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Home and Finance

Understanding Simple Biblical Basics
About Home, Family And Finance

By Ken Raggio

"Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content,"
1 Timothy 6:8

Home is the place where a person lives. From our childhood, for most people, home is the shelter provided by our mother and father. For infants and children, home is usually provided without cost. In advanced nations, the nurturer-caregivers generally assume responsibility for the minor children. In less developed nations, such dependency is a luxury not to be presumed upon. To millions of children around the world, home is little more than a shack, a hut, or even a cardboard box. Provision is a daily serving of rice, or meal, or beans.

There may not be a nuclear family, as is more common in developed nations. The child may have no idea who its father is. Its mother may be a beggar, a prostitute, or a poor common laborer. The child's true home is on the street. From an early age, mere survival may require scavenging for any morsel of edible trash, or stealing from the local market, or imposing on friends, acquaintances or some governmental agency for sustenance. A vicious cycle ensues, where generation after generation deteriorates further. The poverty, squalor, famine and disease that plagues our world at the present time is incomprehensible to many people.

A modern delusion is expecting the amenities of life to come automatically

Driving through an ordinary American neighborhood, viewing row after row of tidy, comfortable houses, it is difficult to comprehend the vast superstructure of cultural reinforcement that is needed to maintain that kind of existence. There is an almost endless list of prerequisites to assure the lifestyles to which so many have grown accustomed. We are the beneficiaries of many centuries of social and economic and educational advancements.

To presume that EVERYONE should live in a nice house, drive a nice car, wear nice clothes, eat pleasant food, and enjoy regular entertainment is unspeakably ignorant. There is NO ABSOLUTE GUARANTEE to any of us that such a life is inevitable! On the contrary, we see more and more evidence of people living WITHOUT HOUSES, WITHOUT CARS, WITHOUT EMPLOYMENT, and even WITHOUT FOOD AND CLOTHING.

To be sustained by a good role model is both a luxury and a privilege

If you live in a comfortable house, with carpeted floors, air conditioning, telephone, running water, stove, refrigerator, toilet and bathtub, you should bow down on your knees and give thanks to God for His ABUNDANT provision to you! We are the first society in the history of mankind to live like kings, as yet being common men. If you grew up with both a father and a mother, and they loved you and provided food, clothing and shelter for you - THANK GOD! There really are millions more in the world who do NOT have such a good fortune.

Self-sustenance must be learned early in life

Is there any wonder that our streets are filled with crime, when a thirteen or fourteen-year-old boy is left without a father or a mother to oversee his development? How can a youngster be expected to get up every morning and tend to his own sustenance?

  • Prepare his own meals
  • Tend to his own personal hygiene and grooming
  • Seek and find worthwhile employment
  • Open and manage his own bank account
  • Buy, insure and maintain his own vehicle
  • Choose and marry a good wife
  • Attend church regularly
  • Carefully nurture and care for his own children
  • Wash, dry and press his own clothing
  • Discipline himself to attend classes without an adult's urging
  • Resist peer pressure to engage in drug-abuse, drinking, and sexual immorality
  • Rent or purchase his own home
  • Negotiate his own health insurance plan
  • Make sound decisions about having children
  • Conform to high standards of living
  • Provide for continuing education of himself and his family

    The first step is getting the individual to understand the need

    Without a parent, how can a child learn these things? They simply won't! Hence, the waves of crime and violence that we now see. In the face of desperate needs (starvation, homelessness and loneliness) they will bond with others like themselves and embark on a lifetime of destitution that includes stealing, burglaries, prostitution, drug-dealing and addictions, and every vice known to man.

    What can be done? Perhaps little or nothing can be done to help those who are already caught in the trap of destitution.

    Did you ever wonder why some people never get up and go look for a job? Or why some turn down job opportunities? Or why they will not go to school, or continue on to college? Why do so many resign themselves to a lifetime of meager existence, never even trying to get off food stamps, or social welfare programs? Could it be that somewhere along the way, they were never taught or made to understand the real NEED? They never gave enough thought to the awful squalor that would someday come to them? It is of the same nature of "the Prodigal Son" in the Bible. His problem was that he apparently NEVER DREAMED that he would end up in a PIG PEN!

