Sunday, August 09, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "Family Finances"

“Family Finances”

In God We Trust - What the Bible Says About Money
August 9, 2009
Genesis 2:24, 1 Timothy 5:8, Ephesians 6:4

We’re coming to the end of our Summer Sermon Series entitled: “In God We Trust: What the Bible Says About Money.” Next week will be our last message in this series, and then we’ll be picking up the book of Luke.

I hope this series has been helpful to you. A number of people told me that they have been helped by this series–that’s encouraging to me as it has been one of the hardest sermon series for me to prepare message for. Maybe because it has been so personal and I need so much work in this area, and maybe because there is so much information in the Bible, it’s hard to synthesize it all for you. But I’m glad that it’s been helpful you. I got a note this week from someone who reads the sermons online, and he said that he had been convicted to amend his tax return based on last week’s message. Praise God!

Because what we do with money is not just financial. It is profoundly spiritual.

God cares about our financial life.

Today, we’re going to talk about our money and our families. “Family Finances.” Money and family.

Now, I told you when we got started that I am no expert in finances–and that’s probably become obvious to you by now.

So, this is not going to be a practical, 7 step, “how-to” talk on family finances. You don’t want me to deliver that one! This message will be practical, but it’s not a “how to” talk by a financial expert.

Let me recommend a few resources for you if that’s what you need right now.

My mother-in-law gave me this book when I married her daughter. It’s called, “The Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples” by the late Larry Burkett. Excellent little book for those who are just getting started (and for those who need a refresher course in making financial decisions).

If I officiated at your wedding ceremony, you already have one of these. I require all of my pre-marital counseling couples to buy one. I don’t require that you read it, but I figure if you bought it, you might. Highly recommended.

We gave this book away in June to all the men. We still have a few copies of it on Free Resources table in the foyer. “How To Survive the Economic Meltdown” by Patrick Morley. This book is practical deeply spiritual at the same time. It’s great if things are really hard for you right now. Get it out and read. You can read it in a couple of hours, but it will help you for a long time.

Many of us have read, “The Treasure Principle” by Randy Alcorn. The subtitle is “Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving.” We talked about giving a couple of weeks ago. I think that every Christian ought to read a book like this.

Alcorn’s bigger book on the subject is really helpful. It’s called “Money, Possession, and Eternity” and it goes into things that I don’t have time to get into in this series. We haven’t talked about investing, insurance, retirement, and those sorts of things. Last week, we talked about danger signs for borrowing. Alcorn goes deeper into all of those things. And it’s very readable. I recommend it for your family.

And last for this week [Next week, I’ll recommend a few more books as we end up this series, the last for this week] is “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. Now, Ramsey is not trying to teach biblical principles. He is a Christian, and I think that most of his stuff fits with a Christian worldview, but he’s more of a self-help kind of motivational speaker with pretty good advice. Some people don’t like him and his approach, but it’s been helpful to me to motivate myself towards good financial goals. We also have audio CD version of this in the church library. You might want to check it out or check out his radio program or website.

Okay, have you found Genesis chapter 2, yet? ☺

Why do you think I’ve taken you here?

It’s because in Genesis 2, we have the first marriage.

And it gives us the divine pattern for marriage–what marriage is and what it should look like. What we should strive to make our marriages to be.

And while it doesn’t mention money, it has profound implications for Money in our marriages.

Let’s read verses 15 through 25, but we’re going to focus on verse 24.

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’ [That gets us set up for chapter 3, doesn’t it?] The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, [!] ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ [And here’s our verse:] For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

Does money affect marriages?

You bet it does! Money is often near the root of the problems in most troubled marriages.

That’s because Money has become tainted with sin (introduced in the human race in the next chapter, Genesis chapter 3). All of the temptations we talked about in July of Worrying About Money, Stealing Money, Hoarding Money, and Loving Money creep and crawl their way into marriages and come between couples.

And because marriage is such a powerful thing (doesn’t it sound powerful from the description here? “It is not good to be alone...This is now bone of my bones! They were both naked and felt no shame!” Marriage is such a powerful thing.

