The Bible has a lot to say about money.
In fact, Jesus talked more about money than even heaven and hell. We should talk about it too, in a healthy, open way that is founded on biblical truth. Here are seven financial essentials from the Bible that Christians should know.
Money is not evil, it is a tool given by God for our flourishing.
The possession of money is not in and of itself a bad thing. Paul’s word to Timothy about money (1 Tim. 6:10) was not an indictment of money, but a warning about the danger of worshiping money.
In fact it was Paul who often collected money to care for impoverished Christians. Too often, Christians, in a well-meaning attempt to encourage generous giving, denigrate the biblical values of hard work and thrift and undermine the benefits of free markets and wages. Money can be exploited for evil ends, but it can also be leveraged for good.
Money is the reward for hard work.
Both Jesus and Paul affirmed the idea that hard work should be rewarded by a fair wage (Luke 10:7; 1 Tim. 5:18). God is glorified when we apply our gifts and talents to the marketplace and are rewarded with money. In fact, the Bible teaches that an entitlement mindset that looks for money without work is a sinful lifestyle (2 Thess. 3:10).
We should encourage our kids to work hard and find reward. Of course, money is not the only reason to work; we work to glorify God (Col. 3:23). When we work, we image a God who works and creates.
Money makes a poor god.
My childhood pastor was fond of saying, “There is nothing wrong with having money. It’s when money has you.” This is the crux of Paul’s warning to young Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:8-10. Money makes a poor idol, and when worshiped, plunges souls into spiritual and physical ruin.
This doesn’t just happen to “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but it can happen to anyone when money becomes our driving, all-consuming passion. We should follow the Apostle’s advice and hold our resources loosely. “We brought nothing into the world, and we take nothing out of this world” (1 Tim. 6:7). When money is a god, it fuels attitudes like greed and envy, which damage human relationships and distract us from our God-given mission.
Debt is a poor master.
There is a spectrum of views on Christians and debt. Some believe a Christian should never own a credit card or take out a loan, while others feel the Scriptures allow for measured, wise use of credit. But there is no question that debt is always a poor master (Prov. 22:7).
Christians in the West have to especially guard against a materialism that pushes us to live beyond our means, converting luxuries into necessities. Sometimes debt can’t be avoided in difficult situations such as prolonged unemployment or medical crises, but for the most part, we should not enslave ourselves to easy credit.
We should make generosity a lifestyle.
The Bible teaches generosity as a way of life, regardless of our level of income (2 Cor. 9:6-9). When we hold our resources loosely, God allows us to experience the blessing and joy of giving.
We don’t give because God is in Heaven desperately in need of our cash, but because He allows us to demonstrate our love for Him by releasing a portion of what He’s given us. And it is my view that we should give primarily through our local church and then to other, worthy charitable organizations.
We should view our financial needs as an opportunity to trust God.
Contentment allows us to trust God with our needs and not our own ingenuity. It frees us from worry and fear and allows us to cling to the Giver of good gifts (Jas. 1:17) for our sustenance and provision. This is what is meant by the prayer, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6). Everything we own is from the hand of the Father.
Scripture, not culture, should shape our views of both rich and poor.
Proverbs 30:8 is a good prayer: “Give me neither poverty nor wealth.” Our culture likes to divide people by class, the rich against the poor. So many have negative attitudes toward wealthy businessmen, assuming that everything they have was gotten by deceit.
This is a sinful attitude. Not only is it judgmental, it ignores the fact that there were many rich and godly people in Scripture (Abraham, Job, Joseph, etc). There are also patronizing and dehumanizing attitudes toward the poor. This is also a sin (Jas. 2:6).
The gospel of Christ breaks down the walls of class prejudice, uniting us from various socioeconomic backgrounds. Christians should not evaluate people based on their economic status, but based on their status as humans created in God’s image.
There are a lot of opinions in the church about money and finances, even among spiritually mature followers of Christ. Good people, sometimes in the same household, disagree on how much to give, the use of debt and what constitutes a good use of money. But certain basic, bedrock, biblical principles are things all Christians can and should agree on—and agree to pass on to the next generation.