MONEY: 7 Principles to Live By

Genesis 41

We’re just about half way through our ELEVATE teaching series, where we’ve been looking at the life of Joseph in Genesis. If you’ve missed any of them, I encourage you to go back and read through my blog posts from the past few weeks about the first few self-assessments we’ve walked through: EVALUATION, VISION, INTEGRITY and FAITH. Today, we’ll turn our attention to the self-assessment that is the #1 issue plaguing many people today: MONEY.

We’re not talking about about how much money we have, but what we do with what we have. Are we following God’s “Money Management Principles?” It shouldn’t surprise us that God’s view on money matters is very different than man’s. Besides Jesus and Solomon, I believe Joseph speaks the most thoroughly about God’s view on money in the Bible, so let’s take a look at this topic together as lived out in Joseph’s life.

Experts repeatedly say that it’s not only a lack of finances that’s a problem for so many people, but the mismanagement of finances that’s at the core of the issue. Here are some startling statistics:

  • 78% of people live paycheck to paycheck.
  • 57% have no written plan or budget.
  • 50% of people say they are fearful about their financial well-being.
  • 24% of Millennials demonstrate only a basic financial literacy.
  • 44% of people have no emergency fund.
  • 43% of student loan borrowers are not making payments.
  • 38% of people have credit card debt, with the average debt being $16,000 at 16.47% interest rate.
  • 33% have saved zero for retirement, and 56% have saved less than $10,000.

Most Americans don’t know where they are with their finances, nor where they are going. Thankfully, the Lord provides a lot of guidance about how to manage our money! There are over 800 scriptures in the Bible that deal with money. Two-thirds of the parables Jesus told were about money, more than Heaven and Hell combined. That goes to show the importance of this topic, and Joseph gives us some great principles to use as a guide.

1:  DEPENDENCE: RELY ON GOD

  • Joseph practiced the principle of dependence. He lived his life relying on God. Notice:
    • Genesis 41:16: I cannot do it…but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.
    • Genesis 41:25,28: …God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.
    • Genesis 41:38: Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?
  • Throughout Scripture we are encouraged to rely on God in all things, at all times:
    • Proverbs 3:5,6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
    • Psalm 46:1-3, 7, 10-11: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Vs. 7—The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Vs. 10-11—Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
    • 2 Corinthians 1:9: Do not rely on yourself…rely on God.

Joseph relied on God in every area of his life. Through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, he knew famine and hard times were coming – and he relied on God. Maybe you’re going through financial hard times. Rely on God!

2:  ACCOUNTING: KNOW THE FACTS

  • Joseph relied on God and interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, revealing specific facts about what was to come. What must be done was clear to Joseph.
    • There a lot of things we can know and need to know to make wise decisions about our finances.
    • Once we know what needs to be done, we need to be disciplined and make a plan – and follow it!
  • Pharaoh had a dream; so do we. We all dream to be financially solvent, independent, debt free, prepared for emergencies and prepared for the future. We know the facts, but what are we doing to create a plan and then follow it with extreme discipline? Scripture talks to us about preparation and discipline over and over:
    • Proverbs 27:23,24 (LB): Riches can disappear fast…so watch your business interests closely. Know the state of your flocks.
    • Proverbs 23:23 (LB): Get the facts at any price.
  • We need to know at least four things about the state of our finances:
    • What we owe
    • What we own
    • What we earn
    • Where it goes

Joseph was wise. He knew the facts and made a plan, also known as a b-u-d-g-e-t (a word most people say with dread). Startlingly, 57% of people have no written plan or budget. Don’t be in this number! Emulate Joseph and make a plan so that the level of your finances can be elevated.

3:  SAVING: PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE

  • According to Dave Ramsey, only 1 in 10 are saving sufficiently for retirement and a full 50% are not saving at all. The average personal savings rate is 5.6%, about half of what the experts recommend. And yet, the Bible tells us to save!
    • Proverbs 21:20a(LB): The wise man saves for the future…
    • Proverbs 13:11: …but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.
    • Proverbs 6:6-8: Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

