Week 3- Work & Spending

This Week's Memory Verses

Colossians 3:17

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Romans 13:8

"Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."

Continue recording income and spending into your 30-day diary

Complete a Resume (Day Two)

Agenda

1. (5 minutes)

Open in prayer.

2. (5 minutes)

Each person individually recites this weeks memory verses.

3. (85 minutes)

Begin the group discussion.

Day One

Take the Personality Profile test.

Genesis 2:15; Genesis 3:17-19

[Work was initiated before sin entered the world. And in the perfect, sinless environment of the Garden of Eden, God created work for our benefit. It was not a result of sin and the curse.]

[Work became difficult because of sin.]

Genesis 39:2-5; Exodus 35:30-35; Psalm 75:6-7

Genesis 39:2-5— [The Lord controls success.]

Exodus 35:30-35— [The Lord gives us job skills and the ability to teach.]

Psalm 75:6-7— [The Lord controls promotion and demotion.]

Day Two

Proverbs 6:6-11; Proverbs 18:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9

Proverbs 6:6-11- [Ants are honored for hard work, and those who are lazy are warned of poverty.]

Proverbs 18:9- [A lazy person is compared to someone who destroys.]

2 Thessalonians 3:7-9- [Paul modeled hard work.]

Exodus 34:21

[Hard work should be balanced with adequate rest and other biblical priorities. Even during busy times, one day of rest a week was required.]

RESUMES

Many teenagers won't bring a resume with them to a potential employer, those that do will have a significant edge by appearing to be more professional.

Here are some tips for putting a resume together:

Activities. Since most teenagers haven't held lots of jobs, showcase your involvement in school activities, volunteer work, academics and athletics. This will help employers see your commitment, skills, work ethic and more.

Awards, Recognition and Performance. Employers will also be interested in your performance and attitude. This can be seen by highlighting any awards or accomplishments; perfect attendance in school, captain of a sports team, academic and athletic awards and volunteer recognition.

Proofread your Resume. Always review your resume and make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Ask a parent or a teacher to proofread your resume and make any suggestions.

Recommendations. Ask teachers, coaches, pastors and adult friends for written recommendations. You can create a simple website with copies of these recommendations and place a link to the recommendations on your resume. You may also want to bring hard copies of these recommendations with you when meeting with a potential employer.

5. If you haven't already done so, complete a resume. This resume site allows you to build your resume, choose templates, create a profile and download and save your completed resume. After completing the resume, answer the following questions.

Day Three

Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Philippians 4:11-13– [Contentment is not something that occurs naturally; it is learned. We can learn to be content in any circumstance.]

1 Timothy 6:6-8– [Godliness with contentment is a means of great gain. We can’t take anything with us when we die, and we should be content with our basic needs satisfied.]

Acts 4:32-37; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Acts 4:32-37 — [An equality of needs being met within the body of Christ led to revival.]

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 — [We are encouraged to live quiet, industrious lives.]

How do the following factors influence your spending and lifestyle?

Day Four

Deuteronomy 15:4-6; Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 12; Deuteronomy 28:15, 43-45

[Debt was considered a curse. Being free from debt (being a lender) was a blessing. Disobedience led to debt and obedience led to getting out of debt.]

Romans 13:8; Proverbs 22:7

Day Five

Psalm 37:21; Proverbs 3:27-28

Psalm 37:21— [A person who borrows but does not repay debts is called “wicked.”]

Proverbs 3:27-28— [Pay debts promptly if you have the resources. Many delay repayment as long as possible, but this is not biblical.]

2 Kings 4: 1-7

[Seek the counsel of godly people, as well as the Lord’s help and direction. His supernatural intervention is required whether He answers quickly, as in the case of the widow, or more slowly over time. We should use whatever resources are available—however small—in an effort to get out of debt. Involve the entire family in your effort to get out of debt.]

Day Six

Read the Income & Spending Notes below and answer the following questions.

Remaining Agenda

1. (10 minutes)

Note in the Prayer Log requests and answers to prayers.

2. (5 minutes)

End in prayer.

Reminder for Facilitators:

WORK NOTES

When I think about people who love their work, I think of Leslie Knope from the TV show Parks and Recreation, or Buddy the Elf from the movie Elf. Both of these characters are cartoon-like in their enthusiasm and enjoyment of their jobs. They seem to have boundless energy for their work and can accomplish a great deal in a small amount of time.

