Money matters. You’ve already noticed it matters to people. People are judged by how much they own, how much they make, and what they spend. No doubt you’ve already noticed that some people handle money and for some people their money handles them. Money matters a lot to people, but you also need to know it matters to God. Jesus taught more about money than any single subject, more than heaven, more than hell, more than faith or love. It’s not that money is more important than those things. It’s just that money touches on all those things and what we do with the material realities of our life reveals our spiritual priorities.
Money reveals your personality, your priorities, and your passions. Jesus famously said that you cannot serve both God and money. They are incompatible masters and you must choose. Will you live for money or will you live to please God? Once that choice is made, the other may become your servant. Choose to live for God not money and then follow Him by making money your servant. Choose to live for a higher purpose than money. This is wise because the most valuable things in life cannot be bought or sold. Your life will primarily be defined by your relationships with God and others. There are plenty of wealthy men who can buy most anything, but they can’t buy the things they really need. They have a house but not a home. They can buy medicine but not peace of mind. They can afford a counselor but can’t purchase a clean conscience. They can buy fine clothes but they cannot redeem a tarnished character. The things you need most in life to be happy and to live a life of significance will never be bought or sold in a store. So get your priorities right and make money your servant not your master.
Managing your money is a life skill you must learn and the sooner the better. You don’t have time to lose. You either tell your money where to go or it will tell you where to go. From the very beginning you must make a plan. It’s called a budget. It means you predetermine where your money is going and what you will spend and even more importantly what you won’t. Financial wisdom begins as simply as this, you must live on less than you make. Just like there are margins on a paper, you need financial margins, with God and with man. The margins come from giving and saving and both are important but neither can be done without the discipline of spending less than you earn. So determine from the very beginning to give a portion away and to put a portion aside.
The biblical discipline of tithing is a time honored and God blessed practice. In the Old Testament God’s people were taught to set aside the first 10% as a way of honoring God for all His blessings. I have practiced this from my earliest days and never wavered. Whether it is a dollar, a thousand, or a million, make the first step the act of honoring God by giving a portion away. That is not the end to generosity, but it surely is a helpful beginning. Then learn to save. Put some away. Whether it is a simple savings account, or soon a more sophisticated avenue for investing, make sure you set some aside and leave it for tomorrow. It isn’t faith to ignore the needs of tomorrow for the wants of today it is foolishness and ignores God’s wisdom. I suspect almost every person my age would say to someone your age, that they wish they had saved more, invested more, and spent less on foolish items they didn’t need and are now long gone.
Avoid debt wherever you can. Do you very best to pay for what you need now, or do without. Debt is the most common means of financial bondage. Only in the most select circumstances should you consider using debt and when you do be faithful to always pay it back. Be a man of your word in all things, but especially when it comes to money. Avoid get rich quick schemes, purchases where you feel pressured to buy now or else, and if something seems to good to be true, it probably is. Gambling is just a way to lose money and greed is a cancer to the soul. Becoming a man of God means growing in wisdom about money. So worship God, love people and use money. Keep it in that order and you’ll do fine.