And because it is so powerful, when sinful hearts get tied up with money in the wrong ways, it is bound to create problems for couples.

But God doesn’t want us to fail in this area. That’s why He’s given us the Savior, the Lord Jesus, to forgive us our sins in this area and to give us grace to enable us to change. And He’s given us His clear Word on marriage so that we can follow it, by faith, and have our marriages glorify God–even in this arena of Money.

Now, you may not be married right now and think that this doesn’t apply to you.

But maybe someday you will be married, and you’ll want to know these things.

Or maybe you will never be married or never married again, but you will want to pray for these things for the marriages in our church and in your family that you care about. So, stick with us.

But many of us are married here and this is God’s word directly to us today.

Now, I want us to look more closely at verse 24. What I love about this verse is that it gives a definition of marriage, a description of marriage, and it does it BEFORE THE FALL. Before sin entered the picture. So, it’s a picture of what marriage ought to be like. A pre-fall marriage before sin. The picture of ideal marriage. “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” There was nothing to be shameful about.

Now, you and I won’t achieve this ideal, this side Genesis 3. We are sinners now and we will continue to mess things up until we go to Christ or He comes for us.

But this is the ideal to which we are supposed to strive by faith. And God is restoring His children, piece by piece, bit by bit, day by day to that pre-fall ideal.

Look at verse 24. This is after Adam realizes that Eve was made just perfectly for him. And Moses says, “For this reason [because man and woman were made for each] a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

Now, what does this say about money?

In one way, nothing. It is about marriage, not money.

But because it’s about what marriage is supposed to be, it has big implications for our “married money life.” And that’s what I want to explore with you.

Notice that there are 3 actions in the verse to describe biblical marriage:

And Become One

First, Leave. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother...”

Isn’t that interesting? Who were Adam’s parents? He didn’t have any. No belly-button, right?

But Moses is saying that this is the pattern created by God. The first part of marriage is leaving your primary relationships. And most often that’s Mom and Dad.

You need to leave them in some important ways.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you leave them in every way. The Bible doesn’t teach 100% separation from your parents, “Sorry, I can’t see you any more...”, but there is a significant pulling from your primary relationships. For #2:

CLEAVING. Verse 24 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife.”

I like the old King James word for “united.” Most of us don’t what it means to “cleave” but it rhymes so nicely with leave. Leave & Cleave!

I’ve said before that this is the Hebrew Word for “Crazy Glue.” A man leaves his old primary relationships and forms a new primary relationship. Leave and Cleave.

And that leads to number 3. Become One. Moses calls it (very evocatively!). “One flesh.”

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

They begin a new life as a couple. A one flesh, one new entity, united life.

Now, let’s talk about money and marriage.

First, you have to leave. You have to leave Mom and Dad.

And that includes financially.

Marriage involves breaking the financial strings between you and your parents.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have financial dealings with your parents.

You can still do all kinds of things with money with your parents. Gifts, loans, borrowing, trading–all of those things are still possibilities.

But they can’t continue to be your primary financial consideration.

Your spouse does.

You leave and cleave.

Your spouse becomes your primary family. And that includes your money.

I struggled with this greatly at first in our marriage.

My dad has always been wise and given me good counsel. But you when you’re a young man, it seems like Dad doesn’t really know that much all of a sudden?

Well, I had been making a lot of my own choices for 3 years before Heather and I got married.

But the second I got married, all of a sudden, I had all of these new decisions to make about money and I felt woefully inadequate. And you know what, Dad, all of sudden, seemed so wise! And had so much to offer in the way of advice.

So, whenever I had a financial decision to make, I would call Dad. And we’d talk about it, and then I’d tell Heather what we’re going to do!

What’s wrong with this equation?

Is asking Dad for counsel wrong? No. He’s wise. I need wisdom. It’s good to ask.

Was it in taking the initiative with the money? No, I’m the husband, I need to lead in this area.

What is wrong?

My money is no longer about me and my parents. It’s about me and my wife.