We spend a good bit of our lives working, so it’s important that we enjoy it and do it in a way that honors God. Over a fifty-year span an average person spends 100,000 hours working! Many, however, don’t enjoy their jobs because they feel unfulfilled, underpaid, or under appreciated. Boredom, fear of losing their jobs, and countless other worries also contribute to this discontentment. Doctors, teachers, police officers, salesmen . . . all kinds of workers – inside or outside the church – experience similar frustrations.

While these troubles are common, knowing what the Bible says about work can help you enjoy it and find the place where your personal passions and abilities come together to help others and glorify God.

We will talk about three principles of work and then explore God’s part in our work, our own responsibilities in work, and a few everyday work issues we deal with on the job.

BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON WORK

Even before the fall – the time at which sin entered the human race – God wanted us to work.“The Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). The very first thing the Lord did with Adam was to put him to work! Despite what many have come to think, work was created for humankind’s benefit; work is not a result of the curse.

After the fall, however, work was made more difficult.“Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread” (Genesis 3:17-19). Work is a good thing that became difficult and frustrating because of sin.

THE IMPORTANCE OF WORK

Work is so important that in Exodus 34:21 God gives this command: “You shall work six days.” In the New Testament we discover that Paul is just as urgent.“If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Examine this verse carefully. It says, “If anyone is not willing to work.”It doesn’t say, “If anyone cannot work.” This principle does not apply to those who are physically or mentally unable to work. It is for those who are able but choose not to work.

If everything in life is handed to you on a silver platter, you turn into a brat. We all have known people like this or seen them in movies. There’s the lazy, bullying, Dudley Dursley from Harry Potter. And the demanding, snotty, Veruca Salt from the Wonka movies. These characters have had it so easy that they’re spoiled. It’s bad for them and everyone around them.

One of the primary purposes of work is to develop character. When you work hard, you grow as a person. While the carpenter is building a house, the house is also building the carpenter. His skill, diligence, and judgment grow. A job is not merely a task designed to earn money; it is also intended to produce godly character in the life of the worker. When we work hard or are disciplined, we are better for it.

DIGNITY IN ALL WORK

There is dignity in all types of work; Scripture does not elevate any honest profession above another. The big characters in the Bible had a wide variety of jobs. David was a shepherd and a king. Luke was a doctor. Lydia was fashion designer. Daniel was a government worker. Paul was a tent maker, Amos, a fig-picker, and Jesus – a carpenter.

God can and will use us in any honest profession. He values the labor of the automobile mechanic and the president of Ferrari; that of the football star and the stadium popcorn guy.

GOD'S PART IN WORK

Scripture reveals three specific responsibilities the Lord retains in connection with work.

1. THE SOURCE OF JOB SKILLS

Exodus 36:1 illustrates this truth: “And every skillful person in whom the Lord has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work . . .”God has given people a wide variety of gifts, manual skills, and intellectual abilities. Usain Bolt worked hard to become the fastest man on earth, but God gave him his body. Taylor Swift practices melodies, but God gave her her voice. She can’t beat Usain in a race, and as far as I know, he can’t sing. They each have their skills, and so do you. It is not a matter of one person being better than another; it is simply a matter of having received different talents.

2. THE ORIGIN OF SUCCESS

The life of Joseph is a perfect example of God orchestrating success. "The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man … his master saw that the Lord was with him, and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand" (Genesis 39:2-3).

As we have seen, you and I have certain responsibilities, but we need to recognize that it is ultimately God who gives us success.

3. THE SOURCE OF PROMOTION

Psalm 75:6-7 reads, “For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth, but only from God”(LB). As much as it may surprise you, your boss is not the one who controls whether you will be promoted.

This perspective on God’s part in our work is a remarkable contrast to the way most people think. Our culture leaves God out of work, thinking that people alone are responsible for their job skills, success, and promotions. However, those with biblical understanding will approach work with an entirely different view.

One of the major reasons people experience stress and frustration in their jobs is that they don’t understand God’s part in work. Take a moment and consider God’s part. He gives you your skills and controls your success and promotion. How should this perspective impact you and your job?

OUR PART IN WORK

Scripture reveals that we actually are serving the Lord in our work, not just people. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24).

If this is true, it has big implications. Think about your attitude toward work. If you saw Jesus as your teacher or boss, would you strive to be more faithful in your school work? At your job? The most important question you need to answer every day as you begin your work is: “For whom do I work?” You work for Christ.

