Spend (God’s) Money Wisely
Enjoy life, but don’t be selfish
Doug Britton, MFT
Introduction to spending (God’s) money wisely
This online Bible study is part of a series of studies on money and finances. More detailed information on these topics can be found in the book Putting Money in its Place. (Although written for married couples, the practical, scriptural information in this book also applies to single people who want to handle their finances in a biblical manner.)
- Part 1: Acknowledge that God Owns Everything.
- Part 2: See yourself as God’s Steward (or assistant)
- Part 3: Love God, not money
- Part 4: Be a generous person
- Part 5: Spend (God’s) money wisely
Enjoy life, but be ruled by God, not your desires
God is not against us having fun or spending some money on recreation as long as we are generous and avoid the love of money. After all, God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).
Although God provides for our enjoyment, he warns against luxurious living:
You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. (James 5:5)
For everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. (1 Chronicles 29:11)
You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11)
What is appropriate entertainment and what is self-indulgence? At what point do we cross the line? How much money should we spend on a car? Dinner at a restaurant? A house? Clothing? A vacation?
These questions can’t be answered by a list of rules, but they motivate us to search our hearts. Ask yourself whether you are ruled by God or your desires. Ask him to help you develop the right motives and make the right decisions.
All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. (Proverbs 16:2)
What do you think?
1. How can you live a balanced life, spending some money on recreation but not being ruled by the desire to be self-indulgent or have fun?
2. Are you ruled too much by your desires? Do you think God wants you to change your attitude? Explain your answer.
Do not borrow
One of the biggest burdens many of us carry is the burden of debt. It is an invisible burden, yet it weighs heavily on many people. You will experience a tremendous sense of freedom when you live debt-free.
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8)
Make living within your means your lifestyle. It’s a blessing not to owe money. You are free from the tension and depression that debt can bring.
Is it ever appropriate to borrow money? In rare circumstances it may be, particularly for property that is likely to appreciate in value, such as a house, or for college expenses (since the increased income that may result from a college education can help pay off the loan).
If you owe money, make a plan to pay it back, even if it is a slow process. Talk with people to whom you owe money. Let them know your situation and your repayment plans.
The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; those the LORD blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be cut off. (Psalm 37:22)
Make it personal
3. If you are in debt, what lessons have you learned? How will you pay your debt back? How will you spend differently in the future?
Be a wise shopper
Resist sales pressure. TV, radio, the Internet, newspapers, magazines, and billboards bombard us with messages intended to stir up our desire to spend. Advertisers tell us we need what they are selling, we deserve it, and life is not worthwhile without it.
Related: Resist advertising lies
Consider destroying your credit cards and debit cards. It’s easy to buy something using a card when you wouldn’t dream of paying actual cash for it. Remember that you are spending real money. Only use credit cards and debit cards if you are able to exercise self-control.
More tips to help you be a wise shopper:
- Plan your purchases. Don’t wait until the last minute to buy things.
- Shop from a list. Make a list and take it with you when you shop.
- Buy when things are on sale.
- Buy secondhand goods.
- Use coupons.
- Only spend as much money as you have budgeted.
- If you must go in debt to buy a soft drink, drink water.
- If you can’t afford to go out to dinner, eat at home.
- If it would stretch your budget to eat chicken, eat beans.
- If you don’t have money to pay for Christmas presents, send cards.
- If you don’t have money for store-bought cards, send a note or email.
- If you must borrow to take an expensive vacation, go camping.
Related: Putting Money in its Place
4. Do you buy things when you don’t really have enough money to do so? If so, what things do you buy?
5. Do you use credit cards or debit cards to purchase things you shouldn’t buy?
6. Do you pay off your credit card debts every month?
7. Should you destroy your cards?
Use a purchasing checklist
Ask yourself the following questions when you want to buy something:
a. What are we considering buying?
b. Would something we already own do as well?
c. Could we buy something else less expensive?
d. Do we need this or is it a desire?
e. Could we live without it?
f. Have we been tithing and helping others?
g. Will it last a long time?
h. Can we afford it?
i. Is it in our spending plan (or budget)?
j. Will this purchase make it hard to pay future bills?
k. Can we buy it secondhand?
l. Will it help or hurt our walk with God?
m. Will it be a good witness for Christ?
n. Will it do what it claims?
o. Are we motivated by greed?
p. Are we being selfish?
q. Are we motivated by pride?
r. Are we motivated by embarrassment?
s. Do we agree on this purchase?
t. Are there other things we need more than this?
Make it personal
8. Name one thing you are thinking about buying. Given what you have red in this study, should you buy this item? Why or why not?
9. How will you bring your spending under control?
Let’s close this study with a powerful message from the Bible—to be content whatever our circumstances. We can do this because we are citizens of heaven, not the world. We can do this because we get our sense of value or self-image from who we are in Christ, not our finances or possessions. We can do this because we are secure in God’s love.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have. (Hebrews 13:5)
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:11-12)
Notice that Paul, author of the above verse, said he was content whatever the circumstances—whether in plenty or in want.
Make it personal
10. How content have you been in your circumstances?
11. Read 1 Timothy 6:6-8. Do you agree with this passage? Why or why not?
12. Have you been embarrassed because of your clothes, your home, or other possessions? How would God want you to look at these things?
The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways. (Proverbs 14:8)
Make it personal
1. What’s wrong with borrowing?
2. How will you avoid borrowing money? If you are in debt, what steps will you take to get out of debt?
3. Read James 5:5. What does this verse mean? Why is it important?
4. Review the suggestions under “Be a wise shopper.” Name four of them that will help you:
5. Paul wrote about practicing contentment in Philippians 4:11-12. What was his point?
6. Write a prayer asking God to help you be content whatever the circumstances.
About Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)
Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.