ON CELESTIAL PRINCIPLES
OF FAMILY FINANCES

A Fifth Sunday Lesson Given To

THE YM, YW, RS, EQ, and HP MEMBERS OF THE
STERLING PARK WARD
ASHBURN, VA STAKE

By

D. Calvin Andrus
acadac@aol.com

31 October 2004


[Note to readers: This is the text version of the powerpoint briefing. The transitions from section to section in this version are a little jerky. Please bear with me.]

I. INTRODUCTION

There are four principles of Celestial Financial Management I would like to discuss today. Before I do, I want to warn you to watch out for a chain letter that is making the rounds.

This chain letter is meant to bring greater happiness to you and your ward. Unlike any other chain letter you may have received, this one does not cost money.  It will lighten your load. You simply send a copy of this letter to six other church members in various other stakes that are unhappy with their bishop.  Then you bundle up your bishop and send him to the ward at the bottom of the list.  In one week you will receive 16,536 bishops.  One of them should be a dandy and just what you've always wanted. 

You must exercise faith in this letter and be sure that you do not break the chain.  One good brother broke the chain and got his old bishop back. Another poor soul broke the chain and was called to be a bishop. One bishop preached against the chain and was not released for another 7 years!

Please help yourself and others by completing this chain today!

http://www.shields-research.org/Humor/Jokes.htm

II. PRINCIPLE #1 - IT'S NOT MINE

The Moses called down plagues upon the Egyptians to cure Pharaoh of one particular bad attitude. Once this bad attitude was changed, Pharaoh would let the Children of Israel go. Does anyone know what this particular attitude was? It was the attitude that Pharaoh "owned" the slaves and could do with them what he wanted. Not only that, Pharaoh thought he "owned" all of Egypt--it's land, produce, animals, buildings, etc. See what Moses says:

Exodus 9:29 -- And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD‘s.

(Cross reference Psalms 24:1 and 1 Cor 10.26)

I am afraid many of us suffer from a touch of "Pharaoh's Attitude." We think because an employer gives a paycheck, or a store gives us a receipt, or the Department of Motor Vehicles gives us a title, we "own" something. We just have to remember who made the earth and it's resources.

DC 104:14 I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine.

The whole earth is His--in it, on it, under it, over it, through it, and around it. Moreover, He hot only created earth, He made the human beings as well.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

It is by the grace of God that we have life, health, strength, intellect, energy, inspiration, and motivation. Without these we could do nothing with the resources of the earth. So human beings, powered by God, take God's resources to make things. Who do those things belong to? God. If there is a moment when we are tempted to think we think we own the homes we live in, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the toys we play with, I have a suggestion. Let's play a little mind experiment. Let's pretend we are dead. Let us ask ourselves what we took with us as our spirits passed from this life to the next? Who knows the answer? Right--nothing from this earth went with you! That we can't take it with us, is the clearest evidence that it is not ours.

Understanding and remembering that all the goods and services the world has to offer belong to the Lord, is the first step to Celestial managment our family fanances.


"IT'S NOT MINE"

LEVEL ATTITUDE
Telestial What's yours is mine
Terrestrial What's mine is mine
Celestial None of it is mine, it is the Lord's


III. PRINCIPLE #2 - IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY

When the Lord placed Adam in Eve into the Garden, he gave them something. What was that?

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

He did not give them the earth, he gave them DOMINION over the earth. That is a big difference. A BIG difference. According to Dictionary.com, dominion means control or the exercise of control. A person with complete control has complete accountability. A person with control cannot blame anybody else. In giving dominion, the Lord was giving Adam and Eve an opportunity to show what kind of people they were. Dominion is a test of character.

DC 104:12-13 That every man may give an account unto me of the stewardship which is appointed unto him. For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures.

We, then, are the Lord's stewards over the resources of the earth. We will be held accountable for how we manage the Lord's resources. Are we sloppy or rigorous? Do we manage money, or does money manage us? Are we stingey or generous? Are we frugal or wasteful? These are all good questions we need to ask ourselves as we prepare for the final exam of life.

Luke 16:10-13 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

We cannot be good stewards of the Lord's resources if we think those resources are ours. We cannot serve both God and ourselves at the same time. We cannot serve God if our aim is the accumulation of wealth.

When we think of our financial resources as a temporary stewardship--and as a test of our character--we will be humbled at Our Father's graciousness and grateful everyday for the opportunity to prove our faithfulness. These resources have been assigned to us for our temporary use in getting ourselves and others back to the Celestial Kingdom.

If we are the caretakers of the Lord's resources and he will judge us in our managment of these resources, it would be a good idea if He were to give us some guidelines. Well, today is our lucky day, because we do have prophets who have given us those guidelines. Let me just mention one of the guidelines now.

