Christians who are financially free can more easily fulfill the purpose God has for them, according to a Christian financial expert.
Dave Scobey, national seminar liaison with Crown Financial Ministries, spoke to a group of about 25 ministers at the Raleigh Baptist Association March 12. The meeting was one of five around the state sponsored by Crown, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
The gatherings were part of the “It’s a New Day” stewardship emphasis by Crown and the SBC. The program includes a sermon series, Sunday School lessons, a 10-week financial course and a financial seminar.
Scobey said Christians who are free from the “bondage of debts, oppression of others, envy, greed or resentfulness” can respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings without hesitation.
“True financial freedom is a total lightening of the load, where you can respond when God says, ‘Have you thought about this? This is where I want you to be,’” Scobey said.
Scobey’s presentation to the ministers was a condensed version of Crown’s “Journey to True Financial Freedom” seminar.
He gave the biblical basis for Crown’s financial programs and then talked about practical applications of money management.
Scobey said Crown’s teaching starts with “the bottom line” assumption that God owns everything.
After reading several supporting verses, he said, “I have not found an attorney who can find a loophole in any of those verses.”
Scobey said God is sovereign over Christians’ ability to make money and of their futures and failures, because, “He is already there in the future.”
Christians are to be good stewards over what God has entrusted to them and Scobey said, “He wants us to be obedient, faithful and trustworthy.”
God wants Christians to have financial peace, according to Scobey, but they can’t when they try to serve both God and money.
“Sometimes we try to straddle that line, but we can’t do it,” he said. “You have to make a decision.”
Scobey said Jesus calls Christians to be free from bondage, including the love of money.
“Money is neutral,” Scobey said, but wealth can be established as an idol.
Scobey gave four biblical principles of borrowing:
Borrowing is discouraged.
Avoid long-term debt.
Avoid surety, which Scobey said means co-signing.
Repay what you borrow.
Scobey said the Hebrew word for borrow can also mean twine or to twist together. The borrower is easily entangled in debt, he said.
“We find it very difficult to get out,” Scobey said.
Budget first step
The journey to financial freedom starts with a budget, Scobey said. The thought of a spending plan makes some people cringe, but it’s a critical element that makes decisions simpler.
Scobey said the first step in making a budget is to track spending for 30 to 60 days.
“We must know where we’re spending the money to have any hope of managing it,” he said.
Those spending habits should be compared with Crown’s guidelines. This analysis leads to a balanced budget that is obtained by decreasing spending, increasing income or selling things.
The budget puts spending into categories, making it easier to manage, Scobey said. This allows for decisions based on facts rather than emotions, he said.
The budget also encourages people to spend based on the plan instead of the amount of money they have in their checkbook.
“This is the biggest mistake I see people making,” Scobey said.
Making these types of decisions creates dialogue in relationships.
“Money is the number one case of marital conflict,” he said.
Scobey gave several tips for husbands and wives.
Husbands and wives must agree not to spend more than they make.
The most adept of the two becomes the accountant, but the other person must participate in the process.
The husband and wife must recognize their differences.
Scobey said it’s easier to make a budget work if the couple keeps up with it every few days. He said that without a plan, money has a tendency to leave.
“It goes to people with a plan,” he said. “People who have a plan accumulate money. That’s the way it works.”
Scobey went over three “budget busters” that tend to give people the most trouble — credit card debt, automobiles and housing.
Credit cards often lead to “impulsive purchases,” Scobey said. He suggested keeping an item on an “impulse list” for 30 days before buying it.
Scobey said credit cards should only be used for budgeted items, should be paid off at the end of each month and should be cut up if they can’t be paid off.
People buying automobiles make mistakes when they don’t calculate the total cost of the vehicle, including insurance and maintenance. Other errors include leasing, frequent turnover and lack of maintenance, he said.
The best time to buy a car is when it is three to five years old, Scobey said. Those vehicles cost about half the original price and will possibly last eight or nine years, he said.
Housing mistakes include buying too much house, buying without a budget, borrowing the down payment, buying another house before the existing one is sold, buying to get a tax deduction and buying while life or work is unstable.
Scobey said people buying a house should compute all the potential costs and put them in the budget.
“We have to put it in the plan and plan ahead or we’re in trouble,” he said.
Scobey suggested getting tax deductions by giving to church instead of paying interest on a house. He said homeowners should resist home equity lines.
Ignorance, indulgence, imprudence and isolation foster debt, Scobey said. He encouraged people to seek God’s help, establish the right balance of priorities in life and commit to the journey to financial freedom. He suggested that people avoid careless spending, generate excess cash and apply that cash to debt reduction.
Most people can realistically get rid of their credit card debt in a year and a half, pay off consumer debt in four years and become debt-free in 10 years, according to Scobey.
Jesus tells His followers in Matthew 6 not to worry about tomorrow, according to Scobey.
“If we’re serving Him, the anxiousness of life is dealt with because He deals with it,” he said. “It’s a lordship issue. That’s the message.”
For free help from a Crown Money Map coach, call Jim Roberts (704) 375-1774.