Just what does the Bible have to say about money? Are we as Christians held to some higher standard when it comes to money? Are there practical tips in Scripture we can use today with regard to our own budgets? I believe the answer to those questions is a resounding yes! Rather than go through the specifics of how to create a budget, plan, save, and so forth, I want to examine the fundamentals of monetary stewardship and how it begins in the heart (There are other excellent resources for those other things, such as UCG’s booklet Managing Your Finances).
I believe a discussion of Christian finances should start with this scripture: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1 ESV). In short, everything we have is from Him; we are simply loaning it all from God. It’s easy to forget this when we get up and go to work each day. We bring home a paycheck and it’s easy to forget who gave us that job, our health so we can perform that job, and at even a more fundamental level, our life! So let’s begin with the correct financial perspective: God gives us all we have and it matters to Him how we use it. Now let’s delve into some practical principles and actions we can use when we consider the issue at hand.
Responsibility to be Hard Working
First of all we are required to work hard and work well. As Christians our lights are always shining, either for God’s glory or His shame. Our example in the workplace (in or out of the home) is extremely important. God has something to say about that: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23 ESV). It is important to remind ourselves that every good gift is from God (James 1:17), including whatever job we may work, so it is important that we work as if God was our employer. In a very real way, He is! He put us there and He is watching over us to see how we will handle ourselves. Work as if unto the Lord and remember, He is our real boss!
Responsibility to be Fruitful
God gives us a lot. Regardless of how much money we have, we are extremely enriched by Him. We are to be thankful, but He requires more: we are to be fruitful. Remember the parable of the talents? Let’s take a look: “And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’” (Matthew 25:20-21). What praise he received! It is obvious here that God expects us and takes joy in seeing us be fruitful with what He has given to us. Whether it is diligently saving, making sound investments or creating wealth by creating jobs, God wants us to be fruitful! How fruitful are you with what God has given you?
Responsibility to Give
God has a deep care and loving compassion for the poor and we should share that care. The principle is: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 9:9-10 ESV). We must cultivate a heart of giving. God has even created a built-in blessing to those who give willingly. Ever noticed how when you give you tend to get back more than you gave? That is part of God’s design, “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want” (Proverbs 11:24 ESV). God wants us to be a giving and generous people. Cultivate a heart for giving and while you are blessing others, He will bless you too!
Finally, we have to maintain the proper perspective on the place money has in our lives. Remember this warning? “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV). We are to appreciate abundance and at the same time not be defined by it. The Father enriches our lives with many things, sometimes monetarily. We must be forever grateful and content with what He gives us. I am constantly reminding myself to love my God and not what He provides for us. There is a big difference there and I am continually challenged with remembering that difference.