    Life without a home

    Is there any census that can accurately tell us exactly HOW MANY men, women and children have absolutely no self-sufficiency? How many people are right now living with and depending on other adults to sustain them? How many "borrow" a place to sleep? Whether it is a prison, a jail, a community shelter, an abandoned building, or some acquaintance who generously provides food and shelter without cost, an increasingly significant portion of our own cities are dependents.

    Exactly what responsibilities should a young person learn?

    It has often been said, "There is no free lunch!" The Apostle Paul instructed the Thessalonians to "do your own business, and to work with your own hands... that ye may walk honestly... and that ye may have lack of nothing," 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. He observed what he called "busybodies" who were "disorderly," and was obviously disturbed by the impact it was having on the other saints. So in 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul repeated, "We command you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." That is a very strong statement. But he also added, "...that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread," (verses 10-12). No able-bodied and able-minded person should feel that anyone else should sustain him.

    A Basic Education

    Especially in American, but also in most parts of the world, there are abundant resources to assist a person in getting started in the work process, not the least of which is a primary and secondary education. In spite of its bad reputation, the educational system is still one of the best opportunities for a young person to better his or her self. Often, the parents are to blame when children drop out of school without finishing. If the parents truly care, they will bring every available pressure to bear on the child, to force them to complete their basic education. Any responsible person can tell you that an American citizen who had no High School Diploma is going to be severely handicapped and unqualified when faced with the need for employment. In the absence of a Diploma, a young person should diligently pursue a General Equivalency Diploma (GED). How can any employer believe the young person will act responsibly when their personal record already reflects an unwillingness to complete an education?

    Vocational Training

    Every career track requires additional skills or knowledge prior to advancement. In today's workplace, the employers can generally afford to be more and more selective, because there are so many people in need of gainful employment. The trends reveal that unskilled and untrained laborers have less and less opportunities available to them. The only advantage a young person can expect to have is to prepare in advance. Whether a job requires a College Degree or a Vocational Certificate or minimum experience, the fact remains that without advance preparation, most candidates are simply going to be overlooked or ignored.

    The conclusion? Every person must assume the responsibility for his or her own "marketability." If you have even a clue as to the field you desire to work in, you should set out now to accumulate every possible qualification. For your own benefit, and the benefit of those you love, investigate the particular field thoroughly, and identify each and everything you must do to acquire the desired result. Then strike out and do it!

    Ask questions. Collect information. File names, addresses and phone numbers of people and companies who can help you reach your goals. Then don't stop until you have exhausted every reasonable "lead." You can and you will eventually achieve a worthwhile thing.

    Job selection

    Amazingly, many people have little appreciation for a good job. As stated earlier, too many think that good things are supposed to come automatically. They scorn a minimum wage job, refusing to admit that until a person has been proven at a particular job, their "entry level" status and minimum pay is absolutely justified. There is a difference between holding out for the best possible benefits and foolishly demanding benefits that you cannot show you are worthy of. Remember, there are many other entry level people out there who will gladly take your wage if you think you are too good for it.

    Another important matter is that of reliability. Do not deceive yourself into thinking that a low-paying job does not deserve a great deal of loyalty. We have all heard of the guy who "Worked his way up through the ranks." It is not uncommon for a person to take an ordinary job and turn it into an extraordinary opportunity. But to do so requires a great deal of perseverance, even in discouraging times. Remember that no job has to be forever, because you can use it as a stepping-stone - either as a promotion to the next level within the same company, or as a good work-reference toward another job with another firm. Every single time that you put in a good day's work, you are increasing your value as an employee.

    Here are several responsibilities every Christian person has toward his or her employer:

    1. Obedience - "Be obedient to them which are your masters... with fear and trembling, ... as unto Christ," Ephesians 6:5.

    2. Respect - "...count their own masters worthy of honor, that the name of God not blasphemed," I Timothy 6:1.

    3. Diligence - "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might," Ecclesiastes 9:10.

    4. Faithfulness and Wisdom - "...[the master] shall make him [the faithful, wise servant] ruler over all his goods," Matthew 24:47.

