God’s View of Money (Transcript)

Dr. James Dobson: Well, hello everyone. I'm James Dobson and you're listening to Family Talk, a listener supported ministry. In fact, thank you so much for being part of that support for James Dobson Family Institute.

Roger Marsh: Roger Marsh here for Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. I have a question for you. How are you honoring God with your money? Do you look at finances through a worldly perspective, or do you recognize that you are merely a steward of everything that you have and that it all belongs to the Lord? Matthew Chapter 6, Verse 24 reads, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other. Or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." In this day and age with our turbulent economy, no matter who you are, you are most likely concerned about your money. Maybe you worry about your income and retirement savings or interest rates, credit cards in debt. Well, take a deep breath. If you are curious to know about what the Bible has to say about money, you are in the right place.

Because today here on family talk, we're going to present a classic conversation that Dr. Dobson had with legendary financial counselor. Larry Burkett, you will listen to the two friends examine why a full two-thirds of Christ parables involved money or wealth. Let me give you a hint. It's about more than just cash. How we handle our money is an issue of the heart. And it's an easy way to recognize what our true priorities really are. So we hope your value system aligns with God's design, as you will hear reflected in today's program. Now, let me tell you a little bit about our guest. Larry Burkett was a radio personality and host who focused on financial counseling from a biblical worldview. Larry went to be with the Lord in 2003. But his vision for radio lives on today with the program called money wise, which is currently hosted by Rob West.

Larry was the author of over 70 books, including Debt Free Living and Your Finances in Changing Times. In 1976, Larry and his wife, Judy, founded Christian Financial Concepts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching the biblical principles of handling money. In the year 2000, Christian Financial Concepts became Crown Financial Ministries. Larry served as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors until his passing and Crown Financial is still a thriving organization. Larry Burkett is survived by his wife, their four adult children, and several grandchildren. Here now is Dr. Dobson and his guest Larry Burkett on today's classic edition of Family Talk.

Dr. James Dobson: Larry briquette holds a bachelor's degree in marketing and a master's degree in finance. He has conducted seminars around the country on Christian financial concepts. And it's a real pleasure to be able to talk about some more of these aspects of Christian financial management. You draw most of your concepts directly from the Bible, don't you?

Larry Burkett: Yes. In fact, particularly in our teaching and our counseling, we draw all of our concepts from the Bible. I use a simple principle in teaching that if I can't verify it with three isolated examples from God's Word, I don't teach it. Because again, I think we have to go back to the source of truth and that's a source of truth. So, I try to as best I can anyway, to base everything that we do directly on God's Word, because it's the only true source.

Dr. James Dobson: Now Jesus talked a lot about money, didn't He?

Larry Burkett: Indeed. In fact, remarkably, if you go through the New Testament, you'll find at two thirds of all the parables that Christ gave us dealt with nothing but money. And that to a generation of men in His day who were agrarian, they had very little money of their own.

Dr. James Dobson: It wasn't a materialistic society.

Larry Burkett: No, it was not. I think clearly in my opinion, Christ was looking ahead to a time when he knew everything in society would evolve around materialism. And I believe that's where we are. Everything we do basically evolves around money.

Dr. James Dobson: And even His parables that seemed to have another message started out by saying there was a certain rich man. So much of it in involved those that did have money and the special struggles that they have.

Larry Burkett: And of course, I think every parable's got a purpose. And the purpose of using money as an example was number one, everybody was affected by it. So it was a universal mechanism that everybody could identify with. And secondly, that Christ knew that he could give us then a way to measure where we are with the Lord. Any committed Christian has got an overwhelming desire inside as you and I both do that says, "Lord, I want to know where I am with you at all times." So God said, "Regardless of your communications through the Holy Spirit, I'm going to give you a mechanism to determine where you are spiritually at all the time." Because whatever you're doing in your finances is just an outside reflection of the inside spiritual condition that's going on in your life. If you find yourself fearful about money, frantic about money, angry about money, covetous about money. Those are not financial problems. Those are spiritual problems being reflected in a financial way.

Dr. James Dobson: Anything that you withhold in your relationship with God will be a source of agitation by the Holy Spirit. Until you are forced at the proper time to make a choice between the two. And if you choose to do what God wants you to do, you continue to grow. And if you don't, then you begin to atrophy spiritually. And I'm thinking not only of money, but anything. For Abraham, it was Isaac. He actually had to put Isaac on the altar and show he would give him away. But I'm convinced that many Christians flounder right at that point because they cannot give God their money.

