Chapter 2- Two Parts & Three T's

Chapter Two Overview

Before Attending Your Group Meeting

1. Memorize:

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).

    Use the Quizlet Memory Verse Tool

        2. Complete the Daily Homework.


        Day One Homework

        God's Part


        Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you begin reading passages of scripture. Ask for clarity and insight as you engage in God’s word.

        Scripture Reading

        To read any of the scripture verses in a different version of the bible, click on the highlighted verse(s) and then click the more button.

        Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17

        "But as for you (Timothy), continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

        Read Isaiah 55:8-12

        “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

        As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."


        2 Timothy 3:14-17

        Isaiah 55:8-12

        What do these passage say about...


        2 Timothy 3:14-17

        Isaiah 55:8-12


        2 Timothy 3:14-17

        Isaiah 55:8-12

        Compass Commentary- 2 Timothy 3:14-17

        View answer

        God’s part is to teach us through His word, which will put us straight when we go wrong, give us wisdom to choose what is right. It equips us to flourish in every aspect of life, including our finances, so that we can manage our financial life well.

        Compass Commentary- Isaiah 55:8-12

        View answer

        The Lord will also reveal what He is thinking about us, which goes way beyond what we could ever discover ourselves. He thinks with us about our financial goals and the important choices we have to make. If we allow God’s thinking to guide us, then His intentions will become clear and we can put His plans into action.

        Prayers for Today

        (this prayer section is for personal use and isn't meant to be part of the group discussion)

        Day Two Homework

        Our Part


        Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you begin reading passages of scripture. Ask for clarity and insight as you engage in God’s word.

        Scripture Reading

        To read any of the scripture verses in a different version of the bible, click on the highlighted verse(s) and then click the more button.

        Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

        "This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God" (ESV).


        1 Corinthians 4:1-5

        What does this passage say about...


        1 Corinthians 4:1-5


        1 Corinthians 4:1-5

        Let's Get Practical

        WHO YOU ARE

        1. The Deed

        So we now know who we are when it comes to finances and possessions- a steward! 

        To help us really grasp this steward role, we will be transferring all of "our" possessions to the Lord. To make this transfer, we we will be using a deed, because one is often used to transfer the ownership of property. This deed is not a legally binding document. It is solely for your use.

        By completing this deed, you establish a specific time when you acknowledge God’s ownership. To complete the deed:

        1. Insert today’s date at the top of the deed and print your first names in the space after “From,” because you are transferring your possessions.

        2. Please pray about the possessions you wish to acknowledge that God owns and write them in the large space on the deed.

        3. There are two blank lines for your signatures in the lower right-hand corner under the heading “Stewards”. In the lower left-hand corner under the heading of “Witnesses” there are two blank lines for others in your group to sign to help hold you accountable to recognize God as owner of your possessions.

        Download the Deed

        Make sure you save the downloaded practical applications to your computer or device before entering any data!

        Compass Commentary

        View answer

        The word that best describes our part is steward. A steward is a manager of someone else’s stuff. The Lord has given us the authority to be stewards and requires us to be faithful. Before we can be faithful, however, we have to grasp what we’re required to do. To do this, we need to examine the Creator’s handbook—the Bible—to determine how He wants us to handle His possessions. As we begin to study our responsibilities, it’s important to remember that God loves and cares for us deeply. He is a God of mercy and grace. He has given us these principles because He wants the best for us. Most people discover areas in which they have not been faithful. Don’t become discouraged. Simply seek to apply faithfully what you learn.

        Prayers for Today

        (this prayer section is for personal use and isn't meant to be part of the group discussion)

        Day Three Homework

        God Uses Money as a Tool


        Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you begin reading passages of scripture. Ask for clarity and insight as you engage in God’s word.

        Scripture Reading

        To read any of the scripture verses in a different version of the bible, click on the highlighted verse(s) and then click the more button.

        Read Luke 19:11-27

        "While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas.‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’

        “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’

        “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

        “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

        “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’

        “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’

        “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’

        “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”


        Luke 19:11-27

        What is this passage saying about...