HARD WORK

“Whatever your hand finds to do, verily do it with all your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). “...the precious possession of a man is diligence” (Proverbs 12:27). In Scripture, hard work and diligence are encouraged while laziness is repeatedly condemned: “He who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9).

Paul’s life was an example of hard work. "...with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you … in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you might follow our example" (2 Thessalonians 3:8-9).

We should work so hard that those around us never equate laziness and mediocrity with God. Nothing less than hard work and the pursuit of excellence please the Lord. We are not required to be “super-workers” – people who never make mistakes. Rather, the Lord expects us to do the best we possibly can.

OVERWORK

At the opposite extreme of laziness is another problem we often see in our culture: a crazy, out-of-breath over-commitment to work. Working hard must be balanced by the other priorities of life. Clearly, our first priority is our relationship with the Lord.“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”(Matthew 6:33).

If a job demands so much of your time and energy that you neglect other priorities, then you are working too much. You should determine whether the job is too demanding or your work habits need changing. If you are a “workaholic,” be extra careful to guard against ignoring other important areas of life.

Exodus 34:21 reads, “You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.” I believe this Old Testament principle of resting one day out of seven has application for us today. This has been difficult for me, particularly during times of “plowing or harvesting” when a project deadline is approaching. For you it could be cramming for a test or training for a big sporting event or performance of some kind.

Rest can become an issue of faith. Is the Lord able to make our six days of work more productive than seven days? Yes! God instituted this weekly rest for our physical, mental, and spiritual health. Taking time to rest is a way of saying to God that you trust that he has things under control.

EMPLOYEE’S RESPONSIBILITIES

We can identify the six major responsibilities of godly employees by examining an event in the life of Daniel. In Daniel chapter 6 we are told that Darius, the king of Babylon, appointed 120 men to govern the kingdom, and three men – one of whom was Daniel – to supervise these governors. Then King Darius decided to promote Daniel to oversee the entire kingdom. Daniel’s fellow employees were jealous and wanted to get rid of him. First they tried to make him look bad at his job. After this failed, they convinced King Darius to make a law saying that everyone in the kingdom would be required to worship only the king or be put to death via the lions’ den.

But Daniel, continuing to trust God, worshiped Him anyway and was thrown to the lions. The Lord then rescued this godly employee by sending His angel to shut the lions’ mouths. Here are six characteristics of a godly employee (or student) as seen in Daniel.

1. ABSOLUTE HONESTY

Daniel 6:4 tells us that his fellow employees “could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption” in Daniel. Think of Abe Lincoln times ten – so honest that even his enemies could find no blame.

2. FAITHFULNESS

We discover the second characteristic of the godly employee in Daniel 6:4.“ . . . he was faithful.” The godly employee needs to establish the goal of being faithful and excellent in his work and then work hard to attain that goal. Faithful people are rare and are usually treasured by their employers. So, if you work on this trait, you’ll have a leg up on a lot of other potential employees.

3. PRAYERFULNESS

The godly employee is a person of prayer.“Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed (restricting worship to the king alone), . . . he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously” (Daniel 6:10).

Daniel’s job was to govern the most powerful country of his day. Few of us will ever be faced with responsibilities that big or time consuming. But Daniel, even with so much to do, knew the importance and priority of prayer. If you are not praying consistently, your work will not be as good as it could be.

4. HONORING YOUR EMPLOYER

“Daniel spoke to the king, ‘O King lives forever!” (Daniel 6:21). What a remarkable response from Daniel. The king, his employer, had been deceived and was forced to sentence Daniel to the lions’ den. Think how natural it would have been to say something like, “You loser! The God who sent His angel to shut the lions’ mouths is going to punish you!” But Daniel’s reaction was to honor his boss.

The godly employee always honors his superior. First Peter 2:18 reads, “Servants (employees), be submissive to your masters (employer) with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.” One way to honor your employer is to never participate in gossip behind your employer’s back, even if he or she is not an ideal person.

If you have ever had a friend who covered for you, or stood up for you when someone was talking trash about you, you know how honoring that is. That person will take a place in your heart. If you honor your employer, you will do the same in theirs.

5. HONORING FELLOW STUDENTS/ EMPLOYEES

People will play social politics in the never-ending competition for popularity and promotion. Some may even try to have you fired from your job. Don’t feel too bad if this happens; Daniel’s peers even tried to murder him! Despite this, there is no evidence that Daniel did anything but honor his fellow employees.

