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Principles of Biblical Finance

1. Everything Belongs to God


2. You’ve Got to Give
3. There is More to Life Than Money
4. See Things for Their Eternal Value
5. Contentment and Gratitude
6. Who Are You Serving?
7. You Will Give an Account
8. Perspective is Everything
9. Testify to the World

Principles of Biblical Finance

For those of you new to Free Money Finance, I post on The Bible and Money every
Sunday. Here's why. The following is an excerpt from Dollars and Doctrine.

“I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies. I hastened and did not
delay to keep Your commandments.” (Ps. 119:59-60)

The following chapter was composed after great internal debate. I fear that providing an
application chapter tempts me to infiltrate my opinions and personal convictions. I pray
this is not the case. It is my honest hope that there is nothing new in the following pages.
I am simply trying to summarize and condense the previous texts into succinct principles
and modern applications. I came up with nine:

1. Everything Belongs to God


2. You’ve Got to Give
3. There is More to Life Than Money
4. See Things for Their Eternal Value
5. Contentment and Gratitude
6. Who Are You Serving?
7. You Will Give an Account
8. Perspective is Everything
9. Testify to the World

Everything Belongs to God

A Christian must disown his money before he can handle it in a Biblical fashion. We can
only progress into Godly financial management to the extent that we understand that
everything belongs to the Lord. Not believing this divides our allegiance and creates a
constant sense of tension within our hearts. Jesus said, “No servant can serve two
masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to
one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Luke 16:1-13) We serve
ourselves if we fundamentally view our wealth as our own, and our spiritual progress is
crippled. However, if we hold possessions loosely and understand they are merely
ornaments provided solely by the gracious blessing of a generous God for our temporal
existence on this side of heaven, we unlock the door to handling our money to God’s
glory.

Does this type of mentality excuse Christians from financial responsibility? Hardly. On
the contrary, it exponentially increases our responsibility to handle His money
appropriately. It is not ours. It is someone else’s money, to whom we will give an
account for our management of it. We would not think to mishandle the funds of our
employer because such an act could result in reprimand, firing, or worse yet, prison. Yet
we give little thought to the fact that we will be accountable for how we have managed
God’s money that happens to be in our possession. The more we approach our financial
decisions with this paradigm, the closer we approach His glory.

Out of this mindset comes a proper understanding of God’s provision and sovereignty.
The goodness of our God has promised provision to those who seek Him. As we follow
the Lord, He promises to maintain our basic necessities. This commitment brings peace
and comfort to one of the primary purposes of acquiring money.

As the Christian moves beyond the meeting of basic needs, he then must recognize the
sovereignty of the Lord to act as He chooses. The Lord gives and takes according to His
good pleasure. Failure to recognize this creates a sort of financial and spiritual bondage
in the heart of a believer; whereas, recognizing it opens a believer’s heart to deep felt
contentment and gratitude for all of his life’s blessings.

Christians must recognize that He alone owns all, He alone provides, and He alone gives
and takes. “To the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and
all that is in it.” (Deu. 10:14) Holding these three foundational principles in place sets a
background for a believer to truly handle his money to the glory of God. From this
foundation, Christians can begin to enter into deeper maturity in their financial
management.

You’ve Got to Give

It is fundamental for the Christian to understand that giving is the first practical action of
Biblical finance. The instructions of scripture in this regard are so numerous they leave a
believer without excuse. We must give. Our giving should be first, secretive, sacrificial,
proportional, joyful, and generous. While many of the practical details of our giving are
left to personal and prayerful conviction, it should not depart from these foundational
principles.

The rationales for giving are simple yet profound. First, the Lord’s generosity did not
withhold His own Son from death and brought salvation to sinners. As God conforms us
into His image, we will begin to reflect His generosity. Secondly, the joyful giving of
money to the Lord first without honor and glory for ourselves provokes profound
personal and spiritual change. Giving in this manner disconnects us from the self-
serving, temporal minded condition of this world. Generous giving causes us to become
less greedy, selfish, and materialistic, and more invested in the lives and souls of others.
Finally, the giving of Christians literally funds the Lord’s work in the world. It is God’s
design to fund His work by His people.