        Luke 19:11-27


        Luke 19:11-27

        Compass Commentary

        View answer

        God uses money as tool with which He give us assignments in this world. ‘Put this money to work,’ He says. We are given money by God in order to live well and do good with it. However, He will hold us accountable for how we have used the money which he has entrusted us with ‘until I return.’ He gives us assignments according to our capacity to be able to manage them well. To some, He gives a lot - to others less. We all have the assignment to use whatever we receive for His purposes and in His way. The reward to being a good steward, a good manager of the money, was even more responsibility as a steward.

        Prayers for Today

        (this prayer section is for personal use and isn't meant to be part of the group discussion)

        Day Four Homework

        God Uses Money as a Test


        Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you begin reading passages of scripture. Ask for clarity and insight as you engage in God’s word.

        Scripture Reading

        To read any of the scripture verses in a different version of the bible, click on the highlighted verse(s) and then click the more button.

        Read Luke 16:8-13

        “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I (Jesus) tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

        “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

        “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.”


        Luke 16:8-13

        What is this passage saying about...


        Luke 16:8-13


        Luke 16:8-13

        Compass Commentary-

        View answer

        God also uses money as test of our faithfulness and shrewdness. Jesus gave the lesson of the parable preceding these verses. The manager was praised for being shrewd, having a clear understanding of a situation and good judgement, resulting a good outcome. An example of being shrewd is to use money to help people find Christ! Jesus then goes on to teach that he will judge our faithfulness by the way we use money. If He sees we are being faithful with little, he can trust us with much. The measure by which He can give us ‘true riches’, is determined by how we use worldly wealth.

        Prayers for Today

        (this prayer section is for personal use and isn't meant to be part of the group discussion)

        Day Five Homework

        God Uses Money as a Testimony


        Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you begin reading passages of scripture. Ask for clarity and insight as you engage in God’s word.

        Scripture Reading

        To read any of the scripture verses in a different version of the bible, click on the highlighted verse(s) and then click the more button.

        Read Matthew 5:13-16

        “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

        “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."


        Matthew 5:13-16

        What is this passage saying about...


        Matthew 5:13-16


        Matthew 5:13-16

        Compass Commentary

        View answer

        God also uses money as a testimony to those around us, as they see God working through our lives and as we trust Him in our financial decisions. It is a great testimony to our Lord when we live a life of contentment, honesty and thankfulness. We honor God when we are generous and share what we have to alleviate needs of others. Our whole life is to shed light on God Himself, so that people my see who He is.

        Prayers for Today

        (this prayer section is for personal use and isn't meant to be part of the group discussion)

        Day Six Homework

        1. Read the Day Six notes.

        2. Answer the Day Six discussion questions.

        The Day Six Notes

        How God uses money

        God uses money in three ways - as a tool, a test and a testimony.

        God uses money as a tool to assess our capacity to use money well.

        In Matthew 25, God gives large amounts of money to three stewards who are expected to do business with what they have been entrusted with. To those who used the money well, according to the master’s wishes, the master complemented them. The reward of good stewardship was more stewardship! “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.” (Matthew 25:23) The reward was also the ‘the joy of the master.’

        God uses money as a test to assess our faithfulness in using the money in the right way, especially with the little we are entrusted with. “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” (Luke 16:10) The extent to which we will be trusted with what Jesus called “the true riches” is to a large extent determined by how well we use the money entrusted to us. “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” (Luke 16:11 ) And the extent to which we will be given more money to manage is also determined by how faithful we are in managing Gods money as a trusted steward. “And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16:12)

        God uses money as a testimony to those around us. They have the opportunity to see God work through our lives and see us trust Him in our financial decisions. It can be a great testimony to the Lord when we are able to live a life of generosity, contentment and thankfulness.

        The Husbands Unique Role

        The most important role of the husband is to love his wife. This love is to be characterized by serving and caring. The Bible expresses it this way: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:25-28). It is a sacrificial love.

        When newly married, I met with my neighbor, Lyle Nelsen. He hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, and when I asked why, he chuckled. “Well, about 2 a.m. my wife woke me because she wasn’t feeling well and wanted something from the all-night pharmacy.”

        “Bummer,” I said.

        “No,” he smiled, “I never think of occasions like that as a nuisance. To me, they’re opportunities to serve. View every request by your wife as an opportunity to serve her.”

        I’ve remembered those words. View every request by your wife as an opportunity to serve her!

