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The Mistake Most Stewards Make by Dr. Gary G. Hoag

When my wife and I got married, we lived like most Americans. We bought stuff, ate out, gave a percentage of our income, traveled, and enjoyed occasional treats. We had credit cards which made it easy to spend. On the surface we looked like good stewards. But within two years, we realized we only had only $7.34. It’s true. We were broke!

How did it happen? We made the mistake that most stewards make: we did not live on a budget. Sadly, our behavior reflected cultural norms which prevail today. On 14 July 2022, Livia Gershon reported that only 32% of households in the U.S.A. prepared a monthly budget. And, of those who made a budget, only 70% check their spending against it on a weekly basis. In plain terms, only about one of four Americans keep track of their spending.

Why is this a huge issue for followers of Jesus? In Luke 16:1-9, we read the parable of the manager who squandered the Master’s possessions. That was us. We used God’s resources to enjoy our earthly existence, and the story instructs us to use His resources to make friends for eternity. We were doing the opposite! Then Jesus says this in verses 10-12.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little, will also be dishonest with much. So, if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”

Think about your own stewardship then read this Scripture again. After doing that, now read the remainder of this post, which shares four benefits to living on a budget and points you to four free resources to help you as a steward to do it.

  • Get Resources – If you don’t keep track of your management of God’s resources when you only have a little, do not expect additional resources from Him. You have not demonstrated trustworthiness. God wants to resource your living, giving, serving, and loving. To position yourself as a conduit of blessing, show yourself as reliable first.
  • Enjoy Freedom – When you live within your means, you avoid the dangers of debt. You can live, give, serve, and love generously because you have not mortgaged the future on the altar of the present. This makes you agile to follow God’s leading freely. And, you know by experience that He will supply what you need for service.
  • Grasp Life – When you use God’s resources to make friends for eternity, guess what happens? You grasp life now as God designed you to live it. You become a conduit of material and spiritual blessing. You take hold of the true riches from Jesus. But you only do this if you keep track and manage His resources according to His wishes.
  • Be Prepared – This may be the biggest reason to live on a budget. It is impossible to give an account for your stewardship before God if you do not keep track of your management of His resources. Your effort today will make sure you hear the words, “Well Done!” when you meet Jesus.

Want to learn more? Whether or not you live on a budget and track expenses, if you use your worldly wealth to make friends for eternity, you will get resources, enjoy freedom, grasp life, and be prepared to meet Jesus. Check out these four free resources to help you and for sharing with others.

  • Watch “Thinking Biblically About Money” by Manju George here – If you like videos, check it out. It’s a short video in which an accountant from India elaborates on why you should keep track of your spending of God’s resources.
  • Listen to the “Meaning Over Money” podcast by Travis Shelton – Actually, don’t just listen. Subscribe here! Travis will help you get out of debt, learn to live generously, take hold of life, and prepare you to give an account to Jesus.
  • Download the ebook, Purposeful Living: Financial Wisdom for All of Life here – Tim Macready and I compiled and edited it to share biblical insights on earning, allocating, giving, investing, sharing, influencing, and serving. Read it.
  • Take the “Faith & Finances” certificate course here – It’s available on demand, lasts one month, and equips you in personal financial managements a foundation for helping your marriage, family, church and/or ministry flourish.

Don’t make the same mistake we made, the one most stewards make. You can do this. These free resources can help you.

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Gary G. Hoag, Ph.D., serves as President & CEO of GTP. In obedient service to Jesus Christ, GTP multiplies faithful stewards and mobilizes peer accountability groups (like ECFA in the USA) to build trust and to grow local giving to God’s work.


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