The Best Financial Moves

Finance-RoundupWhat are the  best basic financial moves a Christian must make?  Here are the top six from Crown:

First, make giving to the Lord’s work your top financial priority. The Bible calls us to honor the Lord with the first fruits of our wealth.  I believe 10% of our gross annual income is the starting goal.

Next, have an Emergency Savings Account. Start with a $1,000.  Build it up to 3-6 months of your income to be prepared for unexpected expenses. It is more essential than a long-term retirement account.

Third, pay off debt. Consumer debt like credit cards, store accounts or loans from family and friends needs to go first. After that, pay off student loans and mortgage loans.

Fourth, have an up to date written will. If you don’t have a will, the government has one for you and you won’t like it. This is essential for married couples – especially those with children.

Fifth, be sure you have proper insurance coverage.  It is best to have some level of health, life and disability insurance.  Regarding your property, at a minimum protect against catastrophes.

Sixth, automate a long-term savings plan. If you company offers a matching plan, take advantage of the maximum benefit.

While investing and retirement planning are important, I find many people jump to that step and skip over some of these basics.  By covering this list first, you will be in a much better position to manage day-to-day financial challenges. Even more important is making giving your top priority. This step helps keep your financial priorities in order.

Chuck Bentley is the CEO of Crown, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late, Larry Burkett. visit for more.

Stewardship is Proportionate

stewardship life

For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.” Matthew 25:14-30

We are to love Jesus, even though we cannot see Him or touch Him. This may go against common sense, but the reality of His grace and impact can sometimes be hidden by our desires, circumstances, and feelings. The same as it is with faith and finances, each one should influence the other as a mark of true Christianity. This is the test of faith and trust, if we see no hope, we then must look to our Lord; then the hope is given and can be seen. The reward of our faith far outweighs any endurance or struggle we face. The joy we have is real and significant (John 20:29).

Read Matt. 25:14-30: What is the meaning of unfaithfulness? How does that relate to stewardship?

  • Stewardship is the wise use of our materialistic goods and abilities, as well as with our time. Wasting time, in the eyes of the Puritans, was a sin, and that notion did not originate with them, but with God’s Word.
  • Stewardship is being neither reckless nor hiding from our duty by playing it safe.

Read Psalm 24:1; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7; James 1:17: What are the standards for stewardship we are having?

  • Stewardship recognizes that we, as Christians, as well as everything in creation, belongs to God.
  • Stewardship is proportionate to what we are able to give. The poor person’s small gift is just as important as the rich person’s big gift! Sometimes, we cannot give as much as we would like to, due to economic realities, job loss, business not good, sickness, etc., so, we give honestly and efficiently whatever we can.
  • Stewardship is the giving of ourselves and our resources with joy and gratitude for what we have been given. Stewardship is not something that results from a forced obligation or a bad attitude. Giving should always be cheerful! If it is not, then you are not really giving–are you?
  • Stewardship is the comfort of knowing that everything comes from God. He gives us our clarity and the vision and character of what to be and do. We can trust in Him, and not in our materialistic goods.

Good verses Bad Debt


Good debt is what is helping you build your future to take from today and build a better tomorrow. 

Such as a home mortgage that builds equity and is a place for you and your family to live and thrive.

It can also be a business loan, which allows you to build a way to provide you and your family’s future when providing jobs and a beneficial service to your community.

Student loans can be good too, but be very cautious, they can’t be forgiven or used in bankruptcy and may take 30 years to pay off. They will stifle you from owning a home or building a future. Only use them if you have too when all scholarship and other means is exhausted. Pay them off as soon as you can. If you will not have the income to pay them off early, do not get them and just prolong your education. Take online and community college courses to augment your college and grad school, then graduate when you can be debt free.

Bad debt is taking money away from your future that you need to live and build upon and stealing it away for pleasure or a perceived need today.

Such as credit cards and a store credit shopping spree that you will be paying on for years when those goods are useless and long gone proving no useful means for you.

Car loans, best not to get, only use cash and not have a loan. If you must and if you can afford it, get a reliable car that is three or four years old, after ½ the value is deprecated. Then you will save tens of thousands of dollars. Do not get a brand new car, it is bad stewardship, unless you need it for work and will have it for more than ten years. It is way better to buy a good used car (like a Honda, Toyota, Subaru or Ford, not a Chrysler or Fiat because of bad reliability or European, too much in maintenance), than new. Never lease unless your company gets a tax credit and pays for it. The math on a lease is never better than purchase. Can’t afford a three year old car? Any 4 cl Honda or Toyota that is well maintained, 94-07 is a best bet.

Big Tip Credit cards. Do not get them! 

