7 Principles About Your Money From God’s Wisdom
I have six children. Four of them are old enough to have wallets. Yet, they seem to never have their wallets when we are shopping. Funny how that works. When the little ones do take some of their cash out on an excursion to get ice cream or pick out a treat, their mother or I end up saying the same thing over and over, “You have to keep up with your money!” Invariably, when managing a wallet or a pocketbook becomes too involved, my wife gets to carry all of it in her ten-gallon purse while the kids skip off to play. Managing money can be hard work. Sadly, many adults don’t seem to do much better than children. Even more alarming to me as a pastor is the number of people in my congregation who constantly make bad financial choices and decisions. It’s tough to narrow down all the reasons people of faith don’t seem to exhibit a stronger sense of stewardship with their dollars than their neighbors, but a lack of clear teaching has a lot to do with it. Parents and church leaders have spent the last two generations just assuming that children and young adults will naturally become wise with money. Unfortunately, this has been a costly assumption.
If you are a Christ follower, your Bible is filled with crystal clear instruction and God’s expectations about money management. Jesus actually spoke about money as much, if not more, than any other subject. He died with no possessions, so he did not talk about money because He was interested in acquiring worldly wealth. He addressed it because He knew that how one relates to possessions and money is one of the most accurate barometers of his or her spiritual maturity. If God cares so much about our relationship with money then the most important question about money becomes obvious. What does God want us to do with it? Using clear truths from the book of Proverbs, which is a celebration of God’s wisdom, here are seven principles paired with seven proverbs.
1. The Principle: Earn your money
The Proverb: “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23, ESV)
The Point: God blesses us with the resources we need to live in many ways. The Scriptures, however, overwhelmingly teach that the primary way we are to acquire money is to earn it through God-honoring work. The Scriptures also teach what continues to remain very obvious. Nothing good comes from laziness, but hard work almost always leads to one’s physical needs being met. The Apostle Paul thought it was especially disturbing for a Christian to shun work. This is why he said, “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10, ESV).
2. The Principle: Worship with your money…because none of it is really yours anyway
The Proverb: “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” (Proverbs 3:9–10, ESV)
The Point: The biblical word steward (to practice stewardship) means the same thing as the modern term manager. A manager does not own the business he or she manages. Managers are paid by the owner to oversee the operation and make sure the owner’s investment is protected. God’s command to give an offering to Him first from the money we have is a built-in way of reminding us of something we quickly forget. Everything we have in this life is a gift from God. When we give our tithes, offerings, and gifts before we do anything else, we are not only honoring The Lord, we are also acknowledging that we are simply managers of His blessings and not the owners.
3. The Principle: Plan with your money
The Proverb: “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations?” (Proverbs 27:23–24, ESV)
The Point: Most financial planners will tell you the number one mistake people make with their money is failing to have a plan. Truthfully, none of us naturally enjoys adhering to a budget, but God has established what we all see every day; to fail to plan is to plan to fail. Budgets and plans are not just for the super organized A- type personalities among us. They are for all people serious about honoring God with their money.
4. The Principle: Provide for your needs with your money
The Proverb: “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (Proverbs 6:6–8, ESV).
The Point: This proverb is often used to reinforce a strong work ethic and discourage laziness. No doubt that lesson is here. But there is also another lesson. The ant is a perfect example from nature of God’s design for each person to share in the responsibility of providing for his or her own needs. It is a righteous thing to use your money to provide your family and yourself food, shelter, clothing, medicine and other basic needs for living.
5. The Principle: Help and bless others with your money
The Proverb: “Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor” (Proverbs 14:21, ESV).
The Point: God does not just like it when we bless those in need with our money. He commands it. To refuse to help another in need is to display the exact opposite behavior of God, who graciously blesses us with literally everything. This is also one of the reasons we should work hard to earn money and plan wisely how we spend it. To do neither is to put ourselves in a position where we seldom have anything to share with those less fortunate.
6. The Principle: Save and invest your money
The Proverb: “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it” (Proverbs 21:20, ESV).
The Point: Life is unpredictable and our ability to earn money can be affected by countless events, situations, and circumstances. We cannot, therefore, spend our money as if there will be no need for it tomorrow. Yes, the Lord is faithful to always provide. One of the ways He provides, however, is by giving us the ability to think ahead and save accordingly.
7. The Principle: Live with your money, not for your money
The Proverb: “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:4–5, ESV).
The Point: Earning money, giving money, spending money, and saving money are good things clearly commanded by God. But living one’s life for the pursuit of money is a sad and terrible way to live. We know that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10, ESV).
Additionally, by loving money and living for the pursuit of it we miss what life is really about; loving God and loving people. So live with your money, but don’t live for it.