The Mustard Seed
Economics by The Book
Every year in our campus ministry column, we try to address larger topics concerning the Christian world view. Sometimes we study hot topics that challenge our faith. Other times we struggle with the practical side of Christian living. This year we will focus on the practical matter of personal money management. Our textbook for this series is one of the most reliable sources for solid financial advice that you will find anywhere -- the Bible.
"Huh!!? The Bible?" Yes, indeed. It is safe to say that the Bible talks more about money than it talks about heaven. And when the Bible does talk about heaven, it often pulls in comparisons from the world of finance.
Many Christians have a misconception that their lives are divided into two separate worlds -- spiritual and material. They feel accountable to God for the spiritual side of their lives, but the physical side of their lives is entirely theirs to own as they choose. In their minds, Christ only redeemed their souls for heaven.
This misconception often leads us to compartmentalize our time and our money. Many Christians think that one half of one day of each week (i.e. Sunday morning) belongs to God and the remaining six and a half days belong to us. And they think that 10% (or less) of our money belongs to God, 15% (or more) belongs to the government, and the rest belongs to us.
What's wrong with this picture? The clear teaching of God's Word is that Christ saved us, both SOUL and BODY. He didn't redeem only the spiritual half of our being. We are His 100%. And the stuff that we "own" we only have on loan from God for a short time. All that we have belongs to God -- all 7 days in each week, all 24 hours in each day, all that we receive from our labors, it all belongs to God. We are only caretakers of His property. We are managers of the King's business.
When we understand this concept, we are free from many burdens: Worry. Craving for more. And wastefulness. When we suffer loss, we understand that we have in fact lost nothing. It wasn't ours to lose.
Your homework for this series is to read the Old Testament book of Proverbs. Look for verses that talk about money, how to acquire wealth, and how to lose wealth. You will find in there advice about work, saving, honesty in business, charity, debt, and paying bills on time.
For example, the Bible says that two of the secrets to prosperity are (1) diligent work and (2) saving:
"You people who don't want to work, think about the ant. It stores up its food in summer. It gathers its food at harvest time. You lazy people, how long will you lie there? When will you get up from your sleep? You might sleep a little or take a little nap. You might even fold your hands and rest. Then you would be poor, as if someone had robbed you. You would have little, as if someone had stolen from you. Those who work their land will have plenty of food, but the ones who chase empty dreams instead will end up poor." (Prov. 6.6-11; 28.19).
Incidentally, Solomon wrote this 400 years before Aesop wrote his fable about the grasshopper and the ant.
When you discover a verse about money management in your Bible, I suggest that you underline it and put a dollar-sign ($) in the margin. Also, start a personal journal in which you record insights which you gain from your discoveries in Proverbs. Especially note how these insights apply practically in your personal situation. We will dig into some of those topics in future installments of this series. Click here for part 2
~~ Pastor Ron
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Pastor Ron Friedrich