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Understanding Financial Discipline

MoneyWise

Christian talk radio with Rob West

November 18, 2022

The word discipline doesn’t sound like much fun. But without discipline, there would be chaos and destruction. We all need it, especially with our finances. Discipline may not We’ll talk about that today on MoneyWise. If you need any convincing that discipline is a necessary part of life, look no further than Proverbs 25: 28. It reads, A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. And that from King Solomon, arguably the richest man who ever lived. If discipline doesn’t seem like fun, it certainly provides many other positive things to make your life better, including peace of mind. When you have the discipline to follow God’s financial principles, for example, you worry a lot less about creditors calling you for bills you can’t pay. Instead, you’re putting money aside for emergencies and investing for the future. You can’t put a price tag on that. The word discipline has developed a negative connotation over time. You might think of disciplinary action, which is punishment for wrongdoing. But that’s not how the word started out. The verb disciple means to teach. A disciple is a student. Jesus taught His disciples how to spread the Gospel. They certainly weren’t being punished. These days, besides being thought of as a punishment, discipline is often thought to be restrictive, limiting our ability to do what we want. And that’s what often makes self-discipline so difficult. Given a choice, we’d rather not limit ourselves. Now, here’s where things get a little counter-intuitive. If you think that discipline limits your freedom, actually, it does the opposite, especially in the case of self-discipline. And let’s use money as an example. We have to train or discipline ourselves to live on a budget to save and be generous as laid out in God’s financial principles. We don’t want to do those things naturally. We’d rather spend our money on whatever we want whenever we want. We don’t want to limit our options. But discipline doesn’t really limit those options, it merely delays and focuses them. Over time, practicing self-discipline actually adds to your choices and to your freedom. That’s because you’re not in debt and you have money in the bank. Saving and investing require discipline. Proverbs 10: 4 reads, A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. As we acquire wealth, we also acquire more freedom, not to spend foolishly, but to live an appropriate, comfortable lifestyle and to serve God more fully. That’s true freedom, and it only comes from discipline. And if discipline has developed an unfair negative meaning, freedom has developed an unfair positive connotation. You might think it means you get to have anything you want, like a better car, a bigger house or an expensive vacation with all the frills. But unless you’re paying cash, all of those things lead only to debt, which, of course, is the opposite of freedom. Proverbs 22: 7 says, The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. True freedom requires discipline or it leads to disaster. Freedom without virtue becomes a license from which we get the word, licentious, which means having a complete disregard for rules or morality. You know, our Founding Fathers knew this. They gave us more freedom than any people have ever enjoyed in history. But they knew that our nation could only survive if the people remained virtuous. To paraphrase many of them, without virtue or discipline, there is no liberty. There’s a story about a woman stopping Benjamin Franklin as he was leaving the Constitutional Convention. She asked, What kind of government have you given us? Franklin replied, A republic, madam, if you can keep it. Ol’ Ben probably would have fainted if someone had told him his new country would someday have a national debt of $31 trillion. We must remember that discipline is a good thing and that freedom can be dangerous. So don’t be fooled by appearances. Discipline only appears to restrict you, while freedom only appears to give you anything you want without earning it. The truth is that without discipline there can be no real freedom. Hebrews 12: 11 reads, For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. And if you think you can’t discipline yourself to handle money according to God’s financial principles, pray and ask the Lord for help. 2 Timothy 1: 7 teaches, For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. And we’d love to help, too. With tools like the MoneyWise app and the best content, you’ll find on how to manage your money wisely. On today’s program, Rob also answers listener questions: ● How can a newly married couple truly come together on finances? ● Does purchasing an I-bond for someone else affect your taxes? ● When does it make sense to cash in your 401k to pay off debt? ● What’s the best savings or investment vehicle for someone in their 20s? RESOURCES MENTIONED: ● Betterment ● Wealthfront ● Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

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