Ordering Finances Wisely Part 8: Work and "Using the World Without Abusing It"

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Ordering Finances Wisely Part 8: Work and "Using the World Without Abusing It"

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franklinRead the series so far.

Key verses

  • Luke 11:11-13, “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
  • 1 Timothy 5:8, “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” (KJV).  (“Infidel” is ἄπιστος, “without faith;” in ESV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, “an unbeliever.”)
  • 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away
  • 1 Corinthians 7:33-34, “But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife”
  • Ephesians 4:28, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:11, “that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you”
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies”
  • 1 Timothy 5:16, “If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows”
  • 3 John 2, ” Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers”

Thus far in our series we have addressed important points: the right and wrong use of credit, the tracking of spending, escaping the slavery of debt and helping others in financial crisis.

The ultimate purpose of this series is to inform and instruct and lead believers in the necessary disciplines of being stewards of money. The ultimate purpose of money is to glorify God. How do we do that? If God’s program for this age is through His Church, our work and money are connected with the church and the church’s purpose in this age.

The purpose of the church is to worship God (Luke 4:8; John 4:23; Rev. 4:10), edify believers (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Cor. 4:6), pray (Acts 2:42), be a community of brotherly love (John 13:35; Phil. 1:1-4), help other believers (Gal. 6:2), partake of the church’s ordinances (Luke 22:19-20), learn how to live godly lives (Titus 2:11-12), and be equipped to evangelize the world (Eph. 4:12; Matt. 28:18-20). 1

The capstone article will be on giving and specifically planning to give through budgeting. The tedious disciplines of understanding how creditors view us, tracking spending, eschewing bad debt, and escaping debt are foundation stones for planned giving. Today’s article addresses two intermediate topics: work and savings.

On work

Work is not the curse of the Fall. It existed prior to the Fall. I was privileged to work in a greenhouse (we had 6 houses under glass, surrounded by 20 acres!). The pay was poor but the sights and smells were rich: orchids (the smallest of the 6 houses dedicated to this!), roses, chrysanthemums, petunias, geraniums, hydrangeas, and more. The owner’s private garden (that I tended for him) featured corn, peppers, tomatoes, and asparagus and more. What a fun year back when I was 18!

The curse, among other things, made work burdensome—“Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread” (Gen. 3:17-19).

Outside, in my wife’s garden there are bugs and worms and harsh climate. In our work in technology we have bugs of another kindand infrastructure that breaks. God commands us to work but it won’t be easy. Indeed, today “half the population is not working and depending on those who are.”2

Some quick observations about work and working:

  • Because we have a material aspect (we are body and spirit), we have material needs. God knows that we have these material needs!
  • John the Apostle prayed that disciples would prosper spiritually, physically, and materially (3 John 2). Yet the reality is that Christians do struggle in all of these elements!
  • One who fails to provide for his own is called in the KJV an “infidel.”
  • It’s perfectly normal to seek to meet material needs (called “the things of the world” in 1 Cor. 7).
  • Some in the church should be paid—1 Timothy 5:18, “The laborer is worthy of his wages” and 1 Corinthians 9:14, “those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.”
  • Others should not be a financial burden to the church. Children are to care for parents in financial need (1 Tim. 5:16). Others may need financial assistance from time to time but they should not be chronic non-workers who depend upon the church.
  • We are to work to live and have basic needs meet. Christians are not to be materialistic, greedy getters of as much as we might be able to attain!

Why work?

Many are assessing the very question “why should I work”? Indeed, social programs in the United States social programs actually discourage work:  “Low-income families often receive benefits from multiple welfare and tax programs, such as assistance with food, housing, and day care  costs, help with medical costs, or cash payments to supplement earnings from work. While these programs often support and encourage employment … certain households may not be significantly better off if they earn more from work.”3

The Christian should work because we are so commanded (Eph. 4:28, “rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good”). We are to work to provide for ourselves and not be a burden to society or to the church. We are to work to have sufficient resources for our needs and to have some for the church and others in need. We are to work to have current needs met and we are to work to have some stored away for future needs. Consider the ants that “prepare their food in the summer” and have sufficient stored for winter! (Prov. 30:25)

