[God's Design for Building Your Marriage 9] God's Design for Finances
Wisdom from the Word
The LORD owns the earth and all it contains,
The world and all who live in it.
Psalm 24:1 (NET)
Understanding God’s Design
We would have to study an entire course on finances to cover all that God says about it in the Scriptures. Since we cannot spend that much time on it, we will take a few principles and think about their application in our lives.
Read Matthew 6:19-34.
1. What is the danger in storing up treasures on earth according to vv.21 and 24?
2. What should be your priority in life according to v. 33? What is the promise for those whose priorities are in line?
3. How will having those priorities affect your generosity to others and your giving to the church?
The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom about life. As you read proverbs, remember that they are sayings which are generally true. They are not promises but truths that usually happen.
4. Write down the financial principles that you learn from these proverbs:
a. Prov. 3:9-10
b. Prov. 6:6-8
c. Prov. 11:25
d. Prov. 11:28
e. Prov. 13:11
f. Prov. 21:5
g. Prov. 23:4-5
h. Prov. 24:30-34
I have made my prayer concerning finances that of Proverbs 30:8b-9: “Give me neither poverty nor riches—feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.” God knows how much Gary and I need and can handle for the tasks which He has given us to do. I don’t want wealth to distract me from my faith in God; neither do I want poverty to cause me to doubt His goodness.
Read 1 Tim. 6:6-11.
5. What may happen to those who seek wealth?
6. With what necessities should we be content?
7. Instead of pursuing wealth, what is the believer to pursue? How does this fit with the priorities we looked at last week and Matt. 6 with which we dealt in questions #1-3 in this lesson?
One of the major problems concerning finances in marriage is debt. What are believers to do about debt? I wish we had time to go through the entire Bible and study what God has to say. If you and your husband want to study God’s principles for money, I would recommend either a Crown Ministry class or some of Larry Burkett’s material. He has workbooks to help you plan your finances as well. He tells us what God’s Word says about debt.26
God does not prohibit using credit; He simply lays down very clear guidelines for how credit should be used. There are three basic principles: (1) credit should never be normal for God’s people; (2) credit should never be long-term; (3) never sign surety—take on an obligation to pay without an absolutely certain way to pay.
Our culture minimizes the impact of debt. We live in a debt-driven society. The world tells us that we need material things and should not have to wait for them. Consequently, we charge and borrow in order to have more stuff. Somehow we are convinced that these are necessities. God’s Word tells us to be careful because the borrower has a sure obligation before God to pay back what he borrows. You have made a promise, given your word to another, when you borrow. As we reflect the character of God, we must be faithful to our promises. Christians do not lightly give promises about anything.
8. Are you guilty of using debt to buy things that are not really necessities? Have you used credit when your husband has failed to give you what you want? Do you maintain a credit balance instead of paying off the debt before buying other things?
My husband and I do have credit cards but make it a practice to pay them off. My husband is generally not as concerned about our finances as I am so he spends money more freely. That could drive me crazy, but it is not my responsibility. God has been faithful to us through all the years and provided for our every need. I know that He will continue to do so.
Building Your Marriage with God’s Design
As married women, we must base our financial decisions not only on specific verses that teach about money but also on the Biblical teaching concerning marriage from our previous lessons.
We have already studied God’s principle of covenant, where two become one in an unbreakable vow before God. The oneness we share with our spouses applies in all areas of our lives, including finances.
Kay Arthur teaches this as it relates to our covenant with Christ but it also applies to our marriages.27
Covenant is such a total oneness and commitment that, as Jesus says, you have to be willing to give up all your possessions . . . when two become one, everything you have also belongs to your covenant partner.