Never bad-mouth a fellow employee behind his or her back.“Do not slander a slave (employee) to his master (employer), or he will curse you and you will be found guilty” (Proverbs 30:10).

The godly person should avoid office politics and manipulation to secure a promotion. Your superior does not control your promotion; the Lord Himself makes that determination. We can be content in our job by striving for faithfulness, honoring superiors, and encouraging our fellow employees. Having done this, we can know that Christ will promote us if and when He chooses.

6. VERBALIZING YOUR FAITH

King Darius would never have known about God if Daniel had not talked about his faith at appropriate moments during the normal routine of his job.“ . . . the king spoke and said to Daniel, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?’” (Daniel 6:20). Darius wanted to know whether Daniel’s God actually had concern for his servant – and the power to save him.

The King would not have been so strongly influenced by Daniel’s faith if he had not observed him fulfilling his responsibilities with honesty and faithfulness. Listen to what he says:“I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever” (Daniel 6:26). What a strong witness and influence Daniel had!

Daniel influenced his employer, one of the most powerful people in the world, to believe in the only true and living God. You have that same opportunity in your own God-given environment of school and work. Let me say it another way. A job well done earns you the right to tell others with whom you work about Christ. As we view our work from God’s perspective, frustration can turn into contentment from a job well done, and boredom will turn into excitement over the prospect of introducing others to the Savior.

OTHER WORK ISSUES

There are several other important aspects of work.

AMBITION

Scripture does not condemn a strong desire to do or achieve something. Paul was ambitious.“We also have as our ambition . . . to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).

What is strongly discouraged is selfish ambition. [God] will render to each person according to his deeds . . . to those who are selfishly ambitious . . . wrath and indignation” (Romans 2:6-8). “But if you have . . . selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where . . . selfish ambition exists, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:14-16). “But you, are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them” (Jeremiah 45:5).

We see many warnings against selfish ambition in these verses. It’s easy to see selfish ambition in people who claw their way to high positions without caring who they hurt along the way – like Frozen’s Prince Hans of the Southern Isles. Selfish ambition has been the cause of much evil in the world. Not only do our relationships suffer from it, but it is not good for our own hearts: we are designed to glorify God, not ourselves.

The motivation for our hard work should be a longing to please Christ. Our goal should be to grow more and more faithful in using the possessions and skills given to us. We should strive to please the Lord in our work by fulfilling our job responsibilities as well as we can.

PROCRASTINATION

Procrastination is a character flaw that causes people to put off what they should do now and save it for a more convenient time. Laziness, fear, and perfectionism are all contributors to this character flaw. We can’t do our best work if we put things off until the last minute and then have to race against the clock, often on the edge of exhaustion, to finish a project. Our output ends up being unrefined – sloppy compared to what it could have and should have been.

The Bible has many examples of godly people who were not procrastinators, and one of my favorite examples is Boaz. Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth, made this comment about Ruth’s future husband, Boaz: “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today” (Ruth 3:18). Boaz clearly had the reputation of a person who was faithful to act promptly.

Here are some practical suggestions to help overcome procrastination:

1. List the things you need to do each day.

2. Prayerfully review and prioritize the list according to the tasks you need to accomplish first.

3. Finish the first task on your list before starting the second. Often that first task is the most difficult or the one you fear the most.

4. Ask the Lord to give you courage, remembering Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Each of us has a specific calling or purpose that the Lord intends for us to fulfill in our work. Ephesians 2:10 reads,“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Read the verse again carefully: “We are His workmanship.” The Amplified Bible says “We are His handiwork.”Each of us has been created uniquely and given special physical, emotional, and mental abilities. You may have heard the expression, “After the Lord made you, He threw away the mold!” You are uniquely gifted. No one in all of history – past, present, or future – is like you.

The passage continues, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”The Lord created each of us for a particular job, and He gave us the proper skills, abilities, and desires to accomplish this work.

This calling may be full-time Christian service or a job outside the church. Often people struggle with whether God wants them to be in business once they commit their lives to Christ. Many feel they are not serving Christ in a significant way if they work anywhere but in ministry. Nothing could be further from the truth! The key is for each person to determine God’s call for his or her life.