Second Big tip on how to pay off credit cards by making the minimum on the larger balances and pay more to the smaller balances. Then you will pay off the smallest balance first and then take those funds to pay off the next lowest balance and so forth until you are all done. The math expiates the payoff in that way faster than just a little more on each one.

2 Corinthians 8:1-15 – A Template on How to Give

2 Corinthians 8 1-15How to Give

  • …Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy…
  • …and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity…
  • …even beyond their ability…
  • …Entirely on their own…
  • …privilege of sharing in this service to the saints…
  • …they gave themselves first to the Lord…
  • …keeping with God’s Will…
  • …in faith …excel in this grace of giving…
  • …I am not commanding you…
  • …you through his poverty might become rich…
  • …you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so…
  • …the gift is acceptable according to what one has…
  • …not according to what he does not have…
  • …eager willingness …the willingness is there…
  • …your plenty will supply what they need…

2 Corinthians 8:1-15 NIV

What does it Mean to be Rich? PIII

rich dRead James 5: 1-6

James is not saying wealth is wrong; rather, he denounces wealth when it gets in the way of our relationships and call from God and when we use it to bring harm to others. This comes down to our attitude concerning security, and priorities about money over spiritual and relational matters!

Our focus needs to be to God and our trust in Him, not money, things, or power! It is not your bank account; it is your soul account!

Our true riches are in Christ alone! Wealth is not sinful, or even harmful, as long as it is seen as a tool. It does become a problem and a distraction when it becomes our focus and God is pushed out of the picture. We are also called to use and be responsible and accountable stewards with wealth; so, use it wisely, with honesty, and do not horde it, misuse it, exploit it, steal it, or waste it. Give it away with generosity for the godly influence to further His Kingdom (Prov. 11:24-25; 15:27; 16:8; 17:23; 20:17; 21:14; 22:2; 23:1-3; 30:7-9; Eccl. 5:10-20; Matt. 6:19-21; 25: 14-30; Luke 12:13-21; Acts 4:36-37; Eph. 5:10; 1 Tim. 6:10).

Condemned… murdered, in this context, it is not actual murder, but the setting up of events that lead to it.

The abuse of power will cause the loss of life. The rich in James’ day were taking food away from the people, not providing wages so they starved while they worked, and taking their coats away in extortion so they would freeze to death, too! The image is the oppression of the poor, as the wicked were scheming against the righteous. In this context, James warns them to repent.

This condemnation of judgment does not pertain to a Christian because we are saved by grace. It is condemnation to a non-Christian; a real Christian would never do this. The audience for this passage is also the aristocratic Jews and pretenders who say they are Christians, but their lack of fruit clearly shows otherwise (Isa. 13-23; Jer. 46-51; Ezek. 25-32; Amos 1:3-2:16; Zeph. 2:4-15).

The question is, do we “listen up” to what God is saying to us? Do we ask ourselves (and, of course, God Himself), what does God want from me?

Because if we do not, our focus in life becomes skewed! To focus upon what the world defines as success is to miss out on things that are much greater, both for the here-and-now and for eternity to come. For the person whose pursuit is in wealth, it becomes a weed that chokes off the soul from God and from others. One of the hardest things to do is be a Christian with worldly wealth because it most always leads to worldly interests that lead to worldly activities.

Wealth can be done and be done for greatness, but most, if not all of the time, it only brings darkness to light and blurs the Christian soul in the desires of the world. This leaves the person empty from lost opportunities, destitute of important relationships, and from Christ as Lord. If all we do is live for this world, then there may be nothing left for the next!

Do you worry?

Consider that we have a God who loves and provides. He fulfills us with Himself beyond our expectations. He will meet our deepest needs. We can trust in Him! If you are a worrier, the call is to worship in place of that worry (Matt. 6:19-34)!

What does it Mean to be Rich? PII


Read James 5: 1-6

What are you willing to do to succeed in business and life? What does this mean to your faith and God’s true precepts? 

The theme in this James five is covetousness. To make one prosperous by the manipulation of another may seem to be a good business model and make sense in the ways of the world, but; in God’s eyes, it is evil. Covetousness, in the Greek, signifies taking advantage of a situation as the motive, just for the sake of evil. It can be from going too far in bargaining at a market to having more than what is just in any dealings with others. This is coming from rich to poor-taking advantage, not seeking to get a good deal. Taken too far, it hurts and takes advantage of the weaker, less fortunate person (Rom. 1:29).

What we are getting out of a biblical model of a business life and success is that luxury and seeking satisfaction is an illusion. They only bring temporary relief and no real substance. It may be fun for now, it may work and your wealth may grow, but the fun now and pay later plan is not worth it! The real treasure is living in Christ, sharing Him with others, and with what awaits you in eternity (Matt. 7:24-27; 19: 16-26; Luke 12:33-34; 1 Tim. 6:17-19; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; 1 Tim. 6:9-10; Heb. 10:32-39)!