        When Bev asks me to do something for her, if possible, I stop what I’m doing and immediately do it. And I’ve discovered something surprising. I experience joy when serving her.

        Husbands, I am convinced that the Lord made us to sacrificially serve our wives, and when we do we sense His pleasure.

        Robert Fraley, used to challenge husbands: “The question is not, ‘Do I love my wife?’

        The real question is, ‘Does my wife know I love her?’” Think of the times you were dating her before marriage. If you’re like me, you pursued her, surprised her with gifts, and constantly thought of her. But often after tying the knot, husbands no longer express their love with the same creativity and care.

        I heartily recommend Gary Chapman’s excellent book The 5 Love Languages as a resource that will help you understand how you and your mate can best express and receive love from each other.

        According to surveys, most wives need to be regularly reminded that their husbands love them. One of the most effective ways of communicating your love is to serve her.

        Another powerful way to express your love is to simply hug your wife every day, taking the time to look into her eyes and say, “I love you like crazy!” It’s especially important on those days when she feels discouraged, depressed or unlovable.

        When God calls people together, he assigns a person to lead. In marriage, God chose the husband as head of the wife. “The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23). The husband’s position doesn’t mean that he is superior to his wife. They simply have different God-given functions and each is equally valuable.

        This can be a sensitive area for couples, especially if a husband has not sacrificially loved and served his wife. She can feel unappreciated and insecure. A husband who has crossed the line from compassion to control can find his wife resisting his leadership.

        The husband’s leadership style should not be heavy-handed or dictatorial. On the contrary, it should be characterized by “understanding” and “giving honor” to his wife. “Husbands… be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (1 Peter 3:7)

        The husband must obey God and serve his wife by devoting himself to her above his children, friends, recreation, ministry or career. He cannot be emotionally absent or passive. He should seek to protect her in difficult situations, such as harassing phone calls from unsympathetic creditors.

        The Wife’s Unique Role

        By God’s design, the wife is to help her husband. She should assist, encourage, and respect him. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper [woman] suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18).

        The classic example of a wife helping her husband is described in Proverbs 31:10-26.

        “An excellent wife…does [her husband] good and not evil all the days of her life…

        She brings her food from afar.

        She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household.

        She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard

        She extends her hand to the poor .

        She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen.”

        Think about this wife’s extraordinary accomplishments. She provided food and clothing to her family. She was an entrepreneur with a thriving clothing business. She was a successful investor in real estate.

        What motivates this industrious wife? Proverbs 31:27 reveals, “She looks well to the ways of her household.” She wants to help her husband by managing the home and by earning extra money. I love how he and the children honor her: “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” (Proverbs 31:28-29)

        Her husband’s leadership style allowed for the full expression of his wife’s talents. Husbands, how would you describe your leadership style? Does it encourage your wife to be all she can be within her role as your helper, or are your stifling her God-given talents and creativity?

        Wives, are you fulfilling your role of helping your husband?

        Another role of a wife is to submit to her husband’s leadership. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord . . . as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)

        Many think that submission means to never express an opinion or to do just what the husband demands, but that’s inaccurate. Outstanding marriage author, Don Meredith, defines submission as “falling in line with your husband in order that oneness can take place.” It means respecting your husband enough to follow his leadership.

        Now this may be hard to grasp, but God wants wives to respect and submit even if their husbands don’t know Jesus Christ as their Savior—or perhaps, know Him but aren’t obeying Him. “Wives . . . be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives . . . Your beauty . . . should be that of . . . a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.

        They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” (1 Peter 3:1-7)

        Did you notice the last part of this passage? “You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” It can feel scary if your husband is not handling money God’s way. But don’t become fearful; rather, trust in God’s love and provision. When you submit to the leadership of your husband, the Lord will work in your husband’s life and in the circumstances for ultimate good.

        The late Adrian Rogers observed, “It is important to realize every time God says, ‘You shall not,’ He is simply saying, ‘Don’t hurt yourself,’ and when He says, ‘You shall,’ He means help yourself to happiness.’ God only wants for us what we would want for ourselves if we were smart enough to want it.”

        God's Part in Your Marriage

        The Bible reveals a clear division of responsibilities in the handling of money. Simply put, God has certain responsibilities and has given others to us. Much of the frustration we experience in our finances comes from not realizing which responsibilities are ours and which are not.

