Sunday January 10th marks the Liturgical transition from Christmas Time to Ordinary Time. We have completed the great celebration of Our Lord’s birth and we now move into a time of reflecting on His life, and his teachings.
One of the optional readings for Sunday was Titus 2:11-12: “For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,”
The “godless ways and worldly desires” can often be traced back to overspending during the holidays. It is so easy to get caught up in Christmas spending. Everybody is celebrating, you want to give your kids everything their hearts desire, all the relatives are exchanging gifts, your friends and neighbors are dropping by with goodies and before you know it, here you are again with a mountain of bills to pay.
Now that Christmas is over, and the spending spree is complete, are you back to your own personal ordinary time where the pressure of those Christmas bills will be with you till Advent of 2016 when the overspending starts again?
I don’t think this is how Jesus would have us celebrate his birth or the ay he wants us to live.
If you are trying to do a better job of managing your money or if you are facing financial challenges this year, here are some verses to help you concentrate on changes you want to make, while at the same time increasing your prayer life and time with God.
GETTING OUT OF DEBT:
Proverbs 22:7 is a great verse for meditation if you are trying to get out of debt: “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Being in debt, does put you into a position of slavery and if you don’t think you are a slave, try missing a payment. You’ll be surprised at how fast your interest rate is increased and the late charges are added to your account. As the borrower you are enslaved to the lender’s terms and conditions. Figure out how long it will be till you are debt free to determine the length of your slavery.
PAYING OFF A SPECIFIC LOAN:
Sirach 20:11 is perfect if paying off a specific loan is on your list of resolutions. “There is one who buys much for little, but pays for it seven times over.” Many people happily put purchases on a credit card, but rarely figure out the total cost of the purchase when the interest charges are included with the purchase price. And if you miss any payments and incur a late fee, the cost of that item skyrockets.
In fact, depending on your interest rate, you can pay more than twice as much for an item by making only the minimum payment on a credit card. Figure out the amount of money you are wasting paying interest. Are you “paying for something seven times over?”
A resolution to save more money, leads to Proverbs 21:20, which tells us: “Precious treasure and oil are in the house of the wise, but the fool consumes them.” Too often we spend everything we make and savings can be an after thought rather than a priority.
Spending first means there will never be enough money to save and unexpected expenses can cause you to go further in debt. Having an emergency fund keeps you from using those plastic cards when emergencies come up – like needing a new tire or having the washer repaired.
To stop overspending, consider 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is the root of all evils.” When we overspend it can be due to using money as a form of gratification. The satisfaction, fun, fulfillment and short term happiness we get from spending can quickly turn into idolatry if our spending habits overwhelm us.
Develop a budget (aka spending plan) to help you to understand where your money goes. It’s the only way to gather enough facts to see if you are spending it on what is most important to you. Are you wasting money or using it wisely?
Acts 20:35 is my favorite verse for giving: “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, who said it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Giving increases around Thanksgiving and Christmas as it is a natural thing to do at that time of year. What about ordinary time? Are you charitable when the focus is off of being generous?
Every year my husband and I analyze where we are giving, how much and how often. Being generous sounds counter-intuitive if you are trying to get your finances straightened out, but it is impossible to out give God.
I am NOT saying that you give to get. I am saying that giving should be a first priority for our finances. It is an important way for us to consciously recognize that God owns everything and we are his stewards. This concept is the foundation of all your other financial planning.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by reading this, check out the Compass Map. It is a good way to break down your finances into small pieces and tackle things one at a time.
One of the most helpful ways we’ve seen people change their finances is by taking the Compass Catholic Navigating Your Finances God’s Way Bible study.
If you don’t know if your parish has Compass or if you want to get a small group started at your church – call us. And remember it’s available in both Spanish and English.
One of the most frequent things we hear from people who have taken the Bible Study is “I wish I had learned this earlier.” People who are young or old all say this – so there is no time like the present to learn what God has to say about managing money his way.
Our prayer for you this year is to relieve yourself from financial burdens and to honor God in the way you spend, save and manage your finances. A godly attitude toward money is a great resolution for 2016, and there is no better way to keep a resolution that to wrap it in the word of God.
Maybe this is the year when your ordinary time becomes extraordinary!