A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his path ~ Proverbs 16:9
I have not accomplished many of the things I planned for my life. But that is just it. It used to be all about: Me. Years ago, I was looking to make my mark in the world but wasn’t too concerned about sharing my faith, living a Word-led life, or being in a project that may make a mark with the Gospel. But this is not the only thing God has refocused. I’ll share a few more regarding my finances.
Buying a Home
My husband and I were, at one point, planning to get a home through means that I now believe Christians should avoid. My husband didn’t want to get a house with loan debt either. We also stay away from other long-term contracts, like rent-to-own homes (James 4:13-15). We would only consider this route if an easy-out exit clause is included and it’s a good deal, which is rare. Currently, we do month-to-month rentals or rentals with an exit clause. If we have the money, we would also pay a 6-month lease in full and just lose some money if we need to leave. Keep in mind that we’re location independent, so we can always find low-cost rent for a few hundred dollars. (Update: As of 2021, we no longer rent but own.)
For a home, God planted something else in my heart. We’re working towards owning a few free & clear properties. We plan to lend some land to the Trinity Phix ministry for sessions and gatherings. Now, I don’t know when this will happen. I know it may take me longer to achieve certain goals, but this nurtures patience and builds endurance. Why do we always try to rush things anyway?
I also know that my value does not lie in a house or any possession I have–but in Christ. And as this battle boils within, God simmers the struggle with Truth. Whatever my current shelter is, whether it’s a house, an apartment, a motel, car, van, RV, tent, cardboard box, or under His sun & moon, I’m at peace with that. I know that my true home is not on this earth. And no matter where I am, I have God, so I am always home.
Wise Saving & Investing?
In the world, you will find there are many ways to invest and/or save your money (Proverbs 6:6-8). You could simply get a traditional savings account, opt-in or opt-out of your employer’s retirement plan, or get an IRA. You can invest in mutual funds, bonds, treasury notes, stocks, real estate or startups, etc. Of course, my financial plans and goals included some of this because this is what the world teaches. The Holy Spirit told me to be cautious and Biblically discerning while treading here. First, I must remember that my money is not really mine. It’s God’s (Psalm 24:1). And I should be picky about who I partner with to grow this seed money. 2 Corinthians 6:14 definitely fits here.
Consider banks and other lenders, for example. These entities exploit the poor and deepen people’s debt (Proverbs 22:22-23). We should be merciful (Luke 6:36). But even if they weren’t like that, why would I seek to invest God’s money with unbelievers to grow it? We are commanded to pay taxes to the world (Mark 12:17), but partnering with unbelievers to grow money means we are unequally yoked. This includes a worldly savings account. Besides, Christ followers should be involved with lending that seeks nothing in return (Luke 6:34-35)(Matthew 5:42).
Some people use scriptures such as Deuteronomy 23:20 or Matthew 25:27 to justify lending at interest to heathens for business purposes, but we must handle the Word properly. Using the parable means we’re inferring on the Word and taking it out of context. And, Deuteronomy 23:20 has been fulfilled with Luke 6:34-35. A simple tip to put pieces together is to remember that Old testament laws that refer to Christ-followers will also be commanded in the New Testament. Now, Jesus commanded us to lend even to our enemies expecting nothing in return. Adding “except for business purposes” is adding to what He said. People get scripturally creative when they want to keep doing what they’re doing. We must be humble enough to admit that some of us are naturally greedy. We like to copy the world and don’t want to miss out on any money, but the Word doesn’t mold to our lives; it’s the opposite. Jesus said what he said plainly. It’s not confusing. Truth is, even if one wants to cancel out what Christ said with Deuteronomy 23:20, when it comes to lenders, we know they will definitely lend to poor Christians at interest. In that very passage, we see it was prohibited for God followers to burden believers with interest. So, it’s still wrong to seek profit from an entity that would even do that to Christ followers.
Let’s not even talk about what some institutions do with people’s money as it increases. Depending on your lifestyle, some things you might not be able to escape, like having a regular non-interest bearing checking account–though Islamic institutions could be a better option as they do not operate like a bank. For example, they don’t lend at interest or invest in unethical industries. Some Christians are beginning to put their money in these institutions and use their service.
Just consider that there is a difference between simply using a service or buying something because you need it and actively partnering with a company in the business sense to profit. For example, one may not yolk themselves with a business by buying stock in the company but may buy property from the entity (or may even work for the business = providing a service). No union there. You simply bought something for sale, and the transaction is done. Now, some people are even picker regarding who they buy from. I understand that. However, we do live in a flawed world. Just like we have to pay taxes for stuff we may not agree with, sometimes, we may have to buy food from, work for, or use a service of people we don’t agree with, but we definitely know we should not partner with unbelievers in business and for investing purposes.
A Few Things I do Now
My husband and I live debt-free lives. We are slowly building some earthly wealth (Proverbs 13:11). We’ve simplified our life, so our expenses are low. If God allows excess–because sometimes he doesn’t provide more — > (Matthew 6:24-34)(1 Timothy 6:8)(Philippians 4:12-13)–the rest of the money is for giving, investing, and we try to keep a little in reserve. We are increasing our knowledge to become more self-sufficient. We try to make the few purchases we make count. We aim to not waste money on things that will depreciate.