    Personal Accountability

    Let the individual understand that it is his responsibility to get a good night's sleep so that he can perform his duties satisfactorily. Let him set his alarm clock and get out of bed early enough to get to work on time. Let him realize that tending to his personal nutrition, hygiene and grooming are essentials in a competitive world. How many times has the slothful and unkempt person been passed over for promotion simply because his personal appearance was shoddy? A balanced diet, three meals a day, a bath, teeth brushed, hair in place, clothes clean and pressed, shoes shined, etc. - these are all things for which the individual alone can be accountable. Calling in "sick" when you are not, showing up late, leaving too early, spending too much time on the job making small talk or engaging in personal activities, having anything other than a "top performance" attitude: these behaviors contradict Christian principles. We should be genuinely convicted by our own conscious even if no one else complains. Do not be so naive as to think that other people do not observe and resent your inconsistencies. We, of all people, should be the very best examples in these areas.

    Financial Accountability

    One of the aggravating tendencies of people in the early days of their work experience is to think of their incomes apart from their expenses. Since many young people continue to live at home, it is common for them to take the room and board for granted. Some older children eventually decide to compensate their parents. Those who do not, become accustomed to their income being "disposable," or primarily for spending as they please. This leads them into a misconception of what kind of lifestyle a certain income will provide. In other words, unless the young adult learns from the very beginning to set aside money for the most basic expenses, such as housing, utilities (electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash, telephone), car notes and insurance, groceries, laundry, housekeeping, he or she is headed for serious financial trouble. The sober fact is that too much too soon can be disastrous. The young person should be taught that it takes a substantial amount of planning ahead, both in strategizing and in laying away the necessary resources to embark on a STABLE lifestyle on their own.

    Understanding Credit

    Probably the single biggest deceptions and subsequently the greatest reason for downfall is the introduction of borrowed money into a person's life. It is absolutely essential that a person understands that the only real money in the world is CASH. Borrowed money is a debt, a bill, an account payable. it cannot be viewed as an asset but as a liability. In terms of the day-to-day business of life, essentially everything should be paid for with CASH. "PAY AS YOU GO! If you can't pay -- DON'T GO!:

    Credit counselors everywhere teach that the only justifiable borrowings are for the purchase of large, permanent assets, such as a house or a car. This is the rare occasion when your indebtedness can be offset by something that will either hold its value or appreciate in value. Virtually no other purchase qualifies as such.

    Unfortunately, the potential gain to the lenders causes them to BOMBARD us with invitations to borrow money. Who is not constantly being solicited to apply for a Master Card, a VISA card, a DISCOVER card, a SEARS CHARGE account, a GASOLINE card, and AMERICAN EXPRESS card, and more? Then the other sharks attack: the household finance companies, the no- collateral, high-interest-rate prison sentences. And don't forget your own bank, who also wants to loan money to you.

    It is impossible for a novice borrower to comprehend the potential hazards of using credit. It is SO ENTICING to think about being able to rush ahead and purchase a houseful of gadgets and electronic wizardry without having to have any money for it right now! We can get our kitchen appliances this month, our laundry appliances next month, our living room furniture this fall, and our bedroom furniture this winter! The furniture company will finance all of that. Then we can get a music system on MasterCard, video equipment on VISA, and take a vacation on American Express. Then, by spring, we can buy a new lawnmower on SEARS CHARGE, and get some new clothes on the DEPARTMENT STORE CARD! Meanwhile, while we run all over town on shopping sprees, we can CHARGE our auto expenses on SHELL or EXXON cards, and eat out in the restaurants with the DISCOVER card.

    Then, EVERY MONTH, we can just pay a small payment. A big note for the apartment. A big electricity utility bill. The monthly gas utility. The monthly water and sewer utility bill. The monthly telephone, cable and internet services bills. PLUS, we have to make the monthly payments on the CAR(s), the car insurance premium, the refrigerator note, the living room suite note, the bedroom suite note, the washer/dryer note, the lawnmower note, the video equipment note, the credit card payment on the vacation trip, and on, and on the bills pile up.

    Add all those bills up, and all of a sudden, the BILLS are larger than the INCOME!! Except you neglected to set aside your FIRST-FRUITS - your 10% TITHING to the church ministry that feeds you.

