Biblical Finance 101: Red Flags 1

When my family and I lived in Wichita Falls, TX, better known as Tornado Alley, we became accustomed to the city's early warning system. In periodic testing, at noontime the first Monday of every month, sirens throughout the area would blast your socks off and make your hair stand up like Buckwheat. At other times when the sirens blasted, a cold chill would run down my spine because I knew a potential disaster was lurking somewhere. Although we took immediate precautions, we were also fortunate enough to never be in a tornado's path. One's survival depended upon heeding the warnings and taking immediate, appropriate action.

In the same way, there are many warnings of pending financial bondage. These warnings, or red flags, are often overlooked until one is in the middle of the path of destruction, coming in like a freight train. The aftereffects are: dodging creditors, ruined credit, repossession, bankruptcy, and stress that can squeeze the financial lifeblood out of a family. It's not a pretty picture and it's happening to more Christians than one may think.

I believe the most common red flag to financial bondage is the lack of prompt payment of bills. Proverbs 3:22-23 says, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it," when you have it with you." Some people pay bills at specific times (e.g., once a week) just for the sake of time efficiency. Others pay bills to coordinate with a paycheck or other income. What is considered prompt payment? I believe there are two "acid tests" one could perform. Acid test #1 is paying the bill by the due date. If one cannot do this, then financial bondage is probably the reason. Acid test #2, the most important, is the ability to write a check for the bill when the mailman drops it off. Anything other than this falls into the "juggling" category which is reserved for those in financial bondage. This may be an elementary point to some, but one of the first financial goals (other than tithing) that all families should endeavor is the ability to meet acid test #2. It is a worthy goal, not to be taken lightly, and harder to consistently do than one may think because many are those in bondage who think they are not.

Gary Ellis, MBA, CFP
Association Stewardship Director