December 18, 2013

What Would You Do if You Won the Lottery?

For those who have been following the recent "Mega Millions" wins...the question should not be, "What would you do if you won the lottery?" but rather, "What are you currently doing with the money God has entrusted to you?"

I mean...it would be grand to have a bazillion Gs just land in your lap all of a sudden! But the likelihood is so small - even if you play regularly - that it's generally not worth feeding your funds into the black hole known as "the luck of the draw."



Now, my intention is not to guilt-trip anyone about how they spend their money. Lord knows, I have misspent countless dollars over my lifetime! My husband and I have had many conversations about our past single years, and the question that always rises to the surface is, "What did we do with all that money?" I mean, in the early years we lived with parents, paid no rent, had no "real" bills...and now have absolutely nothing to show for it. My husband's witty answer (and my personal fave) regarding these un-pinched pennies: "Man, that was a lotta' cheesburgers!"

But seriously, where did it all go?

When we're "young and dumb," we often make careless purchases. We also tend to rack up fines, fees, and overage penalties due to our lack of experience and attention to detail. In short, we are often unwise (read: slack) with our finances.

As we grow older and gain more responsibility, however, we also accrue debt - or at the least, "real" bills (mortgages, doctor's visits, mouths to feed, etc.). And with these expenses comes pressure. The pressure to be diligent with our greenbacks. 

So where do you stand? Are you wise with the money with which the Lord blesses you? Do you have a "rainy day" fund? Are you diligently chipping away at your debt? And are you able to bless the Lord through giving church offerings and helping those in need?

Or are you careless with your money...always wishing, wanting, and needing more (mostly due to the mismanagement of current funds or living beyond your means)? Are you buried under a heap of bills that you will never be able to pay unless you win said lottery? And are you holding back your "firstfruits" (Proverbs 3:9) from the Lord by failing to give to your local church body?

[Note: there are definitely times that bring more rain than shine. Just because someone has mega-bills rather than mega-millions does not mean that they have been careless. I realize that medical expenses are heavy, and sometimes we inherit the debts of others. So I'm not seeking to heap judgment and condemnation here. If this is you, disregard the "careless" comments above. God can still work in your circumstance, even if it looks grim.]

But for the greater majority: if you are the latter rather than the former, check out Dave Ramsey's Seven Baby Steps. My husband and I don't follow it to the letter, but we've loosely modeled our budget after the plan. And while we're not as diligent as we could be, making wiser financial choices does allow us to live more freely - less encumbered and more able and willing to assist others. 

We don't have an "A" in budgeting yet, but we are working on it. And that's what we all ought to be doing: working on it. Looking at our funds and working to change for the better. I wouldn't encourage you to examine your finances if I weren't already microscoping my own. Remember: we are doing this life thing together. Let's not be afraid to talk finances within the bounds of genuine, biblical community. Often we avoid these kinds of discussions altogether, and that doesn't help any of us. Let us encourage one another toward godly living - even in the money matters.

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