Remember, the Christian life has liberty and grace, but we are never to forget our responsibility and call. If you store up treasure on earth, your heart will be besieged by disappointments, and the storms of life will overwhelm you.

Pleasure and luxury refer to self-indulgence, from eating a pound of chocolate at once to partying your way to oblivion. Too much excess and its pursuit will leave you empty and alone. It will cause you, at best, to gain a lot of weight or to lose your friends, and, at worst, cause you to lose your life and miss out on your heavenly reward! If it is money, wealth, power, drugs or sex it will be even worse for you. Self-indulgence seeks what is fleeting; while Christians are made for eternity (Gen. 3:1-7; Num. 20:7-12; 2I Sam. 13:1-19; 1 Kings 21:1-7; Luke 16:19-31). 

Fattened your hearts. The image here is animals being slaughtered; the rich are the animals who are not aware or do not care. Are we doing this to ourselves?

If our desires are contrary to God’s call and precepts, it will lead us to destruction. It is not necessarily because God is there waiting with an ax; rather, He is there with His loving arms open. When we ignore Him, we destroy ourselves; He has warned us that it will happen. A god who does not warn is a god who does not love!

Leading a lavish lifestyle while others who work for you starve, or who are the ones you are called to care for. This is why how we are handling money has eternal consequences. While, Jesus says all Christians are to care for the poor: Matt. 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 7:22; 12:33; 14:13,21; 18:22; 19:8; 21:2; 21:3; Acts 9:36; 10:4; 10:31; 24:17; Rom. 15:26; Gal. 2:10; James 2:23-6).

The theme here is that the rich, in their condescension, are just fattening themselves up for the slaughter of Judgment. Thus, they are fattening themselves up for their own slaughter, brought about by their own deeds and words (Jer. 12:3; Amos 4:1-3; 6:4-7)!

What Does it Mean to be Rich?

Read James 5: 1-6

In biblical stewardship, what we chase is temporary and will rot, so why would we place our trust in it?

Even those things we think are important usually are not! People who place their trust in wealth, accomplishments, education, self, or… are headed for trouble as it takes them away from God just as chasing the devil does; both lead to the same end-separation from God both while on the earth and if Christ is never fully received also for eternity. Even if the person does become saved in Christ, he or she will live a life of waste and no return for that which is important. It will be the evidence to convict us of our sins and leave us earthly and the danger of being eternally dejected, void of hope or meaning. Not the loss of our salvation; rather the notification, we never received it (Matt. 13)!

So, what does it mean to be rich?

“Rich,” in this passage, refers to a social class of aristocracy. Keep in mind that wealth, in and of itself, is not condemned here or any other place in the Bible. As, wealth can be a blessing from God if we use it as a tool and not as a devotion (Prov. 10:22).

The condemnation James gives it implies the abuse of money to oppress the poor. This is a manner of the heart, as our checkbook will show where our loyalty, commitment, and interest abound!

“Corrupted”…”rust” are general terms that refer to anything that can, and will corrode and decay by rust, mildew, bugs, weather, wood rot, or for anything destroyed by fire. All matter, no matter how valuable, is in a state of decay. In the end it is worthless and meaningless (Matt. 6:19-20).

Wages” refers to being paid. To not pay someone was considered evil and violated the law of God. People needed their daily wages to purchase food for that day for their families. Thus, with no money, they would go hungry after a hard day’s work, and have to live with a disappointed family (Lev. 19:13; Deut. 24:14-15; Prov. 11:24; Jer, 22:13; Mal. 3:5)!

Fraud.” The earnings of the poor were a meager fraction of that of the owners. And, even when the workers were paid, it was not sufficient pay to provide care for themselves and family. Sometimes, they were not even able to “glean” the land they just worked (Lev. 19:9-10; 23:22; Deut. 24:19).

So, what we think is rich in God’s perspective is really not, not important at all. Wealth in money and things do not make you rich in God’s sight or and what really matters. As relationships and our sanctification in Christ is what is real riches. The devotion to material wealth comes from selfish motivations, and this selfishness will be used to judge us (Acts 2:17; 1Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1; Heb. 1:2; 1John 2:18).

Look at the context and know this, the poor will not be ignored by God; their cries reach Him. Our responsibility to care for them must be heeded! There is never an excuse to cheat or take advantage of another person. For a Christian, it is diametrically in opposition to whom Christ is and what He has done for us! The cry and the fact of the evidence are testimony and evidence against such an evil person (Gen. 4:10).

Relationships and our sanctification in Christ is our true wealth of riches!