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Financial Fitness

Basic Principles for Getting Into Shape

By Wayne Jones, CFP

In the summer, people often focus on getting into shape. This usually involves the basics of proper diet and exercise. Likewise, there are some basic biblical principles for getting into shape financially. Foundational to these is that God is the owner of all (Psalm 24:1), and we are stewards—or managers—over everything He entrusts to us. With that in mind, let’s review a few principles.

Give cheerfully and regularly (Mal. 3:10-11; Prov. 3:9-10; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:7). In Old Testament times, the Israelites gave the first tenth—or “tithe”—of their income to the Lord’s work. The tithe is a good guideline for believers today as well: it is the practice of returning to God a mere portion of what He has provided to us. Giving regularly and cheerfully honors God and acknowledges Him as the source of all we possess. When we obey the Lord with our finances, He blesses us and proves His faithfulness.

Spend less than you earn (Prov. 13:11; 21:20). Our culture encourages overspending. But habitually spending all income can lead to financial trouble, so priorities must be right. After the tithe, we should use income to take care of our needs and commitments. Then, it’s wise to save a portion for anticipated needs and future goals. Remaining income can be used to meet the needs of others and to provide for some of our desires. Now, don’t confuse desires with needs, because that gets expensive. Desires shouldn’t control expenditures; they’re the last priority. Being content with what we have and foregoing today’s desires for future benefits (1 Tim. 6:6-8; Heb. 13:5) helps us spend less than we earn.

Minimize or avoid the use of debt (Prov. 22:7; Ps. 37:21). Excessive debt has caused much financial turmoil in our nation over the past few years. Owing money increases stress, reduces financial flexibility, and limits our ability to reach other important goals. Whatever we borrow, we should repay.

Good stewardship includes following Scripture’s financial principles and generously supporting God’s work. He rewards faithful stewards (Prov. 11:25).

This article is not intended to provide specific legal, tax, or financial advice. You should seek the advice of qualified professionals in planning for your family’s future.