A Note About Debt

The prophet said in October 1998 (Gordon B. Hinckley, “To the Boys and to the Men,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 51. Bolding mine.)

So many of our people are living ont he very edge of their incomes. In fact, some are living on borrowings . . .

I urge you, brethren, to look to the condition of your finances. I urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from bondage.

This is a part of the temporal gospel in which we believe. May the Lord bless you, my beloved brethren, to set your houses in order. If you have paid your debts, if you have a reserve, even though it be small, then should storms howl about your head, you will have shelter for your wives and children and peace in your hearts. That’s all I have to say about it, but I wish to say it with all the emphasis of which I am capable.

Elder Wirthlin, an Apostle whom we sustain as a prophet, seer, and revelator said in April of this year (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Earthly Debts, Heavenly Debts,” Ensign, May 2004, 40. Bolding mine.)

Some debt—such as for a modest home, expenses for education, perhaps for a needed first car—may be necessary. But never should we enter into financial bondage through consumer debt without carefully weighing the costs.

If we have borrowed money and are now

  • house-rich and cash-poor, or
  • car-rich and cash-poor, or
  • investment-rich and cash-poor, or
  • vacation-rich and cash-poor, or
  • consumer goods-rich and cash-poor
  • etc.

we are unfaithful stewards. Every loan we take out is a mortgage or lien on the Lord's storehouse. It binds up the Lord's resources so they are unavailable for use by the Lord to build His kingdom. Debt prevents us from exercising our "own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;" (DC 58:27). Niether are we able to respond when called upon by priesthood leaders to build up the kingdom. Debt prohibits us from devoting everything the Lord has blessed us with to the building up of the Kingdom of God. Debt impedes our ability to establish Zion.

Debt is made of of principle and interest. I have just been talking about principle portion of debt. When we start talking about the interest portion of debt, the commandment is clear.

2 Nephi 9:51 Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy.

Spending money on interest and late fees is spending money on that which is of no worth and laboring for that which cannot satisfy. Brothers and sisters, if we find ourselves paying interest and late fees on anything other than a modest home, education loans, or a first car, we are unfaithful stewards and now is the time to repent. The pain of staying out of debt is much easier to bear than the pain of being declared an unfaithful steward at the judgment bar of God.

The 8th Temple recommend question asks if we are honest in our dealing with our fellow men. A late fee is a penalty for breaking an agreement to pay a debt on time. Breaking agreements is dishonest. Late penalties are evidence that we are not being honest with our fellow men.

Even more insidious is the effect debt has on our attitude toward life. The Savior said,

Matt. 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

It is true that the more debt a family has, and the more interest they pay, the more they will spend their emotional and spiritual energy on finances, rather than on building their families or building the Kingdom of God. They will worry about finances, they will make and re-make plans about finances, they will discuss and argue about finances, decisions will be driven by finances. It is a terrible, depressing weight to place on a family. Unchecked, debt and interest will become the masters of the household to which the family is enslaved.

"IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY"

LEVEL ATTITUDE
Telestial It is about the money
Terrestrial It is about what the money can do
Celestial It is about being a good steward

Conclusion #2 - It's about stewardship - remember, the way you manage the Lord's money is a test to see if you are ready for celestial living


IV. PRINCIPLE #3 - IT'S NOT ABOUT DEPENDENCY

When we read about Adam and Eve being kicked out of the Garden of Eden, we think the Lord gave Adam a curse when he said that, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground." (Genesis 3:19). In fact, it was not a curse to be avoided, but a commandment to be kept.

Moses 5:1 AND it came to pass that after I, the Lord God, had driven them out, that Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord had commanded him. And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.

Think about what the difference betweens a curse and a commandment means to us in how we manage our own lives.

This commandment was repeated to Moses.

Exodus 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

The commandment was repeated to Joseph Smith

DC 42:42 Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.

This commandment pertains to the idle-rich, the idle-poor, and the idle-retired. This commandment has two parts: the first is to eat food which we have purchased with money we have earned, and the second is to be engaged in work regardless of whether someone pays us for that work or not. I would say that keeping this commandment is not much of a problem in our ward.

The commandment for us to work to provide for our needs is the foundation of another commandment. This next commandment builds on and extends the commandment to provide for ourselves. Let us read in the Doctrine and Covenants.

DC 104:15-18 And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine. But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low. For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.

If, as stewards, we accumulate from the abundance which the Lord has placed on the earth, we are commanded, as stewards, to impart from this accumulation to the poor and needy. This is not a new commandment. King Benjamin taught:

Mosiah 4:16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

Mosiah 4:26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

What is striking in this commandment is that taking care of the poor is a condition of repentence. Alma the Elder repeats the commandment with a twist.