        The Lord’s primary responsibility is that He owns all your stuff! He created and owns everything.

        Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (NIV).

        I will never forget the look on Ralph and Wendy Gray’s faces when they realized that God was the owner of all they had. “You mean that Wendy and I don’t own anything?” Ralph asked. “The home, the car, the savings—none of it’s ours; it’s all God’s? We’ve always thought as long as we give 10 percent of our income, we can spend the other 90 percent any way we want. But if God is the Owner of everything, that means we need to handle it all in a way that pleases him.”

        It’s easy to believe intellectually that God owns all we have yet still live as if this were not true. Think about it. Everyone around us—our neighbors, the media, even the law—say that we own our possessions. But the Bible reveals the truth—God is the owner.

        God is our Provider

        The Lord promises to provide our needs. “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things [food and clothing] shall be given to you” (Matthew 6:33, NIV).

        The same Lord who fed manna to the children of Israel during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and who fed 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish has promised to provide our needs. This is the same Lord who told Elijah, “I have commanded the ravens to provide for you. . . . The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening” (1 Kings 17:4-6).

        God is totally predictable in His faithfulness to provide for our needs. What we cannot predict is how He will provide. He uses different and often surprising means—an increase in income or a gift. He may provide an opportunity to stretch limited resources through money saving purchases.

        Our Part in Our Marriage

        We have to ask ourselves, “If God owns everything we’ll ever have, what’s left for us to do? What are our responsibilities?”

        The word in the Bible that best describes our role is steward. A steward is simply a manager of someone else’s stuff. We are to be the managers of whatever the Lord gives us. And 1 Corinthians 4:2 tells us, “It is required of stewards that one be found faithful” .

        Think about it this way. Imagine that you buy a complicated piece of machinery. How would you learn how to operate it? You’d study the manufacturer’s operating manual. In a similar way we need to examine the Creator’s handbook—the Bible—to determine how to be faithful to handle His possessions His way.

        There are two things about being a faithful manager that are important to understand.

        1. Be faithful whether you have a lot or a little.

        God wants us to be faithful regardless of how much we have. In fact, Jesus said, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). If you are faithful with small financial matters, God knows that He can trust you with more resources. Missionary statesman Hudson Taylor said it this way, “Small things are small things, but faithfulness with a small thing is a big thing.”

        Some people become frustrated by the inability to solve their financial problems because it seems impossible. And sometimes it is impossible without God’s help. Your job is simply to make a genuine effort, no matter how small it may appear, and then leave the results to God.

        I love what the Lord said in Zechariah 4:10: “Do not despise the small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (TLB).

        Isn’t that great? Isn’t that just like our God? Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. Take a step forward in faith, even if it’s a baby step. The fact is—God is bigger—so astonishingly greater—than any financial problem you may be facing. He wants you to invite Him into your financial life. Just be faithful to do what you can—even though it may seem insignificant.

        2. Be faithful with the 100%, not just the 10%

        God wants us to be faithful in handling all of our money. Unfortunately, most Christians have been taught how to handle only 10 percent of their income God’s way—the area of giving. And although giving is crucial, so is the other 90 percent, which most people have learned to handle from the world’s perspective.

        Since most people have not been equipped to handle 100 percent of their money God’s way, this often leads to bad financial decisions and painful consequences. But here’s the good news. Everything you need to know about handling money is found in the Bible. It tells us how to earn, spend, give, save, invest, get out of debt and teach our children how to handle money.

        Making Decisions

        Here’s how Bev and I handle our financial decision making. If it is a really important decision, we wait until both are in strong agreement before we act.

        If it’s a more routine decision, and one of us feels strongly about it and the other does not, we’ll embrace the direction strongly felt. If neither of us feels strongly, or we both feel strongly about a different course of action, we will pray and wait. We will be patient for the Lord to show us.

        If neither feels strongly or we feel strongly and differently about a decision that needs to be made quickly, Bev will say to me, “You’re the head of the house, and I trust you to make the wise decision. You make the choice.”

        Engaged Couples

        One of the biggest dangers engaged couples face is becoming so emotionally involved when thinking of marriage that they do not address money at all. Yet if hidden financial problems surface after the honeymoon, they can destroy the trust relationship of the new husband and wife.

