Remember that old advertisement, "Got Milk?" I thought I would use it to get your attention; it seemed to read better than "Got More Month than Money?"
Ginny is doing a series on finances with the Women's Bible Study at Church For All Nations and our Pastor is doing a series on finances as well this year. This seems to be a common theme and one which we all really need to get "right."
We just recently took a trip back to Kansas to visit my parents over Christmas, and our son Craig drove us to the airport. Ginny asked Craig how he was doing on his "budget" and he made a positive comment about it. I also made a comment of something to the effect that "it's really great not to have to worry about having enough money to take care of the bills each month." Craig's comment was "yeah"!
Ginny and I couldn't always say that because we struggled with our finances just like most people do. What turned it around for us was when we started using Larry Burkett's budgeting system. In the beginning, we did everything by hand and now Ginny uses a computer accounting package to track our monthly budget.
The point of my column this quarter is not about tithing but rather about being a good steward with that other 90% God has given us responsibility for. I am not trying to steal our pastor's thunder in this issue because this is his theme for the year. But this is probably one of the most important things we can ever do for Christ besides accepting Him as our Lord and Savior.
Why is it so important to have a budget? In my opinion without one, you have no idea how well you are doing as one of God's stewards. Remember the story of the "talents" in Matthew?
Matt 25:15-29: "To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.' "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.' "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' "His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. "Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. (NIV)
To me, the key to this passage is "each according to his ability ." God wants us all to be successful and vibrant Christians. He has set aside many blessings for us and they are just "waiting on us." To receive those blessings, we have to prove that we are good stewards of what God has already given us before He will entrust us with more or give us witty ideas to become wealthy.
Even while our children were young and unmarried, Ginny and I always tried to instill in them the importance of a budget. The objection we normally got was that "I have so little. I don't need a budget to monitor it." The main purpose of a budget is not to monitor what we have, the main purpose of the budget is to discipline ourselves to work with what we have. If you do that well, you will spend the money God has given you according to a plan and not to the whims of your flesh. This, I believe, is what God meant when he said, "You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things."
To be worthy of wealth, we need to prove ourselves first. God will bless you with more when He knows you can handle what you have.