Probably, before I talk to Dad, I need to talk to Heather. And after I talk to Dad, I need to talk to Heather. And Heather and I need to make the decision.

Leave and Cleave.

Is there an area of your financial life that is too tied to your parents, especially at the expense of your marriage?

I can think of all kinds of deals where Mom and Dad are too mixed up in their kids finances.

Now, Mom and Dad, you can make this a lot easier by helping them to leave.

But Guys (notice it says that a man will leave, the wife does, too, but the emphasis here is on the guy), you are called to leave. Leave and Cleave.

And become one flesh. This is a very rich expression, and I wish I had time to talk about it at length, but we’re focusing here on money and marriage.

And what this means is that you and your spouse are now ONE. It’s a mystery how it works. It’s not like you disappear into one another. It’s not like you become 50% a person and so does he or she. But there is new union between you that makes you ONE.

And that oneness should be reflected in your finances.

You should strive to be on the same page financially.


For example, I recommend that husbands and wives pool all of their money.

One account.

Or if you have lots of accounts, both of your names are on all of them. Same thing with titles and deeds.


The only exception to this is if you are trying to keep something out of an estate so that a widow or a widower isn’t hindered by the estate having to clear to have rightful possession of some asset. But even then, you need to think of yourselves as sharing everything.

Sharing everying.

That is not his truck and your car.

That is not her account and your account.

You are one flesh.

God says you are one flesh. So, you share everything.

Now, what I just recommended is just that, a recommendation. The Bible does not stipulate that you have a joint account on your money.

But I think it flows out of this description of what a marriage ought to look like.

Leave, Cleave, Become One Flesh.

Sharing everything.

Now, of course, if you do something like that, you are going to think of some things as more hers or more his. That’s natural and normal.

But at the heart, you share everything.

Responsibility for debts. Shared.
Assets? Shared.
Decisions? Shared.

Yes, even decisions.

Here’s where a lot of couples go wrong. They begin to think of their money as just theirs and not only do they not factor in that all of the money belongs to (Whom?) God, but they forget that they are co-stewards of all of the money (and possession) that they have right now.

If you got married, you agreed to become one flesh with this other person. And that means that you share everything.

Now, I know that that is the ideal and not everyone can live there in this fallen world, with our fallen hearts, and our fallen marriages.

But that’s the ideal that we’re striving for.


So, let’s talk about decisions.

You and your spouse should strive to agree on all financial decisions.

For some of you that sentence sounded like just common sense.

For some of you, it sounded like I said, “You and your spouse should turn into purple bunnies and fly to the Moon.”

But it’s what you should strive for nonetheless.

You and your spouse should strive to agree on all financial decisions.

You are co-stewards of those funds! And you ought to be both signing off on all of the choices that you make with them.

Now, I don’t mean that you need to talk with each other about every decision. You don’t need to get on the cell phone and call each other, “Should I buy a stick of gum?”

In most marriages, there is a threshold for what kind of decisions one spouse can make without consulting the other. It’s what you are both comfortable with.

For Heather and me, it’s about $50. If the expense is unbudgeted, we are both pretty comfortable about spending $50 without consulting our spouse. But we’ll pretty quickly tell each other about that $50. Probably it’s more like $5 that we might not even mention.

Now, for you, it might be $50,000. I’m not saying that $50 is the perfect number. But the point is that you are both comfortable with it.

You are in a one flesh covenant. And that means that your money is shared.

Now, what if you can’t agree?

Guys, you are called to lead. The Bible says so. And probably means that a lot of financial decisions will rest on you. But you are called to lead in such a way that you die for your wife in love. Read Ephesians 5 and see what kind of dying you are to do.

So, if you have to make the final decision and break a tie, make sure it is for the best interests of your family, especially your wife whom you are to love like you love your own body. Or you will have to give account of that to the ultimate owner of those funds!

And wive’s you are called to follow. But to follow in such a way that you never follow your husband into sin. So if he wants to rob the bank, you can’t go there. If he wants to never give to the Lord’s work, you need to find a way to obey the Lord’s command to give. I know that’s easier said than done, but the Lord will help to do it.

