Biblical Principles Of Financial Stewardship
Finances are discussed in over 2,350 verses of Scripture. Jesus says more about money than any other subject. It is important to God. We will cover general principles and concepts.
Four Key Biblical Principles
Principle #1: Your Heart will follow Your Treasure
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”- Matthew 6:21
How materialistic is your heart? “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” Matthew 6:24. How often do you think about material things? The “things” around us are in competition with our fellowship with God. “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare…” 1 Timothy 6:9.
There is a materialistic tension with two extremes: scarcity and excess with a healthy standard of living in the middle. Scarcity focuses on preserving wealth and the “security” it brings. Proverbs 11:28 states, “He that trusteth in riches shall fall…” While excess focuses on gaining contentment by adding “things” as stated in Proverbs 27:10, “…they eyes of man are never satisfied.” We strive for a balanced healthy perspective which focuses no on wealth or “things” but on God. Luke 12:15, “…for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
Principle #2: God Owns Everything
“Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all therein is.” – Deuteronomy 10:14
Remember God is the owner of all, as stated in Psalms 50:10-12, “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.”
There is a difference between ownership and stewardship. Ownership is exclusive rights and control over property. This ownership mentality is represented in Nebuchadnezzar as stated in Daniel 4:30, “Is not the great Babylon, that I have built…” What items do you frequently forget are not yours? Which ones are the hardest to relinquish. Stewardship is the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. The Gospel of Luke addresses this mentality in Luke 12:42, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?” How are stewards different from owners?
A sense of ownership leads to comparison. The grass is always greener on the other side. Wealth by nature is based on comparison. How do you know if you are “wealthy” or not? Comparison robs us of joy and contentment. We are very wealthy compared to the rest of the world. It is estimated 1/3 of the world lives on less than $2 per day.
Lets talk giving. Charity is the practice of benevolent giving. Whenever we give, we should remind ourselves we are actually giving our gift to the Lord Himself.
Giving becomes an act of worship- an expression of our gratefulness and love to God as our Creator, and our faithful Provider.
Solomon talks about charity in Proverbs 19:17, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” Paul expresses the nature of giving in Acts 20:35, “…It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The Bible is clear in its commands to give tithes and offerings. Giving should be above and beyond what we want…and done cheerfully. Giving should be personal, periodic, purposeful. Do due diligence to find out about charities. We recommend Charity Navigator when finding out about charities and organizations.
Principle #3: God’s Promises Provision
“…for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” – Matthew 6:23
How are you doing in trusting in God’s promises that He will provide? Quiz yourself by answering these questions:
- Do I rest in the sovereignty of God?
- Do I believe God is able to raise up and set down? 1 Samuel 2:8
- Do I believe God will provide for the flowers and birds? Matthew 6:30
- Do my actions demonstrate I truly believe these things?
Proverbs addresses true contentment. “Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.”- Proverbs 15:16. “Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches: feed me with the food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain”– Proverbs 30:7-9.
There is a clear distinction between need and want. Let’s clarify the difference. One is based on survival (need). One is based on choice (want). What is the root of our choices? A little statistic: the power of advertising can sway us- the average American sees 3,000 ads each day. Overspending robs us of our joy through worry, selfishness, and guilt. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”- Philippians 4:19. We need to sort out the things which are truly necessary and have lasting benefits from those which will strain our bank account, relationships and emotional health. A balanced life requires reflection, prioritization, and action according to Biblical principles.
Debt. There are dangers when in debt. The Bible does not condemn debt but does discourage us from having it. Avoiding debt is critical to balanced lifestyles. “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”- Proverbs 22:7. “Say no unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” – Proverbs 3:28
Principle #4: God Created us to be Faithful to His Image
“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” – 1 Corinthians 4:2
Work is God’s idea and was initiated by God prior to the Fall of man (Genesis 2:15). God is glorified when we use the creativity and talents He has given us to the best of our ability. He can and will bless these efforts at times (Matt 25:14-30, Parable of the Talents). However, we must remember that we work so we can glorify God through our faithfulness, not so we can have gain for ourselves. We are called to take a long-term view and balance this with our other responsibilities (family, church, etc.).
It is essential we are honest and just in all our dealings. The faithful in the least will be faithful in much (Luke 16:10). Seek to have a “just” weight (Prov 11:1) and pay/work for that which is fair.
Our character is key to our legacy and witness. “A just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” – Proverbs 20:7. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”- Proverbs 22:1
To be faithful in investing, there are four simple keys to finances: 1) Spend less than you earn. 2) Avoid debt. 3) Build an emergency fund. 4) Set long term goals. “Steady plodding” is the best description of proper investing. Take advantage of the variable of time; the sooner you save the better. “Get rich quick” schemes reveal the motivation of the heart.
Be faithful in your estate. “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children”- Proverbs 13:22. Details need to be though about and put in place. These details can include: Will, Living Will, DNR’s, Power of Attorney(s), Child Guardianship, etc. Seeking counsel is critical in making estate planning decisions (Prov 11:14). We recommend meeting with a Financial Planner you can trust to consider key items. Planning your estate is not a once-and-done project. Your plans will need periodic tweaking as your family grows or shrinks.
What is the legacy you are leaving to your children? Your children’s children? This will become the greatest inheritance and is more important than your wealth. Model key financial principles early and often: giving, saving and chores/work. Start with the end in mind. What principles do you want to instill in your children when they reach adulthood?
Our mindset can become, “Saul, thou has much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:10) when it needs to be “these words which I command thee this day..teach them diligently unto they children” Duet 6.
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For Further Information:
This is a free mobile app which allows you to stay up to date on your finances. This app is designed to gather all your financial information (i.e., bank accounts, credit cards, and retirement accounts) into one place and track real time. It has a simple budget application and allows you to track spending patterns.