Chariots of Fire is a movie about Eric Liddell, a Scottish sprinter on the 1924 Olympic team. He had also planned to be a missionary in China. His sister thought he was spending too much time on his Olympic training. Afraid that he would forget about his calling to be a missionary, she tells him that he is missing his purpose. Eric replies with this famous line: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

Eventually, Eric went on to be a missionary, but for that moment in time, God also wanted him to be a sprinter. If we use whatever gifts God has given us – in the place He has put us – He is pleased with us. No one’s gifts are more important or more spiritual than anyone else’s.

Every job can be used to bring glory to God. Different work will reach different people in society. God strategically places His children everywhere!

JOB INTERVIEWS

There are several things you should do to prepare for an interview:

1. Pray. Ask the Lord to help you get the job if it is the one He wants for you. This can be a special time in developing a closer walk with the Lord.

2. Do your homework. Learn as much about the company as possible before the interview. This information will help you demonstrate your understanding of the company during the interview.

3. Be on time and well groomed. Never arrive late; plan on being at least ten minutes early. Your clothing should be clean and neat; be careful not to dress too casually.

EMPLOYER'S EVALUATION

The employer's evaluation of a candidate for a position will usually include the following:

1. How mentally alert was the candidate?

2. Did the candidate answer questions concisely or did they ramble?

3. Did the candidate demonstrate a degree of intellectual depth when communicating?

4. Has the candidate used good judgment and common sense regarding life planning up to now?

5. Was the candidate enthusiastic about the opportunity or position?

6. Was the candidate respectful of their former employer(s)?

7. Did the candidate make eye contact?

POTENTIAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

1. How would you describe yourself? What is one strength you have? One weakness?

2. In what ways do you think you could make a contribution to our organization?

3. Why did you decide to seek a position with this company?

4. Tell me about the last time you had to deal with a conflict.

5. Why should I hire you?

6. Do you have any questions you would like to ask?

HELPFUL HINTS

1. Write down and bring any questions you might have to the interview.

2. Never interrupt the interviewer!

3. Never bring up salary in the initial interview. If the question of salary does come up, it must be done by the interviewer.

4. Always thank the interviewer for their time, and the opportunity to discuss your qualifications with them.

5. Follow up the interview within a few days by sending a personal thank-you note.

RETIREMENT

The dictionary defines retirement as “withdrawal from an occupation or business, to give up or retreat from an active life.” Many people look forward to retiring, but did you know that Scripture gives no examples of people retiring? In fact, it gives only one direct reference to retirement, which is found in Numbers 8:24-26. The instruction there applied exclusively to the Levites who worked on the tabernacle.

As long as one is physically and mentally capable, there is no scriptural basis for a person retiring and becoming unproductive. The concept of putting an older-but-able person “out to pasture” is unbiblical.

Age is no obstacle in finishing the work the Lord has for you to accomplish. He will provide you with the necessary strength and desire. For example, Moses was eighty years old when he began his 40-year adventure leading the children of Israel! God basically forced him out of retirement. Moses protested that he wasn’t a talented speaker, but God didn’t listen to that. I imagine that if he had said, “I’m too old!” God wouldn’t have accepted that excuse either.

Scripture does imply that the type or the intensity of work may change as we grow older. During later seasons of life we can actively use the experience and wisdom gained over a lifetime. If we have enough income to meet our needs without a job, we may choose to leave the job to spend more time serving others in whatever way the Lord directs.

SPENDING NOTES

The word of God has a way of inspiring us. It’s like a pre-game speech from a coach or a grand motivational monologue from a movie character before charging into battle. I hope that after reading the Work Notes, you are really excited to go out and start working.

One of the many benefits of working is that you receive money. When the dollars start rolling in, we naturally want to spend some of them. As with all decisions in our lives, we want to make spending decisions wisely, but there are lots of voices out there trying to get us to spend our money in lots of ways – some wise, some not so wise. So, let's take a look at some of the factors that can influence spending.

PAYCHECKS

Before you can spend money, you need to get paid. Getting a paycheck is an awesome feeling, but it’s important to understand what is on your pay stub beyond just the numbers in the face-amount section.

Gross Pay is what you make before any deductions like taxes, health care, or Social Security are taken out. In the example below, Money Mutt's gross pay is $450. Under the Earnings category, you can see the heading “YTD.” This stands for Year to Date and is the gross amount of money ($900) Money Mutt has made during the year.

Net Pay is what's left after deductions are subtracted. In the Deductions section, you can see Money Mutt's net pay for the current pay period ($418) and his net pay for the year ($836).

