In the Western world we encourage our young people to gain higher education so that they can learn how to make a living. While that’s not wrong of itself, it should not be the number one goal. Yet this is the case for most colleges and universities—they don’t teach young people how to live. Shouldn’t developing the whole person be the primary goal of education?
We even export this way of thinking. Many say, If only all the world’s economies could grow into Western-style capitalism, we could solve the world’s problems. We could stop all wars and finally bring peace to this Earth!
What about our political leaders? What seems to be their solution to any problem facing society? Money—more of it! Health care, education, urban development, care for our senior citizens, crime—you name the problem and in nearly every case their solution revolves around throwing more money at it.
Yes indeed, in the minds of many, money is revered as a god!
Has It Worked?
For the most part, individuals living within Western democracies enjoy an abundance of wealth. We have more physical things, money and affluence than any other societies in history. But has it brought happiness? Do people feel satisfied?
The fact that more and more people are oppressed by debt is just one proof that it has not brought true satisfaction. Buying on credit is completely out of control! As a society we are living beyond our means. We are simply buying things we can’t afford.
Advertisements continually push us to buy now and pay later. Offers for credit cards, blank checks and second mortgages flood our mailboxes. Buying on credit has become the norm! Of course, credit can be used as a safe and convenient tool in some cases and it may even be necessary at times. However, if one is not extremely careful to pay debts off in a timely fashion it can become a real danger!
In the United States during the late 1960s, there were approximately 200,000 bankruptcies per year. There are over 1.5 million per year today. Our national debt is nearly impossible to comprehend. It is currently well over $17 trillion and it is increasing by about $3.5 billion per day. God’s Word clearly states, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). This is an absolute law of God; it cannot be broken. Economies swimming in this kind of debt are destined to come crashing down. Whether an individual or an entire nation, the fall will be hard and sure.
What God Wants for YOU
But God does not want you to live under the burden of debt and experience this kind of fall! There are definite laws in His Word that guarantee financial success. They are God’s laws concerning your finances.
God wants you to prosper. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 2). Most importantly, God wants us to prosper and be in good health spiritually, but He wants us to prosper physically as well.
Notice what Gerald Flurry writes in his powerful booklet The Last Hour: “These are two areas where God’s people are tested very heavily. God tests all of us with a lack of prosperity and health. So we must not condemn people who are being tested in these areas. But apart from that, John is saying that the way to have maximum health and prosperity is to give your life to this Work! That’s what Gaius did. We must realize that there is often a lack of prosperity and a lack of health because we haven’t learned to put God’s Work first as we should.
“God wishes ABOVE ALL that we prosper and be in health, as we prosper spiritually! God wants to bless us in these areas! If you want the ultimate prosperity and the ultimate health, this is your best opportunity to receive these blessings: Give your life to this work as Gaius did!”
He continues, “If you want to help God’s Work with all your being, do you think that, as a general rule, God would take away your prosperity and health? Or will He say, Bless that individual, because I know he will put my Work first with his energy and his money! We have to think about this the way God does. He does everything with great passion. If you want to use your prosperity and health for God’s Work, you are going to have more prosperity and health! That doesn’t mean you will always be prosperous and healthy, but you will have more of those blessings.
“If your life is filled with bad health and little or no prosperity, then you should closely examine yourself for sin. God wishes ‘above all’ that we prosper and be in health. Of course, we should be examining ourselves for sin all the time.
“Like Christ, our first priority must be to invest our health and prosperity in God’s Work.”
Mr. Flurry said God tests us all in the areas of finances and health, so be careful not to judge others if they are experiencing trials in these areas. Remember to apply these laws to yourself.
Also, Mr. Flurry said that if you are struggling in these areas you should “closely examine yourself for sin.” There is a cause for every effect, and we must find the cause of our financial problems if we are ever going to solve them. In the remainder of this article we will examine three major areas of sin that could deprive us of God’s blessings. In fact, breaking these laws could actually cause us to be under a curse.
God Owns Everything
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1; New International Version). God owns everything! This is the simple, yet foundational fact about finances. God created the world and everything in it. All opportunity for prosperity is given by God. Very few people ever acknowledge this fact.
