Being smart with money

The other day, a guy I know wrote a quick post concerning individuals in the field of ministry and their finances. The news wasn’t good!

The post made me think about frugality and how it is sorely lacking in our culture. It has been reported by multiple sources, including this one, that American households are a little more than neck-deep in debt. The simple fact is, unless you’re making more than you’re spending (and you’re not the American government – so much for that of the people, for the people and by the people thing) you’re heading in the wrong direction! For all the money that Americans spend on education you would think this simple part of Economics 101 would get aced on the test.

The borrower is a slave to the lender! You don’t have to subscribe to every thought that comes out of Dave Ramsey’s mouth to know that it’s true.

The Bible has a lot to say about money. And a lot of it includes warnings for a good reason – because your mastercard is knocking. Oh the irony of a name like that!

Being smart with money includes being frugal in how we spend it. Being frugal doesn’t mean you’re stingy, cheap or a lover of money. Being frugal simply means being economically smart. Return on investment matters in much more than the account that Wall Street knows about. There’s nothing mean about pinching a penny…unless Penny happens to be someone’s name of course.

We trick ourselves into thinking that we’re better with money than we really are (I whole-heartedly agree with the principles mentioned in parts 1, 3, and 5 of the linked article). The bottom line doesn’t lie. Read the article and see if doesn’t hit home. If it doesn’t hit you, I guarantee it’s hitting someone you know and care about. We need to quit tricking ourselves.

Budgets are as simple as the elementary math that the majority of us should know how to use. We just have to stop acting like kids that can’t resist buying a new toy every time we go to the store. Being frugal means sticking to a budget so that more of our money sticks around. That’s why frugality works as a great extinguisher for that green-colored paper that won’t quit burning a hole in our pocket.

When you sit down to eat with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you; and put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.” (Proverbs 23:1-3)

#budget, #debt, #finances, #frugality, #money

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(#40) The Proverbs of Solomon 11:15-Are You Sure, or “Surety?”

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 11:15: “He who is surety for a stranger will suffer, But one who hates being surety is secure.”

In our Lesson #15, the explanation for why being “surety” was dangerous was explained in Proverbs 6:1-5. The person who becomes “surety” (guaranty or collateral) for a friend’s (or a relative’s!) debt, has “come into the hand of your friend.” To obligate our self with another’s debt shows that we are “devoid of understanding” as to how these things work.

Other proverbs that cover this subject are: “A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, And becomes surety for his friend” (Proverbs 17:18); “Take the garment of one who is surety for a stranger, And hold it as a pledge when it is for a seductress” (Proverbs 20:16); “Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, One of those who is surety for debts; 27 If you have nothing with which to pay, Why should he take away your bed from under you?” (Proverbs 22:26-27); “Take the garment of him who is surety for a stranger, And hold it in pledge when he is surety for a seductress” (Proverbs 27:13). If a stranger is faithless enough to go into “a seductress” (Proverbs 5-7), and you are left holding his “garment” as a “pledge,” then how much will he have left when she is through with him and you have his necessary clothing? “For by means of a harlot A man is reduced to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life” (Proverbs 6:26). We can become so over-obligated, we could lose our “bed from under” us. In our credit-riddled, debt-ridden society, these are words to heed!

To assume the debt of “a stranger” is to step into a bond with someone we may not know as well as we thought. This appears to be behind the statement to Christians by Paul: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14), which he explains in 2 Corinthians 6:15-18. There must be a line maintained between caution and fellowship.

God prohibited taking a “neighbor’s” garment for collateral in Moses’ Law: “If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down” (Exodus 22:26). This was his necessary clothing pawned for a debt; it was a “neighbor” who lived close by; and even Proverbs 17:18 warns of being surety “for his friend.” Those who mismanage their own finances, but never learn God’s Wisdom from their experiences, surely are disqualified at dealing with, or advising, everyone else!

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #collateral, #credit, #debt, #fellowship, #harlot, #pawned, #pledge, #practical-lessons, #proverbs, #stranger, #surety, #wisdom

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Studies in the Book of Proverbs #15

(#15) Six Hasty Misjudgments of Youth: 6:1-7-27 – ONE AT A TIME.

6:1-5: (1) Don’t Co-sign Anything!

