What The Bible Says About Spending
Pastor Terry Inman
In the Inman clan we have a behavior we call the “Inman good deal gene”. It’s not good enough for us just to buy a good product we have to feel like we got a really good deal. Sometimes the good deal gene goes bad; we buy stuff we don’t need just because it’s such a deal.
Wednesday Pastor Jonathan, Pastor Dave and I stopped for quick lunch at the new Whole Foods Market. Now that’s a place to get good food but maybe not a good deal. Somebody nicknamed it the whole price market. Anyway I was trying to school these guys on how to go through the salad bar or the prepared food line and keep the cost down.
You pay by the weight. So I told them just to put light stuff in their box. I learned the hard way. Last week, Mary and I, thought the mashed potatoes looked really good. When we got to the register to pay for enough mashed potatoes for three it was over $10 bucks.
You can buy a whole bag of potatoes for less than that. It was more expensive than the few pieces of chicken we bought. I registered by complaint with the checker. He said, “Yea I learned my lesson I paid $15 bucks for mac and cheese last week. I won’t do that again.”
Today we are going to talk about spending. Spending is using up resources like energy, time or money. A couple weeks ago we talked about earning, that’s in income. Spending is outgo or expense.
Dave Ramsey, probably the most popular speaker and author on money management, has a top ten list of the things we Americans waste money on. It’s a little painful but worth some reflection. It may save you some cash. Bye the way his books and DVDs are on sale for $10 dollars right now. That’s less than mashed potatoes for three! Here’s the list.
1. Credit card interest: The only thing stupider than buying something you can’t afford is buying something you can’t afford at 15% to 29% interest. You don’t get jack for that extra money you fork over. That’s what credit card companies are charging right now. If you owe $15,000 dollars on credit cards right now, you’re a normal American. That’s right, the average credit card debt carried by American consumers has recently exceeded $15,000 so if you’ve used your plastic to overspend, and you’re definitely not alone. Christmas is not even here yet!
If you are weighted down with credit card debt let me suggest five things you can do right now.
(1) Stop the bleeding by paying cash only for what you can afford.
(2) Pay at least double the minimums that are typically 2 to 3% of the balance. Budget more cash to melt away that plastic debt!
(3) Transfer your balances to lower-interest card if you have good credit. A low introductory rate may be just what you need to get principal paid down before the interest rate goes back up.
(4) Look into consolidating your debts if you can get a loan that is lower than your cards.
(5) Get credit counseling. There are a lot of professionals that can help you and work with your creditors to reduce and manage debt.
2. Deal websites: Sign up for a free thirty-day trial supply of super-weight loss tablets. We just need a credit card number so we can charge you twice the price when you forget to cancel after the free trial.
3. Appetizers: (below the belt) Restaurants already have lunch and dinner portions so big you need a box to bring home the leftovers. Why pay an extra six bucks to get something that will take up more room in your stomach before the main meal is even brought out?
4. ATM fees: When we use a bank that is not ours, they charge us. Then our bank charges us again. Don’t think it’s just a couple bucks here and there. It adds up, and don’t even get me started on the overdraft fees that result from bounced checks. Speaking of which…
5. Overdraft fees: This may sound harsh but Ramsey says, “For these, there’s just no excuse. If you add correctly and spend less than you make, you’ll never pay a dime of overdraft fees. Fees result from sloppiness, pure and simple.
6. Speedy shipping: Seriously? Do we think that book or those clothes we ordered online will solve our life’s problems to the point that we can’t wait a week or two for a package to arrive? With priority shipping, the only thing that moves faster than the package is money moving out of your account.
7. Designer baby clothes: Why do we spend $25 on a “Feed me, or no one Sleeps” T-shirt that is three minutes away from being covered with breakfast? On top of that, they’ll wear it two or three times before outgrowing it. (OK mommies I didn’t write this, it’s Dave Ramsey)
8. Unused gym memberships: How is it that so many people join a health club around the New Year resolving to lose weight, and there are so many empty treadmills come January 15? Unlike the commitment, the monthly dues don’t stop. You can run around the block for free!
9. Premium cable packages: We do not watch 90% of the channels that are on, and there’s good reason. They’re another language and the rest is trash. I just have basic cable and I’m not sure it’s worth it.
10. Daily coffee trips: Back before Starbucks populated every street corner, we drank home brew. If you need the caffeine to get your heart thumping–just take a look how much money you dish out in a month for a daily double Iced Hazelnut Macchiato. For the average Starbucks generation, (18-24) year old, it’s a whopping $24.76 a week. The average American downs a $1,000 bucks a year, about what it cost to commute to work. But then we need to caffeine to make the commute?