Larry Burkett: Isn't it interesting that in our society, of all the descriptions in God's Word for Christians, the overwhelming description in God's Word is a light. Paul said, "Hold yourselves above this wicked and perverse generation being therefore as lights into the world of darkness." We were called lights, lights, lights. And so you look at our generation, you say, "Do we look like lights?" In the one area where we're most visible to the entire world is the way we handle money. And do you believe that Christians are noted as the best money handlers in America today?

Dr. James Dobson: Hardly.

Larry Burkett: That every time a businessman has a problem, he hunched down a Christian to ask him how to solve the problem. Every time a family gets into financial trouble, they go hunt through their neighborhood for the one Christian, because they know that Christian really knows how to handle money and that they're-

Dr. James Dobson: If it all were that true.

Larry Burkett: Wasn't isn't that the truth? It's the opposite. Used to be an old cliche that bankers would use, "Never lend money to a man whose profession starts with a P. Painters, poets, and pastors."

Dr. James Dobson: How about psychologists?

Larry Burkett: They laugh about that. But unfortunately there's a lot of truth behind that old cliche because pastors were notoriously poor money managers. One of the reasons they were poor money managers because we didn't give him enough to live on. In Christianity, there's an undercurrent that says, "Lord, you keep him humble. We'll keep him poor." As if somehow that's going to help him a lot.

Dr. James Dobson: Well, we've got the word now we've got the Bible that you say, and I agree has all these principles of financial management in it. Well, why are Christian so ignorant of it?

Larry Burkett: It hasn't been taught. The place that it should be taught obviously is in the church. The church ought to be the basic platform for teaching all biblical principles. And then they ought to be gearing the parents to teach those principles to their children. What a shame it is that we put out children today who are absolutely financially ignorant. They do not even know how to balance a checkbook. They don't know how to buy a life insurance policy or buy an automobile. What kind of interest rates they pay, how much money they can afford to spend. And yet you and I both know everybody is going to be faced with those decisions.

Dr. James Dobson: All right, let's take the balance of this program and talk about some of those principles. And I'll ask you a simple question first. Does the Bible guarantee prosperity to me because I'm a committed Christian?

Larry Burkett: Really does not. I think if you weighed the scriptures from God's Word in the balance, you would find out that the in the balance God says, "Prosperity is my way. Commit your works unto the Lord. And your plan shall be established." It says. It also says, "As the unrighteous man shall fail, like the leaves on the tree, the righteous man shall prosper, like the leaves on the tree." But we know that's not an absolute. And let me give you an example.

Dr. James Dobson: It's probability, isn't it?

Larry Burkett: Yeah. And I think also what it says, it's an unique and individual plan that God has for every one of us. And it depends. Paul said. "I've learned to serve the Lord in whatever condition. I find myself, whether in plenty or slight." If you're going to look for an example for how to live in the scripture, where do you go? You go back to Jesus Christ. Can you show an example in Jesus Christ that he was a materially wealthy man. In the book of Luke it says, "And the women then supported Christ." Christ didn't accumulate money.

Dr. James Dobson: Paul complained at one point because the people weren't supporting him. He didn't have enough to eat here. He was God's theologian, God's messenger doing a very difficult job. And yet he often didn't have enough to eat, didn't have proper clothing, and was materially insufficient.

Larry Burkett: An interesting thing happened in Corinth during Paul's day. Apparently either by letter or by word of mouth. The Corinthians sent word to Paul that basically said, "Paul, we can't believe that you're really a spiritual man of God. Because if you were really spiritual, you would be wealthy like we are. And Paul, in addition to that, how could you be spiritual and not be in charge of anything? Because we're spiritual and we're in charge of things." And so Paul wrote them a letter and he said, "My friends, I praise the God for how wealthy you are. And for the position that you hold would that you would be Kings," Paul wrote. He said, "Because if you were Kings, what would that make me? Because what have you attained that was not at my sacrifice." And he went on to say, "And I believe that we, as apostles, have been exhibited as last among all men on this earth."

And he described his condition poor and hungry and cold. And later in the book, Paul summarized something about all Christians. He said, "My friends, if all that you ever perceive of us is that what you see on this earth, we are to be most pity among all men." See Paul wrote Timothy a letter and Timothy was a pastor Ephesus at the time. And he said, "Timothy, a very simple principle that God wants us to remember." He said, "Timothy, remember for as you brought nothing into this world, so you shall take nothing from it." And that's all that God wants us to remember.

