Summary: Biblical guidlines for money management.
Title: Financial Planning 101
Text: Nehemiah 5
Three Keys to Successful Money Management
I. Be careful how you borrow- 1-5
a. Don’t borrow more than you can afford
b. Don’t borrow foolishly
c. Save for the rainy days
II. Be faithful in how you budget- 6-13
a. Stick to godly principles
b. Don’t take advantage of others
c. Maintain a healthy view of wealth
III. Be intentional in how you bless- 14-19
a. Work hard
b. Give generously
c. Set an example
Let’s turn our attention back to the book of Nehemiah…chapter 5…
Man, each week I am amazed at how this simple account of how the people of God banded together to rebuild the walls around the city of Jerusalem, is so applicable and useful to us today. So far we have seen some great examples of how to pray better, how to maintain a strong faith, the importance of being ambitious and proactive in the work of God, the benefits of unity, and how to deal with discouragement.
Today, as we look at chapter 5, we see some great principles for how to handle our finances. A whole chapter that will help us with financial planning principles! That’s fortunate.
I’m going to focus on the three keys to successful money management that we find right here in this passage. The first key is- be careful how you borrow. Look at verses 1-5…
At this point in the story, Nehemiah is faced with a significant economic crisis in the country. There is a supply and demand problem. The demand for food was greater than the supply. When that happens it causes inflation. The price of food goes way up.
On top of that, there was a famine in the land. That’s probably a big part of the reason the supply was so low. There just wasn’t enough food being produced. People had to mortgage their fields just to afford food.
The second problem was people who were complaining about the taxes they had to pay. These Jewish people were borrowing money from other Jews in order to pay that tax. And they were charging a high interest rate on those loans. So the result was that their sons and daughters became slaves. They could never really repay the debt.
Nehemiah’s solution to the problem was to remind the lenders that God had forbid them from charging interest to fellow Jews. That helped to level things out and stimulated the economy and things got back on track. His solution was simple- do things God’s way.
Their indebtedness threatened to delay the rebuilding of the wall and was destroying their lives. Financial turmoil and indebtedness will slow us down and threaten to destroy our lives as well. The number one cause of marital conflict is trouble over finances. So how do we protect ourselves from crippling indebtedness?
First of all, don’t borrow more than you can afford. This is also known as living beyond your means; and in this country it is one of our national pastimes. We buy houses we can’t afford, car payments that are enormous, and then buy toys. I’ll be the first to confess… I am a techno-junkie. I love electronic toys, video games, fancy phones, new technology. I have a hard time not wanting to buy big, expensive toys.
Because credit cards are so easy to get and use, many people get bogged down by them. I remember getting credit card applications when I was in college. I had a part time job and was living on student loans. Why would anyone give me a credit card at that age?
There are some Christians who even go so far as to say that we should not borrow money at all. Sometime Romans 13:7-8 is used as a biblical prohibition of borrowing money. It says…
Romans 13:7-8 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. 8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
There it is right there in black and white. “Owe nothing to anyone”. That seems like a pretty simple biblical command. Paul is prohibiting us from borrowing money. And if Romans 13:8 was the only verse in the Bible I guess I might see how you could come to that understanding. But the point of this passage isn’t a prohibition of borrowing money; it is an emphatic command to love always.
In verse 7 Paul is saying, always pay what you owe. If you owe taxes, pay them, if you owe customs, pay them, whatever you owe, pay it off. The Biblical principle in verse 8 isn’t that we should never borrow, but that we should always work at paying off all our debts- except one- the debt of love that we owe to each other.