What Jesus Can Teach Us About Finances?
Money and God are difficult subjects for many people to discuss. There is a perception that the Church is trying to separate us from our money but that is completely wrong. The truth is Biblical teachings provide wisdom, encouragement, and warnings on how we should manage money.
Jesus spoke many times about money. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, nearly one out of ten verses (288 of 3,779) deal directly with the subject of money. In the Bible, there are 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions. This shows how much power, destruction and help we need handling money.
I want to share some biblical principles to help you better organize your life and money to affect positive change. If you don’t believe in the truths of the Bible please keep an open mind and continue to read. Below are five sound, time-tested money management principles that are meant to help everyone.
1. Keep it simple. Make more or spend less: Of these two choices which one is easier to control right away? In Galatians 5:2-3 we learn that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit. One way to take steps towards financial self-control is to start with a budget. Start by adding up all your transactions over the past two or three months to get an average spending for each category. See how they compare to these suggested percentages:
- Housing: 25% to 35%
- Transportation: 5% to 15%
- Food (groceries and eating out): 10% to 15%
- Personal care (including clothing): 5% to 10%
- Health care (including insurance premiums): 10% to 15%
- Loan repayment (excluding car payments): 7% to 15%
- Utilities: 4% to 7%
- Entertainment: 1% to 5%
The remaining amount will go towards tithing, giving, retirement, and an emergency fund. Once a budget is in place, create a financial plan that takes into consideration short, medium and long term goals. Next, create a debt reduction plan for any credit card, student loan, or car debt. Then, you have to commit to stop borrowing from future earnings to pay for today’s extra consumption.
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
2. View money as God’s money: We all have a relationship with money that has been formed by years of personal experiences, our parents and comparisons with the way others live. Some of those experiences are good and should used forever. Others are mistakes that can be used as learning opportunities.
The Bible warns us to not make money our idol or look to it for satisfaction and self-worth. False god’s eventually cause us to come up short of what Jesus intended for us leaving us empty and unfulfilled. In fact, Jesus makes it clear that money is often God’s main competition for our hearts. The problem isn’t money itself it is the love of money. If we really believe God is the owner of all that has been entrusted to us, shouldn’t we frequently ask Him, “What do you want me to do with your money and your possessions?”
3. Giving benefits us: As Christians, we are supposed to give the first 10% of our income to ministry.Tithing helps us keep God first in our lives and how to live unselfishly. That might mean cutting some fun money or increasing your income, but it can be done! If you tithe, do it out of love for God, not out of guilt.
What does the Bible say about tithing?
A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, is the Lord’s, and is holy.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
There are some gray areas regarding tithing in retirement. Some believe that tithing can be eliminated since money was already given based on income while working. Others believe one should keep tithing on income received in retirement because retirement plans, social security, etc is now income. This is my thought: If you believe that tithing is a good Biblical principle and take more of a stewardship view, you will be less concerned about exact amounts of pre-tithed-on versus not-tithed-on income. Instead, focus on how you can manage your life and finances so that you can enjoy God’s blessings and provision while also being a generous giver over the course of your entire life.
4. Invest first, spend later
Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house. Proverbs 24:27
My interpretation of this verse is that God is advising us to first put our money in necessities before conveniences and invest for the future. Investing can mean putting money towards improving our education, building a business or contributing to retirement accounts. Only after we establish our goals and securing financial protection should we spend large amounts of money. This also relates to self-control, staying out of debt, and just spending less.
5. Diversify and reduce risk
One of the principal tenants of investing is to own different things (diversify) to help reduce risk and the likelihood of extreme losses. All of us have heard stories of people putting a large amount of money in one individual stock or buying the fund with highest past returns only to see it reverse violently to the down side. A more prudent way to invest is to buy funds with hundreds of stocks or bonds in the fund. If you just have to buy individual stocks limit them to small portion of your total account value (no more than 10%). And to keep risk in check, rebalance the portfolio when percentages stray too far from their targets.
Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. Ecclesiastes 11:2
In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good. Ecclesiastes 11:6
Jesus does care about how we use and manage “His” money. If we follow these Biblical principles we will bring financial change to our family and home. My hope is that you are encouraged to trust God with your financial situation and that He has provided guidance in the Bible for a path to financial freedom.
Here are some relevant versus from the Bible regarding money:
- It will work out: Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matt 6:33, 34
- Get to work: Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. Proverbs 10:4
- Plan ahead: A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t, and even brags about it. Proverbs 13:16
- Avoid debt: The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. Proverbs 22:7
- Be patient and consistent: Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it. Matthew 22:20-21
- What is first in your heart?: No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24
- Pay your taxes: and He asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” Caesars,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22:20-21
- What will fill your heart?: He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income. Ecclesiastes 5:10
Vector images by Vecteezy.com