Deuteronomy 10:14 backs up this point. “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it” (New King James Version). Clearly, everything belongs to God. You belong to God. Your everything belongs to God. This fact must be clearly understood and acknowledged before you can begin solving your financial problems. This understanding shows us that God must be our financial partner.
If God is our financial partner, what does He require of us?
“Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year” (Deuteronomy 14:22). God, our financial partner, expects us to tithe, meaning we should pay Him 10 percent of our increase. Lesson 17 of the Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, produced under the direction of Herbert W. Armstrong, states, “The tithe is the debt that you owe God. This debt is first in time and principle. Pay your debts to God, make Him your partner in your finances, and receive His blessing in temporal affairs. This will enable you to pay your debts, or to get a job, or to have your needs supplied more quickly than if you evade His debt.”
Some people strongly attack God’s law of tithing. But God is not a greedy God. After all, He owns everything! Yet, all He requires of us as our financial partner is 10 percent to do His Work. Does that sound unreasonable? Does that sound like a greedy partner? Of course not! We all need to make sure that our priorities are in the proper order and that God is paid His tithe first.
The book of Malachi clearly discusses events to occur just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6). God is discussing events taking place during the last era of His Church (request your free copy of Malachi’s Message if you do not have one already). Within this end-time context, God inspired the Prophet Malachi to ask: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:8-10).
All the human reasoning in the world will not negate the fact that God considers those who do not tithe as robbers! They are not only stealing; they are stealing from God! Living this way will place us under a curse. There is no chance of long-term, sustained success until we repent of this sin and start tithing.
God tells us to test Him. Give your financial partner what He requires and see if He doesn’t bless you. God wants what’s best for us. He will bless us if we make Him our partner and obey Him. He, of course, will do this in the proper way and at the proper time which in His great wisdom only He knows.
Again, everything belongs to God. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), we see, among other things, that we are simply stewards handling and managing what belongs to another. God is very interested in what kind of stewards we are. He knows that if we can be faithful over a few things, we will be faithful over much. He wants to be able to use us in His Family for all eternity. He must see we are good stewards today before He will make us stewards in His Kingdom.
This is a principle that involves much more than tithing. Yes, we should manage our finances according to God’s laws of tithing, but it’s not about how much money you have—it’s about managing what God has given you. Our homes should be kept neat, clean and tidy. They should be safe, properly maintained and inviting. Our children must be reared properly. Our example to others, within or without God’s Church, should be one of a “city on a hill.” Do you let your light shine by upholding a godly, Philadelphian standard in all of these areas—and others?
Is God really your financial partner? Are you as concerned about His Work as He is?
If you are struggling in managing your finances, examine if you are tithing properly. Are you paying God what is rightfully His? Is He really your financial partner? We all must put God’s Work first and be sure to manage our finances according to His laws of tithing. If we do, God will know that we are better prepared to take on more responsibility in the near future and teach others the lessons we have learned.
Thou Shalt Not Covet
Another sin that could cause us severe financial problems is coveting. In today’s materialistic society, it’s very easy to look at things and begin to lust. In Luke 12:15 Jesus Christ said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” The abundance of things is not what this life is all about. It’s not what brings the truly abundant living that Christ wants for us (John 10:10).
The world tends to minimize this problem by calling it “keeping up with the Joneses.” But God considers it a much deeper problem—He calls it sin! “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s” (Exodus 20:17). This is the 10th of God’s Ten Commandments. Breaking God’s law is sin (1 John 3:4).
Contrary to sin, which is self-centered, God’s law is the law of love—outgoing concern for others. When motivated by this love, we want the best for others. We are not envious of what they have been blessed with, but rather we are joyful for them and thankful for our own blessings.
Learn to be happy for others and their success. Assume the best in them. Maybe they have been wise stewards and hard workers. Maybe they have been specially blessed by God for one reason or another. Too often people attack those who are successful and try to find reasons to knock them down or find fault with them. Even if an individual acquires money by questionable or dishonest means, God knows, and ultimate judgment is His. Be careful not to set yourself up as a judge and try to do God’s job for Him. You could easily fall into the category of an “accuser of our brethren”—that’s what Satan is! (Revelation 12:10).
