Avoid Financial Bondage In Three Words

Financial Freedom

Even if you are fully funded you will experience financial bondage if you neglect Jesus’ parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25.

You know the story. Ten virgins planned to attend a wedding. Five wise virgins took extra oil for their lamps, but five foolish virgins “took no oil with them.” (Matthew 25:5)

Background: In those days the groom’s wedding party meandered slowly to the bride’s house (often at night). Guests were expected to carry a lamp/torch as their way of honoring the couple and bringing light to the ceremony.  No torch—no entrance. “Wedding crashers” existed in Jesus’ day too!

But the groom was delayed and the lamps went out. When the shout finally came that the bridegroom was at hand, the five virgins with no reserve oil asked the others to share their oil. But they feared that they too would run out. “Go to the merchants,” they said. But while buying oil “the door was shut.” (Matthew 25:10)

Theme: Be ready for the parousia—the second coming of Christ. There are two types of people: those who are prepared to meet Christ and those who are not.

Does this theme apply to other areas of life too? Yes! Here are the three words that help us avoid financial bondage.

Assumptions. What were the foolish virgins assumptions?

  1. They could predict the bridegroom’s arrival and not run out of oil.
  2. Others would help them—scramble as we say in America.

But they assumed things over which they had no control. That is dangerous in the second coming and dangerous financially.

Question: What assumptions are you making regarding finances? Do you have control over your assumptions?

For example:

  • My car has eternal life.
  • My paycheck will cover my monthly expenses. No need for a reserve.
  • My kids will get scholarships to university.
  • A large inheritance from parents will come soon.
  • Annual cash donors will give even if I don’t remind them.
  • When people discover I am in ministry, they will give without being asked.
  •  Others will bail me out in an emergency.

Have you seen the humorous sign, usually hanging in auto repair shops: Your failure to plan, which has put you into an emergency, does not mean I also have an emergency!

Anticipate. What can you anticipate financially over the next year or two or three? For example:

  • Will you have additional expenses—extra ministry travel, a third child starting school, a church stopping support?

Anticipation is a principle of life that is ignored at our peril. Proverbs 22:3 says:

“The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on and are punished for it”

Boundaries. What boundaries do you have in finances?

The five wise virgins did not share their oil (v 9) and Jesus did not criticize them. Were they selfish? My African friends said they must have been American virgins! Laughter—you had to be there!

Jesus’ parable implies that nothing must be allowed to jeopardize your being ready to meet the ‘bridegroom’ at the second coming. It is okay to say “no!”

Jesus himself said no:

  • To the Gadarene demoniac who wanted to join the Twelve in the boat
  • To his brothers who wanted him to go prematurely to Jerusalem
  • To Peter who wanted him to avoid risking death at Jerusalem

Jesus had boundaries and so must His followers. For an example, I offer my financial boundaries. I do not:

  • Co-sign loans for friends or family.
  • Loan money—I value your friendship. But I might give you money.
  • Make major finance decisions without consulting my wife.
  • Buy stuff on impulse even if I can afford it.
  • Borrow money (in general) except for homes.

Don’t copy my boundaries. Find your own. To have none is to invite disaster and a fight with your spouse.

Conclusion: To fail to prepare is what Jesus called “moros”—foolish, dull or stupid, root of the English word moron. This is serious!

The British theologian William Barclay in his commentary on Matthew 25 said, “This story warns us of certain things which cannot be obtained at the last minute,” such as a student preparing for an exam or acquiring integrity for a public job at the last moment—and especially in the most important decision of life.

“When Mary of Orange was dying, her chaplain sought to tell her of the way of salvation. Her answer was, “I have not left this [important] matter to this [late] hour.”

Let us not leave salvation to our last hour. And let us not leave financial planning until it is too late. Our knowledge and control are limited. Therefore—three words:

  • What are your assumptions?
  • What are you anticipating?
  • What are your boundaries?