We all know we probably should prepare a budget and try balancing it. Yet, according to Gallup in a new poll released just last week, only one third of Americans actually prepare a detailed household budget. Even fewer prepare a long-term financial plan outlining their savings and investment goals in detail.
The Church has seen a lot of training on the topic of finances in the last few decades, some full of biblical wisdom and some, not so much. Yet still we struggle to find the secret as much as the rest of the world.
But the secret to balancing your budget isn’t really a secret at all — or at least it shouldn’t be. The secret lies in how we think about our wealth.
It’s All His Anyways
One of the first mistakes we make is thinking that our wealth, all our stuff, actually belongs to us in the first place. Because we think it’s all ours — or at least 90% ours — we use it as we see fit. But the psalmist says otherwise, “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof.” (Ps. 24:1)
When we begin thinking biblically about what we have, we move quickly to the reason we have it in the first place:
Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first-fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Prov. 3:9-10)
We worship God by how we use the stuff he has given us to steward. Put another way, balancing your budget can bring honor to God if done in keeping with his wisdom and instruction. How different might our mindset be on financial matters if we would view it all as a sacred stewardship that actively promotes the glory of our Creator!
But the wisdom from Proverbs doesn’t stop there. The command isn’t just to honor God with what we have, but with what we are in the process of receiving — the “first-fruits” of all that is being produced. It’s not just a call to honor God with what we presently have, but with the best of what He is giving us.
Responding to such a call takes forethought and planning on our part. In the agrarian culture of that biblical era, it would have meant being sure you could get into the fields for the harvest, that you had a team ready to do the work, and that you could transport and store the increase effectively to facilitate the actual offering of it to God.
In our culture today, balancing your budget and sound financial planning might be a more appropriate tools. Yet the end must be the same; otherwise, we risk giving meaningless lip-service to God on Sundays when we mumble through the refrain, “In all I do, I honor you.”
Because we recognize our wealth and finances as an opportunity to honor God, we must think differently and plan accordingly. Winging it just doesn’t cut it with the Almighty.
Balancing Your Budget as Spiritual Warfare
The secret to balancing your budget then comes down to how you think about it. If you see it as a chore imposed upon you by bill collectors and the IRS, you might be one of the two-thirds of Americans who just never get intentional about where the money goes. But if you see it as a spiritual exercise intended to honor the King of Kings who loaned you all your stuff in the first place, everything changes. Or at least it should.
The bottom line is that we are engaged in spiritual warfare, no less in the financial realm than in any other.
At its core, every battle worth fighting is a spiritual battle. ~ Eric Metaxas
So what are you going to do about it? Maybe planning and balancing your budget based on the biblical principles of living generously is a good place to start.