Required Deductions are automatically taken out of your gross pay. As you can see, Money Mutt is not earning enough to pay state or federal income tax. When you earn more than $7,600 in a year, you will start to pay federal income tax. All workers pay into Social Security and Medicare. These programs are funded by FICA, a payroll tax.

Other Deductions are voluntary. Examples include health insurance premiums and contributions to a retirement account or saving program.

BANK ACCOUNTS

The video below is a great overview for setting up a bank account. Keep in mind that you will more than likely need a parent or guardian to help you set up the account.

We encourage you to ask about what kind of online services or apps the bank provides (along with any fees that come with their use). These online tools can be an easy and convenient way to check your balances, transfer funds, and even make deposits.

CONTENTMENT

No matter how many houses, cars, or other things we buy, we can still feel empty when the initial rush wears off. You can see this in the gossip magazines in the grocery store any day of the week. Even the rich and famous – sometimes, especially the rich and famous – deal with discontentment. When people expect possessions to satisfy their hearts, they always end up disappointed. Then they think the next bigger or better thing will do the job, but it always ends the same – after taking a chunk out of their bank account.

Contentment is found in your relationship with God and with others. If you feel discontent even after making a good living, read these next few paragraphs carefully.

Comparison is a great enemy of contentment, so consciously choose to turn off the voices calling you to compare and spend. Learn to be content with what you have. The advertising industry uses all kinds of powerful psychological gimmicks to persuade you to buy. Sales “going on now” and “ending soon” will get you the deal of your lifetime if you hurry. But hurry is usually the enemy of wise choices. And much advertising is designed to create discontentment with what you already have – even if it’s working fine.

A clear example is the American company that opened a new plant in Central America because workers were plentiful and inexpensive. Everything was going along smoothly until the villagers received their first paycheck; afterwards they did not return to work.

Several days later, the manager went down to the village chief to determine the cause of this problem. The chief responded, “Why should we work? We already have everything we need.”

The plant stood idle for two months until someone came up with the bright idea of sending a mail-order catalog to every villager. As soon as the villagers saw all the appealing things they could buy with more money, they came back to work. There has not been an employment problem since!

Note these three realities:

1. The more television you watch, the more you spend.

2. The more you look at magazines and internet shopping sites, the more you spend.

3. The more you shop, the more you spend.

SPENDING & DEBT

DEBT IN SCRIPTURE

Scripture’s perspective on debt is clear. Carefully read the first portion of Romans 13:8 from several different Bible translations: “Owe no man anything” (KJV), “Let no debt remain outstanding” (NIV), “Pay all your debts” (LB).“Owe nothing to anyone” (NAS). “Keep out of debt and owe no man anything” (Amplified).


1. Debt is slavery. In Proverbs 22:7 we learn why our Lord speaks so strongly on the area of debt:“Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender” (LB). When we are in debt, we are in a position of enslavement to the lender. And the deeper we are in debt, the more of a slave we become. We do not have the freedom to decide where to spend our income because it is already legally committed to pay our debts.

In 1 Corinthians 7:23 Paul writes, “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” Our Father made the ultimate sacrifice by giving His son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for us. And He now wants His children free to serve Him in whatever way He chooses rather than be enslaved again.

2. Debt was considered a curse. In the Old Testament, being out of debt was one of the promised rewards for obedience. "Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the Lord your God … and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow" (Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 12).

However, indebtedness was one of the curses inflicted for disobedience. "But it should come about, if you will not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I charge you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you … The alien who is among you shall rise above you higher and higher, but you shall go down lower and lower: He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail" (Deuteronomy 28:15, 43-44).

3. Debt presumes upon tomorrow. When we get into debt, we assume that we will earn enough in the future to pay the debt. Scripture cautions us against presumption. "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that'” (James 4:13-15).

4. Debt may deny God an opportunity. Ron Blue, an outstanding author, tells of a young man who wanted to go to seminary to become a missionary. The young man had no money and thought the only way he could afford seminary was to secure a student loan. However, this would have encumbered him with $40,000 of debt by the time he graduated, which would have been impossible to pay back on a missionary’s salary.

After a great deal of prayer, he decided to enroll without the help of a student loan and to trust the Lord to meet his needs. He graduated without borrowing anything and grew in his appreciation for how God could creatively provide his needs. This was the most valuable lesson learned in seminary as he prepared for life on the mission field. Borrowing may deny God an opportunity to demonstrate His reality.