On savings

Our impatient generation has eschewed savings and instead depended upon credit. Kathee and I are fortunate to be just one generation from the depression. Our parents lived lightly, did not use credit, and saved. “Whether times were good or bad, people learned to live on the amount of income they made. The generation that lived through the Great Depression learned first-hand the value of saving money and the value of having it accessible.”4

The wise steward will have an emergency fund. Financial professionals recommend that consumers have an emergency fund that would meet three to nine months’ worth of expenses—but in this current jobless recovery that may not be sufficient.5 Basically the purpose of an emergency fund is to bridge when a financial crisis—say a job loss—hits.

Our own practice is as follows. We have multiple funds—each a savings account—in an Internet-only bank. We add to each fund weekly. We have the following funds:

  1. Auto repair
  2. Vacation
  3. Home repair
  4. Christmas and gifts
  5. Auto replacement
  6. Insurance and property tax

For example, we add $ 45 per week for auto repair—we have 2 GM vehicles, one 12 years old and the other 6. I know that before next summer I will need to replace tires on both vehicles. Additionally our six year old sedan will soon need brakes.

Savings is the wise steward’s method of paying forward and eschewing debt

[node:bio/jim body]

Huw's picture
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You may

You may prefer to plan and scheme. I prefer to trust that all my needs are fulfilled. For the last 10 years I have been self employed in legal services and have never, no not once, relied on my ability to financially provide for all my needs. 

There are three things that my clients need and if one is missing then I don't earn. They must see the need for our service. They must desire the service and they must be able to afford our service. Once I discovered these little facts I realized that nothing was in my hands and that all was in His right hand. If one of the above is missing then I don't earn. 

 

I have paid my bills, my taxes and live a life free of care in these matters, because I cast my cares upon Him. It's easier that way and believe it or not Jim....that is why we are supplied with trust. ""the just shall live by trust''. 

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Stewardship is not passive

It's really not a matter of what one "prefers" to do. Sure, the details are all up for grabs, but these core principles are biblical:

1. We are stewards of all that God has given us and stewardship is not just riding along and seeing what happens (Luke 12.42, 1Cor 4.2 and several of the passages in Jim's list)

2. We are supposed to live by the fruit of our labor (Eph. 4.28, 1Thess. 4.11).

Of course, we don't ultimately live by our own efforts. But we are to engage in those efforts with the intention of obtaining that result. God uses means, always has. Even in the perfection of Eden, He gave Adam dirt and told him to cultivate.

So the logic is pretty simple: if we are stewards and God uses means, our diligence is both important and necessary. We are not free to arbitrarily select one area of life and say "in this area I'm just going to be 'care free.'"

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On planning and scheming

To Scheme by definition can have a nefarious component "a clever and often dishonest plan to do or get something"

I contend that planning is something that all humans seem to innately do. To even "not plan" is purposeful. 

As Aaron has defended, planning is not incompatible with living by faith.

 

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Spending

I spent a considerable amount of time looking for what we are called to be stewards of and mammon was not something that came under my radar. Please feel free to give a scripture that calls us to be stewards of mammon. In which case I shall shut up. After I apologize for using the term 'scheming'. 

 

I choose not to plan and there has been much annoyance from the organization that keeps me in work. However all the people that have continually insisted that I plan ahead are either dead or have been finished by the company. I remain, without my plans, and without an ounce of glory in self. Which suits me fine. 

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On the problem of not working - a relevant article
Huw's picture
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Next breath.

If you, like I, Jim have just taken a breath it is because of mercy. I'm just about to leave home and visit a client and the facts remain in this matter as it does in all matters. If a person takes a breath it maybe their last. If a person rests in their employment they may lose it. Trust is given that we might live, rest and rely on the Eternal Almighty and not in ourselves, our employment or the enjoyments of mammon. 

Man hates reliance and even when the man professes trust it is often an empty profession when the trials or testings are sent and the man feels weak and without sight of any help.

