“As base a thing as money often is, yet it can be transmuted into everlasting treasure. It can be converted into food for the hungry and clothing for the poor. It can keep a missionary actively winning lost men to the light of the gospel and thus transmute itself into heavenly values. Any temporal possession can be turned into everlasting wealth. Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.” — A.W. Tozer (1897-1963), American pastor and writer
Money may not seem like an important spiritual issue, but Jesus actually said more about money and possessions than heaven and hell. It’s a pivotal issue for God and the way we use His money can send people to hell or rescue them from it. Luckily, the Bible is pretty black and white when it comes to money and possessions, so, using that guidebook, we’ve compiled the top ten commandments of Christian Finance:
1. God owns it all
“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…” – Psalms 24:1
The first step to handling your money God’s way is to accept that He owns everything. He owns all the wealth, He owns you, and He even owns your ability to make money: “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me. But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” At first, this may seem like a depressing thought, but going from an earthly perspective to an eternal perspective will actually make your financial life easier and more pleasurable. You will be less conflicted about sharing ‘your’ funds and ‘your’ possessions, because you will recognize that you have been blessed with the opportunity to share the funds and possessions that were actually God’s all along.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19
It starts with surrender. God promises to take care of us, to supply ALL our needs, but we have to surrender our finances to Him. This is a very hard step for some people, but a necessary one. If you haven’t before, say a prayer to God and give “your” finances over to Him and trust Him to take care of you. “Remember this— you can’t serve God and Money, but you can serve God with money.” – Selwyn Hughes
3. We are His managers
“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” – 1 Corinthians 3:9 (the greek here actually implies that we are his fellow-laborers, that is, fellow-laborers in His employ, under His direction)
If you think the first commandment made you merely a passive bystander to your own financial situation, think again. God has a great deal for us. Yes, He owns everything, but He wants us to be His managers. In essence, this defines our purpose in this world as assigned to us by God Himself. It is our divinely given opportunity to join with God in His worldwide and eternal redemptive movement (Matthew 28:19-20). This deal is not God taking something from us; it is His method of bestowing His richest gifts upon His people and giving us a meaningful and pleasureful life.
So, if He owns it all and we are His managers, how do we manage? Well, like any good manager, God has given us plenty of instruction on how we should be handling His money and resources:
3. Avoid debt
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” – Romans 13:8 (Here the Greek “no”, means “no”).
God knows that the burden of debt will not only cause us immense pain, it will also hold us back from experiencing the great joys of giving. Borrowing also makes us into slaves (Proverbs 22:7). If we can only serve one master, who should it be, God or Wells Fargo? So forget what some economist say, for a Christian, there is no such thing as good debt.
4. Live below your means
“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” Proverbs 21:20
Living below your means in a biblical sense doesn’t mean living on 90-95% of your income. It means leaving enough extra at the end of the month to give radically and joyfully. Many Christians have bought into the American dream that there’s nothing wrong with big houses and nice cars. It’s almost become a Christian trait to prosper. This is a lie from Satan. As John Piper says, “A $70,000 salary does not have to be accompanied by a $70,000 lifestyle. God is calling us to be conduits of his grace, not cul-de-sacs. Our great danger today is thinking that the conduit should be lined with gold. It shouldn’t. Copper will do. No matter how grateful we are, gold will not make the world think that our God is good: it will make people think that our God is gold. That is no honor to the supremacy of his worth.”
5. Save regularly
“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” – Proverbs 6:6
God wants us to have margin in our finances so we aren’t living paycheck to paycheck, eking out an existence, scraping by until we die. We should have some reserves so that when a friend or neighbor needs help, we don’t have to refuse them. We can have the great joy of helping them in God’s name. What a testament to the efficacy of our faith to a non-believer to be able to say, “I CAN help you and I WANT to help you and here’s why.”
6. Live on a spending plan
“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? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’” – Luke 14:28-30
Just like an architect wouldn’t start building without first drawing up plans and estimating the cost, we shouldn’t approach our financial lives without a plan. A spending plan may seem like a buzzkill, limiting your ability to spend, it actually frees you up. Before we had a spending plan, every purchase was nerve wracking, guilt inducing affair. “Do we have the money for this?” “Was this a good decision?” “Are we still going to be able to put food on the table?” With a spending plan, all of that is built in so you know what you can spend without breaking the bank. Grab our spending plan (and other financial forms here).
7. Accept that you’re already rich
This is a hard concept to wrap our minds around because we live in a culture that tells us that more is better and the pursuit of wealth is our ultimate goal. Every day, we see people who have even more than we do, so these facts may shock you. Do you own a car? 92% of the world does not own a car – that puts you in the elite 8% of the world. Do you make more than $10,000 a year? That puts you in the top 13% richest people in the world (see your exact ranking here). Did you have clean water and food today? Almost half the people on this planet don’t. When we accept that OUR world is not THE world, we get a better perspective on our money and possessions.
8. Live simply
“But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” – 1 Timothy 6:8
Our lives have become so bogged down with stuff that we tend to lose sight of our real purpose here on earth. Richard Foster, the Christian theologian, puts it this way, “Simplicity is the only thing that can sufficiently reorient our lives so that possessions can be genuinely enjoyed without destroying us. Jesus Christ and all the writers of the New Testament call us to break free of mammon lust and live in joyous trust…They point us toward a way of living in which everything we have we receive as a gift, and everything we have is cared for by God, and everything we have is available to others when it is right and good. It is the means of liberation and power to do what is right and to overcome the forces of fear and avarice.” Does the stuff you have satisfy? Does it serve the Kingdom?
9. Give promiscuously
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” – 1 Timothy 6:17-19
When I give a car to a single mom, the donor of the car is usually present and both the giver and the receiver cry tears of joy. Does that make sense? They just gave away a $6,000 asset and they are crying for joy? This is the incredible, lasting pleasure and divine privilege we are lucky to enjoy as Christians. We know God owns everything and will supply all our needs, so that frees us up to do the fun stuff like impacting people’s lives for Him and getting involved in causes that light our fires and give us a passion for living. Giving is not about what God wants from us, it’s what He wants for us.
10. Keep an Eternal Perspective
“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” – Luke 16:9
You can’t take it with you, but you can send it forward. Randy Alcorn likens the idea of accumulating money on earth to that of accumulating Confederate money during the U.S. Civil War. When the battle ends—as it ultimately will—the earthly wealth you have amassed will hold no value; your treasures await you in eternity. All this wealth, the cars, the houses, the statues, the will mean nothing. The only thing that will echo in eternity is what you’ve done for the kingdom with your money and resources. With all your dealings with money, keep an eternal perspective first and foremost in your mind and when you reach heaven, you will hear those sweet words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”