Verses 1-2: The Trap

Becoming “surety” meant “guaranty or collateral,” and means putting your name, reputation, and finances on the line. “For your friend” means someone you know well enough to be considered a “friend,” but “for a stranger” is another case, altogether. In either case, the “surety” has become ensnared by becoming partner in debt or obligation that did not originate with him. The words of a contract, and/or a handshake, to seal the deal, places the credibility of the “surety” alongside the “friend” or “stranger.”  But that may not prove to be equal, as the original debtor would prove to not be honest and dedicated to pay. The “surety,” however, will be held accountable after the original debtor doesn’t follow through. Solomon will later judge: “He who is surety for a stranger will suffer, But one who hates being surety is secure” (Proverbs 11:15). The Apostle Paul warned Timothy about this in these words: “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins, keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). Obviously we’re not just talking about co-signing papers, but being more responsible for one’s own self than propping up a “friendship” by linking up with a “friend” or “stranger” who already is weakened by debt. Jesus avoids this problem by just making your assistance a “gift” without entering into a legal trap: “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back” (Luke 6:30).

Verses 3-4: The Release

Realize your mistake, and with deep humility, “plead with your friend” to pay his debt before it is entirely yours! You now have “come into the hand of your friend” (become under his control), for he can ruin your good name if he doesn’t pay and you may not be able to, yourself. The urgency is such that “sleep” or “slumber” should be less important than seeing that he pays what he owes. THIS IS WHY AN ADAGE SAYS: “MONEY SEPARATES FRIENDS.” This is a hard lesson to learn for parents of a child on drugs; a husband or wife of an irresponsible spouse; neighbors; a roommate in school; a relative; or a “stranger” (con-man) with a profitable-sounding proposition by phone, email, or physical approach.

Verse 5: The Speed

The “surety” should act as quickly as a “gazelle” escapes from the “hunter,” and a “bird” that realizes a “fowler” (trapper) is grabbing it! Speedy reaction to this legal trap the “surety” has entered is of the utmost.

 All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #co-sign, #collateral, #contract, #debt, #proverbs, #surety, #wisdom

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Studies in the Book of Proverbs #10

(#10) Wisdom’s 2 Simple Rules for Life 3:27-35

Verses 27-30: How to “Love Your Neighbor.”

Verse 27: “Due” is the operative word. This refers to what is owed, whether something purchased, work hired, or payment promised. Moses’ Law required this: “’You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning” (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14-15). The wisdom of Solomon required this: “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed- Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6). First Century Jews had long since lost this practice: “Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth” (James 5:4). It is not wrong to buy on credit, but it is wrong to not pay when you can and should!

Verse 28: Delaying promised assistance to one’s neighbor is an evil exercise that  frustrates mercy. “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17).

Verse 29: It’s bad enough to frustrate mercy to a neighbor in need, but to “devise evil” takes this to a newer, lower level of indecency! The word “neighbor” literally describes the ones closer to us than the rest of the world, and they probably have chosen our “safety” for neighborhood. This is a main missing ingredient in “the hood,” for neighbors should be able to rely upon each other for “safety” when police cannot always be there. “Neighborhood Watches” should be the order of the day everywhere.

Verse 30: In our litigious society, this must be re-instated! It is easy to ignore this rule of “neighborliness” when TV commercials are creating band wagonloads of people wanting to “sue” someone for something. Lawsuits should be limited to “harm done,” not in order to establish some “harm done!”

Verses 31-35: How to NOT Get “Suckered Into the Wrong Crowd!”

Verses 31-32: Don’t envy them. “The oppressor” who sues for no other reason than greed and who “devises evil” against neighbors shows a tyrant stripe wide enough to be seen! He/she/they should not be “envied” (desire what they obtain) because what they are doing is “perverse” and an “abomination to the LORD.” This unyielding damnation on their “oppression” should show this as a wrong path for the righteous. We may not see that God meets with the righteous, not oppressors!

Verses 33-35: Accept God’s Awaiting Judgments. God curses the “house of the wicked,” but “blesses the home of the just,” that is, He will not bless those whose will is to be wicked, and He will bless those who seek to do right. Verse 34 is quoted in James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 as: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” and in both passages this is a reason to “be humble.” Do not count “the legacy of fools” by their money, influence, power, glory, murders, conquests, but by their standing before Almighty God!

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #cheating, #credit, #debt, #god, #neighbor, #neighborliness, #owing, #pay, #practical-lessons, #proverbs, #suing, #teaching, #wages, #wisdom

How to Survive in Difficult Financial Times

The economic horizon is always filled with foreboding storm clouds in our age. National and personal debt are destroying  lives. People cannot find work  and watch as their savings disappear. However, Washington somehow seems to be making it worse. What can we do to protect ourselves? I hope you will read, Surviving the Crushing Economy and comment. Thank you to my readers.

#debt, #economy, #faith, #savings, #unemployment