THE REAL COST OF DEBT

We need to understand the cost of debt. Debt forces both a financial and physical cost on our lives. Assume you have $5,560 in credit card debt at an 18 percent interest rate. This would cost you about $1,000 in interest annually. Study the chart below.

You can see what lenders have known for a long time: the eye-popping impact of compounding interest working for them. If they earn 18 percent, they will accumulate more than $4 million on your $1,000 a year for 40 years! Is it any wonder credit card companies are eager for you to become one of their borrowers?

Now compare the $40,000 you paid in interest over 40 years with the $527,039 you would have accumulated if you had earned 10 percent on $1,000 each year. The monthly income on $527,039 earning 10 percent – without ever touching the principal – is $4,392!

Debt has a much higher cost than many realize. Stop to consider this: When you take on a debt of $5,560 and pay $1,000 per year in interest versus earning a 10 percent return on that $1000, it actually costs you $527,039 over 40 years. The next time you find yourself tempted to buy something with debt, ask yourself if the long-term benefits of staying out of debt outweigh the short-term benefits of the purchase.

Debt also often increases stress, which contributes to mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. It can cripple creativity and devastate relationships. Many people buy a fancier lifestyle by going into debt, only to discover that the burden of debt then controls their lifestyle. There’s a bumper sticker that reads (to the tune sung by the dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) “I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go.” It’s an unfortunate reality for too many people.

CREDIT CARDS

An avalanche of 2.5 billion advertisements a year offering credit cards is crashing down on our culture. Many of these ads are deceptive, promising low interest rates, which in the fine print rise to outrageous levels within a few months. Others offer free T-shirts or other giveaways in an effort to grab our attention.

I don’t believe that credit cards are sinful, but they are extremely dangerous. The number one problem college counselors are asked about is the inability of students to handle credit card debt. It is estimated that people carry over 800,000,000 credit cards, and only 40 percent of them are paid in full each month. How crazy is that?

Statistics show that people spend around one-third more when they use credit cards instead of cash. They feel they are not really spending money, because it’s just plastic. As one shopper said to another, “I like credit cards lots more than money because they go so much further!”

When I think about the financial situation of someone in debt, I use a simple rule of thumb to determine whether credit cards are too dangerous for them. If they do not pay the entire amount due at the end of each month, I encourage them to perform some plastic surgery – any good scissors will do!

ESCAPING THE AUTO DEBT TRAP

Automobile loans are one of the leading causes of indebtedness. Seventy percent of all automobiles are financed. The average person keeps his car between three and four years. The average car lasts for ten years.

The average depreciation rate of a new car is roughly 15% per year. So if you bought a car for $20,000, in 4 years it would be worth roughly $8000. Yikes!

Here’s how to escape this trap. First, decide in advance to keep your car for at least six years. Second, pay off your automobile loan. Third, continue paying the monthly car payment, but pay it into a special savings account for yourself. Then when you are ready to replace your car, the saved cash plus the trade-in should be sufficient to buy the next car without credit. It may not be a new car, but you should be able to purchase a good, low-mileage used car, without any debt.

If you have financed a car, use the Auto Loan Payoff Calculator below to formulate a plan to pay off your car early. It could be your first step to never buying a car with credit again!

BORROWING

The Bible doesn't say when we can actually owe money. Sometimes it may be okay to owe money for a home or a business. But, if you do borrow money, you should immediately make a goal of paying it back as soon as possible!

What if I don't have debt?

You don't have debt - awesome! Stay that way! But just so you understand the consequences of debt, look at the following scenario:

You have just started your first job and received a credit card with a $4500 limit at 18% interest.

With your credit card you purchased some really cool things; a new television ($1200), a new wardrobe ($800), a new computer ($1200), and decided to get some incredible rims for your car ($1300). You have maxed out your card and now owe $4500. You are faithful in making the $180 a month payments. $180 a month may not sound like too much, but here is the true cost of these purchases.

With interest, you have ended up paying $7073.51. Not only that, it will take you almost 11 years to pay off this credit card. By the time you pay off the debt the clothes you purchased will be completely out of date, your computer will be technologically obsolete, your TV will have died a year ago, and those awesome rims you bought are more than likely in a junk yard.

HOW TO ESTABLISH CREDIT

IDENTITY THEFT

Identity theft is getting a lot of media attention these days. It’s in the movies, on TV, and in the news. There’s good cause for this, because it’s a real problem that our society is dealing with. It can be a scary thing to think about, but here’s a little information to help.

