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When your bank account is empty and debts are mounting, how do you get your finances under control?

By Glen D. Cole

I read the fine print on my MasterCard: "This card belongs to Crocker National Bank."

I thought: That’s it. Today many belong to Crocker National Bank, Wells Fargo Bank or Bank of America. When they have a financial crisis, they look to their MasterCard rather than to their Master. When they do not have enough money to buy certain material objects, they whip out the plastic card. They think they have solved their money woes, only to plunge into financial devastation.

Proverbs 22:7 says, "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." This suggests that the borrower is selling his or her soul to the lender — which, more often than not, is a credit card company or bank. The misuse of credit cards is a major problem in financial disasters, but the primary problem is a spiritual one.

Here are five suggestions for giving the Master charge of your finances:

1. Pay your tithes and give your offerings. Malachi 3:8,9 says the one who refuses to pay tithes and give offerings has robbed God.

One-tenth of our earnings belongs to God. Jesus told the Pharisees: "For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matthew 23:23, NKJV). The New Testament message is one of stewardship: Everything belongs to God and we are to manage wisely what He puts in our care.

Many are having difficulties in their marriages and with their children because they are suffering the consequences of their decision to steal from God. When we give our tithes and offerings to Him, we give Him what He is due. A person who tithes says to God, "I am dependent on You. I am putting my faith in You to help me govern my affairs."

2. Do not borrow money you cannot afford to pay back. According to God’s Word, you are a servant under bondage until your debt is paid. This is not to suggest that every person who owes on a mortgage, for example, is under bondage. The key here is that you pay that debt every month. If you do, the bank or lender cannot demand you surrender your house. There is nothing wrong with borrowing as long as you can afford to pay it back.

Some say they want to tithe, but they can’t start yet because they’re too much in debt. In other words, they stole from God to pay their creditors. I would prefer to have my accounts straight with Him and be in arrears with others. When I am straight with Him, God has ways to meet those financial obligations.

3. Use credit cards sparingly. The bill should be paid in full every 30 days. If you have lost the ability to control your credit cards, cut every card right down the middle.

4. Do not write checks when the money is not in the bank. If you overdraw your account, the bank will transfer the overdraft to a loan account with a high interest rate. Employing overdraft protection is a poor habit, and writing checks that cannot be honored by the bank is not pleasing to God.

5. Buy wisely. When you face a significant purchase, ask: Will this purchase please God? Is it reasonable? Is it on sale?

If stores are going to have sales, I am going to wait for them. There are times to buy, and there are times not to buy.

By applying these five principles, you will be well on your way to putting the Master in charge of your finances.

Glen D. Cole is superintendent of the Northern California—Nevada District of the Assemblies of God.


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