“If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.” Deut 8:18 (MSG)
This is the last post of the Money Monday series. There’s so much more we could discuss about finances, but we believe we’ve left you with some great information and resources to get you going.
This series would be incomplete if we didn’t discuss money in the context of faith. There are so many scriptures about money in the Bible dealing with different aspects of our relationship with money. Just as a side note, this is not about prosperity preaching, which in our view is a narrow and distorted view of the truth in the Bible as concerns finances. The Word instructs us on good stewardship and money management, irrespective of how much or how little we have. It is about applying Biblical economics in our everyday lives, be that our income, household finances, business, investments, savings, giving, etc.
Over the years, my husband and I have come to truly appreciate and apply the following 12 Biblical principles about money:
1.God is The Source – Understanding that God is the ultimate source and provider ensures that we don’t chase after money. Instead we become God chasers.. Acknowledging that it is God who gives us both the ability and resources to obtain money, and its usually for a bigger purpose than just meeting our needs (which He does in the process). When we put Him first in our lives, everything else we need will come through. “For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.” 2 Corinthians 9:10 (NLT). “ Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.” Luke 12:31 (NLT)
2. The way we handle our money reflects our priorities – Money by itself is powerless without it being directed by whoever possesses it. It is therefore merely a tool and how we value it and use it is a reflection of our hearts, priorities and attitudes. If allowed to, our attitudes towards money can consume us and we can become enslaved to it, whereas it is meant to be a means used to serve our purpose in line with God’s will. “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” Matthew 6:24 (NLT). Whatever we devote our hearts to, we naturally elevate above other things. Therefore we should be careful to put money in its rightful place. “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Luke 12:34 (NLT)
3. Work is essential, fulfilling and profitable for our well-being – It is not enough to believe in God’s provision. We also have to work! It is said that the first thing that God gave Adam was work. “Our orders—backed up by the Master, Jesus—are to refuse to have anything to do with those among you who are lazy and refuse to work the way we taught you. Don’t permit them to freeload on the rest. We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn’t sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone, up half the night moonlighting so you wouldn’t be burdened with taking care of us. And it wasn’t because we didn’t have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious. Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep. Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty.” 2 Thessalonians 3:9-13 (MSG).
In addition, working with diligence is both honourable and rewarding. Taking pride in our work is also a way of honouring God and is a great source of positive self-esteem – and we never know what other opportunities a job well done may open up for us down the line. “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” Colossians 3:22-25 (MSG)
4. Our financial lives move in cycles – there are times when we will have little and other times we will have plenty. The key is to anticipate these seasons, prepare for them, and make the most use of them when they come, as they are inevitable. “For as long as Earth lasts, planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never stop.” Genesis 8:22 (MSG)
5. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail – Having money without a plan to make it, spend it, save it or invest it is like sitting your driving test without taking any lessons and hoping you’ll pass. A budget or spending plan helps you to plan where your money will come from and where it will go before it gets to your bank account. It also helps you measure progress against your financial goals and keeps you honest on what is realistically achievable. Jesus said it best when He said, “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’ Luke 14:28-30 (MSG)
6. Our giving opens up a way for us to help others as God directs – Since God is our source and provider of everything, the least we can do is give back, be that of our time, possessions or finances. When we give without expecting anything in return, it opens up doors for God to not only bless us, but also to meet others’ needs through our obedience to Him. “Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.” 2 Corinthians 9:11-14 (NLT).
In addition, our giving to the Church shows God that He takes first place in our lives. There are quite a number of different opinions on aspects such as tithes and offerings. For us, the simple truth we have come to understand is that if we give God our first and best, He always helps us achieve more than we could have, than if we held onto every cent. “Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over.” Proverbs 3: 9-10 (MSG)
7. Always have something set aside for a rainy day – It is never too early to start saving, neither can you have too little to put away. Take maximum advantage of your earning years, as retirement and old age are certainties if you live long enough. It requires discipline and the ability to defer immediate gratification – but it pays off when you eventually need to access the rainy day fund. And the earlier you start, the more potential you give for compounding to work in your favour. “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazy fellow. Learn from their ways and be wise! For though they have no king to make them work, yet they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.” Proverbs 6:6-8 (TLB)
8. Diversification is key when it comes to investing – The old adage, “do not put all your eggs in one basket” is very apt when it comes to investing. It is prudent to spread your investments across different asset classes as different investment types perform differently during the peaks and troughs of investment cycles. Some also correlate with one another, making for a good balance over the medium to long term. The key is to remain patient and remember that investing is not the same as betting, and it is important to have a goal and strategy to it. “Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you. But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.” Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 (NLT)
9. Not all debt is bad, but if you do take on debt, make sure you repay it – Debt can be a massive mountain if unmanaged and can lead to a lot of loss – family breakups, depression and anxiety to name a few. The key takeaway is to live within your means and where you need to borrow, make sure it’s for something that will appreciate in value and add to your wealth, not take away from it. “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7 (AMP).