 

Job was 100% correct when he said, ''Yah Veh giveth and taketh away'' and from a man who had lost everything that word comes with power.

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In defense of planning

Huw wrote:
I choose not to plan 

  • "A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps" (Proverbs 16:9)
  • Paul planned ... but understood that God directed his way:  2 Corinthians 1:16-18
  • On planning and giving - relevant because this is the destination of this series: "Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation." 2 Corinthians 9:5

What I understand a plan to be:

  • Purposeful
  • Prepared ahead of time
  • Rooted in principle (ultimately to glorify God)
  • Yielded to the ultimate purposes and sovereign plans of God (eg Paul planned to visit Rome but was hindered (Romans 1:13))

 

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the role of God

What about James 4:13-15 ? James doesn't prohibit planning, but calls believers to make plans in willful submission to God.

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The Evangelical Work Ethic

The Evangelical Work Ethic

 

Our theology equips us to help our neighbors understand why work is meaningful and where economic flourishing really comes from. We can challenge the comfortable work/spirit dualism of secularists, showing that the dignity of ordinary work is not an arbitrary "value" but a metaphysical fact. Helping our neighbors see the transcendent dignity of work will reveal to them the power and grace of God at the level where they really live their daily lives.

 

 

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From the mouth of Messiah

From the mouth of Messiah, on budgeting and planning ahead for the morrow:

 

Matthew 6: 24-34 

 

Verse 24 says we can not serve two masters. We either serve the Eternal in trust or we are self serving by means of mammon. 

 

I know for a fact that the world would be up in arms over this, but the word does not come in the power of trust unto the world. To them it is the killing letter and by resisting the Holy Spirit they sign their own death warrant.

 

My contribution to ''planning'' is simple. I pay everything by direct debit and I trust that the provision made for and to me will be sufficient. I have not been let down once since 17th July 1999 when I first trusted. 

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@Huw

You did not interact with verses cited that speak to planning. 

It's great to quote a verse and say ... "see it's Ok not to plan" but that's not what that verse teaches. Planning is not "serving mammon"

And there is more to the meaning of "mammon" than "money"

Support:

 

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Mammon

Thayer's Greek Lexicon:

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I'm fully aware

I'm fully aware of what mammon signifies. In relation to your doctrine I was obviously referring to its use as money or a mans wealth or riches. My understanding, from both the scriptures and my daily experience, is that of Romans 8 and being led by the Spirit. To trust that I am being led by the Spirit into all situations is as natural as breathing for me. I do remember a time when this was not the case and I'm not, because of grace, going back to that existence.

 

There are many Pentecostal churches in this area and they have the same doctrine as you. Its all about mankind and how mankind can exercise his 'free will' and make  plans. I have not nor never will subscribe to this form of doctrine. The same doctrine manifests itself in salvation. That man has an ability to fulfill a few simple, planned steps and become the author of his own salvation. 

 

With regard to planning I felt unable to respond, because the words plan, planning or planned do not appear in scripture. And do not have a place in my life. As I said there was a time when scheming was a significant power at work in my existence, but thankfully those days are long gone. 

 

Highlight and right click on the word plan and it will take you to a dictionary that gives 'plan' as a noun and the synonyms include scheme. 

 

24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

 

Is this portion of scripture not clear enough Jim? 

 

 

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From "8 Money Myths"

From "8 Money Myths", Baptist Bulletin, Sept / Oct 2013, p 8

Myth: Financial Planning and Budgeting Demonstrate a Lack of Trust in God

"A genuine trust in God does not preclude wisdom in stewardship. Rather planning and appropriate effort affirm our commitment to handling God's resources in a way that pleases Him and demonstrates integrity. The Bible often speaks to this perspective (see examples from Proverbs: Proverbs 16:3,9; Proverbs 21:5,20,25,26; Proverbs 22:4; Proverbs 24:30-34; Proverbs 27:23-27)"

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Proverbs ...do not...

Proverbs 16:3 & 9  do not  support your doctrine. They support committing ourselves unto Yah Veh. And that is what I commend.