If we need clothes or shoes, which is rare, we usually buy secondhand high-quality items made of natural materials (linen, wool, leather, fur, & silk). These are healthier than fake materials, even if the production process was not perfect. High-quality items usually last longer as well. Occasionally, we may buy from an indie designer who uses natural fabrics and dyes. Newly-made clothing is said to have a higher vibration. Or, we might occasionally hire a freelance seamstress to bring our designs to life if we can’t do it.
A chunk of things we buy should naturally appreciate or at least maintain value if we ever need to liquidate some assets–except for a few electronics and house items.
By “worldly” standards, I’m not thriving financially. But I am according to the Word because I have beyond the basic needs. Need is based on God’s standards, so this means raiment and food (1 Timothy 6:8). Thankfully, God has allowed me to have much more. My cup runneth over (Psalm 23:5). Putting things into perspective means my time isn’t consumed by chasing money (Proverbs 23:4). My primary goal is to meet basic expenses, and God willing, have something leftover to help others. If you can understand this simple truth, you’ll discover that you don’t need much.
As developed societies promote impatience, hoarding, comfort, greed, fear, health idolatry, and ‘keeping up with the joneses,’ I strive to not let the world guide my life. I am always cautious of the world’s offerings because I don’t want to be deceived.
And there are many Christian-friendly ways to build wealth for your family & to help others (Galatians 4:1)(2 Corinthians 12:14)(Ephesians 4:28). Of course, some options could serve multiple purposes. As you filter through your choices with the Word and Holy Spirit, consider old and new methods to diversify (Ecclesiastes 11:2):
> Physical gold
> Fine wine
> Certain real estate
> Fine gemstones/crystals
> Simplify your life /w excess save + invest
> Build a few financial streams
> Get a few passive streams going
> Partner with like-minded Christians
> Start a business or buy one
> Keep some valuables in a buried, immovable safe
> Digital assets (buy websites, domains, cryptocurrency, etc)
> Other collectibles
One will have to do some work, research, and due diligence for most of the options above. But we can do okay without yoking with unbelievers or participating in interest. For example, some people leave gold to their heirs (Galatians 4:1)(Proverbs 13:22)(2 Corinthians 12:14). They use it as an inflation hedge. If you bought 20 oz. of gold in 2001 for $5420, it’s worth $27,860 in 2019. It appreciates slowly. Yes, you have to shop around for a good price and have to consider the capital gain tax if you decide to sell for some reason (unless you put physical gold in a Gold IRA or lower your tax bracket). You’re still growing money. There’s no need to be greedy. If Christians live wisely and trust God, living without a lot of money happens naturally. I’m learning to depend on God, not myself.
Real estate is where many people build wealth, though we have to be quite discerning in this area as well. Now a days, it can be more risky with climate change. I know that many of these options are not too liquid and worldly financial advisors may not agree, but I don’t care. My concern is doing what aligns with the Word–not doing what the world or worldly Christians tell me is wise.
True Wealth is Spiritual
Just remember that if your faith lies in Jesus Christ earthly stuff should be held loosely (Luke 12:15). We know that our treasure is not in temporal things (Matthew 6:19-21). Followers of Christ are more concerned with Spiritual wealth than earthly wealth, which is one reason we live simple lives. Physical simplicity allows us to luxuriate in our spirituality.
Christians don’t hoard wealth out of selfishness, worry, or fear (James 5:1-6)(Matthew 6:24-34)(Luke 12:18-21, 33,34). For those who God allows a bounty (which could start at or below many countries’ “poverty” level for some people), he is doing so so that you can give it to others in need, not to keep for yourself to live in pleasure (1 Timothy 5:6) (Ephesians 4:28)(2 Corinthians 9) (Luke 3:11). Sadly, many Christians are rich but don’t know it because they are tricked by the world concerning “true need.” So, they hoard unknowingly.
Money should not control us as it does unbelievers. We strive to build wealth to meet our financial obligations and to help others, and leave the rest in God’s hands because we trust him with our lives.
I was living in my world thinking my financial plans & goals were Good. Thankfully, with Biblical reflection and study, I was able to gain clarity on this.
And, of course, God continues this filtering process as I am constantly evolving. And it’s not always this beautiful experience that emits a pleasant fragrance in the air. Sometimes it stinks. It stinks because, sometimes, I just don’t like what God says. But, I am letting go of my plans and goals, allowing what I learn in the Scriptures to work in me and guide me. I am truly thankful He has God-centered my self-centered financial plans.
We have many choices in life, but our choice can either honor God or not. I can admit there were many times in my life that I was doing my own thing. But now, at least, I know I’m striving to live a pure life.
I’m glad that even our selfish plans work into His Plan as we’re constantly growing and make mistakes unknowingly. I just fear that, at times, some of us do not listen to what the Word & the Holy Spirit says because it interferes with our plans. And, if you allow your flesh or the world to guide you, then you are not serving God–but the enemy.