When you do borrow, it is wise not to fall into the trap of just looking at whether the payments are affordable, but look at the total amount, the time taken to borrow and other factors to ensure you can comfortably pay it back as soon as possible. The longer you stay in debt, the longer you forfeit opportunities to direct your money towards meeting your financial goals. “Evil men borrow and “cannot pay it back”! But the good man returns what he owes with some extra besides.” Psalms 37:21 (TLB)
10. Acting as surety for someone else’s debt is to be avoided at all costs – Now this particular principle may sound strange because on the surface, it may seem like you’re doing a great and even honourable thing. Your friend or family member may need help for various reasons e.g. they don’t have a great credit history or don’t have enough, so the bank needs you to act as a guarantor. This gives the bank more security as you’ll now be on the hook should your friend or family member default on their commitment to repay. The problem is that if things go wrong, not only is your relationship with the person damaged, but your present and future financial status are also impacted. God has quite a lot to say on this subject as we found out. “Don’t agree to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for someone else. If you can’t pay it, even your bed will be snatched from under you.” Proverbs 22:26-27 (NLT). “It’s poor judgment to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for a friend.” Proverbs 17:18 (NLT)
If you do find yourself in a situation where you have already co-signed or acted as a guarantor for someone, the first thing to do is to get yourself out of it without delay. The situation will not get better without some conflict, so you can expect some in any case. In the long run, you would be saving not only yourself, but also potentially your relationship with your friend or family member as it will get them to reassess the situation. The bottom line with co-signing on borrowing is that it doesn’t help anyone involved in it. When we co-sign, we are essentially helping others get things they shouldn’t have because their finances do not allow them to. There are too many risks involved and even with someone you know and trust, it can cause relationship breakdown which could be avoided. If you really want to help a family member or friend financially, there are other ways that do not involve co-signing on loans. If money is involved, consider it a gift rather than a loan, as you can then give it with no strings attached. Plus you can help in other practical ways like helping them to pull together a budget, or shop around for a bargain. “My child, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger— if you have trapped yourself by your agreement and are caught by what you said—follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy. Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased. Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do. Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net.” Proverbs 6:1-5 (NLT)
11. Greed and worry about money will never get you anywhere – Greed is a real issue that plagues not just our individual and family lives, but also societies and economies at large. It is particularly potent because at its root is selfishness, which is totally opposite to the reason God blesses us in the first place. Greed takes away our ability to enjoy all that life has to offer as it consumes our focus and we become blinkered in our vision and purpose. Jesus demonstrated this clearly in the following parable: “Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12: 13-21 (NLT)
Conversely, as greed is selfishness amplified, so worry is doubt amplified. As mentioned in the first principle, God is the ultimate source, therefore we need to trust Him to provide for us when we have done our part. Worry is like a rocking chair – it is movement without progress, giving us something to do but getting nowhere. And to top it all off, it doesn’t actually change anything about our circumstances, except perhaps our health deteriorating and a few more grey hairs on our head! Jesus said it best when He encouraged His disciples not to worry in the following verses: “Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs.” Luke 12: 22:30 (NLT)
12. Leave a financial legacy that outlives you – When we think of inheritance, we usually think about earthly and material possessions, however this is only one aspect of life. God refers to the inheritance being for grandchildren, not just children. Therefore He clearly places importance on us thinking about making an impact beyond the next generation. The Bible definitely supports the idea of parents leaving their material possessions/wealth/property to the next generation. However, conversely, parents should not feel obligated to save up everything for their children’s inheritance, and neglecting themselves in the process. It should never be a matter of guilt or obligation, but rather, it should be an act of love, a final way of expressing your love and appreciation to children. The more important thing is to impart to our children and grandchildren the character, values and principles required to not only manage what is left to them, but also the eternal inheritance they receive when they put God first in their lives. “Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren, but the sinner’s wealth passes to the godly. Proverbs 13:22 (NLT)
I hope you have enjoyed this series and have benefitted from it! We have certainly enjoyed working together on this and are thinking about a new series!
Have a wonderful week!