By: Ryan Ovenden, Wealth Advisor
It’s no secret that I am a Christian and that my focus in the financial advising sphere has centered around like-minded believers in Jesus Christ.
Practically speaking, this mostly stems from my origins with Freedom Financial Counseling, Inc., where I coached clients on the biblical concept of stewardship and how to use their resources to make a Kingdom impact.
While I love walking fellow believers through their financial journeys, I want to be clear that I desire to work with people of all faiths — Muslim, Mormon, atheist, or otherwise.
My services are not exclusive to Christians.
That said, I find no book wiser as it pertains to money and wealth than the Bible. And the fascinating part is that its wisdom extends to non-believers, as well.
You don’t have to be a Christian to understand that money can have a magnifying effect on a person, whether for good or bad. Money is amoral, but it’s really good at illuminating the contents of one’s heart.
So, what does this ancient book have to say about the management of money? And does it say anything relevant to my situation?
I’m glad you asked. Here are 10 teachings the Bible offers to bring freedom to your finances.
1. It starts with prayer.
“Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
Prayer puts everything into perspective.
It’s through prayer that your understanding of your circumstance is laid at the foot of the cross, ready to die. God remains on His throne, sovereign over everything — including your financial situation.
Whenever financial-induced anxiety creeps in, stop, drop, and pray. Acknowledge that He is in control.
2. Trust in God’s provision.
“So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat or what shall we wear?” For the pagans run after such things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:31-33
In Teaching #1, we saw God’s command to pray constantly and let go of our idea of control.
Teaching #2 shows us that He can be trusted.
We are not trusting our futures to a distant, negligent being. Prayer is not aimless. God cares deeply for every person and has a perfect track record to show for it.
Our command to trust in His provision is coupled with a practice of remembering His provision through the ages. As He provided for Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and the Israelites, so will He provide for you and your family.
Your understanding of this provision may appear different from His actual provision, but He perfectly and lovingly provides nonetheless.
3. Get your house in order.
“This is what the Lord says: put your house in order, because you are going to die.” – 2 Kings 20:1
The prophet Isaiah delivered this message to King Hezekiah after he had fallen ill. Of course, the same is true for everyone in time.
We all know intellectually that we will die, but we struggle to grasp the reality of it. If you died today, is your house in order for your heirs? Do you and your spouse know the assets you own and the location of the latest statements?
Here are a few suggestions to help you put your house in order:
- Create a filing system: File the latest account statements chronologically.
- Communicate: Make sure your spouse and one non-related person you can trust know where your filing system is.
- Create a contact list: Jot down the names, companies, and phone numbers of all of your advisors AND which accounts they are advising you on (e.g., attorney, accountant, financial advisor, banker, insurance agent).
- Select one advisor to be your initial point of contact: Ideally, this advisor knows your entire financial picture and can guide your loved one through the necessary steps if something happens to you.
- Have a plan!
“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” – Proverbs 21:5
Most people have dreams for their lives, yet few actually have a plan for how to get there. Without clarity on your identity and purpose, it’s easy to succumb to “cloud syndrome” — i.e., floating through life in whichever direction the wind blows, free from intention. This results in hasty and emotional decision making.
Be diligent. Define your goals with specificity and measurability. Write out your action plans on paper. Refer to them often.
5. Avoid debt.
“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” – Proverbs 22:7
The Bible doesn’t prohibit debt explicitly, but it never encourages it. Therefore, the wise person approaches debt assumption with caution.
Here are three helpful criteria to consider before taking on debt, as found in Howard Dayton’s book, Your Money Counts:
- The item purchased is an asset with the potential to appreciate or produce an income
- The value of the item equals or exceeds the amount owed against it
- The debt is not so large that it puts undue strain on the budget
6. Invest First.
“But if anyone does not provide for his own family, especially for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – 1 Timothy 5:8
The order in which you invest is important — not in a legalistic way, but because it reveals the orientation of your heart.
First, invest in your local church. Second, take care of your own family’s needs (see above verse). Finally, spend the remaining balance on your living expenses, such as food, shelter, clothing, and entertainment.
Once adopted, this concept of investing first and spending second could change your family’s story from one of poverty to one of extreme wealth and generosity.
Order is important!
7. Buy assets.
“A man had two sons. The younger of them said to hisfather, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living.” – Luke 15:11-13
The Bible has many examples of wise and foolish ways to handle inheritance, windfalls, and the like.
In each one, God rebukes the one who squanders their portion and commends the one who invests.
Another way to look at this is through the lens of a balance sheet: liability accumulation veers toward squandering, while asset accumulation, of course, translates to investing.
Assets grow, liabilities diminish. God desires growth in all facets.
8. Give your firstfruits.
“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce.” – Proverbs 3:9
A local food pantry volunteer knocked on my friend’s door, asking for donations of non-perishables. Her kids answered the door and were pleased to oblige. They went to their pantry, picked out all of the canned vegetables and attempted to give away their least favorite items.
My friend caught wind of this and asked the kids to go back into the pantry and pick out what they wanted for dinner that night. The kids selected their favorites: mac & cheese, canned peaches, and pudding.
You know the rest of the story: The beneficiaries of the food pantry now enjoyed a wonderful dinner, and the kids learned a valuable lesson.
Do you give your best to others, or do you give your leftovers? Giving your best and living on the rest is synonymous with financial freedom.
9. Protect appropriately.
“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” – Proverbs 27:12
The topic of insurance rarely sparks a positive reaction in people, but it is a necessary component of your financial plan.
How do you decide how much insurance coverage is appropriate? Most people will go to an insurance agent for guidance, but it can be difficult to receive objective advice when a commission is on the line.
Seek unbiased advice. Create a personalized protection plan. Find an independent agent who can implement this plan for you and your family.
10. Focus on the eternal.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21
Ultimately, the physical contents of our discussion today concern themselves with the temporary — money, insurance policies, loans. But as Thomas Kempis said, “Let temporal things serve your use, but the eternal be the object of your desire.”
As Christians, we see things with an eternal lens, knowing that “heaven and earth will pass away, but [Jesus’] words will never pass away” (Luke 21:33).
The choices we make with our finances have eternal consequences. This is a great responsibility.
As we wrap up this conversation on what the Bible says about money, I want to note how biblical principles, when applied, so often produce undeniable fruit for generations.
That’s not intended as a statement on the Bible’s authority, but rather a practical observation of the real world.
For example, few would argue that too much debt is a path to freedom. We don’t need the Bible to tell us this, but it did — and long before the financial crisis of 2008.
Whatever your religious beliefs, I hope you now have a clear understanding of the Christian Bible’s take on money and finance.
The book is certainly not a manual for personal finance, but its wisdom bleeds into it entirely.
THE VIEWS STATED IN THIS LETTER ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE OPINION OF CETERA ADVISOR NETWORKS LLC AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY AS AN OFFER TO BUY OR SELL ANY SECURITIES MENTIONED HEREIN. DUE TO VOLATILITY WITHIN THE MARKETS MENTIONED, OPINIONS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE. INFORMATION IS BASED ON SOURCES BELIEVED TO BE RELIABLE; HOWEVER, THEIR ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS CANNOT BE GUARANTEED. PAST PERFORMANCE DOES NOT GUARANTEE FUTURE RESULTS.
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