2. Learn to wait. The biblical character Joseph understood the importance of waiting. During the seven years Egypt experienced a season of great abundance, he made the Egyptians store up, store up and store up.
After a while, I’m sure some of the people probably said, “We’ve got enough grain stored up by now! Why can’t we just use some of this grain, instead of storing it up?” And Joseph most likely replied, “No, you don’t understand. If you don’t store it up now, you’re not going to have it later when you need it.”
The Egyptians could have used all that extra grain right away or sold it and made themselves rich overnight, but later on during the famine, they would have starved.
When it comes to wealth, the Bible teaches us to wait, be faithful and be good stewards. Proverbs 28:20 says, “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” The reason people try to get rich quickly is that they’re unwilling to live as they ought to financially. They want to have what they want and have it now!
Before you make a purchase, first walk away and think about it for a while. Look at your budget, and ask God if this is His will at the moment. We live in a society of “instant gratification,” and it’s all too easy to fall into the pattern of buying whatever we want at the moment, without being patient or seeking God’s counsel about it.
The easiest way to avoid making foolish impulse purchases that you may regret later is to establish a budget. A budget changes your life by:
•Helping you see things more clearly and objectively. A budget shows you in black and white exactly what you can and can’t afford by simply comparing “income” versus “expenses” and “needs” versus “wants.” This helps you keep emotions out of the picture and differentiate between “reality” and “feelings.”
•Providing a basis of discussion and agreement. A budget helps you find a place of unity in your marriage because it provides an opportunity for listening, talking, praying and hearing each other’s hearts. When you talk and pray about your budget, you have a basis for finding a place of agreement about your finances.
•Providing a basis for accountability. Because how your money is going to be spent has already been decided, a budget keeps you from overspending and making impulse purchases.
»Helping you live within your means. Many people live with unnecessary stress because they have foolishly taken on financial obligations that are bigger than their income. A budget reveals the lifestyle your income can realistically support. Many people could greatly reduce the stress in their lives by simply downsizing their lifestyles to fit their income.
•Helping you live without debt. God wired you to benefit from patience. He wired you to enjoy looking forward to things. He wired you for something called “hope.”
Debt robs you of the opportunity to hope. When you borrow every time you want something, you don’t have to hope for it anymore—instead, you just go put it on the credit card. This is why people who are in debt are the most discouraged people in the world. They have no opportunity for delayed gratification, and that robs them of the joy and happiness that come when a hope is fulfilled.
•Building character and discipline in your life. A budget holds up a set of numbers and asks you to live within them. Sticking to a budget is like sticking to any other commitment: It takes character and discipline—vital qualities to have if you’re going to fulfill God’s destiny for your life.
Joseph had a budget (see Gen. 41:34-35) and managed it so well that after seven years of savings, he fed the entire world during seven years of famine. Now that is God’s style of budgeting! And one way Joseph did it was by living on less than the amount that was actually coming in.
3. Live below your means. Most people mistakenly think they understand what it is to live below their means, but I have news for them: Living on 90 percent to 95 percent of your income is not living below your means.
Truly living below your means requires living on about 70 percent of your income. For example, if you tithe 10 percent, put 10 percent in savings, put 10 percent in retirement or other investments, and give something in offerings above your tithes, you’re going to be living on 60 to 70 percent of your income at the highest level.
Yet rather than living below their means, many people live above them.
Because I’m a pastor and love people, my heart is burdened when I meet believers who are experiencing financial difficulties. But when I see the homes they’re living in, the vehicles they’re driving and the clothes they’re wearing, I know many of them are supporting their lifestyles by living entirely on credit. They’re digging a hole of debt for themselves that may take years to dig out of.
I cannot stress how important this third principle is. Besides providing us with great peace of mind, living by it also pleases God (see Luke 16:10-11; Matt. 25:23).