The most common type of identity theft is in the area of finances. Someone tries to gain financial benefits using another person's name. This includes getting credit cards, loans, goods and services, and claiming to be someone else.

These thieves can find your financial information in a number of ways, from digging through your trash, looking through old phones or computers, and even using “contactless” card readers to steal your credit card information.

What to do:

We recommend that anyone who has been a victim of identity theft go to the Federal Trade Commission- Identity Theft Page. They have great tips on what to do immediately and how to protect yourself in the future.

DEBT REPAYMENT RESPONSIBILITIES

Many delay payments to use the creditor’s money as long as possible. There are seminars that actually teach people to live on the “ragged edge of being a dead beat,” but this is not biblical. "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Go, and comeback, and tomorrow I will give it,' when you have it with you" (Proverbs 3:27-28)

Godly people should pay their debts and bills as promptly as they can. We have a policy of trying to pay each bill the same day we receive it to demonstrate to others that knowing Jesus Christ has made us financially responsible.

USING YOUR SAVINGS

It is wise not to deplete all your savings to pay off debt. Maintain a reasonable level of savings to provide for the unexpected. If you apply all your savings against debt and the unexpected does occur, you will probably be forced to incur more debt to fund the emergency.

BANKRUPTCY

A court can declare a person bankrupt and unable to pay their debts. Depending upon the type of bankruptcy, the court will either allow the debtor to develop a plan to repay his creditors, or the court will distribute his property among the creditors as payment for the debts.

An flood of bankruptcy is sweeping our country. Should a godly person declare bankruptcy? The answer is generally no. Psalm 37:21 tells us, “The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives.”

In my opinion, bankruptcy is permissible under two circumstances: a creditor forces a person into bankruptcy, or a counselor believes the debtor’s emotional health is at stake because of inability to cope with the pressure of unreasonable creditors.

After a person goes through bankruptcy, he should seek counsel from an attorney to determine if it’s legal to attempt to repay the debt when he is not obligated to do so. If it is within the law, he should make every effort to repay the debt. For a large debt, this may be a long-term goal that is largely dependent upon the Lord’s supernatural provision.

COSIGNING

Cosigning happens when someone is trying to get a loan of some kind and you sign papers saying that if they do not pay, you will be responsible for paying. In this way, cosigning relates to debt. Anytime you cosign, you become legally responsible for the debt of another. It is just as if you went to the bank, borrowed the money, and gave it to your friend or relative who is asking you to cosign.

A Federal Trade Commission study found that fifty percent of those who cosigned for bank loans ended up having to make the payment themselves – ouch! Seventy-five percent of those who cosigned for finance company loans ended up making the payments – even worse.

Few cosigners plan to have to step in and pay. The casualty rate is so high because the professional lender has already determined that the borrower is a bad risk. That is why he won’t make the loan without someone who is financially responsible guaranteeing its repayment.

Fortunately, Scripture speaks very clearly about cosigning. Proverbs 17:18 reads, “It is poor judgment to cosign another’s note, to become responsible for his debts” (LB). The phrase “poor judgment” is better translated “destitute of mind!” Please use good judgment and never cosign a note guaranteeing to pay for anyone else’s debt.

CREDIT REPORTS & SCORES

Your credit score (FICO score) determines whether you can get credit. And your score may be high enough to get credit but not high enough to get a decent interest rate - whether you’re looking for a mortgage, a car loan, or some other type of credit. Without good scores, your application to rent an apartment may be turned down. Your scores can affect your car insurance premiums and even getting a job.

The main things that will harm your credit score are late payments or non-payments of bills or debts, bankruptcy, foreclosure, repossession, bills or loans sent to collection. To improve your score, the two most important actions you can take are to pay your bills on time and reduce your total debt. Once you start doing this, your score will begin to improve in about three months. Look at the factors affecting your score.

Late or missed payments, foreclosures or repossessions remain part of your credit report for seven years. You’ll have to wait ten years for a bankruptcy to be removed, and fifteen years for a tax lien. Even though these remain on your credit report, over time they have less impact if you pay your bills on time and reduce your debt. You build credibility as you handle your finances responsibly.

Everyone should get a copy of their credit report once a year. Review it to make sure there are no mistakes or that you haven’t been the victim of identity theft. You can order a free copy of your credit report once every twelve months. To order, log on to AnnualCreditReport.com.

JUNGLE CROSSING

Test your gaming skills and your Give, Save & Spend knowledge by playing Jungle Crossing- Level 3.