Today, we are honored to have Heather from Penny Steward Mama as our guest. She is sharing the Biblical Principles of Finance.
Heather is a wife and mother of 3 beautiful children as well as being a pharmacist.
Her husband actually gave her the nickname Penny Steward Mama because she does such a great job of being a steward of their money. The focus of her blog is meeting your financial goals and how to be debt free.
What are the Biblical Principles of Finance?
How should we handle our money as Christians? Should it look differently than the way everyone else handles theirs? Even as Christians, we still tend to get most of our money advice from the world. If we base our money management on advice from financial experts, most likely we will earn a decent income, spend that money somewhat wisely, save a nice nest egg for retirement, and depending on who you listen to, use debt as a way to win with our money.
Some of that advice can certainly line up with God’s Word, but what it lacks is the the intention behind doing those things. So what does the Bible say about our money? What are the primary Biblical principles of finance?
Once you really dig into God’s Word, you will find it has tons to say about money! Financial freedom from a Biblical standpoint, however, looks very different than the financial freedom we talk about in American culture today.
My prayer as you read through this is that you will be encouraged and motivated to review your finances from a Biblical perspective, and that you will consider making changes in your financial life as God leads. I was certainly convicted of my own family’s finances while pouring into God’s Word on this topic. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead as you do the same.
Ready to dig in and learn about the Biblical Principles of Finance?! Let’s go!
1. Everything belongs to the Lord
The very first principle we must allow to sink in is that as Christians, we have given our lives to Christ. That means the very foundation of our lives is that God owns it ALL. Psalm 24:1 says, “ The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” (NIV) If God owns ourselves, our very bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), then this certainly means He owns all of our money too!
This concept alone has revolutionized my thinking about money. We must first realize that God has given us everything we have. It all began with our bodies He knit in the womb. He is the One who gave us our skills, talents, and abilities, thereby allowing us to earn money.
When we truly understand that God owns it all, we begin to think much differently about our money. We start to realize it’s not OURS to manage (for our own selfishness), but to use for His glory because it’s His anyway. Every part of our Christian life is not to build our own kingdom, but to build His kingdom. This is definitely true regarding our money, though it’s a huge shift in our thinking, especially as American Christians.
After understanding that concept, the question,at this point, becomes, “What is the best way to manage His assets for His glory?” How should we manage our giving, spending, saving, and even debt?
2. Give generously
According to 1 Timothy 6:18-19, Christians “are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (ESV, emphasis mine)
Keeping in mind that God owns it all, and that we are called to keep an eternal perspective of “storing up treasure” as we live out our earthly lives, the first thing our hearts should desire to do with money is to give generously.
Becoming a generous giver not only keeps our money and possessions in perspective, it honors the Lord. Proverbs 3:9 says,”Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce.”
Though we are no longer bound by Old Testament Law, we would do well to remember the actions of the earliest Christian believers. They “began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” (Acts 2:45, NASB)
They obviously gave generously, knowing that God would provide, and used their very own money and possessions to provide for others and further the Lord’s kingdom.
To get more specific, our giving can be broken down into two separate areas: tithes and offerings.
The actual definition of a tithe is one tenth of one’s annual produce or earnings. In researching for this blog post, I was shocked to find out how controversial the concept of giving a tithe is in the Christian community. For a deeper discussion around that controversy, I would highly recommend reading Randy Alcorn’s book “Money, Possessions, and Eternity”.
“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” Leviticus 27:30
For the purposes of this article, let’s remember that Jesus was raised by Jewish parents, which means they would have tithed and raised Him to tithe.
Also, in Matthew 23:23, Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites. He said they should not have neglected certain matters of the law (justice, mercy, and faith), just as they did not neglect their tithe. So he obviously thought they should be tithing.
No matter which side you take, whether you believe tithing is required by God or optional, giving 10% of our income is a good idea. At a minimum, the tithe is a great place for a Christian to begin their giving. If nothing else, it helps us keep in perspective that it all belongs to God, and not us, to begin with.
If you’re not already tithing, consider setting aside and giving 10% “off the top” of your earnings to the Lord. The most likely place to give your tithe to is the church, but of course, God can lead you to give to other places, people, or organizations as well.
Tithing helps our hearts remember who owns it all. Not only that, but it increases our awareness of God’s work in the world and what He is doing with the money set aside and given specifically for His purposes.
The second area of giving is through offerings. This would be what God’s people are called to give above and beyond the tithe.
We see in the Old Testament during the building of the Tabernacle that the Israelites contributed joyfully their materials and possessions.
So the people of Israel—every man and woman who was eager to help in the work the Lord had given them through Moses—brought their gifts and gave them freely to the Lord.Exodus 35:29 (NLT)
If tithing is the starting point of our giving, then offerings would be where we continue to exercise the giving muscle. Again, this is a great reminder that God owns everything, and we are just the managers of it. Instead of capping our giving at the 10% tithe, we should consider how much more we can give, and give joyfully above and beyond a certain number.
2. Save wisely
After giving our firstfruits to the Lord, our second responsibility is to save purposefully for the future. Our future income is never guaranteed, though we can trust that God will always provide for our needs in some form or another.
Proverbs 6:6-8 reminds us of how the ants work hard during the plentiful summertime to store up food for the winter. We will also have times of plenty and need to be wise with that abundant provision in order to be prepared for the possible not-so-plentiful future.
If you have an irregular income or a less stable job situation, this principle applies all the more to you.
While it is wise to save and we must be good stewards in that area, we can also take it too far. A good example of this is the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21. He received an abundance of crops that would last him many years. He decided to build barns to hold them, and then he could live life as he pleased. God called him a fool for storing up things for himself and not being “rich toward God.”