A final note on giving is the Bible’s special attention to the needs of the poor. Generosity
to the poor and needy holds a high position in scripture as it should in our hearts.

There is More to Life Than Money

The Christian should be well versed in the countless areas of life that have nothing to do
with money. God’s definition of prosperity, though it could include wealth, is hardly
limited to it. Salvation, integrity, character, a good reputation, contentment, a grateful
spirit, a Godly family, fulfillment, peace, long life, and health are a few examples. The
Christian should firmly believe that there is more to life than money. If we choose the
Lord’s definitions of success instead of the world’s, we will begin to make different
decisions, lead different lives, and pursue different goals than surrounding unbelievers.
Sadly, many Christian’s pursuits look no different than the world’s.

Is pursuing wealth sinful? Yes and no. The pursuit of wealth is not an inherently sinful
act, but it can become so when done at the expense of relationship with God. If we
cannot choose between God and wealth, then we have no place in His kingdom. This
ultimatum can be seen multiple times in Jesus’ teachings. Could you give it all away in
exchange for Christ? We must all ask ourselves this question.

To a certain extent, the more insignificant we view money, the more effectively we can
handle it in a Godly manner. A Christian must step away from the overemphasis the
world places on wealth to use it wisely. Similarly, the more well versed we are in non-
monetary forms of wealth, the better we become at managing our money. Detaching
ourselves from the deceptive lures of wealth is the beginnings of mature Christian
finance.

From this point believers can see money for what it is and respect its twofold value:
possessing the ability to both bless and curse. When we handle riches recognizing and
respecting its power to corrupt, deceive, and destroy, we are liberated to use its power for
blessing, generosity, and enjoyment. When we know, believe, and live out the idea that
there is much more to life than money, it loses its power for evil.

See Things for Their Eternal Value

Down to its very core, Christian finance should be radically different for one simple
reason: eternity. The people of the world are temporal minded. They do not believe
anything lies after death or at least anything of significance. For Christians, true life
begins after death. Out of this simple yet fundamental distinction the Christian’s
financial decisions should revolve around an eternal focus. We should constantly be
using our money to invest in eternity and eternal things, despite how foolish such actions
may seem to the unbeliever. The Bible commands us to attend to the immediate practical
needs that surround us, but we should not dwell in this realm alone.

The eternal impact our financial decisions can have is an exciting thing to ponder and put
into practice. What if a Christian forfeited a vacation to fund a mission trip that brings a
new soul into eternal life? Just as we might journey through a fiscal year making
decisions based on their tax implications, Christians should allow “eternal implications”
to overshadow all of their financial decisions.

Contentment and Gratitude

The importance of contentment for a Christian cannot be overemphasized: “Seeing that


His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through
the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Pet. 1:3)
There is nothing of ultimate importance lacking to the Christian: “In Your presence is
fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Ps. 16:11)

A lack of contentment opens the door to a multitude of sins. As we become focused on


all the things we lack, our hearts become a breeding ground for greed, lust, jealousy, self-
pity, materialism, and bitterness. On the other hand, a heart focused on all the good God
has richly bestowed in Christ is much less likely to be drawn into these various self-
seeking sins. A sincere sense of contentment gives weight to the idea that what God has
given in Christ is a far greater treasure than worldly things.

The true root of discontent springs up from a focus on self. The scriptures clearly relate
that the life focused on self will lead to dissatisfaction and disappointment. These should
not be adjectives used to describe the people of God.

As a Christian learns to be content, he will begin to dig deeper and deeper into a practical
and spiritual sense of self-control and gratitude. A believer fully satisfied and
overflowing with thankfulness begins to embody the words of Christ: “I came that they
may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Who are You Serving?

When managing our money, we must always remember the ultimate question of Biblical
finance: Who are you serving? Christ said on multiple occasions that you cannot serve
God and wealth (Luke 16:1-13). Therefore, we must begin to serve God with our
money. How does a Christian do this? A more pragmatic answer will be included in the
following section, but in a philosophical sense, we must simply keep the question of
motive in constant competition with our tendency to serve ourselves with our money.

