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I’m excited about this guest post from Guy Smith at Cheerful Money. Guy created Cheerful Money as a personal finance resource to help Christians generously share God’s blessings. This post is all about how your worldview affects your life, and more specifically, 5 foundational money principles in the bible. You’re in for a real treat today. Enjoy! ~Jamie
The Foundation of Your Worldview Affects Every Area of Your Life. Yes, Even Money
You do have a worldview, whether you realize it or not. We all do, and it tends to be tied to important aspects of our lives: religion, passions, childhood, etc.
If you’re a Christian, your worldview, while still influenced by experience, is largely shaped by your faith and the Word of God. The problem, though, is that many well-intentioned Christians haven’t taken the time to figure out what the Bible teaches on how to handle money God’s way.
The Bible is overflowing with lessons and scriptures regarding how we handle money, our attitude toward money, the uses of money, the purpose of money, and the vanity of money.
My Unfair Advantage
For the sake of full disclosure, I believe I have an unfair advantage when it comes to having a biblical worldview and understanding money principles in the bible. I was raised in a Christian home by parents who were raised in Christian homes…and so on and so on. Yes. As far back as we can remember most of my family has been Bible-believing, Jesus-following Christians.
I’m not talking about Jesus-only-changed-our-Sunday-mornings kind of Christians. I’m talking about even-my-vacations-are-at-church-camp Christians.
I believe my heritage gives me an unfair advantage over anyone who met Jesus as an adult and is starting at square one.
You see, in 2009 when I first ran across Dave Ramsey and his biblical finance course, Financial Peace University, my eyes shot wide open and I was hooked. I listened to the lessons over and over again in my car. I listened to the radio show and started reading his books.
It was the perfect combination of money principles in the bible and Dave’s style and personality.
What I would go on to find as I worked through Dave’s program was that most of my family was already handling their money God’s way even though they had no idea who Dave Ramsey was until 2009.
It was affirming to me that I was raised with a worldview founded on money principles in the bible. That doesn’t mean it’s been an easy road. Like I mentioned above with the unequally yoked couple, how often do we know God’s standard and still choose otherwise? It’s a problem.
We’re all on a journey of becoming more Christ-like. If you told me you always got it right, I’d laugh out loud. If any of us always got it right, Jesus died in vain. The apostle Paul said something like that in Galatians 2:21. We all need grace.
The Five Money Principles in the Bible that I’m Always Working On
Today I’ve selected five money principles in the bible that every Christian should apply to their finances. It’s important that your wallet mirrors your heart.
There are countless more, so I whittled it down to just five..
1. Gain Honestly
You’re probably thinking, “Wait, of course I gain my money honestly. That’s a given. I work an honest job that solves a problem in society by providing a product or service.”
That’s probably true. Chances are if you’re reading this you’re not involved in majorly unethical income-generating business like dealing drugs or sex trafficking. If you are I recommend you stop and turn to God.
It’s more likely that you’re gaining income dishonestly in subtle ways like not working at work, showing up late and leaving early, and stretching out your time in the bathroom while still on the clock.
When I was in high school I worked at our local grocery store. It was the local grocery store. Yes, my town had one grocery store. It was a great place to grow up.
Learning About Honest Work the Hard Way
It was at that hourly wage job that I learned the skill of working just enough to keep the managers happy. It’s sad, but that’s how much of the hourly world operates.
One day I stopped at the magazine rack for just a second (it’s not like I stood out in the open and read Sports Illustrated), but it was at that second that a man walked by who knew my dad. He had worked with my dad and knew he was a hard worker. He just happened to also be the assistant manager’s dad and was glad I was working for his son.
Turns out he had been spying on me for a while. That day when he saw me standing at the magazine rack when I should have been working, he looked at me, shook his head, and walked away. It really made me mad. My head said, “Who are you to judge me!” My heart, on the other hand, knew he was justified and said, “Oh boy, I’m not representing my father well.”
That’s true for my earthly father and my heavenly Father.
The Bible makes this clear:
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17 ESV
The Fair Expectation of Honesty
You and I expect Christians to be honest, and we should. Integrity is an important character trait for anyone.
It always bothers me…no, that’s too soft. It irks me…no, still too soft. It ticks me off and breaks my heart…there, that’s it…when Christians lie, cheat, steal, and oppress to line their own pockets. It is a terrible example of who Christ is!