        There are four basic things every engaged couples needs to do before their marriage.

        1. Complete disclosure of your finances.

        You should be fully transparent with your financial situation. Make this commitment with your fiancée—no secrets about money! Swap your financial statements that disclose all your assets and debts. Trade credit reports and credit scores and openly talk over any financial stuggles you have experienced. When you are honest with one another—even if there is bad news to deal with—it builds trust with your future spouse. Your fiancee will respect and appreciate your integrity.

        2. Talk through your financial goals, values and expectations.

        Learn each other’s financial values and attitudes. What is it that you want to accomplish in your economic lives as an individual and as a couple? Here’s a list of questions to help get you started.

        • If both are breadwinners, what happens when we have children—does the wife stay home to raise the children?
        • Are you a hard worker? What career do you want to pursue?
        • What percentage of our income do you want to give and to save?
        • What is your attitude toward debt? When should we use it?
        • Who will handle the bookkeeping and paying the bills?
        • How do you see us becoming one with our finances? How should we combine our finances?
        • What are your expectations concerning our lifestyle—what do you want for a home, furniture, cars, clothes, vacations and gifts?
        • What do you think we should spend on our wedding?
        • Do we both know Jesus Christ as our savior? If not, what should we do?

        3. Develop a spending plan together.

        It is a very helpful exercise to develop an estimated spending plan (budget) together. Obviously it won’t be completely accurate because you will have to make an educated guess at so many items, but you and your fiancee will learn a great deal about each other.

        4. Learn God’s way of handling money.

        One of the most important steps an engaged couple can do is to together learn what the Lord says about handling finances.

        Now, here’s my recommendation: Don’t get married until you do all four of these steps. I know it will take time and effort to complete them, but you will be glad you did. From experience in working with so many couples, you will have a much healthier marriage if you do.


        God loves and cares about all families—including stepfamilies, and He wants them to succeed. Trust is vital in a healthy stepfamily, especially if either of the new mates is coming out of a marriage in which there was a lack of it.

        If the words complex and lack of trust describe the major challenges of stepfamilies, then patience, communication and honesty describe how to overcome these problems.

        Successfully merging a stepfamily is more like a marathon than a sprint. In his excellent book, The Smart Step-Family, Ron Deal says it’s like cooking with a Crock-pot instead of a microwave. In other words, stepfamilies need to employ patience—time and low heat—in allowing each member of the new family to adjust.

        As we’ve just discussed, it is important for all engaged couples to address their finances before marriage. But for stepfamily couples, the need is amplified because spouses often base their money decisions on the experience of their previous marriage. Listen carefully: Do not carry the baggage of hurts and difficult financial experiences with your former spouse into financial discussions with your new spouse. Philippians 3:13 says it this way: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”

        Stepfamily engaged couples need to discuss issues, such as these:

        • What are your financial obligations to your ex-spouse (child support, etc.), and how likely are they to increase in the future?
        • When one of us dies, who will receive the assets brought into our marriage? What happens to them when the surviving spouse dies or remarries?
        • Was your previous spouse a poor money manager? How will we unify our finances?

        Although for a host of reasons I normally recommend that couples have just one checking account together, some stepfamilies would be wise to start with “yours,” “mine” and “our” accounts.

        One reason for this is security, especially for the woman. Many women who have been left destitute after their husband walked out find it difficult to give up the security of having something they can call their own. Their trust account needs plenty of deposits. As a new husband proves his faithfulness, her trust will be won and the finances can be completely unified.

        What may feel like an exciting new start for a husband and wife can feel like a loss for children, who enter the stepfamily with their own wounds—and a missing parent.

        Children often react to these changes by becoming jealous of the new parent. They may pit one set of parents against the other or develop an unhealthy sense of entitlement.

        For most couples, two issues never completely disappear. (1) If I can’t make everyone happy, who comes first: my spouse or my children? (2) Do I love my children more than my mate’s kids?

        Your spouse must be your top priority. Divorce recovery expert, Laura Petherbridge, has discovered that men often put their children ahead of their new wives. This is a tragic error.