What is mine belongs also to my husband and what is his belongs to me. Marriage today has gotten far away from this in many ways. Individuals desire to hold onto “my stuff”. Too often I hear women refer to “my money” because it is the money they earned. All that a couple has is “ours”. There is nothing that belongs specifically to either one. If we follow God’s design rather than the world’s, we hold nothing back from our spouses. We give freely and without strings. Together you may determine who manages certain income. When my mother gives me money for my birthday, my husband wants me to use it for myself, not because it is “my money.” He knows that I will use it for our family if we have a need. Once a friend of mine told me that her husband wanted to borrow some of “her money.” Legally, it may have been “her money” but in God’s eyes, it belonged just as much to her husband. Her attitude toward her money and her marriage were out of whack with God’s design.
9. Married women:Do you have any possession or money that you consider yours and not your husband’s? What do you need to do about your attitude? Single women: Are you willing to be one with your future husband in this area? Why or why not? Does your attitude come from trust in God or not?
Although Gary and I consider all of the money we receive to belong to “us”, we do have separate checking accounts. Early on we realized that it is too difficult to keep up with the balance when two different people are using the same account. When I did not have a paying job, he gave me a certain amount each month; out of that, I paid certain bills and some other expenses. He trusted me to use that money wisely. One checking account may work for you and your husband. If you do have separate accounts, the key is to recognize that all the money in both accounts belongs to both of you. You do not have the authority to spend the money in your account in a way in which your husband would not agreed.
This brings up the other marriage principle that affects finances, submission. When you cannot agree, your husband is responsible before God for the way the money is spent. (Remember that includes all the money, whether you earned it or he did.) There have been so many times that I thanked God that it is not my responsibility but Gary’s. I am not anxious to answer to God for any more than necessary!
It is great when both spouses agree after praying about a monetary decision. I talk to so many women who say that they basically tell their husbands what to do financially. At the risk of being redundant, let me again emphasize that when you allow your husband to make the decisions, you are trusting God, not your husband. Let God, rather than you, deal with him! Don’t let your husband allow you to lead the home spiritually by being the only one who prays about the decisions made. Let him know that you respect him and expect him to pray and to make a wise decision.
If you desire to get out of debt (a wonderful goal), how do you do it? You stop spending and begin a plan to pay off the remaining debt. If you have to tear up your credit cards, do so. You may find that your husband is not as committed to getting out of debt as you are. Pledge that you personally will not be guilty of borrowing so that you have done all that you can to get out of debt.
10. Married women: Will you trust God with your money so that you quit trying to control the monetary decisions, giving your input but never insisting or suggesting that your husband is incapable of making the right decision? Write a prayer committing yourself to God and voicing your trust in Him. Single women: Write a prayer committing to God’s priorities for your money.
11. What does Prov. 27:15-16 say about nagging your husband over his spending habits (or any other things)? Married women: Have you been guilty?
12. What are some practical steps that a wife can take to let her husband know that she respects his decisions in this area?
Sometimes it can be quite difficult to shut your mouth and let your husband make what you consider bad decisions in the area of finances because they affect your entire family so much. Review the principles from 1 Peter about dealing with a husband who is not acting wisely, according to your understanding of God’s Word. Unless he is actually sinning, you need to respectfully share your perspective, pray, and let God deal with him. You are not the Holy Spirit. You must exhibit the gentle and quiet spirit that trusts God to deal with your husband and is at peace because of that faith.
13. How does our Word of Wisdom this week, Psalm 24:1, help you when you struggle to trust God with your money or your husband? Memorize it.
14. Copy 1 Sam.2:7 below. Read Ps. 127:2. How do these verses help you trust God instead of thinking that you must be a workaholic or work to the extent that it impacts your family?
Parenting with God’s Design
Darlene Leach shared with me a book written by her parents, telling of their lives and the ways that God had blessed them with “all these things” out of Matt. 6:33. Although they lived in a very different era, you can see from their example how important it is to teach financial principles to your children. In their marriage, they lived out the things they had been taught by their parents.28
Both of us had always been taught to save a little of whatever we made! We had also been taught that the first ten cents of every dollar belonged to God, so it was only natural for us to take the first ten cents from our salary to church and the next ten cents to the Post Office! The Postal Service was paying 2% interest on investments! Discipline had always been a part of our lives, so it was fun and fulfilling to see our nest egg grow. It wasn’t very long before we could buy a car—not by paying so much down and so much a month, but by paying cash for a beautiful car! We didn’t realize it then, but God was gradually adding ‘all these things’ to our lives, just as fast as we proved ourselves to be dependable and trustworthy.