Money must be obtained honestly. The Bible’s teaching on this is undeniable.
“You shall not steal.” – Exodus 20:15 ESV
“For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” – James 5:4 NLT
How do we gain honestly? By work, trade, investments, inheritance, or even gifts.
“Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:12 ESV
“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” – Proverbs 13:11 ESV
I hope and pray that you are gaining money honestly. It’s a healthier witness and a more sustainable lifestyle.
2. Budget Diligently
Once you’ve gained money honestly, it’s important to take good care of it.
How I wish this was always true for me! I’d be far better off financially today!
Remember how I said I met Dave Ramsey in 2009? That’s when I started hearing his message, but I didn’t start listening and practicing his principles until 2011.
Instead of paying off my student loans and new car loan, I used my saved up cash to buy a motorcycle. I loved that motorcycle. It was a 2006 Honda VTX 1200C with Cobra pipes!
Having a street bike led to a lot more dates for me, which was great because my Aunt Carol once told me if I wanted a girlfriend I needed a motorcycle. Guess what Aunt Carol, it worked!
Now when you go on dates you’re supposed to put your best foot forward, right? I remember one particular night my date and I rode two hours away to a restaurant where I paid with debit, crinkled up my copy of the receipt, and tossed it onto my empty plate – while looking her in the eye.
I wasn’t a jerk. Just an idiot clearly not putting my best foot forward. Nothing says, “Marry me I’ll take care of you” like having no idea what’s in your checking account.
She was not impressed.
What the Bible Actually Says About Budgeting
For many years I was the Christian guy who coasted financially even though I knew better.
When you really get into Scripture it’s undeniable that budgeting is a discipline Christians are called to practice.
Here are two examples:
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” – Luke 14:28 NIV
“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.” – Proverbs 27:23–24 NIV
Nowadays, my wife and I take this seriously by creating a unique budget each month for our household.
The budget helps us know we’re hitting our big goals like tithing to our local church, funding our golden years, paying off the mortgage, saving for future large purchases, and keeping the kids clothed and fed.
God is honored when we budget diligently. He will trust us with more as he sees he can trust us with what we’ve already been given.
3. Owe Nobody
Time for the debt principle. Oh boy! You knew it was coming.
Dave Ramsey has been teaching the world on the radio every day for over 25 years that debt is dumb and that God never blesses it. Nope, never. That’s because debt is slavery.
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” – Proverbs 22:7 ESV
It’s so true. “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.”
As Christians we should seek to live debt free and owe nobody. That’s true financial freedom, or as Dave calls it, financial peace.
Remember that motorcycle? Well, I named her Lucy. Unfortunately Lucy only lived with me for two summers before she was totaled.
I had a bad habit of riding at night and one night on my way home from a restaurant in Pittsburgh, Lucy met a deer.
Thank God I was wearing full gear and slid to a stop instead of into oncoming traffic. Both the deer and Lucy were not so fortunate.
Life and death situations have a tendency to wake us up and change the trajectory of our lives. That was the case for me. I knew two things. One: I was blessed to be alive, and God had given me more time so I better start living for him. Two: it’s time to grow up.
After my insurance company totaled Lucy I had plenty of cash to replace her. Instead though, I took that cash and paid it directly onto my student loans and began my two year journey to becoming debt free. I paid off …… in those two years.
Removing debt from my life has increased my freedom, my flexibility, my peace of mind, and really I’m just more restful overall. I put a big down payment on our house, and I’m working my tail off to get rid of that 20 year mortgage in less than 10 years.
Being Debt Free Makes You More Available to Follow God
While it feels good to avoid debt, the more important benefit is more availability to follow God.
When God called my wife and me into the full-time pastorate ministry, between her resigning from work and me taking a pay cut, our family income was nearly cut in half.
If we had more monthly bills than monthly income that move would have been nearly impossible.
Living without debt means the freedom to follow God faster.
We should strive to owe no one.
Allow me to give it to you the way the apostle Paul did.
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” – Romans 13:8 ESV
It’s God-honoring to live debt free so we can spend our time and resources loving others.
I don’t know about you, but I choose freedom over slavery, love and opportunity over limitation.
4. Invest Wisely
Here are two extremes: One guy puts every penny he can save into a metal box and hides it in his basement, and another guy puts every penny he has into a single company stock.
