money might be a god in your life. In this final post I want to give five indicators that money might be a tool in your life. That's God's intention for our life.

Before going into our list, it's important to point out that money is simply a tool that helps us to accomplish our goals. It's tied to our values. You can determine what a person values simply by looking at how they spend their money (and time - as you'll see, these two are inextricably linked).

1. You have articulated your values, dreams, and goals. To take them a step farther, you've written them out. Two helpful resources are Michael Hyatt's "Creating Your Personal Life Plan" and Mark Driscoll's teaching on Reverse Engineering (audio and notes). Both of these have been extremely helpful to me.

2. You have a handle on money. You know what's coming in and you know what's going out. This is what is meant by budgeting. Budgeting can be as simple as writing down expected income and expenses on a sheet of paper, using spreadsheets, or using an online tool such as Mint.com. If you're not budgeting before the month begins, then at the end of the month you're going to be left wondering how you spent so much money. As it's been said, people don't plan to fail, they just fail to plan.

3. You are content with, and thankful for, the things that you have. Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:5). Contentment and thanksgiving without a doubt change your perspective on life and finances.

4. You freely give what has been given to you. This is so much more than tithing. It's stewarding (managing) well our time, talents, and treasure. You're free with those things because you know that you're a manager, not an owner. God, the owner, has entrusted these things to you, and we honor him in how we use them. Not only that, though, we find true joy in doing so.

5. You have margin in your life. This applies to time and to money. Margin is counter-cultural. The tendency today is to max out everything in life. Filling up our calenders makes us feel as important as buying things. Margin is a gift, but it's something that we have to fight for. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was once asked by Forbes magazine what he would do with a $100,000 windfall. Check out what he said (question #9 on the list). This is all about margin.


Compared to the ten indicators I gave yesterday, doesn't this sound so much more appealing? Is it counter-cultural? Yes. Will it take a ton of re-training? No doubt. But it leads to freedom. Freedom is one of the most misunderstood aspects of Christianity. We believe that following God confines and restricts us, but it actually gives us true freedom.

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