It would be unscriptural to say that it is sinful to enjoy money or the things that money
can buy; however, our enjoyment of financial resources should be within the pre-
determined boundary limits we have established by prayerfully seeking the counsel of
God’s word. With a budget that is God focused, God centered, and God glorifying, we
can set aside a responsible amount of money for ourselves and our families to enjoy the
resources with which God has blessed us. In this setting, we will truly be able to take
pleasure in spending money on ourselves guilt-free. When we spend money on ourselves
first and give what remains to the Lord and His purposes, we are being unbiblical,
irresponsible, and self-serving.

You Will Give an Account

A Christian must understand that he will be held accountable for his management of the
financial resources entrusted to him. As ludicrous as this metaphor may be, imagine that
you will be audited on judgment day: spreadsheets, receipts, reports, and invoices, all
describing the things in which you chose to “invest.” Heavenly rewards await some for
their selfless, secretive, and generous investment in the kingdom. However, for others,
the evidence will point clearly to a life of selfishness, materialism, or stinginess. While
we all hope to fit in the first category, I fear the average Christian is closer to the second
end of the spectrum. I do not believe this financial mismanagement is due to sinful
intent, but instead results from a lack of attention and diligence. Sadly, many Christians
have no idea where their money is going. This is not faithful stewardship. Responsibility
and purpose should describe the finances of the followers of Christ. True stewardship
involves thought, planning, study of God’s word, wise counsel, and prayerful
consideration.

Perspective is Everything

The Bible gives no clear, set, concrete financial path. The scriptures are full of balance
and variety in regards to monetary action. Riches can be a blessing and a curse. Poverty
can be a blessing and a curse. The righteous are given prosperity, as are the wicked. The
righteous are struck with poverty, as are the wicked. There is freedom in the scriptures
for each believer to follow the wisdom of God’s word and the conviction of the Spirit for
their use of His money. In the end, it is our perspective towards money and wealth that
matter. Who are you serving? How have you managed what you already have? How do
you define joy and fulfillment? Do you love the world? Do you help those in need? Do
you define a person’s worth by the amount of money he makes? Are you generous?
Where is your heart? Where is your treasure? A Christian should be diligent in handling
God’s money according to His precepts while never losing sight of true riches, Christ
Himself.

Testify to the World

From chapter to chapter, interlaced throughout the entirety of this book, is the message
that Godly financial management will testify of Christ to the world. The litmus test of
true Biblical finance is found in its ripple effects to the unbelieving. When our money
management is God focused, God centered, and God glorifying, the world will take
notice. Properly executed Biblical finance will create situations to tell people about
Christ. When a minister is given the opportunity to talk of the Lord’s provision through
His people, a co-worker sees the peace in which a Christian encounters a layoff, a
businessman asks why a believer walks away from a morally questionable deal, an
accountant prepares taxes for a joyfully generous giver, an employer observes the
diligence and responsibility of an employee, and a financial planner sees an
uncharacteristic humility, opportunities are created to testify of the realness of Christ
within our hearts. Through the proper management of our financial resources we have
the opportunity to demonstrate love for God, passion for the work of the Gospel, love for
our neighbors, care for the poor, victory over greed and materialism, hope of treasure in
heaven, faithful stewardship, joyful generosity, and freedom in Christ.

When we spend, save, invest, give, and borrow with the same ratios, purpose, and priority
as the self-centered, unbelieving world around us, we have no grounds to speak of
Christ’s impact on our lives. God is glorified when the world sees a clear and remarkable
difference in the life of a Christian. When we live with no distinguishable difference
from the world, it is to our shame. The way we choose to handle money reveals deeper
issues of our character and spirit. A believer has different beliefs, incentives,
perspectives, and priorities than an unbeliever. Therefore, the way a Christian handles
money should attract notice from those around him. From this point, a believer has an
opportunity to testify of Christ’s effect on his heart and actions. Proper Christian finance
glorifies God and testifies of Christ to the world.