Saturday, February 20, 2016

Investing in the Eternal

How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.

-- Psalm 31:19

"Money in the bank is like toothpaste in the tube," writer Earl Wilson once observed. "Easy to take out, hard to put back."

Can you relate to that? After all, ours is a buy-now-pay-later culture. Millions of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck and spend their money as soon as they get it. And if an unexpected expense (or the latest electronic gadget) comes along, it's second nature to put it on MasterCard or Visa and worry about the bill later. So with such an unrealistic approach to money and finances, is it any wonder that our nation has so many foreclosures and bankruptcies?

During his brief earthly ministry, Jesus taught Investhis first followers about the proper relationship with God, family, neighbors and even enemies. But Christ also spoke extensively about money-related issues. In fact, the Bible is full of financial wisdom that's as applicable today as it was centuries ago.

And what do the Scriptures say about smart money management?

One biblical principle is to give the first 10% (a "tithe") or more of our income to the church. This honors God by actively promoting his purposes on earth and demonstrating our faith in him for meeting our needs. It's also a reminder that God can do more with the remaining 90% of our income than we can do with all of it. Another precept is to appreciate all that God has given us. If we foster an attitude of gratitude, we're unlikely to spend what we don't have on unaffordable material possessions that we don't really need in the first place. Next, we need to attack debt and anticipate tough times. This means developing a budget, spending less than we earn, paying off those credit cards (particularly the ones with sky-high interest rates) and setting money aside to cover unexpected expenses. Following these steps can help our savings accumulate little by little over time--especially when it earns compound interest.

Above all, we must be rich toward God and invest in the eternal. Saving for the future is obviously important. But let's also look for ways to put our money to work promoting God's interests. In addition to a weekly offering at Sunday worship, this might involve giving toward a special church initiative, supporting overseas missionaries or maybe even starting a community ministry. Whatever it is, ask God in prayer to show you what to do...and clear a path to let you do it. He knows our motivations and rewards those who honor Him:

"'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,'" says the Lord Almighty,"'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.'" 

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