Mosiah 18:27-28 And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given. And thus they should impart of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God, and to those priests that stood in need, yea, and to every needy, naked soul.

The twist is that good stewards share the Lord's abundance because they have good desires toward God and impart of stewardship freely, with no hesitation or regret..

"IT'S NOT ABOUT DEPENDENCY"

LEVEL ATTITUDE
Telestial You take care of me
Terrestrial I work to take care of my own
Celestial We all work to take care of all of each other

Conclusion #3 - It's about working to over-achieve family self-sufficiency so that it can be extended to community self-sufficiency.



V. PRINCIPLE #4 - IT'S NOT ABOUT ME

D&C 38: 27 Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.

Picture a scene in the 1950's, when a husband comes home from work, asks his wife to close her eyes, and brings her outside to surprise her with a new car. BAD, BAD, BAD. The vehicle's title was probably in only his name. The title of the house was probably only in his name. BAD. BAD. BAD.

Surprises are only good when they are small presents for birthdays and Christmas. Large surprises are BAD. Large purchases must never, ever be a surprise to those with whom we share a financial stewardship. Let me say this again so there is no mistake. Large surprises are BAD. Every substantial purchase must be jointly decided and agreed upon in advance. What is a large purchase? It is different for each family, but for the average family in our community any single purchase or any collection of several purchases that exceed $100.00 should be discussed and agreed upon in advance. For usual expenses, like groceries and clothes, a family needs to agree on a budget in advance and if purchases will exceed the budget, a discussion must occur prior to the purchase. Every non-usual purchase, must be discussed in advance.

For non-routine purchases, a critical component of the discussion is to identify the money that already exists in a savings account that will cover the purchase. If the money does not exist in savings, then we have our answer. We don't buy.


Marital Financial Unity

"Still, if couples can't share their money in a checking account, it's probably a signal that something's wrong in the relationship."

"'Of couples I have counseled, the greatest success, both in marital happinss and sustainablity, occurs when assets are commingled upon marriage,' says Sharon Durling, author A Girl and Her Money."

--Pat Curry (10 June 2003) "Love, honor, and share a bank account." www.bankrate.com


Financial Infidelity

From hidden agendas to private accounts, undisclosed debt to unstated resentment, couples increasingly lead covert financial lives. This secrecy creates a new form of infidelity—one that’s more dangerous than sexual betrayal.

--Loftus, Mary (2004). “Till Debt Do Us Part.” Psychology Today. Vol. 37 No. 6. December 2004.


The principle of unity extends beyond just day-to-day purchases. It applied to all the family's assets. Both partners must have visual access to and spend authority on all of the financial assets of the family. To have "secret funds" or accounts in only one name is contrary to Celestial principles. The 8th Temple recommend question asks if we are honest in our dealing with our fellow men. This includes being honest with our spouses about family finances.

Oliver Cowdery's experience in trying to translate the Book of Mormon teaches us how we become one with the Spirit in trying to make decisions.

DC 9:8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

DC 8:2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart

We must make a list of the half dozen or so most important things we could spend our money on (vacation, computer, extra mortage payment, savings, etc.). For each we should discuss the pros and cons. When both spouses agree on what and how much, then we must pray. If the expenditure makes sense to our minds and we feel calm without reservations in our hearts, then we can make the purchase. If not, then wait and go through the process again.

I testify that great spiritual strength come to a couple when--united in purpose, on their knees, and holding hands--pray to make sure that buying a new bed is approved by our Father in Heaven. Our confidence will wax strong in the presence of the Lord (D&C 121: 45) when the Spirit confirms we are executing our financial stewardship's in accordance with our Heavenly Father's plan.


"IT'S NOT ABOUT ME"

LEVEL ATTITUDE
Telestial I decide what to do with my money
Terrestrial We decide together what to do with our money
Celestial We are one with the Holy Ghost about what to do with the Lord's money


Conclusion #4 - It's about we -- us becoming one with our Father in Heaven.



VI. CONCLUSION

Brothers and sisters, Luke asked the question:

Luke 16:11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

Answer: Nobody. If we do not manage our financial stewardship in strict accordance with Celestial Principles, we will not be admitted into the Celestial Kingdom.

Exercising faith, and trusting in the guidance of the Holy Ghost, we can become good and faithful servants, worthy to enter into our Father’s kingdom.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

- S U M M A R Y -

PRINCIPLE / LEVEL TELESTIAL TERRESTRIAL CELESTIAL
"It's not mine" What's yours is mine What's mine is mine None of it is mine, it is the Lord's
"It's not about the money" It is about the money It is about what the money can do It is about being a faithful steward
"It's not about dependency" You take care of me I take care of my own We take care of each other
"It's not about me" I decide what to do with my money We decide together what to do with our money It's about we. We are one with the Holy Ghost about what to do with the Lord's money



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