Several weeks ago, while at the state capitol, I had the opportunity to observe behind-the-scene activities involving a fight for tax reduction for working class families. I won't go into detail about what was discussed, but what stands out in my mind was one of the strategy meetings I sat in on. After all the options were evaluated, implementation was proposed to engage the public. The discussion boiled down to, "Where do we get the money to put this plan into action?" Sadly, no one could think of anyone who had the funding to support the program. End result: the bad guys won. I began to wonder, as I observed this meeting, why conservative and Christian agendas aren't better supported. I don't believe it is a lack of desire on the part of the Christian community, but I do believe it is a lack of funds. Why is this? Why can't Christian organizations raise the money they need to operate? I choose a political example in this instance, but I'm sure you have many examples of your own, involving many different areas.
Many times I hear that Christians are to prepare leaders for the cultural reformation of our society. Strong Christians with a solid Biblical foundation will then be in a position to be cultural leaders. I agree with this strategy, but I believe a very important aspect has been overlooked. The fact of the matter is that most Christians today are on very poor financial ground and are unable to support such candidates. Without money, those important leadership positions are lost to the well-funded opposition. My experience at the capitol is an example of this problem. Today, we are ill-equipped financially to fuel this societal change. I say this for several reasons.
I listen regularly to a local Christian radio station, and I am appalled at the advertising on this station. It deals largely with declaring bankruptcy, refinancing loans, and acquiring second mortgages. Remember, these vendors are advertising on this station because they are getting a great deal of business.
Second, a great many Christian institutions seem to suffer from a lack of funds (1 Tim. 5:18). It has always troubled me that money seems to be in such short supply in the Christian community except, of course, for the televangelists, who have a great deal of money but don't seem to accomplish much (Isa. 56:10). There always seems to be a critical shortage in funds when it comes to projects that need to be implemented. Chalcedon, for instance, goes through cycles of some good times and many lean.
Third, and I must say the most troubling fact, I see a minority group wielding tremendous political influence. Homosexuals give more generously and more consistently than Christians. (It is true they don't have any children to rear, but that is avoiding the issue [Pr. 2:14; 3:33; 28:15; 29:16]). They are willing to back their beliefs with lots of money. Supposedly, Christians greatly outnumber homosexuals, but the homosexuals have a tremendous influence in our society, which goes to show that a dedicated minority can have great influence.
How did we get into this situation? The Christian community is faced with this financial problem for several reasons. First, we have low financial intelligence. Robert Kiyosaki has written a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids about Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! The author is not a Christian, but he does have some interesting insights about accumulating wealth. He argues that people are taught misleading information when it comes to financial matters.2 They then go out and use this knowledge to make their financial decisions to their own hurt (Hos. 4:6). For instance, most people can't wait to go into debt by buying a house, because they have been told that it is their greatest asset when in actuality it is their greatest liability. You spend 30 years paying for your house. During this period, you lose time, in which other assets could have grown in value, and lose capital, which could have been invested. In other words, all of your money is tied up in your house (mortgage, property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and utilities) costing you investment opportunities.3 Also most people have little or no savings, don't invest, and have no passive income (assets that produce income). Most of their paycheck goes to the government (taxes) and to the bank (interest).
Second, we have bought into the ungodly economic system, which is based upon debt (Hag. 1:6; Mic. 6:11). We must live in the world; we don't have to live as the world lives (Rom. 12:2). That means not buying into the debt-based economy. Scripture says that the creditor is in control, not the debtor; the debtor is a slave (Pr. 22: 7). If we base our economic foundation on an unbiblical financial system, can there be any doubt what will befall us in an economic crisis? We will be washed away with the rest (Mt. 7: 24-27). Those who have not bought into the system and who prepare themselves will survive and in most instances prosper.