When Yisra El was brought out of Egypt it soon became apparent that they would not trust in Yah Veh. He committed them to 40 years in the wilderness in which he supplied their daily needs. They were told to take what they needed for the day and not to plan for tomorrow as tomorrow was taken care of. Their clothes and shoes did not wear out. So in a nutshell they had nothing to care or scheme about.

The sermon notes from Matthew were the assurances given to those who were, by grace and through trust, soon to be brought out of spiritual Egypt, the captivity of sin. They were also being provided for and they should not have a care for the morrow.

After my conversion I spent my time in the wilderness and during this time I was shown the doctrine of the sovereignty in providence of the Eternal Almighty. Through testing and trials He brought me to a place of rest, rest in Him for all. That I need.

Only the Eternal can see into the future and know what our needs are. Satan’s words to Eve were ‘’ye shall be as elohims’’  and that is the same temptation given in, ‘’plan for the future’’.

A man either schemes or trusts he cannot serve two masters. The reason given in Matthew as to why we shouldn’t care is simplicity itself:  ‘’But seek ye first the sovereigndom/ kingdom of Elohim, and his justness; and all these shall be added unto you’’.

The world has a saying that came to mind when I was typing. ‘Been there, done that….worn the doctrine’’.

I changed it from cap to doctrine, but I have been there, because I was led into that wilderness and was shown the knowledge of His sovereignty and the full assurance of justification and all that I need is provided on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual need.

The last Adam and our Saviour was also led into the wilderness to profess His trust in His Father and Elohim. We passed the test in Him as our representative and through trust acknowledge His victory against the world.
 

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@Huw

You're bloviating!

Suggest you skip my next article which will be entitled "Planning to Give, Save, and to Spend"

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Central question

There's one fundamental question: does Scripture teach that planning is incompatible with trust?

It does not. As for Jesus statements about not worrying about tomorrow, He did not say "do not plan responsibly for tomorrow." Indeed, He Himself made plans and carried them out (for example, note the occurrences of "hour" or "time" in John. Jesus knew when the "hour" was right for one thing and not right for another. And when the time had come to head for the cross, He said His hour had come.)

Trust actually intensifies responsible planning. How so? God has told us that every good gift is from Him, that we will give account, that everything we have is a trust. If we trust that He has told us the truth about these things, that trust motivates planning.

(For good measure, note also that money is nothing more than a medium of exchange. The appeal to "show me a verse that says we are stewards of money" depends on a distinction between the medium of exchange and all the stuff we buy with it. Show me a verse that says there is any difference between houses, lands, food, clothing and the money we trade for them.  If my reasoning is hard to follow on this point consider this: what if instead of trading a coin for a loaf of bread, I traded some fruit for the bread. Isn't the fruit my currency in that transaction? What if I trade an hour of work for the loaf of bread? Isn't my labor my currency in the trade? So... how about if we invent this thing that is versatile and portable, so that when I work, I get something I can trade for any number of things I might have use for.  Yep. Already invented. Money. The difference between stuff and what we trade for stuff is imaginary.)

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Everyone plans and everyone saves ...

Everyone plans and everyone saves ... it's just a matter of degrees or the horizon

On planning: Who just accidentally walks into just any old store and buys random things? (With 7 billion on the earth, perhaps there are several. But this malady has yet to be registered in the DSM!)

The same with savings ... unless immediately upon receipt of paycheck one spends it all!

Some plan with 1 week in scope .... others longer. 

Piper notes this with regard to savings in Should I Invest for Retirement?

If you get paid once every two weeks, should you give it all away the day you get it and trust God for the other thirteen days? Or would keeping some of it in the bank for thirteen days—because you know a bill is coming in twelve days—be distrusting God for his provision twelve days from now?

That sounds silly, right? But it's not silly: it's an analogy. God ordains that we work for our living and that we use what we earn to pay our bills, whether it's food, clothing, housing, education for our kids, or whatever.

Those bills don't arrive simultaneously with our paycheck, which means that everybody saves if they pay their bills. Everybody does. Some just do it more consciously and briefly than others.

 

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