    So, just to BREAK EVEN this month, you will need a few hundred dollars MORE THAN YOU EARN! And you still have not bought groceries, everyday toiletries, or housekeeping supplies. This young couple is going to have to look for additional jobs!

    But to get better jobs, they will need a better education! The cheap route will be to get a two-year Associate Degree. But a four-year Bachelor Degree is better. Or further on to a Masters or PhD or EdD. Tens of thousands of dollars more will be needed to continue their educations, and it will take several more years in classes.

    Actually, this hypothetical couple just declared bankruptcy, and everything was repossessed. Now, they have NO credit, NO furniture, NO appliances, and only embarrassment and humiliation. They will not be able to buy another house or another car anytime soon. They will not be able to charge their gasoline or their restaurant expenses.

    They will have to pay cash.

    Which is what they should have done in the first place.

    Scriptural exhortations

    "He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man," Proverbs 21:17.

    "The borrower is servant to the lender," Proverbs 22:7.

    "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another," Romans 13:8.

    "My son, if thou be a surety [co-signer] for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, thou are snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler," Proverbs 6:1-5.

    "He that is surety [co[signer] for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure," Proverbs 11:15.

    "Be not one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. if thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?" Proverbs 22:26-27.

    "Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings," Proverbs 22:29.

    "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich," Proverbs 10:14.


    1. Pay God your "Firstfruits."

    Pay tithes. God's 10% comes off the very top. Don't spend a dime before paying God. Some people greedily argue that tithing isn't taught in the New Testament, but that is not true. Jesus Himself said you ought to pay tithes. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone," Matthew 23:23. "But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone," Luke 11:42. The Apostle Paul taught the early church to collect the tithe on the first day of every week (Sunday). "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him," 1 Corinthians 16:2. Your tithes should NOT go to TV or Radio preachers. It should go to the local church where you are being pastored by a man of God, who watches over your soul. If you don't have a church and a pastor - GET ONE! But that's another sermon.

    2. "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's."

    Pay your taxes - Federal, State and Local taxes. If you are self-employed, no one will withhold your taxes but you. Late payments impose OUTRAGEOUS penalties and interest. Nobody but God can make you suffer more than the IRS. Spare yourself the future agony. Send payments no later than the end of each quarter.

    3. Pay yourself.

    Carefully save or invest.

    "Go to the ant thou sluggard; consider his ways, and be wise: which have no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest." She planned ahead and saved. This is the only real way to make major purchases. Don't let the pinch of inconvenience force you into eating your seed corn - your future corn.

    After you tithe God, tithe yourself. The mathematical "Rule of 72" tells you how long it will take for your savings to double. If you place money in savings at 12% interest, 12 divided into 72=6. So in six years, your savings will double. If you earn 6% interest, it will take twelve years for your savings to double. At first, your savings grows very slowly, but take note of how quickly it begins to grow. If you invest $2500 now at 12%, in six years you will have $5000. Or at 6%, $2500 will become $5000 in twelve years. But in forty years - your working years prior to retirement - your money will multiply many times over!

    4. Pay as you go.

    Don't live on borrowed money. Start with good used furniture and appliances. A good used car. A modest wardrobe. Modest living standards. Keep saving and working your way into a better income. As your cash flow and assets increase, gradually increase your standard of living.

    5. Deliberately avoid "too much, too soon."

    Don't over-spend or over-borrow. It is not only a sin to lust after the things of this world, it is enormously foolish to fall into a trap of wanting more than you really need. Just remember, an expensive car will be worth almost nothing in ten years (and it will be ugly, too). Unless you are making a whole lot of money, and can comfortably afford them, you should avoid big-ticket items that you cannot honestly justify. Why not invest more time and energy into your spouse or your children instead of squandering so much of everything you have and do on more material possessions? So many of the things you think you need will be a big bore after a while, but you will still be paying for them.

    "Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith and vomit it," Proverbs 25:16.

    "When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat. Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven," Proverbs 23:1-5.

    "Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith," Proverbs 15:16.

    "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house," Proverbs 15:16.

    "Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right," Proverbs 16:8.

    6. Give to those who have need.

    Be a benevolent person.

    "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again," Proverbs 19:17.

    "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again," Luke 6:38.

    "Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction:
    but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured,"
    Proverbs 13:18.

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