Six Biblical Core Values for Faithful Financial Living
The Principle of Enough
Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
The writer of Hebrews encourages us to be satisfied with the indispensable promise of God’s faithfulness. Regardless of the ebb and flow of the world’s gifts, God’s gift will never rust, fade, or slip away.
What happens when consuming becomes our god?
The Principle of Proper Perspective
“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
We cannot serve two masters; God does not give us that option. Such clear distinction between the things of this world and the things of God gives us the opportunity for clarity in our decisions. What seems like a stark, declarative statement actually provides a clear point of reference by which we can understand God’s plan for our lives.
How do you distinguish between the things of this world and things of God?
The Principle of the Good Steward
Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
In a world where “good “ is defined in terms of the accumulation of material possessions, Jesus counters that “good” is a matter of care and stewardship, even to the point of giving away that which we treasure. Most financial problems come when the things we possess in reality possess us. Part of being a good steward involves understanding the temporary nature of all the material goods we possess.
What is your most valuable possession? How difficult would it be for you to sell it and give the money to the poor?
The Principle of the Shrewd Manager
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2 So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3 Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7 Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ 8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. 10 “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” 14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. 15 So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God. 16 “The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped.
Clearly, Jesus is not endorsing the manager’s dishonest practices. Rather, he is teaching us that, like the manager, we are called to be shrewd managers of the resources that God gives us. The parable might be paraphrased, “If only we were as wise and shred in achieving eternal things as those who are intent on possessing dishonest things.” Of course, this requires focus, planning, and a faithful heart so that we may adequately respond to God’s kingdom plans. Only when we spend as much time and effort preparing our lives (and resources) for kingdom good (through the building of relationship, for example) as we do for pleasure will we experience a true measure of God’s enormous potential in both our earthly and our eternal lives.
How much of your time do you spend preparing your life to help bring about the reign of God?
The Principle of the Widow’s Mite
He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Jesus understands that trusting God is much easier in times of abundance than in our times of need. However, some of life’s greatest lessons are learned from our commitment and response as we experience times of hardship and sacrifice.
What does it mean to give out of our poverty? What lesson/s have you learned from a time of hardship or sacrifice?
The Principle of the Faithful Giver
1 Timothy 6:17-18
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share.
Be “ready to share.” Paul’s command highlights the nature of why we give – because God expects us to do so. Our resources serve as another opportunity to be a part of the work of God in this world and to do good things in God’s name. We do not share our resources for pride or personal gain but because God covets the whole of our lives, including our earthly possessions, to be offered in God’s service.
In what ways do you share your resources of time, talent and gifts in God’s service? When do you find it difficult to share your gifts?