This post is written by contributing writer, Sarah.
I have a nerd-alert confession to make. I have kept a budget for my money since I was probably around thirteen years old, after I heard my Sunday School teacher talk about the importance of giving and stewarding our money for God. I took this lesson to heart, and started an envelope system for the money I received. I wrote church-10% on one, savings-25% on another, gifts-20% on a third and so on.
One day my mom saw me dividing my money up and asked what I was doing. When I showed her my envelopes, and how much money I had, she decided it was time that I opened up a savings account. So I transferred my envelope system to a written journal system very similar to the excel spreadsheet I use today. It hasn’t always been easy or perfect, but it has been better than not having a budget at all.
You might ask, Sarah aren’t we as Christians suppose to fear money and devote ourselves to spiritual riches instead? Why would we want to devote time to counting every dollar we own? Good question!
In Matthew 6:24 we read,
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (NLT).
I don’t believe this verse is saying that we should not account for the money we have. I think it is saying we should not let the love of wanting money and wanting more money be our focus in our life. If the thought of gaining more money or hoarding the money we have is foremost in everything we do, then we have allowed money to become our master and not God. If you find that you are obsessed with hoarding your money for your own selfish wants and not to provide for your church, family and those in need, you might want to consider if you love God or money more. You need to look at the money you have as a way to glorify God, not yourself. Believe me this is so hard to do in our consumer market driven society! Let’s just say the fashion industry knows what I like to hear.
At the same time, Proverbs 6:6-11 stresses that we should not be lazy in our attempts to provide for ourselves. Thinking that it will honor God to not make or save money, so we don’t appear to be money worshipers is not true. In fact we are warned in 1 Timothy 5:8 that not providing for our families is a denial of our faith and worse than an unbeliever!
Also, we should not unwisely monitor our money and flippantly spend it whether we have money to spend or not. Jesus warns us against this in the parable of the dishonest steward in Luke 16:1-3, saying that “if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” (NLT)
When I speak of doing a budget, I speak about accounting for the money God has blessed me with, so I know what money I have to support my church, family and those in need. I want to be the trustworthy type mentioned in Luke 16: 1-13 not like the cheating steward who thinks only of his needs and cannot be trusted with the riches of heaven. I want to be able to “sow generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7) to help those around me and bring glory to God. I cannot do that without knowing how much money I have and where I am spending it.
So, how do I do this? I account for every dollar I make and spend, so I know exactly how much money I have, what I have been doing with that money, and what I am able to do with that money. How do I keep track? Tomorrow, I’ll explain my budget plan in detail!