Third, we as Christians lack skill in managing our finances. If we don't invest and become good stewards, is there any wonder that godly men are not elected to public office? It seems strange to me that the inability to accomplish this puzzles so many Christians when they will not open their checkbooks and support godly candidates. Instead of begging for funds from non-believers, or praying that our so-called "conservative leaders" in the party will do the right thing, we should be able to call upon seven or eight wealthy Christian families for funding. There is no reason that this can't be a reality. If we had just ten dedicated Christian millionaires in California, this would be a different state.
How do we reverse this negative trend? Christians must change their attitudes towards wealth. Poverty is not the norm in Scripture. There were many godly men in Scripture who were wealthy and influential. Those who lived by faith were richly (materially) blessed by God. Great men of the Bible who had great influence were wealthy men (Solomon, Daniel, Job, Joseph, Boaz, Abraham) (1 Ki. 4:26-34; Dan. 5:29-31; Job 42:10; Gen 41:41; Ruth 2:1; Gen. 17:6). These men were not paupers!
There's also the parable of the talents (Mt. 25:14-30). Their master rewarded the men who went out and invested their money, but the servant who did not invest was punished. When God gives us an illustration, He does not use a sinful example, such as, say, an honest murderer.
Christian organizations (Chalcedon, Southern California Center for Christian Studies, National Reform Association, Urban Nations, etc.) are formulating the ideas that the Christian community will use to confront, intellectually and spiritually, the bankruptcy of the humanist agenda. Remember, ideas are great, but ideas that are backed with money are greater. Consider all the immorality that is legislated today. The legislators responsible did not get into office because of their ideas; they got there because people who believed in their ideas backed them financially. For example, during a land grab by environmental groups in 1990, a liberal donor contributed $1 million dollars to the cause.4 So, what does that say about Christians when godly candidates can barely get enough funding to initiate their campaign? It's time to wake up! We're on the winning side; let's stop playing like losers (Dt. 1:30). The bottom line is we must have Christians who are willing to put their money where their faith is! It is good that we are preparing intellectually, but it is essential that we must also be prepared financially. Let's prepare a good financial foundation for our work.
What actions should you take to accomplish this goal? In general, begin building your assets (stocks, commodities, or real estate), begin an aggressive debt elimination program, and reduce your tax liabilities as much as legally possible.
It is also important to set goals. It is difficult to have direction unless there is a destination. They don't have to be lofty goals. Start off with something small and build upon it. For example, get out of debt and start a monthly investment program, maybe a mutual fund automatic deposit. Prepare for success; write down a list of dominion works to accomplish once you have achieved your wealth.
I must give a word of warning to those of you who apply strategies to increase wealth and are blessed by God with success (1 Cor. 3:6). Remember that God blessed your efforts and there are no U-Hauls behind a hearse (Job 1:21). In other words, you can't take it with you. If God has blessed you materially, it is up to you to show good stewardship (Lk. 12:48). You've been given an opportunity to make a difference; don't be found wanting (Dan. 5:27; Hag. 1:6-11). Yes, you should provide for your family (1 Tim. 5:8), but don't idolize your family (Lk. 12:16-22). Have faith that God will provide for you and your family, if you are faithful (Lk. 12:28-30).
Prayer is an essential part, because only God can make our efforts bear fruit, but it is not the only part. Many Christians do not act upon their faith. They stay within the four walls of the church and lament the immorality in the world, not realizing they are part of the problem (Jas. 2:20). Is it any wonder that America is going to hell when Christians will not act upon their faith? I'm not saying that increasing wealth is the solution to all the evil in the world. Consider this: we pray for God to give us our daily bread, but we don't sit around waiting for manna to fall from heaven. So why do we take the opposite approach when it comes to combating immorality in society? If we want to see God's work done, we must follow His commands (Jn. 14:15).
2. Robert T. Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad (Warner Books, 1998), 72-74.
3. Elliott Diringer, "State Steps in to Slow Timber Cutting on Private Land," The San Francisco Chronicle, September 10, 1990, Section: News, A1; and Theresa Simons, "Epic Struggle over Redwoods," California Journal, March 1, 1990, Section: Feature.