4:  CONTENTMENT: BE WISE WITH DEBT

  • Statistics say that 50% of Americans worry or are fearful about money. One of the main reasons is excessive debt. Debt robs you of contentment and joy, and a lack of contentment drives you to more debt. We need to establish priorities based on need not want, and live with contentment, not more debt. In Genesis 41:53-57, Joseph demonstrates the power of priorities. No one can have everything, so make a list of your priorities and don’t try to keep up with the Joneses – because the Joneses are most likely leveraged to the hilt!
  • We live in a culture built on instant gratification: buy now, pay later. This mindset is not biblical and it causes enormous problems.
    • Look at this definition of a Death Grip: an extremely tight grip, hold.
    • That’s not dissimilar from my definition of a Debt Grip: an extremely tight grip, hold.
      • A Debt Grip produces anxiety, stress, tension, fear, bondage, and kills joy.
    • Proverbs 22:7: The borrower is the servant to the lender.
      • When we borrow we obligate ourselves. Too much borrowing imprisons, enslaves and confines.
  • Not all debt is equally bad. Romans 13:8 says, ”Let no debt remain outstanding (owe no many anything).”  This means to pay your bills on time!
    • Most of us cannot buy a house without a mortgage.
    • Investing in your education for a job that will earn you enough to pay off your student loan fast is a good investment.
    • Consumer credit, credit card debt, auto loans…that’s where the problems lie for most people.
      • Proverbs 21:17 (GN): Indulging in luxuries, wine and rich food will never make you wealthy.
      • Hebrews 13:5: Be content with what you have…
      • Phillipians 4:11,12: …I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, ether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
      • I Timothy 6:6: Godliness with contentment is great gain.

5:  BUDGETING: SPEND INTELLIGENTLY

  • Look at Genesis 41:39-44. Joseph put together a budget essentially stipulating they would only spend 80% of their income. Budgeting is biblical.
    • Proverbs 21:5 (GN): Plan carefully and you will have plenty, if you act too quickly, you will never have enough.
    • Proverbs 21:20 (GN): …stupid people spend their money as fast as they get it.
  • What’s your giving goal? What is your savings goal?
    • Pay God first.
    • Save second.
    • Live on the rest.
  • The 60/10/10/10 plan is one example of a plan to consider. Remember, it’s important to evaluate your situation and make a plan (emulate) that’s workable for you:
    • 60% Living expenses
    • 10% Tithe
    • 10% Savings
    • 10% Extra debt reduction or savings
    • 10% Extra giving

6:  HARD WORK: BE INDUSTRIOUS

  • Joseph was a mover and shaker. He was incredibly industrious.
    • At age 30, he was in charge of Egypt. Not an assignment for the weak of heart.
    • As second in command to Pharaoh and the person in charge of crisis economics, he had to hustle to cover all the bases.
    • He built newer and bigger barns, meeting the needs of the people. He was a busy man to be sure.
  • Our work is one of our greatest assets. Dive into it! Look at what the Bible says about hard work:
    • Colossians 3:17: And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…
    • Colossians 3:23: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.
    • Proverbs 10:4: Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.
    • Proverbs 10:5(MSG): Make hay while the sun shines—that’s smart; go fishing during harvest—that’s stupid.
    • Proverbs 13:4: Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper and be satisfied.

Work is good. It’s an expression of our worship and gratitude to God for health and strength. It’s an opportunity for us to be a blessing and make a difference. So work hard and be industrious, like Joseph!

7:  GIVING: HONOR GOD FIRST

  • Joseph honored God with the resources that were placed in his care. This is called stewardship and the Bible tells us we are to be good stewards.
  • God wants us to be fruitful. We are to honor God with our resources the same way Joseph did. Joseph took care of the people, which honored God.
  • Joseph blessed God’s work. We call that tithing.
  • Giving is an expression of worship and an expression of the heart. Warren Buffett said, “Money is NOT the root of all evil. Money reveals your inner character. Were you a jerk before money? You’ll be a bigger one with money. Were you a kind person before money? You’ll be kinder one with money. Money doesn’t make you, it exposes you.” How you deal with money speaks to the matter of the heart.
    • Proverbs 3:9-10 (LB): Honor the Lord by giving Him the first part of all of your income, and He will fill your barns to overflow.
    • Matthew 6:33: Seek first the Kingdom of God.
    • Proverbs 22:9: A generous man will himself be blessed.
  • We need to leverage what we have for God and others. Randy Alcorn said, “God prospers me not to increase my standard of living, but rather my standard of giving.” How do we give?
    • GENEROUSLY – 2 Corinthians 9:6: Whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
    • CHEERFULLY – 2 Corinthians 9:7: God loves a cheerful giver.
    • PURPOSEFULLY – 2 Corinthians 9:7: Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give…
    • PERSONALLY – I Corinthians 16:2: Each one of you should set aside a sum of money…
    • SYSTEMATICALLY – I Corinthians 16:2: On the first day of every week…
    • REGULARLY – I Corinthians 16:2: On the first day of the week…
    • PROPORTIONATELY – I Corinthians 16:2: …In keeping with his income
    • SACRIFICIALLY – 2 Corinthians 8:3: They gave as much as the were able, and even beyond their ability.
  • Giving includes your tithes and your offerings.
    • Tithe: See Malachi 3:10; Matthew 23:23
    • Offerings: See 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 and invest in something that will far outlive you.

Here’s a word to the wise: “Do your giving while you’re living, then you’ll be knowing where it’s going.” Let’s face it, the subject of money is not always a topic people get excited about evaluating in their lives. But with Joseph as our guide, we can first evaluate where we are, then emulate his tremendous example and make a biblically-based plan, then we will be elevated to the level of living that the Lord intends for each of us.