I’m no Bible scholar, but common sense tells me it was not his actual wealth that was the problem, but his heart and his attitude about his wealth. He had forgotten that God owns it all and that He was just managing it. He became selfish with the abundance God had given him!
The current trend or American desire seems to be all about “financial independence.” The issue comes when deciding what we’re actually independent from.
If we save “enough” to where we will not depend on God, it may be too much. Our savings goals must never be a substitute for trusting in the Lord’s provision for our future.
On the other hand, if we don’t save “enough,” we may be handling the assets God has given us irresponsibly.
Either way, our saving should always be secondary to what God has called us to give.
In essence, the money we earn now can go to current needs—whether our own (spending) or someone else’s (giving)— or it can go to future needs (saving).
As a Christian, deciding how much to save for the future can be very tricky, to say the least. We are put in the position of finding the appropriate balance of meeting our own needs, as well as the worlds’ present needs, and also saving some of the excess for the future.
Again, we must keep the proper perspective that all is the Lord’s and prayerfully make decisions with the money God has given us.
3. Spend carefully
Once we give generously and save appropriately from what God has given us, what does the rest of our money management look like? What does our spending look like when we manage money for God’s glory instead of our own?
I ran across one question John Wesley asked about money that revolutionized my spending decisions. The question was this, “In spending this money, am I acting as if I owned it, or am I acting as the Lord’s trustee?”
When we ask this one question before we spend our money, it gives us pause to consider the eternal perspective of the spending decision. It will allow us to be that much more careful as we spend and to make Christ the Lord of our lives, just as we did when we accepted Him as our Savior.
In asking this question, some will take it further than others. A natural-born spender will most likely justify some unnecessary expenses because that is their innate tendency. Contrast this with a natural-born saver who may refuse to spend on anything of enjoyment for the sake of frugality. I would venture to say neither one of these ways is the “right” way to do it.
The determination of what is and what isn’t a good way to spend your money is between you and the Lord. This one question from John Wesley provides a simple way for you to evaluate your spending by first remembering that your money belongs to Him. This question can be prayerfully considered as you make spending decisions for you (and your family).
Also, as a natural-born saver myself, I want to speak specifically to those of you for a moment. I’m certainly not saying that we can’t enjoy anything for ourselves. Though I have struggled to actually enjoy spending money on certain things over the years, I don’t believe that’s the mindset God wants us to have,. Take heart in the fact that God’s people are called to “put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).
A vacation we take with family or friends may not be considered a “need,” but it can certainly be a time to renew ourselves and our relationships. That lunch out with a friend can be just the emotional and social strengthening we need to get through tough times in life and to continue serving God in everyday living. Even material possessions like our family’s bicycles provide physical benefits to our bodies as well as quality family time riding around together. I certainly don’t think God expects us to give up all of these good things that can clearly be used to glorify Him.
Taking all of the above into account, we can choose to spend our money wisely and carefully, keeping in mind that we are just the stewards of what God has given us. He will guide us in our spending decisions, just as He guides us in every area of our lives.
4. What does the Bible say about Debt?
Last but certainly not least, you may be wondering where where the BIble stands when it comes to debt. Should debt be a part of our money management strategy as Christians?
There are multiple instances in the Bible where we are warned against borrowing money. In Proverbs 22:7, we are reminded that “the borrower is slave to the lender.” 1 Corinthians 7:3 warns us against becoming “slaves of human masters.”
Especially in America, we tend to think that debt allows us to “get ahead.” We can have the things we want now and pay for them later. The culture in America has allowed debt to become an extremely common, everyday way of life.
Romans 12:2 says it well, especially when you think of it in terms of going into debt. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
As Christians, we are to think think differently and to do things differently than the world.
Before borrowing, Christians should prayerfully ask these questions, “Is there a way I can wait for God’s provision to purchase this item? Can I use the talents and abilities he has given me to earn extra money so that this thing can be paid for in cash? Can I exercise patience and trust in Him while I wait for this?”
God gives us this promise in Matthew 6:31-33. “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” We know He will provide. Let’s give Him the opportunity to do so, and be diligent to use what He has given us to serve Him while we wait.
There are certainly legitimate reasons for going into debt, but those are the exception, not the rule. When it comes to taking on debt, be sure you are clear on God’s principles, the benefits and consequences, and what He is leading you to do in a certain situation.
If you already have debt, begin the process of getting out and refuse to go into debt further. This guide will walk you through getting out of debt from beginning to end. (link to pennystewardmama post) I can’t wait for you to know the freedom that comes from being out of debt, as you are no longer “slave to the lender.”
As you can see, the Biblical principles of finance can be quite different from what we’ve come to accept in American culture. First, we must recognize who owns it all — God! Keeping that perspective at the forefront, we are then free to manage His money in ways that look different from the world’s. We are free to give generously, save wisely, and spend carefully. We also must prayerfully consider the benefits and consequences before going into debt.
For some tips on how to get out of debt, check out this article at Penny Steward Mama.
Biblical Principles in Finance Conclusion:
As you review your own financial situation, I pray you are encouraged and lifted up, knowing that God will provide. I also pray He receives glory and His kingdom grows exponentially as more Christians manage their money according to Biblical principles rather than the world’s standards.
As always, continue to steward your money and your life intentionally.
Where to Find Heather:
I want to thank Heather for sharing the Biblical Principles of Finance with us at Redemptions Touch. I think you will find this post helpful and will change the way you look at your money.
Other Topics You Will Like:
- Where is God When Life is Hard?
- When Disappointment Strikes
- What the Prayer Life of Jesus Shows Us
- What Naomi Teaches Us about Grief
- What Must You Leave Behind?