Manage Your Family Finances the Bible Way

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Money is a neutral commodity, neither inherently good nor evil. Whether money is a good or bad thing depends on our approach to it. Jesus Christ wasn't opposed to wealth or a high standard of living. He said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10 John 10:10The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
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). The Bible is a guidebook toward that abundant life He wants us to enjoy. On the other hand, love of money has corrupted and twisted the lives of many men and women and is a root cause of much evil (1 Timothy 6:10 1 Timothy 6:10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
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).

The Bible has much to say about money and our family finances. Our Father inspired writers to include hundreds of verses in the Bible about how to handle money and possessions. The book of Proverbs contains a wealth of information on wise money management. Let's take a look at some of the sound financial principles it offers us.

Our attitude toward money

We must not let money become overly important to us. One of the first statements in the book of Proverbs shows us that we should honor God, who owns everything. "Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine" (Proverbs 3:9-10 Proverbs 3:9-10 [9] Honor the LORD with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase: [10] So shall your barns be filled with plenty, and your presses shall burst out with new wine.
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). It is important that we return a portion of what we receive to the One who gave it.

The Master tells us to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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). We must not allow physical possessions to become so important that pursuing them dominates our lives. Wealth can become intoxicating and enslaving. "Do not wear yourself out to get rich; be wise enough to desist" (Proverbs 23:4 Proverbs 23:4Labor not to be rich: cease from your own wisdom.
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, NRSV).

The apostle Paul spoke of learning to be content with and enjoy the things that we presently have. "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition" (1 Timothy 6:7-9 1 Timothy 6:7-9 [7] For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. [8] And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. [9] But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
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).

Integrity matters

Earn it in such a way that you can sleep at night. God tells us, "The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it" (Proverbs 10:22 Proverbs 10:22The blessing of the LORD, it makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.
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) and "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing..." (verse 2). We should earn our living honestly. Do not climb over the backs of others to make money. The book of Proverbs tells us: "Do not rob [or exploit] the poor because he is poor, nor oppress the afflicted at the gate; for the LORD will plead their cause, and plunder the soul of those who plunder them" (Proverbs 22:22-23 Proverbs 22:22-23 [22] Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: [23] For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
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).

Such shortcuts to gaining wealth are really only traps, says God. "He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he who gives [bribes] to the rich, will surely come to poverty" (Proverbs 22:16 Proverbs 22:16He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to want.
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). We are never to take advantage of another. When we give our employer an honest day's work, we are earning more than the day's wages. "Servants, in all things do the orders of your natural masters; not only when their eyes are on you, as pleasers of men, but with all your heart, fearing the Lord: whatever you do, do it readily, as to the Lord and not to men..." (Colossians 3:22-23 Colossians 3:22-23 [22] Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; [23] And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men;
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, Bible in Basic English). God expects us to work for our employers as though we were working for Him.

Share with others

"Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want. A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water" (Proverbs 11:24-25 Proverbs 11:24-25 [24] There is that scatters, and yet increases; and there is that withholds more than is meet, but it tends to poverty. [25] The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that waters shall be watered also himself.
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, NRSV).

The Proverbs are filled with admonitions to share with others the wealth God has shared with us. "A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor" (Proverbs 22:9 Proverbs 22:9He that has a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he gives of his bread to the poor.
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, NIV). Also, "He who despises his neighbor sins; but he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he" (Proverbs 14:21 Proverbs 14:21He that despises his neighbor sins: but he that has mercy on the poor, happy is he.
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). "Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard" (Proverbs 21:13 Proverbs 21:13Whoever stops his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.
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).

Wealth comes through diligence

Too often people want to get something for nothing. They are looking for a shortcut to wealth. The luck of the lottery comes to only a rare few and sometimes brings more pain than pleasure. The surest way to financial security is through hard work. "He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity [chases fantasies] is devoid of understanding" (Proverbs 12:11 Proverbs 12:11He that tills his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that follows vain persons is void of understanding.
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). Perhaps you are familiar with more modern-day proverbs such as "The harder I work the luckier I get" and "Success is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."

We are told that one key to advancement is to develop our skills and then do the best we can at what we have been given to do. "Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men" (Proverbs 22:29 Proverbs 22:29See you a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
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).

Properly manage what you have

Once you earn money, you must properly manage your income. Otherwise it will soon be gone with little to show for it. "Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds; for riches are not forever..." (Proverbs 27:23-24 Proverbs 27:23-24 [23] Be you diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds. [24] For riches are not for ever: and does the crown endure to every generation?
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). Some people seem to perpetually have holes in their pockets. Their money goes out as fast as it comes in. They just can't seem to hang on to what they earn.

A good family budget helps to show what is happening to what we earn and can help us to see whether we need to make any adjustments in our spending. A simple way to hang on to more of what we earn is to be cautious about buying on credit. "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7 Proverbs 22:7The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
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).

Exercise financial self-discipline

It's important to control our wants. "Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man" (Proverbs 27:20 Proverbs 27:20Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
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, NIV). There will always be something to want. Once one desire is fulfilled, the eyes will turn to something else. "The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. He covets greedily all day long..." (Proverbs 21:25-26 Proverbs 21:25-26 [25] The desire of the slothful kills him; for his hands refuse to labor. [26] He covets greedily all the day long: but the righteous gives and spares not.
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).

Perhaps you've heard this saying: "People are funny. They spend money they don't have to buy things they don't need to impress people they don't like." Don't let material pursuits cause you to live a life of deceit and pretense.

Financial success includes controlling our lusts and desires. "He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich. There is desirable treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it" (Proverbs 21:17 Proverbs 21:17He that loves pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loves wine and oil shall not be rich.
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, 20). It is hard for young people, in particular, to be patient. They immediately want and expect the financial security and material possessions their parents may have taken years to accumulate. Proverbs 28:20 Proverbs 28:20A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that makes haste to be rich shall not be innocent.
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cautions against such an approach: "A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished."

True security

There is no real lasting security in wealth. "He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish..." (Proverbs 11:28 Proverbs 11:28He that trusts in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.
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). So many unforeseen events can wipe out material wealth overnight--an accident or natural disaster, a stock market crash, an extended illness, a criminal act. We need to keep in mind another modern-day proverb: "It is good to have money and the things that money will buy, but it is also good to make sure we haven't lost the things that money can't buy." The only real lasting security is a right relationship with our Maker. "Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death" (Proverbs 11:4 Proverbs 11:4Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivers from death.
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).