Written by Russ Crosson, EVP and Chief Mission Officer
As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s a great time to take a moment to reflect on what we are thankful for with those who mean the most to us. While this is a wonderful practice of gratitude, it may be worth exploring a different approach this year. Instead of asking friends and family what they are thankful for, try asking, “How do you show your thankfulness?”
“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us shout with songs of praise to him” (Psalm 95:2).
At Ronald Blue Trust, we help clients show their gratitude and thankfulness by stewarding their wealth well. We’ve been helping clients steward wealth in a Godly way according to biblical principles for over 40 years. One of the biggest lessons we have learned is that the accumulation of financial resources should never be an end in itself. Financial resources should be accumulated solely for the purpose of using them to accomplish some goal or objective. For example, you do not take a vacation or buy a car just to spend money, but rather to provide something else such as recreation, relaxation, or transportation.
One of the core lessons we teach to any client is that there are basically five spending objectives, and every spending decision or use of money accomplishes one of these five objectives. We call these “the Five Uses of Money”:
- Living Expenses
- Debt Repayment
- Savings (this is cash-flow margin)
Every spending decision, in the short term, will fit into one of these five categories. How money is allocated among the five categories is a function of two factors: the commitments I already have and my priorities. Many people would state their priorities are giving and saving, but in reality, many times these uses wind up at the bottom of the priority ladder.
Of the five short-term uses of money, three are consumptive in nature, and two are productive. Lifestyle expenditures, debt repayment, and taxes are all consumptive; when money is spent, it is gone forever.
Both saving and giving are productive uses of money. Money that is put into saving is much like planting a crop – later on, much more than what was planted comes up and can be used again for either consumption or production. Money given can meet needs around you; advance the gospel; support a myriad of ministries that have a positive impact on society and many other worthwhile causes.
The Bible gives us many principles and guidelines about each of these five areas, but very little in the way of a direct commandment. To determine what God would have us do in balancing our priorities requires the discipline of spending time with Him.
No other person, including your financial advisor, can tell you how to prioritize your use of money. Why? God has not entrusted the resources you possess to someone else; only you are accountable for managing the use of God’s resources entrusted to you. But we can show you what has worked for us and for many of our more than 10,000 clients as they have followed biblical principles of wealth management.
Biblical financial planning doesn’t tell you what financial decisions to make, it tells you how to think about each decision in a Godly way so you can have clarity and peace of mind. At the end of the day, we will all stand before God and make an account, and we all want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things” (Matthew 25:21).
This year, family gatherings may still not be back to normal, but if you’re fortunate enough to have family and friends sharing your Thanksgiving table, take a moment to reflect together on the ways you show your thankfulness.
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11).
Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.