        Express love toward your children and your spouse’s children equally. You might not have the same feelings of love and bondedness for both sets of children, but you can choose to love them equitably. Hold them to the same expectations, discipline each evenhandedly, and distribute financial resources fairly

        Conflict Resolution

        After nine years and three children, Joe and Sandra Hudson’s marriage was in trouble, and they knew it. Their inability to talk about money without a hurtful fight was their biggest challenge.

        It was starting to affect everything in their marriage—even its survival.

        Money is one of the most common areas of conflict for couples. God knew that we’d have conflict and even anger in our marriages. But you might be surprised to learn that conflict isn’t always bad. In fact, it can be a tool for strengthening the relationship. Although a thunderstorm can be terrifying, meteorologists tell us that it helps to clean the air. Lightning produces negatively charged ions, which, I’m told, attach themselves to pollutants that fall to the ground.

        That’s why the air smells so clean after a thunderstorm. The same is true when we deal with conflict in marriage in a healthy way. Even if it is loud and scary, conflict can help to clear the air in our marriage.

        When conflict is handled correctly, two people share their hearts with each other in a caring and positive way, trying to listen and be heard while connecting on a deep level. Unfortunately, many couples don’t know how to handle conflict well.

        Too many have unhealthy habits of dealing with financial conflict. They start conversations with a salvo of stinging accusations and it escalates into very personal attacks. And in the process, they were destroying the very things they want most in their marriage—love, mutual respect and commitment.

        Unhealthy conflict can affect our job performance, physical and mental health, and even our children. James 3:6 warns us, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire” (NIV).

        Three factors are essential to convert harmful conflicts to healthy ones: good will on the part of both spouses; a written agreement on how to conduct themselves during conflicts; and understanding the importance of forgiveness.

        Factor #1: Good will

        Loving and wanting the best for each other is the foundation for healthy conflict. The more your spouse’s trust account is filled, the more confident your mate is certain of your love; the greater the good will between the two of you, the easier it is to work through difficult issues.

        Prayerfully review the “One Anothers” and the description of “Real Love” found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. If you are not treating your spouse in these ways, I encourage you to spend time with the Lord asking him to change your heart and your actions. Be candid with your wife or husband and ask for forgiveness for your actions. As you are faithful to live out these powerful verses, it will transform you and your marriage.

        Factor #2: Written Agreement

        It is crucial for couples to write down agreed upon ground rules for healthy conflict—before conflict erupts. This agreement should be designed to foster open communication, love and respect for each another, and resolution of a problem. Often the agreement couples decide upon will be unique to them.

        There are some basic dos and dont's that are helpful for most couples. Review them before you draft your own agreement.

        Factor #3: Forgiveness

        God realizes it is tremendously important for couples to forgive each other. One of the most impressive characteristics of Jesus Christ was his willingness to forgive. Imagine hanging on a cross and experiencing excruciating agony; yet, praying for those who crucified you, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

        When the apostle Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive someone seven times, Christ responded, “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22) He then told a parable about a servant who was forgiven a large debt by his master, but refused to forgive a fellow servant a small debt. Christ describes what happens to the unforgiving servant: “In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart.” (Matthew 18:34-35)

        Remember, maintaining a close relationship with your mate is more important than winning a financial argument. Winning at the expense of damaging your relationship is a defeat.

        Try to find a solution that benefits you both. And if the two of you can’t find a solution to your conflict, seek the help of a counselor.

        Genuine forgiveness is a key to healthy conflict and a great marriage. When you have wronged your mate, be quick to sincerely apologize and to ask for forgiveness. My wife, Bev, says, “Unforgiveness hurts the person not forgiving. It’s like drinking poison and hoping the other person will suffer and die.”

        We Will Never . . .

        1. Never threaten divorce during conflict because this will attack the foundation of your relationship, leave scars that take years to heal, and cause your spouse to trust you less.

        It will only validate any suspicion that you have given up and are not willing to fight for your marriage. Remember that your mate should never be your enemy; rather, your spouse should be your intimate ally. You are not complete without your spouse.

        2. Never confront in public because it could deeply humiliate and embarrass your spouse.

        This will immediately put your mate on the defensive and can destroy the desire to reconcile.

        3. Never nag. Nagging is not the way to get your spouse’s attention to deal with a problem. Proverbs 19:13 says, “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.” And I might add—so is a nagging husband!

