How can you develop a personal theology about money that balances practical saving and investing with what the Bible says? Here are five biblical principles about money that may help!
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Saving Honors God and Serves Others
Our first biblical financial principle emphasizes the value of saving. Many Christians are familiar with the part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus addresses the issue of money as it relates to the heart.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. “ (Matthew 6:19- 20)
Out of context, these verses can make it easy to feel guilty about saving for retirement or building an emergency fund when there are so many people in need. Yet the Bible actually encourages us to set aside for expected, future needs. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” (ESV).
Saving honors God because it values money as a gift that He has given to us. Through wise saving, we have the privilege and responsibility to steward these gifts in a way that honors Him and serves others.
In another part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that even though we should save for the future, we should store up our true treasures in heaven. Jesus tells the crowd, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” His point is not that wealth itself is evil but that when we choose material things over godliness, it is a reflection of our hearts.
Debt Isn’t Condemned, But It Does Have Consequences
One of the more widely debated biblical financial principles revolves around the role of debt. While the Bible addresses debt, it never states that you should not have any debt as a Christian.
It does, however, characterize debt as a form of bondage. In Proverbs 22:7, the Bible says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Like many things, the problems with debt are a result of how it’s used.
Consider these three instances where someone might be in debt:
- Credit card debt from overspending on material items
- A mortgage loan from purchasing a first home
- Debt a church may hold from building renovations to fit their growing congregation
In two of these scenarios, the debt has come from an intentional investment into something that has value beyond indulgence. Still, debt comes at a cost. Any debt and interest payments prevent you from using the same money for another purpose.
Lastly, debt always presumes upon the future. The book of James reminds us that we are not guaranteed tomorrow:
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15, ESV)
We know debt can be debilitating, but we also know how freeing it is for clients to find a financial strategy that helps them live unhindered by debt as they work to eliminate it. If you want clarity and confidence in your financial plan, reach out to one of our advisors today!
Do Not Assume Tomorrow, But Prepare For It
Many Christians frequently hear, “Live today like Jesus is coming back tomorrow.” This is a great way to remind us of our responsibility to have a Kingdom mindset at all times. How do we apply this to our finances?
Oversaving and storing up treasures on earth places too much value on wealth. Overspending, even if you were to give every last dollar to churches and charities, does not place enough value on the fact that giving is not measured by the amount, but by obedience, need, and generosity.
Paul is talking to the church at Corinth when he says:
“For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15, ESV)
He is not encouraging the Corinthian Christians to “give until it hurts,” but to give out of their abundance, to help those in need instead of hoarding their material riches for themselves.
In addition to giving, we encourage clients to plan for a financial margin and set long-term goals. Proverbs 27:23-24a instructs us to “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever…” and through unexpected times, you will be equipped to provide for your household and family. We help you identify your current situation and your long-term goals, so you are equipped to live well AND finish well.
Generous giving is another biblical financial principle many Christians seek to include in their financial strategy. If we truly believe “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,” then sharing what we’ve been so graciously given is foundational for all Christians (Psalm 24:1, NIV). In fact, the Bible talks about generous giving extensively.
“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38, ESV)
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18)
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8, ESV)
For Christians, the decision to give is not primarily about money. It’s about the nature of God, and how he gives to us— everything from His Son for our salvation, to our daily bread. It’s also about our relationship with Him. We ought to give out of thankfulness for all that we have but do not deserve, and because this generous giving is a reflection of the love of Christ.
Our first command in giving is to tithe, honoring the Lord with our first fruits. He also calls us to give above and beyond, whether it be to a faith-based organization, a charity, or a missionary. It will look different for each person, as they respond to what God has asked of them.
When we create financial plans with clients, we talk with you about how you see generous giving as a part of your life. Do you have areas you are super passionate about, but don’t know how much you can afford to give? Is there money you’ve intended for generous giving, but don’t know where to start or how to make the most of it? These are questions we can guide you through to ensure that you can steward your abundance in a way that honors God and serves others. To learn more about how you can make the most of your charitable contributions, contact an advisor today!
Wise Investing Is Good
Investing isn’t the same as betting your paycheck on the favored Thoroughbred. If done wisely, investing is actually commended. What does the Bible have to say about investing?
In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus gives the parable of the talents. A rich man delegates his wealth to his servants before he leaves on a journey. He gives five talents to the first, two to the second, and one to the third. Both the first servant and the second servant invest their talents, earning 100% returns on what they had been given. To both of these, the rich man says, “well done.” However, the rich man calls the third servant, who hid the talent and returned with only what he had been given, “wicked and lazy.”
It wasn’t about how much the first two servants were given, or how much more they gave back, but that they were faithful to use these gifts to increase their impact.
But we believe there’s another layer to biblical investing, and that’s where we invest. Do the companies we invest in profit off things that are dishonoring to God and to His creation? Or do the companies we invest in using our finances to increase their positive impact on the world? This is a form of biblically aligned investing that we call values-based investing. Investors who have beliefs and values that drive the way they live are able to invest in companies that reflect these same values.
Biblically Aligned Investing
We want our clients to feel confident that they are investing in a way that not only supports their financial goals but also honors God without sacrificing profit. Learn more about how our investment team identifies companies for a values-based portfolio!
To find a financial plan and investment strategy that fits with these five biblical financial principles, contact us today!