I got an email in the other day that says the next one is on us. Well I hope so -- I spent about $40 bucks to earn it. I’m a coffee snob. Most of the time I drink my own home brew! Besides I make better cappuccinos!
OK we do need to take a look at your own budget and see where our hard earned cash might be getting away from us. It can happen easier than you think. Money has wings. Prov. 23:5 says, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”
Money talks. Where and how we spend our money says a lot about us, and what we value. Isaiah questioned, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare” Isa. 55:2 (NIV).
Spending according to this prophet never satisfies the soul. In fact if not checked some develop an unhealthy spending addiction. We make jokes about shopaholics but it’s a series problem. We live in a consumer culture. We are constantly bombarded with messages that success is how we dress, what we drive, where we live, what we have. Too be really cool we have to have all the designer stuff, simple is not enough.
Here are some signs of a serious spending problem. Habitually spending over budget. The normal person especially a believer should be able to discern what they can afford and how much is appropriate to spend on something. But addictive spenders refuse to recognize the boundaries of a reasonable budget. Compulsive spending is shopping for one pair of shoes and coming home with ten.
Chronic spending is not a shopping spree but a continuous cycle of overspending. Shopaholics like other life controlling behaviors hide the problem. They may have secret credit card accounts. This kind of excessive spending can impair relationships. The deception can cause divorce. How do you know if this is your problem? This issue is control. Who is in control? Are you in control of your spending or is your spending in control of you? Jesus can heal this addiction just like any other.
For some of us spending is connected to our identity. We keep up with the Jones for acceptance. Spending can be idolatrous, materialism.
Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Luke 12:32-34 (NIV).
A look at our bank statement will quickly reveal where our hearts are. Spending habits speak volumes about our real values. A couple of brothers were in a dispute over an inheritance. So one of them ask Jesus to make the other one pay up.
Jesus who know the heart man said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” Luke 12.15 (NIV). Then Jesus illustrated his point with a story about a prosperous farmer who confused material wealth with real life. The farmer harvested a bumper crop and didn’t have enough room to store it. So he tore down his old barns and built bigger ones. That makes sense. But it was his motivation that was the problem.
The successful farmer said, “I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry” Luke 12.19 (NIV). He confused material values with spiritual values. In the original language he essentially says, because my barns are fat my soul is fat. Actually his soul was empty. Jesus ends the parable with a rebuke.
“You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” Luke 12.20- 21 (NIV).
Spending for life’s necessities is fine. God wants to meet our needs, but when we equate our happiness and personal fulfillment with spending on excessive pleasure and possessions we become spiritually impoverished.
When we put God first with our finances he not only meets our needs but he gives us the right values. Our culture has made things that used to be considered luxuries necessities. "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" James 4:3 (NIV). Ask God to give you his shopping-list!
So let me close with a few spending priorities.
Devote the first ten percent your spending (the tithe) to God by giving through your local church. Then watch God bless the rest!
"Honor GOD with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over” Prov. 3.9-10 (NIV).
Next be prepared to spend some time and recourses on people with legitimate needs. “If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” Is. 58.10 (NIV).
My son Jason is now in the Philippines with Convoy of Hope. I sent him this scripture and he said as I read it my eyes are wet!
This is also the kind of spending that honors God. “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” Prov. 14:31(NIV).
Next pay all of your contracted and committed obligations before spending on discretionary things; such things as mortgage or rent, car payments, taxes and other installment payments. These are legal and moral commitments we have made that God expects us to keep.
The bible says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another” Rom. 13.8 (NIV). This is not a prohibition on installment borrowing, but an admonition to say current.
Budget for food, clothing and other household living essentials. This is where we need to exercise more discipline. Eating out is easier but in most cases costlier. I’m not saying don’t do it but stay in our means. The Inman good deal gene is always on the lookout for healthy and inexpensive restaurants. My wife’s favorite designer clothing store is Thrift Town! It might be last year’s cool labels but she finds quality stuff.
Entertainment, leisure and pleasure are last on our spending priorities. The problem with our culture it this is too often the first. “He who loves pleasure will become poor” Prov. 21.17 (NIV). We need some family fun, rest and recreation but life is more than working for the weekends. We don’t live for pleasure we live for God’s purpose!
So let me wrap this up by quoting Isaiah the prophet one more time. Here’s the message version. Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest.
“Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love” Is. 55 (MSG).
Money can’t buy the love God has given us. No spending will ever satisfy our deepest longings. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ” 1 Peter 1.18-19 (NIV). Jesus spent his whole life on us!