        4. Never verbally attack. Lashing out leaves your spouse hurt and defensive which works against resolving conflict. Your goal is reconciliation and healing. Tell your mate your feelings and what the problem is from your point of view. Use “I” statements to share your feelings instead of “you” assertions which tend to assail your mate. Say something like, “I’m frustrated that the bills didn’t get paid on time,” instead of “You’re always so irresponsible and lazy. You never pay anything on time.” When you attack your spouse’s character or motives the discussion morphs from legitimate concern to unwarranted criticism.

        Ephesians 4:29 says it this way, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”.

        5. Never resurrect the past. Oh, what a temptation this is. I once heard a marriage expert refer to this phenomenon as “harpoons on the wall.” It’s as though we mount our past grievances on the walls of our home—those incidents when our spouse was guilty (as guilty as can be) of sin, carelessness, absentmindedness, or some doozey of a mistake. Then, when we get into some disagreement, the temptation is to reach up on the wall and haul down one of those old harpoons, “Remember the time when you…?” And we let that rusty old thing fly through the air, giving it the new life it never deserved!

        Leave those old, barnacled, crusty old harpoons on the wall.

        When a disagreement is over and there is a satisfactory conclusion, it’s over! Forget them! In otherwords, don’t get historical in your marriage by continually bringing up the past. 1 Corinthians 13:5 tell us, “[Love] does not take into account a wrong suffered.”

        We will always . . .

        1. Always ask permission to address the conflict. Make sure your mate is ready to face the issue before you discuss it. Asking permission with kindness help sets the stage for resolution.

        2. Always invite God to be part of your discussion. When you start your time together by praying, it can completely change the tenor of your conversation. And if you can’t seem to find the answers to your problems, pray. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him.” Nothing will cool a heated confrontation more quickly than the words: “Let’s pray!”

        3. Always admit when you’re wrong. Sometimes a conflict occurs because one person’s behavior was inappropriate. Be willing to confess and ask forgiveness if you’ve done something wrong to help heal the damage to your relationship. Try something like, “I’m so sorry I was unkind to you. Will you please forgive me?”

        4. Always listen. Seek to understand where your mate is coming from, even when you may not agree with his or her viewpoint. Learn to listen instead of trying to figure out what you’re going to say next. James 1:19-20 says it this way, “Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”

        I’ve heard stories of some people groups around the world who make use of something called a “talking stick.”

        When the community leaders assemble to discuss important issues, the head of the council pulls out the talking stick—a short stick ornamented with shells, feathers or what-have-you. He begins talking. When he finishes, he passes the talking stick to another council member. No one else has permission to talk or interrupt while he holds the stick. This way each council member gets to be heard without someone else interrupting or arguing.

        The talking stick may not work for you, but something similar might. The objectives are uninterrupted discussion and careful listening. It is so important for us to be heard.

        May I just pause a moment to underline this point? Nothing communicates love and respect in a marriage like a mate who will look you in the eyes, and listen to what you have to say, instead of interrupting or desperately trying to think of a counterargument while you’re still talking. You be that mate. You be that listening spouse!

        It communicates: I want to know and understand your point of view. I may not always agree with it, but I value you and want to hear you. This will go a long way toward resolving the conflict.

        5. Always keep your arguments out of the bedroom. That’s a place for unity and intimacy, not hashing out differences. Don’t withhold sex to manipulate your partner. Sex was never designed to be used as a weapon, withheld without mutual consent. “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband . . . Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you can devote yourself to prayer.” (1 Corinthians 7:3, 5)

        6. Always stick to the subject. Most people can deal with only one issue at a time.

        Unfortunately, some spouses bring two or three issues to an argument, trying to reinforce their point. This confuses the discussion and doesn’t aid resolution.

        7. Always deal with disagreements as soon as possible. The longer a conflict festers, the larger the issue becomes because time tends to magnify a hurt. The Bible says, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26)

        Anger that has not been dealt with leads to bitterness and even more anger. Never go to bed angry. Why give the devil a foothold in your marriage?

        8. Always decide on a plan. After the two of you have expressed your points of view and come to an understanding, decide on a plan of where to go from here. That might mean saying something like, “In the future, we’ll discuss how we’ll spend our savings before buying—rather than telling each other after the fact.”

        Day Six Discussion

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