Daulton & Pauline Blevins
15. What practical ways are you teaching your children to trust God with their finances? How are you teaching them to give to God?
Wisdom from a Mentor (Karen)
For as far back as I can remember I have felt that I had to be independent. You’ve probably heard these philosophies: “If it is to be, it’s up to me” and “Life is what you make it”. I didn’t adopt those philosophies because I was a feminist or because my temperament directed me in that path, but because circumstances of my childhood more or less molded me that way. I learned about God at age 10, but there was no discipleship of my new faith until I was in my early twenties. By that time, I had become pretty proficient at taking care of myself financially, and I thought my role with God was to simply worship Him and live my life in a manner that would not shame Him. I had a really hard time shaking the idea that my problems were “my” problems and somehow I had to make decisions and work them out the best way I could, just as I had done all my life. It took a lot of Bible study and church attendance before it began to sink in that God didn’t want me to just worship Him as God, but to let Him be God in my life. It was hard for me to capture the thought that this Supreme Being not only wanted to participate in my decisions and needs, but He commanded it of me. What a relief that brought to my life and I used it “big-time” when I married my husband, a very sweet and sensitive person, but very choleric, take-charge kind of man!
By the time we met, we both were focused on following God’s will for our lives, so I didn’t have that struggle. I also knew that God’s design for marriage was for God to guide the man and the woman to follow that lead, and I was so ready for someone else to “take the lead” that this wasn’t an issue. (This far oversimplifies the submission issue for the wife, but that’s another topic in itself.) I so welcomed that! The struggle I did have was when God decided to test me in that area—how far would I trust Him to take care of the issues of our lives, and would I be willing to allow Robert to be the head of our household and not recapture that need to be independent?
Shortly after we were married, I sold my business and became an “assistant” to him in his. Calamity happened and we were wiped out financially. We lost everything except our cars that were paid for. It just seemed that things weren’t “working” for my husband from a business sense. Those were fearful times for me. I began thinking that I should get a job, any job, or maybe God wanted me to start back with my own business, but Robert was against it. I thought it was probably just his pride, and I was frustrated that I should be doing something to make our financial situation better. When you have a problem, you take action, RIGHT???? That is what I'd always done in the past. Finally, I did do something, I prayed, but God didn't seem to be listening. Frequently to my mind I would recall scripture that said that the man was the head of the house. I began to get a confidence that God was using this dark time in our lives to grow us for His purpose.
For the next few years, I stayed right at my husband’s side, supporting him in every way possible. I prayed for God to give me the strength to be an encouragement to my husband and to give me the contentment in our situation. Lord, help me not to whine and not to be envious of others who seem to not be having these awful financial struggles. We were frequent prayers. Things began to turn around and our financial issues decreased. When the dust had cleared, I looked back and realized that because I had truly relinquished my independence to God and my husband, God was able to work within my husband without my interference. I learned so many lessons through that hard time.
As a result, our marriage is strong and vital. We have a bond that creates a trust and oneness that I could have never imagined having with any one person! I realize that my husband isn’t perfect and that he is going to make mistakes, and from a secular view, I may suffer as a result; however, I know that if I simply follow the plan that God has laid out for the wife, then all that comes my way will ultimately be for my good. I don’t have to be the one to take care of everything in my life anymore. God does it perfectly. I can trust Him to work through my husband for my good and His glory.
Summing It Up
16. What one principle of finances has most impacted you this week? Write down one action you will take this week to implement this principle in your life. Make it personal. Use the first person: I will . . . .
26 Larry Burkett, The Word on Finances (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 147.
27 Kay Arthur, Our Covenant God (Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press, 1999), 64-65.
28 Daulton and Pauline Blevins, “All These Things”, (unpublished booklet, n.d.), 9.