Before my husband and I were married, we took a well-known course concerning our finances. We learned all of the best ways to plan a budget and save for retirement. And while all of it was wonderful and practical, I couldn’t help but wonder if, in all our financial planning, we’d forgotten how much the Bible has to say about the matter. Nothing this course taught was unbiblical. In fact, the teacher himself was a Christian. But the truth is that no financial planner or well-executed budget can prepare us for every life event. We plan and prepare, but no amount of planning will give us true peace when it comes to our money.
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- What does the Bible say about wealth?
This is undoubtedly one of the most controversial topics in the church today. While some pastors teach that God longs for us to be prosperous and wealthy and that He wants to bless us financially “beyond our wildest dreams,” others teach that a Christian’s life is marked by poverty and surrendering everything to God. But what does the Bible teach?
There are many stories throughout the Old and New Testaments of righteous men and women God blessed financially. Abraham and Job were both prosperous when it came to finances, and it’s clear that God blessed them because of their favor and righteousness in Him. But then there are stories of those who suffered. Many of the earliest believers shared their belongings with one another and gave well beyond their means on numerous occasions.
One thing the Bible makes clear is that it is not a sin to be wealthy. And it is also not a sign that you lack God’s favor or adequate faith if you’re in a season of financial need. But as Christians, we are called to be content and to find our strength in Christ who meets all of our needs. Paul said it best when he claimed that in any circumstance, wealth or poverty, he was content. In every season of life, he knew that it was God who gave him strength.
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. – 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT)
- What does the Bible say about giving?
Giving is another topic of controversy in the church. Unfortunately, many preachers have distorted biblical truth in order to gain for themselves. This was even prevalent in the days of Paul and the New Testament. (2 Peter 2:1-3)
Here are three truths about giving we learn in the New Testament:
1) We are called to give cheerfully and not reluctantly. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
2) It is our responsibility as Christians to take care of those in full-time ministry. (On a side-note, Paul gave up his “right” to make a living as a minister of the Gospel. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay our pastors. But it does demonstrate the heart of a true minister. His heart was first and foremost to share the Gospel, even if it meant sharing it for free.) (1 Corinthians 9:3-18)
3) We are called to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead when it comes to giving and to give according to what we have. This truth somewhat contradicts some of the teachings I’ve heard about giving in your poverty. Unfortunately, I’ve heard many teach that we can “give” our way out of debt. Yes, there were times in the Bible when people gave beyond their means and God blessed them because of their obedient and willing hearts. (And I firmly believe that God honors ANY heart that longs to please Him in their giving.) But these examples were the exception, not the rule.
There may be times when the Holy Spirit asks you to give sacrificially and trust God to provide. But this is not the standard of giving Christians are called to live by all the time and in every circumstance. Paul made this clear in his second letter to the Corinthians.
…Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. – 2 Corinthians 8:11-14 (NLT)
- What does the Bible say about planning for the future?
There are numerous passages in the book of Proverbs that discuss financial planning. It is wise to work hard and make a living. But there definitely needs to be a balance. Work hard, yes, and enjoy the fruits of your labor, but not to the point where it becomes your everything. Treasure in heaven is far more valuable than wealth on earth.
Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle. – Proverbs 23:4-5 (NLT)
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- What does the Bible say about financial security?
The New Testament makes one thing abundantly clear: true security comes from Christ alone. Having peace in your finances is only possible when we stop worrying about money and instead trust God to provide. We work hard, give to those in need, and trust Him with the rest.
We learn to be content in every season of life, and in this way we rest in His peace.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:12-13
When it comes to financial planning and creating a budget, it’s crucial to keep these biblical truths in mind. The goal of any budget should be to honor God first and foremost. Be wise. Listen to counsel. Plan for your future. But don’t allow money to rule your life. As Jesus said, we can only serve one master.
Making the choice to honor God with your finances will transform your budget in a way you never dreamed possible.
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*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.