Dr. James Dobson: That for that reason, Christianity has to be future oriented. It is by its very nature. It points me toward eternity. Not just what happens to me tomorrow morning, but what will happen to me in the long run.

Larry Burkett: Indeed. And Jim, I think there has to be a balance. One balance is on that one side. Let me give an imbalance one group of Christians that think you have to be poor in order to be spiritual. And so they rationalize being basically lazy and fruitless by saying, "Well, I think God wants me to be humble and therefore being poor makes me humble." That's an imbalance on the other side, our group of Christians that think in order to really be spiritual, you have to be wealthy. That somehow God is forced to give you blessings. And that somehow you can broaden it.

Dr. James Dobson: Whether it's in your best interest or not.

Larry Burkett: Exactly right. And that somehow you can bribe God into doing it for you. That somehow you earn that right. Both of those are imbalances. I think really what God said is, "You find my plan for your life, commit yourself to my plan for your life. And I will provide you the resource to do whatever I put you here to do." See that's how I think you're able to ask and receive. In Mark it says, "And whatsoever you ask, ask in faith, believing that you have received it and it shall be yours." But in the book of first John, John further clarified it. He said, "And you ask whatever you will in my name and you shall receive it. Because you do the things that are pleasing in my sight. And because you keep my commandments." See that's a prerequisite that God says I want to make you prosperous. I want to give you peace though. See in the scripture says for it is the blessing of the Lord that can make you rich. But add to it, no sorrow. So just riches aren't the answer.

Dr. James Dobson: And Jesus said that it was very difficult for a rich man to make it to heaven. Why would the Lord put that strain on us in the ultimate test of our life? There's nothing more important than that. We live this life in such a way that will be found acceptable on the other side. Why would he automatically put us in a situation that would jeopardize that outcome?

Larry Burkett: He didn't really in a parable of the sower, if you remember Christ said, "And some of the seed was thrown among the thorns. And the seed, it was the word of God. But the thorns, they were the riches and pleasured of life. And though the word was received with great joy in the beginning, the riches and pleasured of life have choked it out so it could bear no fruit." I think the overwhelming thing you see in Christ, as He was asking people to follow Him, He always put a prerequisite for them following Him. And that was absolute total unconditional surrender to His way. He wants somebody that says, "Lord, I believe in you." And the word in Scripture translates to "Lord, I act in accordance with you. I act in accordance with your name. And Lord, I accept the fact that you are my Lord." And the word of the Lord means you own everything.

I own no material possession that I have belong to me. You show me what you want to do with them, Lord. And I'll do that with them. And that's why Christ said. "And if therefore a man is not faithful in a small thing, he shall not be faithful in larger things." The small thing he was talking about was money. He said, "If you can't handle in your life, such a small thing, just material possessions, how will you ever be useful to God in greater things?" And I often in counseling couples challenge them by saying, "Do you really experience the fruits of the spirit in your finances? And the fruits of the spirit or love and joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, long suffering patience. Do you really experience that in your finances? See if you don't, it's not from the Lord."

I don't care how much money they have. I don't care what they're doing with it. As Paul said, "I don't care if they're giving all their money to the poor and delivering their body to be burned." If they don't have those things experienced in their lives, finances first, as you know, in your area, marriage also. And it's the second challenge I make because I think God's given us those two ways to determine where we are. So the question has to be asked on an individual rather than a corporate basis for Christians. They have to ask themselves first, am I certain that I am giving out of my income? All that God has asking me to give? See I think you can give too much. You can give to the point where God didn't ask you to give and you give to the wrong places. But God will answer that question very clearly for them.

Am I certain that I'm giving all that God asked me to give? Secondly, am I sure that my family and I are living at the standard, that God would have us to live at? Not at an artificial standard that somebody else thinks we should. But is my family living where I think that God would have us to live. And then third above that, if you're sure you've given all that God has asked you to give and you're sure that you've met the needs of your family and they're within reason, balanced and there's still a surplus of money. If so, then God probably wants you to put that money aside.

Dr. James Dobson: And not give it to Cambodia to somebody.

Larry Burkett: No, it maybe that God would convict one person to give it all away. And another to store. Let me give you a parable that Christ gave over and over. There's several of them in a Proverbs that he gave through Solomon said, "Go to the ant, you sluggard and observed her ways and be wise for having neither a chief officer in our ruler. She prepares her food in the harvest that during the winter she'll have his efficiency." See, now an ant doesn't hoard money like we do. She doesn't hoard goods like we do. There's a difference between savings for our future use and hoarding. See, I believe the majority of what we're doing in America is not saving, it's hoarding. We're putting money aside that we never intend to use because it makes us feel more comfortable. Makes us feel safer.