Read the devastating effects of coveting in James 4:1-5. These effects will impact us if we fall into that sin. And do not kid yourself! We all have to fight this sin. As James wrote, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” (verse 5). We all must fight this spirit and strive with all our might to overcome this society, Satan and ourselves. Unrestrained human nature leads to ruin. It leads to the ruin of nations and individuals.
Coveting is actually idolatry! (Colossians 3:5). When we covet, we are putting another god before the true God. The world does this continually, but we are to be different—unlike this world, which is ruled by Satan.
Avoid lusts. Live within your means and be happy doing so. Anything else is sin. Indeed, as Christ said, we should all take heed and beware the sin of covetousness!
The Principle of Give
Another area of our lives to consider is that of giving. We’ve already covered the subject of giving to God’s Work and living by the laws of tithing. But have you really learned to live by the principle of give? Are you a cheerful giver? Are you eager to help others when needed and appropriate to do so?
Jesus Christ taught us that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive (Acts 20:35). Do you really believe that and live by it? It is not natural for us as humans to think this way. We tend to want to get, but God says He loves a “cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). This point gets right to the very nature of God Himself. He is the greatest giver of all.
Jesus Christ taught us to follow the principle of giving even when there is no physical benefit that can come back to us (Luke 14:12-14). Learn to give for one reason—for the purpose of serving and helping others. This is not only talking about giving money. It’s talking about giving in whatever way you can. Give by sacrificing your time, by serving the physical needs of others, by spending extra time in prayer for others.
Certainly, in your business affairs you need to follow this principle as well. People in Satan’s world would laugh at and ridicule this idea profusely. In this world, stealing and cheating are becoming the norm—considered part of doing good business. But people interested in obeying God should live by a different standard. “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38). Be sure you apply the law stated here and God will be sure to fulfill His part.
All of this involves a way of life. Don’t always try to get “the best end of the stick.” Give others a good deal and trust God to make up the difference. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to out-give God.
Those people who really live by this principle are blessed immensely by God. That’s not to say that our main focus should be on physical blessings in this life—our main focus is to be on the spiritual—but God does bless that spirit of giving.
Seek First the Kingdom of God
In this article we have, obviously, not been able to cover all aspects of finance. There are many other practical laws that must also be applied. You should read The Seven Laws of Success by Mr. Armstrong (request a free copy).
There are many other scriptures in which God speaks about managing our finances. If obedient, God promises that we don’t have to be anxious about our physical needs being met (Psalm 34:9; 37:25; Proverbs 10:3; Matthew 6:25-33). Study those verses and in faith trust your heavenly Father to provide for you. True Christians will have trials, but God will always be there to deliver and provide for us. Your future and mine does not depend on the economy, interest rates, job creation and so on. Our future depends on Almighty God!
Do not let finances be the focus of your life. Christ told us that we cannot serve two masters (verse24). Get your finances under control so you can focus on what’s really important—the soon-coming Kingdom of God! That’s what is really important and that’s where our attention needs to be focused primarily (verse 33). Satan would love to distract you from the real purpose of this life. He wants to get your mind off God’s Work. In too many cases, he’s able to use finances to accomplish his goal.
Seek God first in your life. Seek His Kingdom and His righteousness. All of these matters of lesser importance will be taken care of if we do! What a promise from our Savior!
Remember that we are looking beyond this life. We are looking to our future—when we inherit all things (Romans 8; Hebrews 2). We are like a young heir who must work and struggle and learn! His dad will not just give him everything; he must learn certain lessons first. When he’s ready for the tremendous responsibility awaiting him, he will be given his inheritance!
Be sure you strive to apply God’s laws concerning your finances. If we diligently seek God, make Him our financial partner and grow spiritually by overcoming lust and covetousness— learning to and desiring to live the give way of life— then God will unleash blessings on us that will be hard to even imagine!
Walk forward in faith, doing your part, understanding that God knows what is best for us and when it is best for us. Know God will bless you today and for all of eternity if you diligently seek Him first.