Jesus taught much on the subject of money. In fact, you may not know that he taught more often on money than He did on love or on heaven and hell combined. Since Jesus spent so much time on the subject of money, we should devote some time thinking about it as well.
Gene Veith, in his excellent book God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life, writes that the purpose of vocation is to love and serve our neighbor. How is the believer to apply the purpose of vocation to our use of money?
R.C. Sproul, in his book How Should I Think about Money? writes that one of the most important things to consider is how we allocate the resources that God has given to us. How do we make important and wise decisions about how we’re going to spend our money?
There is much that we could talk about in regards to money. In this article, I want to briefly look at just five aspects:
- Stewardship. Stewardship can be defined as the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. Everything that we have has been given to us “on loan” as it were, from God. We don’t own it, but we have been entrusted to care for it by God for a short time. Sproul tells us that we are responsible before God for how we use the goods, services, and resources that are at our disposal, and not be wasteful with them. I would add to this list our skills and talents that we have been blessed with and use in our vocations, as well. We should use all God has given us for His honor and glory – Matthew 25:14–30.
- Contentment. These days, many of our friends and family post beautiful photos on social media of their vacations or of their homes perfectly decorated. It can be easy to be envious of what they have that we don’t. How is a believer to look at being content in such situations? The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4: 11-12 that he had learned in whatever situation he was in to be content: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need”. I don’t know about you but I can struggle with contentment, always wanting the next (book, album, vacation, concert, ballgame, and on and on). This is certainly an area that I need to grow in.
- Debt. I didn’t realize how much of a problem debt is for people until we hosted one of Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” classes at our church several years ago. Megan Leonhardt in her article “Here’s How Much Debt Americans Have at Every Age” writes “Credit cards, student loans, mortgages, car loans, personal loans – most Americans have a combination of these sources of debt. And despite their best intentions, Americans are digging themselves deeper into a hole each year.” She goes on to write that the average American now has about $38,000 in personal debt, excluding home mortgages, which is up $1,000 from a year ago. The amount of debt we have can be related to the issue of contentment. For example, I may want that new home or car, iPhone, etc., but I can’t really afford it. So instead of saving for it, I go ahead and get a loan or put the purchase on my credit card. If debt is a problem for you, I highly recommend that you invest the time in “Financial Peace University”. In our class we saw the lives of families literally changed when participants got their debt under control. You can find “FPU” groups meeting in your area on their website.
- Giving. Many people are turned off of church and Christian ministries because of their frequent requests for money. This can be from a radio or television ministry asking for money to stay on the air, or from a local church trying to finance a building program. What does the Bible have to say about giving? The concept of the tithe, which means “tenth” first appeared in the Old Testament. R.C. Sproul writes that the basic principle was that every person was to return one-tenth of their income to the Lord on an annual basis. Some today believe that since the tithe was instituted in the Old Testament, it is no longer binding on the believer. I won’t get into that argument here, but would say that as believers we have been so blessed, we should consider the tithe (10%) as being the foundation for our giving (to the local church and other Christian ministries), and we should strive to exceed that amount if possible. Sadly however, in his article “Church Giving Statistics, 2019 Edition”, Jayson D. Bradley writes that tithers make up just 10-25% of any congregation, and that the average believer gives just 2.5% of their income to churches. We don’t want to be robbing God (Malachi 3: 8-10). Remember, it’s His to begin with – you’re just the steward. “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (King David – 1 Chronicles 29:14)
- Savings. Having just retired, I can tell you that my peers and I had many discussions about our retirement income (401K, pension and savings). A question we can ask about this is “How much is enough?” The answer to that question will probably vary considerably. My objective has always been to adequately provide for my wife, so when I’m gone, she will be well cared for. You may have other needs as well, including providing a college fund for your children, paying for weddings, etc. How much savings you will need for your particular situation will most likely differ from mine and others and is a matter for prayer. I would also recommend seeking out the advice of a good financial counselor; someone who is a fiduciary that has the designations of CFP, CPA, CRC, etc. Remember Proverbs 12:15 – ‘The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice’.
The issue of money is an important one for the believer, and I’ve just scratched the surface here. What would you add to my list?