Dr. James Dobson: It's power.

Larry Burkett: And security. See it means I don't have to trust. I don't have to wait. I don't have to trust God, but you can trust God with this abundance of money and you cannot trust God and be totally in debt. So trust is not related to the amount of money that you have. It's related to that hard attitude. There's a significant thing that I have observed though. And I know you have too, that those people who are the most concerned about being out of God's will never are. Those people who are not concerned about being out of God's will already are. See, I think the fact that you'll put it to a test periodically and I find myself the same way. In fact-

Dr. James Dobson: You've told me that you've asked some of these same questions about yourself, share that with our listeners.

Larry Burkett: Several years ago, when I was operating a business, I had to be really honest with the Lord. I was young Christian, about two years old. And I had to really be honest with the Lord and say, Lord, am I sure that you really own all that's in my possession? And I wasn't sure. So I went and got a piece of paper and I started writing down all of my earthly possessions, all the way from income and savings to houses and cars and clothes and kids. And most of them as I went down the list, I could scratch off. House, what's the house mean to me? Nothing. Oh Lord, you can have the house. What's a car mean? No, you can have the cars too, Lord. Lord what's the savings? Okay. That doesn't really mean much. Scratch that off. But I came down to a list and one of the items on my list was a business.

And I said, Lord, am I sure that you own that business? Well, I wasn't sure he owned it. In fact, I was sure that he didn't. And I would've probably lied to others who would've asked and they said, "Does God own your-" "Oh sure, God owns my business. What do you think, I'd be a Christian and God not own my business?" And I would tip God from the business from time to time. And I would even lend it to God from time to time. So he uses he would. But then I would always take it back because it represented ultimate security. And so I had to become very honest with myself and with God and nobody else. And say, "God, now, you know me better than I know myself. And you know in my heart, whether I'll ever be able to handle it."

The scripture says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, he shall give you the innermost desires of your heart." But those innermost desires I found are never material. So a true Christian never seeks material desires. He's always seeking spiritual desires. I said, "Lord, you know, the innermost desire of my heart is to really serve you. And if this thing is interfering with me serving you." And it was, no doubt about it. Because it was always an attitude. I said, "Lord, you either give me the ability to put it in the right priority. That's behind God, behind my spouse, behind my children. And to put it back in a balance in my life is just a tool to be used for you. Or you take it out of my life." And after about a year, God just simply took it out of my life. He made me have such a strong, intense desire to leave that I couldn't avoid leaving it.

Larry Burkett: I had to walk away. I had to say, "Lord, this thing can't be from you." Not only didn't I disliked from a time spending 16, 18, 20 hours in it to where I couldn't even go without feeling sick at my stomach. Each time I would think about it would make me ill. And God just said, "I just taken the desire away. Because I know that you're never going to be able to put it in the right perspective. And I know that the desire of your heart is to do so. Therefore I'm going to do for you that what you're not able to do for yourself."

Dr. James Dobson: And so, you sold it?

Larry Burkett: No, I just walked away from it in my case.

Dr. James Dobson: Yeah. You mean you gave it away.

Larry Burkett: Gave it back to the other people that were a part of the business. And I don't mean.

Dr. James Dobson: You didn't sell it to them?

Larry Burkett: Well, you see. I don't think that's for everybody. Obviously everybody's got a way in their own heart what's right. For them would what's wrong for them. And in my case it was security that was my problem. You see everything in my life was always represented by what could I do in the future? And I found the same thing in families that I counsel. It was always the things that they looked forward to and said, "What if this happened? What in the world would I do?" But when they were there and it really did happen, they found out it wasn't so bad after all. We sent an 18 year old son out today looking for a job with a good retirement plan. Rather than saying son what's God's plan for your life?

What's God oriented you to do? Suppose that it won't put you at the upper echelon of our economy. But son, what has God's plan for you? Do you really want to have peace in your life? Isn't it better on God's principles that we as Christians not have to suffer that and our children not have to suffer that? So we ought to be instilling elementary biblical principles into our children long before they ever left our home.

Dr. James Dobson: You're saying Larry, and in fact, I believe I heard you say you lived it, that you, as an expert in family, financial management and planning are indicating that there are instances, at least perhaps not for everybody. But instances and in your own life, as an example of it, where you would not attempt to become more financially stable and accumulate more property and a better bank account and so on. What would deliberately avoid that?

