As you read scripture, you probably notice injunctions to help the poor, widows, orphans and other unfortunates. I believe that one of the reasons that God blesses some of us with resources is so that we can help others. When we properly manage our finances, and do well with the stewardship given us, we put ourselves in a position where we can help others. Blessings then increase for everyone involved.
Are You Putting Your Financial House in Order?
One of the basic truths about helping others is that it helps to be on firm footing yourself. Can you afford to take food to the local food bank if you can't feed your own family? It is important to put your financial house in order and prepare yourself to be an instrument in God's hand, helping the less fortunate. Here are some things you can do to help put your house in order:
- Get your debt under control: Stop spending in a way that adds to your debt. Begin paying down your debt. Debt represents financial bondage. In order to be financially free — and help others reach the same freedom — you need to begin throwing off the chains of debt. Make a debt repayment plan, and prepare to live debt-free where practical.
- Pay your tithe: My faith in tithing is quite strong. Tithing is, of course, something that is very personal, and the way you choose to pay it (if you choose to pay it) is between you and God. In my life, though, I have found that paying my tithing first has been a good way to ensure that my needs are met. Even in times of financial difficulty, my faith in paying tithing has always resulted in having what I need (even if sometimes I forgo what I want).
- Prepare for the future: Set aside money for the future, including an emergency fund and putting money in a retirement account. As you begin building toward a sound financial future, you will find that other things start to fall into place.
- Evaluate your spending habits, and make changes: Honestly look at your spending habits. Change poor habits so that the way you use money reflects your values and priorities.
Once your financial house is in order, with your debt repayment plan in place, your tithes going where they should, your habits on the mend and your future being built, you might notice that you have a little extra money. Or, perhaps, you have a little extra time. In either case, you likely find yourself in a position to help others. This help can including loaning money to friends and family who might need some help, providing a place for a relative to live while s/he looks for work, donating time to your favorite charity or buying groceries for someone who needs them.
However you decide to help, it can be a great opportunity to get outside yourself, providing service and drawing closer to God. If you are in a position to help others, through money or time, look around and see what you can do. You might be surprised at how it can become easier to keep your finances in order, and to better manage your time, when you take the time to serve others.
So, are you in a position to help others, or are you working towards being there as soon as possible?