Mine! Overcoming Selfishness

Bradley Klontz, a financial therapist, identified four money scripts that keep people poor. One of these he called vigilance. I call this selfishness. Klontz explained this as being overly protective of your money and financial information. Some of you do this to the point of hiding your finances even from your spouse. These selfish financiers may squirrel money away in various accounts or even in the cookie jar. They rarely open credit accounts because they don’t want to disclose their financial information on the applications. You can read Dr. Klontz’ article by clicking here.

In this article, I will describe this sin of selfishness and show you how to escape from it. You can learn to stop hoarding and hiding your money and become more open and generous with what God has given you. Instead of hoarding your money, learn to become a giver. Follow these steps to move from being a miser, to being a philanthropist.

Inventory Your Assets

Compute your net worth by listing all your financial assets. This would include any cash you have, any deposit balances you have in various banks, and any investments you have purchased. Use Kelley Blue Book to determine how much your car or truck is worth. Use Zillow to determine the value of your house or other real estate. If you have other assets that could be sold and converted to cash, include those too, like, jewelry, boats, or your collection of rare teddy bears.

Next, list any debts you have. Don’t include normal obligations like utility bills or insurance payments but do list the balance of your car loan and mortgage if you have those. Other things you will want to include are student debts, credit card balances, and any personal or business loans you may have taken out.

Take the total of your assets and subtract any outstanding debts. The result of these calculations is your net worth. If you have been a selfish hoarder, you may be pleasantly surprised at the amount. If this amount is a negative number (You have more debt than assets.), selfishness is probably not your issue. Look at my other articles on covetousness or greed.

Determine How Much You Should Give

The Bible speaks of avoiding a show of our generosity and “blowing the trumpet” to announce your philanthropy. “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” – Matthew 6:3-4 NKJV

I’m not talking about that here. People suffering from selfishness do not make a show of their giving. They hide their money so that they can keep it all themselves. They feel security when they have money hidden away. Instead of giving, they become miserly.

By calculating your net worth in the last step, you now know your overall financial health. Don’t calculate your giving on this amount. Determine your income and monthly expenses and set a percentage of your income to give away each month. The Bible says we should give of our increase. “Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase;” – Proverbs 3:9 NKJV.

This can be anywhere from 1% to half or more of what you bring in each month. One wealthy businessman I have read about gave a reverse tithe of his income. He kept 10% of his income to live on and gave away 90%. If you don’t have a clue about how much you should give, start with the recommendation from Old Testament law of a 10% tithe. This should be the first item in your budget. It is to be the “firstfruits” of your income.

God says the way to financial security is generosity. Generosity covers a multitude of money sins. “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NKJV. Also, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”– Luke 6:38 NKJV.

Don’t Pile Up Money You Don’t Need

Jesus tells this parable:

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.’ And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’

But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:16-21 NKJV.

So, unless you want God to call you a fool, don’t hoard God’s blessings. There are lots of good reasons to save money, but if you are just stacking it for your peace of mind, you are putting your trust in the wrong place.

Instead, be generous and give. Paul says, “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” – Acts 20:35 NKJV.

Giving affects more than just our attitude. Generosity opens the windows of heaven. The more we give, the more with which we are entrusted. “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6 NKJV. Hiding your money is like saving a handful of water. It just won’t last. Give it away and trust that another will supply you in your time of need. Generosity is the cure for selfishness and God will reward our stewardship. “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance… “ – Matthew 25:29 NKJV.

The Conclusion is this…

Money sins not only war against our souls, they also keep us from fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives. Guard your hearts against these sins and your bank account will be healthier as a result. For other articles in this series go here, here, and here.

For more insights into managing your money, refer to my e-book, Financially Faithful. Or, you can check out a related post by my wife, Rebecca, here. If you have specific questions or comments, simply add them to the comments below. I am happy to address anything that is unclear or confusing to you. Also, you have an opportunity to teach me. If you have anything to add, post it in the comments for me and my other readers. Your feedback makes this article better.

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