Larry Burkett: Because it was a problem because it was an attitudinal problem. Let me tell you two promises. God gave me from His word. Absolute promises. The first is out of Psalms 50, Versus 14 and 15. He said, "Pay your vows under the most high." And a vow is a promise that you make to God. And that was a promise I had made to God. "And sacrifice unto your God." In other words, be willing to put yourself out, to serve the Lord. "And then you shall call upon me in your day of trouble for, I shall rescue you because it shall give me honor."

And then over in Psalms 37:25, the Lord said through David, "I have been young and now I am old. And yet I've never seen the righteous man forsaken nor his offspring go begging bread." And you see, I question that as Christians anymore, whether we believe that or whether we just say that we believe it. And you see, I really believe it. I try not to just say, I believe things. I really believe it. If you believe he had to live it and that'll be a different plan for everybody. And every Christian must come honest with God. And when they are honest with God, God will share with them what His plan is.

Dr. James Dobson: I feel that in this materialistic society where we're racing and running and huffing and puffing and trying to grab all we can get before somebody else gets it. And try to accumulate and try to get independent, not only of our fellow man, but of God, that he wants us to take a good hard look at that. And ask again, what is His priority for our lives and our families. And I feel Him speaking to me and I can't help, but wonder if there aren't hundreds of thousands of people listening to us who feel the same way

Larry Burkett: And it's no different in our day than it was in the Lord's. It's just that it's more acute today. I think back in the scripture of the men that God used, every one of them had a preset commitment in their heart. They'd already predetermined what they were going to do. And when it came to God, see, they never compromised. That's why Jeremiah was useful to God. And Abraham was useful to God. And that's why Nehemiah was useful to God. And that's why David was useful to God. And yet that's why Jesus Christ was God Himself. See, he never said, as a prerequisite, "I serve God because it's pleasant or because it's comfortable or because it's logical. I serve God because there is only one God."

Dr. James Dobson: "Let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be now."

Larry Burkett: Remember when he sent His disciples out and they apparently came upon some affliction in the hands of the Jews. And he sent away more than 70 and only a few came back and Christ looked at Peter and said, "Peter, where are the rest?" He said, "Lord, they departed for, it was very difficult." He said, "Would you depart also?" And Peter said, "Lord to whom else, shall we go? Is there another Lord?" And that's what we, as Christians in our society, have to arm ourselves against and say, is there another God Christ said that God, "The number one problem that any person would have is in caring more about his finances than he did about God."

He said, "For can a man serve two gods? For he must love the one and hate the other for can a man serve both God and money." Now, why didn't he say, can a man serve both the family and God, he must love. He didn't say that every time he pinned it to a point where people drifted away from God, they did so because it was more economically profitable to follow the world than it was to follow God. And you had to lay that fundamental decision down right away. God first.

Dr. James Dobson: Larry, we have devoted this program to theological issues as related to money. That's extremely important. And I feel that the Lord has talked to me through it. And I hope to many, many others.

Roger Marsh: A touching and in depth program on the topic of how God views money on today's edition of Family Talk. You just listen to a classic conversation between Dr. Dobson and his friend, the late Larry Burkett. Larry dedicated his life to serving Christ and to teaching others about the biblical way to handle finances. His legacy lives on now through crown financial ministries and the radio program Money Wise, which is heard by over 1 million listeners every day and on some of the very same stations that carry this program. Now, if you missed any of today's broadcast or if you'd like to request a CD copy featuring Dr. Dobson's conversation with Larry Burkett, simply visit drjamesdobson.org/familytalk. That's drjamesdobson.org/familytalk. Or give us a call. Our number is (877) 732-6825. And we have team members standing by 24-7 to answer your questions about Family talk or the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.

We're also happy to recommend resources for any stage of life that you are currently walking through. Whether that's marriage, parenting, grandparenting, or singleness, we would love to point you in the direction of some great resources. So just call us at (877) 732-6825 and a member of our team will be happy to do just that. Now today on Family Talk, Dr. Dobson and Larry Burkett talked about the importance of letting God be the sovereign over every area of your life. And that includes your earthly resources and finances. As you bring your money to the foot of the cross, would you prayerfully consider making a donation to Family Talk? In fact, June is the perfect month to do so. You can help us and ensure that we can continue to bring quality radio programs and resources that your family needs. Some very special friends of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute have generously given the ministry a matching grant of $300,000 for the entire month of June.

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