I asked Jesus to be my lord and savior when I was about 10 years old. Thanks to my mom’s prodding, I went to Sunday school almost every week. Sometimes I rode with a friend and his mom, sometimes I walked, but I was there, learning that Jesus was the son of God, that He loved me, and that He died on a cross for my sins. One night, after talking to my mom about it, I prayed and made a personal commitment to Christ. Some people are overwhelmed with emotion when they come to Christ. Others don’t really feel anything earth shattering. As for me, I felt God’s love. It was a warm feeling of not being alone even though I was alone in my bedroom. The knowledge that He is always with me has continued to this day. I can never thank you enough Mom for giving me a foundation of faith in Christ. There is nothing more important.
I was blessed to be raised by a mom and dad who loved me and wanted the best for me. They taught me right from wrong, honesty and integrity. My dad instilled in me a strong work ethic through working with him in his painting business in the summers. I worked hard and we had a blast! They also taught me to handle money responsibly. I received an allowance for doing choirs when I was little. I worked in high school to pay for my car insurance and to have spending money. I worked my way through college as well. My parents would pay for the upcoming semester and I would work all semester to pay them back. Then we would do it again the next semester. After 4+ years, I had my bachelor’s degree, a sense of real accomplishment, and no student loans!
Listening to God
Single and two years out of college, I decided it was time to stop throwing my money away on rent and to purchase a small house or condo. It was a seller’s market to be sure. If you found something half way decent, you had to jump on it. Leaping before thorough consideration has never been my style, so I found myself standing in the living room of a condo that was within my price range totally unsure of what to do. I called out to God and asked Him point blank, “Should I buy this condo?” For the first time in my life, I felt God clearly directing me in what to do. I felt a very clear “Yes” and an incredible peace accompanied that answer. I knew it was the right thing to do. To this day, I will not make any significant decisions, financial or otherwise, without feeling God’s definitive peace about it.
Caught in the Debt Trap
My parents also taught me about the dangers of using credit cards. I distinctly remember my dad warning me about how easy it is to get in over your head with credit card debt. While I was careful and I knew not to let it get me, sure enough, a couple of years into my work career, I was $3,500 in debt! I was so frustrated with myself. How could I let this happen? I knew better.
A Pastor’s Challenge
Not long after moving into my new neighborhood, I started attending a church down the street. The pastor was a skilled Bible teacher. He made the biblical concepts easy to understand and was able to show how the Bible was relevant to everyday life. One Sunday, he was teaching on Tithing. He quoted from Malachi chapter 3 where God says to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. God says to test him in this and see if He won’t throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
The pastor was so sure that God would be faithful, that he offered a money back guarantee. He challenged the congregation to commit to tithing and, if after a year, we were not convinced that God had been faithful, the church would give back 100% of our giving. He didn’t guarantee monetary blessing, but he was convinced that God would bless and we wouldn’t regret our decision to tithe.
I was intrigued. I figured if he was that sure that God would bless me if I tithed, I had to give it a try. I decided not to take the money back guarantee from the church, but I committed to myself to start giving 10%. I knew that from a logical standpoint, this was not going to help me pay down the $3,500 I owed on my credit cards, but I believed that it was the God honoring thing to do. It would show God that I trusted Him.
From that decision on, God has blessed me in innumerable ways – financial and otherwise. A few years after my decision to tithe, God introduced me to my wife-to-be, right there in the same church pews where I made my tithing decision. God provided a way to pay off the credit card debt through an increase in some company stock that I had been trying to accumulate over several years. I had just enough to pay off the $3,500 plus accumulated interest. I knew that it was a bad idea to cash in the stock because it was highly likely that the stock would appreciate over the next several years. Yet I felt God wanted me to use it to pay off the debt. Soon after paying off the debt, the company took a major down turn and the stock became worth next to nothing in just a few short months! Had I kept it, I would have lost virtually all of the value. Listening to God about paying off the debt was clearly the right decision.
A few years after getting married, the Lord blessed us with a son. My wife and I felt that God was wanting us to home school him but there was no way we could afford for my wife to stop working. We took our desire before the Lord and asked Him, “Lord, if you want us to do this, will you make a way and confirm that it is from You?” We decided to go ahead and home school, even though we did not see how it could work financially. We took a leap of faith and my wife quit her job. Within one year of her quitting, I was promoted and received an additional raise beyond the promotion. When I calculated my income at the end of the year for tax purposes, I was astonished to find that my new pay was within $100 of my wife’s and my combined pay from the year before! God had indeed proven faithful and had confirmed that it was His desire for us to homeschool.
Several years later, we felt that we should do all that we could to pay off our mortgage. We had all of our other debts paid and we wanted to be completely debt free. We had purchased a home only a few years earlier and we still had 27 years left on a 30 year commitment. We had originally put 20%+ down to avoid mortgage insurance. Yet I could not see any way possible for us to pay it off anytime soon. But we trusted that God would bless our desire to pay it off, knowing that our desire was consistent with biblical principles. We started by adding to our monthly payments an amount that effectively converted our 30 year mortgage to a 20 year mortgage. Then, whenever possible, we made extra payments. Within the next few years, we were able to capitalize on falling interest rates by refinancing. And with successes at work and God’s amazing blessing, we were able to make a lump sum payment to pay off the balance just over 7 years after purchasing the home.
Passing on What I’ve Learned
I hear the statistics about the massive debt that the typical American carries. I see first-hand how employees have to dedicate more and more of their lives to their jobs to try to keep up with the lifestyles they are enslaved to – seeing less and less of their families. I read that 75% of Americans do not have 6 months of expenses saved for emergencies. It doesn’t have to be this way. God loves you. He has a plan for your life and a plan for managing money. I feel an obligation to pass on what God’s word says and what He has taught me.
How has God worked in your finances? Tell me your story. Thanks for reading and God bless you.
Check out the Biblical Money Principles archives.