Why Following Christ = Better Money Management

by Joe Plemon on June 18, 2010

Jesus never sugar coated his message – rather than inviting any and all to follow him, he consistently spurned those who weren’t willing to lay their very lives on the line. Because following Jesus meant embarking on a life of sacrifice and suffering, there was no place for half – hearted commitments. It had to be all or none.

Some examples:

  • Mat 10:38-39 “Whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me doesn’t deserve to be my disciple. The person who tries to preserve his life will lose it, but the person who loses his life for me will preserve it.”
  • Mat 16:24  “Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how.”
  • Mat 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what God approves of. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
  • Luk 14:28 “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”
  • Mat 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
  • Php 1:29 “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.”

You get the idea. But what does all of this suffering have to do with our finances? Follow along with me here. I believe that personal finance is more about fiber then formula. Crunching the numbers is an exercise in futility unless one has the fortitude to follow through. “Taking up one’s cross” or “losing one’s life” or “embracing suffering” are qualities of radical people: those of intense focus and willingness to sacrifice for a cause. The one who meets Christ’s criteria as a follower is one who also has the backbone to manage his money well.

He will think before buying.

Jesus insisted on potential followers to think about their decisions before acting. This person is not going to impulse on a bass boat or leather sofa. He will think it through.

He will count the cost.

Jesus commanded his followers to count the cost. One who is a cost counter is not going to purchase anything that does not fit within his budget and his lifestyle. That new car or European vacation will not be an issue for someone who knows how to count costs.

“Disciple” means discipline.

One who chooses to be a disciple of Christ has committed himself to live a disciplined life: a life of order, not chaos. A disciplined person will create a budget and live by it. He will balance his checkbook and will not make unplanned expenditures.

He will sacrifice for the short term to win for the long term.

While Jesus demanded total sacrifice, he also pointed out the reward: the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are persecuted for doing what God approves. (Mat 5:10)

Those who live by this rule are those who will give up eating out for the short term in order to get out of debt. They will get rid of the $25,000 car that is sucking their budget dry. They will temporarily take on a second job, knowing that the extra effort today will pay dividends tomorrow. In short, those who give all for Christ will likewise be willing to sacrifice their life styles in order to win with their finances for the long term.

Concluding thoughts

I realize that my premise (following Jesus = good money management) is an ideological one. In real life, Christians seem to have as many financial difficulties as those who do not follow Christ. But do these problems disprove my hypothesis? I think not…the failure with finances, I believe, is rooted in failure to follow Jesus in the manner he demands.

I know in my own life, when my finances go adrift, my spiritual life is likewise becoming unanchored. When I put Jesus in his proper place, my finances will start to fall into place.

Creative Commons License photo credit: kelsey_lovefusionphoto

How about you? Do you agree that following Christ helps your financial life go better? Why or why not?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason @ Redeeming Riches June 18, 2010 at 6:59 am

Joe, I think you are right on. Something that we often forget as believers is that following him = surrender. We surrender everything, including our finances.

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Joe June 18, 2010 at 8:24 am

Isn’t communism the true Christian financial way?

All that believed were together, and had all things in common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
(Acts 2:44-45)

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
(Acts 4:34-37)

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joeplemon June 18, 2010 at 9:57 am

@Jason,
Yes, surrender is the key word. When we give everything to Jesus, our finances will begin to fall into place.

@Joe,
You make a good point. It all depends on how one defines communism. One dictionary definition is, “A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people.”

The HUGE difference between the first century Christians and modern communism is the word “voluntary”. Christians are to be generous and care for the underprivileged, but always in a framework of individually volunteering. No one forced the early church members to share things in common; they did so out of love and of seeing real needs. Modern communism requires authoritarian control by the government. Forced commonality removes love from the equation.

Volunteerism vs authoritarian control … huge difference.

By the way, thanks for the thoughtful comment. I may need to write a post on this topic.

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joeplemon June 18, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Carol,
Wasn’t the first sentence in Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life” something like, “It is not about you.”?

You captured the essence of this post by saying, “It’s all for HIS glory.” But a full life is one that honors God no matter what. That is why Jesus would not accept a less than total commitment.

By the way, don’t think because I write a challenging post that I think I have it all together. I am challenging myself as I write.

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Khaleef @ KNS Financial June 18, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Great post. Many of us (Christians) will follow God’s commands regarding money up to a point. Then we embrace the world’s system – sometimes without even knowing it.

We should all see to honor the Lord with our finances and consult His word before making any moves!

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Arthur @ FinancialBondage.org June 20, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Checkbooks don’t lie. You can look at someones checkbook, and you can tell tons about that person. Including what the condition of their spiritual life is like.

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Barry Wallace June 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Excellent thoughts, Joe. Thanks for contributing this to the christian carnival.

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