Finances are one of our most important stewardships. If for no other reason than that, we should want to manage them well. So, let me commend you—you went beyond simply reading Your Finances God’s Way to also purchasing this accompanying workbook. You are investing time and energy (spiritual, mental, and emotional) to learn how to handle money in ways that please God and bring Him glory.
Keeping God’s Word in Your Heart
As a pastor, I’ve spent numerous hours doing counseling. The time with people has given me familiarity with the most common problems people face. I have seen them struggle and then find the solutions in God’s Word, which provides us with wisdom for every area of life, including finances. When I ask you to trust God’s Word, I do so because I have seen it work in my life as well as the lives of people I’ve counseled.
This workbook is designed to encourage practical application and bring real change (because that’s what applying scriptural truth does—it brings about change). For this to happen, we must keep God’s Word in our heart, as it repeatedly reminds us:
- “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:6).
- “The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip” (Psalm 37:31).
- “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8).
- “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
- “Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart” (Job 22:22).
While Your Finances God’s Way is not the Word of God, it is a guide filled with the Word of God. I have written this workbook to help you apply the teaching from the book and keep God’s Word in your heart. As Jesus said, “The good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15).
Being a Doer Versus Only a Reader
From years of weightlifting, I’ve had lower back issues. I’ll go to the physical therapist and learn the stretches and exercises I’m supposed to do at home, but I rarely do them. My wonderful wife, Katie, repeatedly says, “Why do you go to those appointments if you’re not going to do what you’re told?” I don’t have a good answer. My actions indicate that I think simply going to the appointments helps me, but I’m deceiving myself.
We make the same mistake when we read scriptural truth but fail to apply it to our lives. James 1:22 says, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” This verse reveals a common mistake I make with the physical therapist and many of us make with God’s Word: We learn it without applying it to our lives.
We do this with our finances when we believe we have done enough simply by learning what the Bible teaches about money, reading Christian finance books, and attending Christian conferences or Bible studies on money. But as believers, our responsibility goes much further than simply obtaining information. We must also apply it, or none of the knowledge we gain will be of any benefit. We do not learn God’s Word simply for the sake of acquiring knowledge. We learn it so that we can apply it and better serve the Lord. Jesus said, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it…If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (Luke 8:21; John 13:17 NKJV). He also taught an entire parable making this point:
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27).
I would like to begin our journey through the Your Finances God’s Way Workbook with a look at this parable for two reasons:
- Jesus brought the Sermon on the Mount to a close with this teaching. He wanted to make sure His listeners put into practice what they heard. My prayer is that this workbook will help you put into practice what you have read in the accompanying book.
- This teaching makes clear that there is only one true foundation for any area of our lives, including our finances: Jesus Christ.
Be encouraged that you are off to a great start being not just a hearer (or reader), but a doer (or obey-er) by using this workbook.
Financial Storms Will Come
Why is it so important to have a strong foundation? Jesus revealed the need this way: “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew” (Matthew 7:25). You have probably seen on the news—or perhaps personally experienced—what can happen to a house under the onslaught of a powerful storm, hurricane, tornado, or tsunami. Jesus was not teaching that the weather will be unpleasant or chilly and we might need an umbrella or coat to protect ourselves. Rather, He was speaking of the inevitable trials that we all experience (see John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 1 Thessalonians 3:3; James 1:2; 1 Peter 4:12).
The words “beat on that house” in Matthew 7:25 are analogous to the struggles that wear on us. Financially speaking, this could be a job loss, bills that pile up, stock market crash, or car accident. Not only are many of these storms financial, statistics show financial storms are the most common we face. Since the American Psychological Association in 2007, “Stress in America: Paying with Our Health,” each year they found that money is people’s most common cause of stress. A survey conducted by Northwestern Mutual had similar findings: Money is the primary source of stress for 44 percent of people, followed by 25 percent who said personal relationships, and 18 percent who cited work. In the same way that physical storms have the potential to knock down a house, financial storms have the potential to make us feel as though we are going to collapse. How many people have said, “I can’t pay this anymore…I don’t know how we are going to make ends meet…I will lose my mind if we get one more bill”?
Let’s note what Jesus was not teaching in this parable: Obeying Him keeps us from experiencing storms. Sometimes we think that if we are “good Christians,” then God will prevent trials, including financial ones, from coming our way. This is prosperity theology, also known as health-and-wealth doctrine, and it is false. Note that Jesus said the storms were beating on a house that was built on the strong foundation of His teaching.
If obeying Jesus’s teaching does not enable us to avoid the financial storms of life, then what is the benefit of obedience? Jesus promised that obedience enables us to survive the storms: “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:25). Obeying Jesus’s teachings will not help us avoid financial storms, but it will help us survive them.
Perhaps you have witnessed people experiencing a financial difficulty and thought, How can they handle that? I don’t know what I would do if that were me! The great encouragement is that if you are obeying Jesus’s teachings, you can be assured that you, too, will be able to withstand.