What the Bible Says About Money – Identity, Purpose, Earning, and Planning

In a recent post, I described the process of financial life-change as circular, not linear, and I emphasized the importance of knowing what the Bible teaches about money. However, I only quoted a handful of verses.

This is the first of several posts taking a deeper look at some of the verses that most clearly teach us about specific aspects of managing money.

What’s our biblical financial identity?

Wise money management isn’t just a matter of knowledge and behavior; it’s also very much about the heart.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” – Proverbs 4:23

What the world teaches and what the Word teaches are often completely at odds with each other.

“Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2

For example, our culture calls us consumers, but that couldn’t be further from who God made us to be. When we placed our faith in Christ, we gained a new identity.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

God designed us to be stewards of His resources. He’s the owner; we’re the managers.

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.” – Matthew 25:14-16

Some people misunderstand what it means to be a steward. They see it as a heavy burden or obligation. Perhaps seeing yourself as a wise builder will be more empowering.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts the into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” – Matthew 7:24-25

What’s the purpose of money?

So, what exactly are stewards or wise builders to do with the resources entrusted to them?

The only way to understand the purpose of money is to understand the purpose of our life. Three purposes jump off the pages of Scripture:

Love God.

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’

Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” – Matthew 22:36-38

Love people.

“‘And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Matthew 22:39

Make a difference.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

Those are three of the most important big-picture purposes of our lives, so those are three of the most important overarching purposes of money. We are to use it in ways that show our love for God, enable us to love well the people in our life, and free us to make the difference with our life we were designed to make.

How are we to earn?

Of course, money doesn’t just fall out of the sky. We have to do something to generate it. For most of us, that means work, and how we do our work is important.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17

Being excellent in our work is one way we can express our faith and bring honor to God.

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” – Proverbs 22:29

What are we to do with what we earn?

Once we, as God’s money managers, have some material resources, we are responsible for them.

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.” – Proverbs 27:23

Everyone’s favorite money management tool — a budget — can help.

People who don’t use a budget usually aren’t crazy about the idea. It seems like a lot of work and not a lot of fun. But imagine this: Let’s say you have budgetary responsibility at work and your boss asks you how things are looking this quarter. You say, “Hmm. Not sure. Seems like everything’s okay.” How would that go over?

As we’ve already established, God is the owner and we’re His managers. We are to be intentional and proactive in our use of His money. One day God will return and He’ll be interested in what we did with what He entrusted to us.

“Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.” – Matthew 25:19

Here’s the good news about this budget business. People who use one usually find that it isn’t the ball & chain they imagined. It’s actually freeing—and fruitful.

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” – Proverbs 21:5

So, those are four key aspects of wise money management and what the Bible has to say about the topics. Next week, we’ll take a closer look at what the Bible teaches about generosity, saving, and debt.

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