I want to say at the very beginning that I have no major beef with Dave Ramsey. In fact I think his program is helpful to many folks. For the most part I would say that following his financial advice will make you a better steward. And you could just as easily replace the name Dave Ramsey with any other Christian author or ministry leader and I would make the same point.
After studying centuries of church history, Richard Lovelace says this about most believers:
“below the surface of their lives [they] are guilt-ridden and insecure…[and] draw the assurance of their acceptance with God from their sincerity, their past experience of conversion, their recent religious performance or the relative infrequency of their conscious, willful disobedience.”
And I blame Dave Ramsey.
Okay, not really. But I’m making the point that our propensity towards making rules out of helpful suggestions leads us to being guilt-ridden and insecure.
I was listening to the radio the other day and heard a guy sounding very discouraged and overwhelmed by his inability to get his Ramsey’s suggested percentages into order. The guy clearly desired to be a good steward. And good stewardship was now defined for him as only spending 5-10% on monthly utilities and 25-35% on housing.
Now I believe that in most contexts it is good and wise stewardship to spend Dave Ramsey’s suggested percentages. Those are very helpful and I think most would greatly benefit from this. But the problem is whenever we make suggested percentages to become equivalent to God’s law. It is true that we are called by Scripture to be good stewards. But it is not true that Scripture defines good stewardship by Dave Ramsey’s percentages.
I saw this same thing in college when everyone was using Joshua Harris’ suggestions for dating/courtship. They were helpful (at least in part). But what happened is that we started measuring peoples fidelity to the Scriptures based upon their fidelity to the principles of Josh Harris. And that’s really no different than what the Pharisees were doing with the Law. We were taking the implications of biblical principles and turning them into biblical commands in themselves.
And this is why you have a ton of Christians as Richard Lovelace describes. We are guilt-ridden and insecure because we’re overwhelmed by “sin” that Christ did not die for. You see, Jesus didn’t die for sin that we made up. The Spirit doesn’t give us power to measure up to the rules we’ve invented. God will make you a better steward—and he might even use the suggestions of Dave Ramsey to do it—but he isn’t concerned with making sure we are obedient to Dave Ramsey.
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