But what you should both strive towards is being on the same page with your money.

Leave, Cleave, and Become ONE.

If you do that, you will experience amazing blessing on your marriage.

And if you don’t, you will experience trouble.

Because this is the ideal: “[A] man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

Now, in the time remaining, I want to think beyond the marriage into the rest of the family, especially parents and children.

Turn with me to Ephesians chapter 6.

While you’re turning there, I should probably mention 1 Timothy chapter 5, verse 8.

One of the chief responsibilities of a godly man is to provide for his family.

1 Timothy chapter 5, verse 8 says: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Those are strong words, aren’t they?

Men, here’s God’s word to you about your family finances. Be a provider.

I’ve seen so-called Christian men in other churches that aren’t really willing to work. And they expect other people to pick up the tab for them and their family.

I’m not saying that to not collect welfare if you lost your job and need help getting back on your feet.

But don’t stay there.

Work to provide for your family. If you don’t; if you aren’t willing and striving towards it, the Bible says that you are denying the faith and are worse than an unbeliever.

And, I think that includes taking a job you don’t like.

Sometimes, we say that we’re willing to work, but we don’t want to flip burgers or do something really demanding.

Men, provide for your families.

Now, do you have Ephesians 6?

I want to focus on verse 4. But I’ll read 1-4.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. [Every parents’ favorite verse!] ‘Honor your father and mother’–which is the first commandment with a promise–‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ [But Paul doesn’t just talk to the kids. He talks to the parents, through their fathers. V.4] Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Let’s talk briefly about money and parenting.

V.4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

That exasperating part of the verse is a kids’ favorite Bible verse!

“[B]ring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

What does that say about money?

Well, of course, it doesn’t say anything explicitly about money.

But like Genesis 2:24, it has all kinds of implications for money.

Money is profoundly spiritual, right?

So, parents (Dads especially), its our job to train and instruct our kids in the godly use of money.

Everything we’ve learned this Summer. (Did you notice we didn’t take a Pop Quiz this morning? I’m saving the last one for next week on our last Sunday on money!).

Dads, everything we’ve learned this Summer are things that you need to train and instruct your kids in.

“[B]ring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

King James: “[B]ring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

From when they are little to when they are ready to leave and cleave.

Now, this is common sense in one way. Everybody knows that parents are supposed to teach their kids stuff. And money would be one of them.

Not all parents do, but that’s a reasonable assumption.

Saving, spending, buying, budgeting, making choices, etc.

But Christian parents have an added resonsibility.

We can’t just teach our kids about money.

We need to teach them about God’s money. About Christian stewardship.

Money is profoundly spiritual.
All of the money belongs to God.
You are God’s money manager.
You can only serve one master: God or money.
Don’t worry about money.
Don’t steal money.
Don’t hoard money.
Don’t love money.
Giving is a beautiful thing.
Give cheerfully to gospel work and to the poor.
Pay what you owe.

These things (and more) are what we must teach our children or we aren’t obey Ephesians 6:4.

There is a reason why Proverbs 22:6 is followed by Proverbs 22:7.

22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

Do you think that maybe 22:7 is the kind of thing that 22:6 says we should train our kids to understand?

I’ve tried to give you some examples this Summer of things we’re trying to do with our kids at the age that they are. Your kids might be at a different age or you might use another way of teaching.

But we need to do it.

I’m happy to announce that we reached our goal and purchased our goat yesterday from World Vision to go help some needy family somewhere like Africa.

I’m also happy to say that Peter got his cap gun. Paid for it with his own money that he earned by hard work.

I’m also happy to say that Robin and Drew borrowed money this week to buy things at a garage sale. 25 cents and 10 cents. And when they got home, they immediately got their money out to make sure they settled their debts.

Yes. I’m sure that I’m not teaching them everything that I should.

They see me overspend my money.

And they see me worry about money.

I have a long way to go in being a training example.

But, I am committed to Ephesians 6:4.

“Fathers...bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Our homes should be training centers for growing disciples of Jesus Christ.