Who is more likely to become wildly wealthy? The single stock guy.
Who is more likely to go desperately broke? The single stock guy.
Who is more likely to still have money 30 years later? The metal box in the basement guy.
Which guy is right? Biblically speaking, neither.
I want you to know that Christians are undeniably called to invest. Read the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 when you find time. They guy in that story who buried his money in the ground was actually rebuked by Jesus for not at least gaining interest!
We need to be wise about it though.
You know the word diversify? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket? Yeah, God pretty much invented the concept.
“Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.” – Ecclesiastes 11:2 ESV
Fortunately in our modern day, investing broadly is easier than ever before.
After fixating on investing for about three months, which was long enough to drive my wife up a wall, I narrowed down my personal investing strategy.
I Chose to Invest in the American Market via Index Funds.
I believe it’s the simplest and most exhaustive way to apply diversification to my retirement plan. It’s also the closest thing to a guaranteed win.
Thanks to Jack Bogle of Vanguard, I can purchase nearly every publicly traded stock in the United States with one mutual fund. That’s over 3,600 single stocks in one fund.
If the tech industry tanks, I’m good because America survives. When the healthcare industry hits record highs, I’m on the way up too. I’m riding the entire American economy. That’s diversified.
The only step to further diversification is to buy international index funds too. Which is easy to do.
That’s how I invest wisely. It’s not the only way to invest wisely, but hours of research has proven it to be the best method for me.
The biblical key to investing wisely is diversification.
5. Give Generously
I saved generosity for last, but truth be told it’s the money principle I’m most excited about.
There is a depth of joy in giving that can’t be reached through hoarding.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Jesus, Acts 20:35
Have you experienced that blessing?
During college I jumped at the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Honduras, a third-world country in Central America.
In 1998 Hurricane Mitch made landfall in Honduras with strength just shy of a Category 5, resulting in some of the worst flooding of the 20th century. Unfortunately, communities throughout Honduras and Nicaragua are made up of many weak structures.
It was devastating to many.
Afterwards the world rallied. Groups from all over the world showed up with supplies to help rebuild communities. Thousands of simple concrete homes were built to shelter needy families.
On my mission trip in 2005, I found myself in one of those communities. We built tables and delivered them to church families.
There was one particular table delivery I will never forget. In that home we found a young mother with her small children. As we carried in that table, it quickly became apparent that this was their first and only piece of furniture.
I don’t speak Spanish well, but I knew what she was saying that day.
This hardworking mother put her hand over her mouth and with tears in her eyes said, “Un mesa…un mesa…un mesa.” (one table, one table, one table)
My heart was full.
Blessing that woman was a blessing to me.
Giving Generously is an Undeniable Money Principle in the Bible
First off, Christians are shown generosity by God himself when we receive grace as undeserved sinners. It’s his nature, and we desire to be like Christ. Therefore, we give.
Throughout the New Testament, Christians are called to give generously to God’s work and God’s people. It’s all over the place. One of the best concentrations of this kind of teaching is found in 2 Corinthians 8-9. Go read that.
Here’s a piece of it:
“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.” – 2 Corinthians 9:10–12 NLT
Check out the cycle of blessing: God is generous to us so we can be generous to others so that we can continue to be generous. I love it!
You can’t out give God! He wants to bless you and fill your heart with inexpressible joy!
Does Your Wallet Mirror Your Heart?
If a Christian worldview is the foundation of your life, it needs to also be the foundation of your finances.
If your heart belongs to Jesus, have you asked him how to handle his money his way?
My wife and I have found time and time again that when we apply these principles, and others like them, we find financial peace, freedom, and inexpressible joy.
In short, our money is no longer stressful. Our hearts are full of joy instead.
It’s as if money takes its proper place as a tool for living in this world.
I’d encourage you to evaluate your personal finances today by considering these five undeniable money principles in the bible.
Are you gaining money honestly, budgeting money diligently, owing money to nobody, investing money wisely, and giving money generously?
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How many of these money principles have you applied to your life? Which of these money principles in the bible surprised you the most?
Our budget and goals changed our lives and it can change yours too.
As an Educator and Personal Finance Blogger, Jamie has helped hundreds of families learn how to budget, save money, and pay off debt (go here to subscribe and start your debt free journey). Read our debt free story, “How We Paid Off $73,000 of Debt in Less Than Four Years”.