If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that my husband & I have set out on a journey to become completely DEBT FREE! We are so excited about our financial future and know that getting out of debt is the first step to our financial security & health. One of our dreams is to be in such a place with our money that our giving will increase dramatically and we’ll be able to tithe more than 10% and support charities/organizations that we believe in.
I have noticed that when you start talking about money and especially getting out of debt, you see all different sorts of reactions. From aversion to the subject, eyerolls, disbelief (i.e. “Why would you want to do that? Debt in inevitable.”) What surprised me the most was how people used and misused Scripture to justify their bad financial decisions. So, I’ve done my research. I went back to the source of all things good and set out to discover exactly what the Bible says about money.
Let me preface my findings by saying I AM NO EXPERT. I am not a Biblical scholar and I do not presume to know everything about the Bible and money. I only know what God has shown me through my study of His word. Here goes.
3 Biblical Truths About Money
1. Money is NOT evil.
-We’ve all heard someone say it. We’ve probably heard a lot of someones say it. It’s probably one of the most misquoted Bible verses out there: “Money is the root of all evil!” THIS IS WRONG!! Money is the not the root of all evil … the love of money is the root of all evil. There is a HUGE difference here. You see money by itself cannot be evil because it is amoral, or ‘being neither moral nor immoral.’ A $100 bill sitting on the counter is not good or bad. Money takes on the morals of whoever uses it. Take that $100 bill and use it to buy food for a homeless shelter or food bank and the money is used for good. Take that same $100 bill and use it to buy drugs and the money is used for evil. But the money itself stays amoral.
Along the same lines is another idea. Having a lot of money does not make you evil. Again, it goes back to how you use it. We hear this a lot in today’s culture…if you’re rich, you probably did something wrong to get that way OR you probably didn’t even have to do anything to get it (i.e. mommy or daddy made you rich.) First off, let me say that having a huge wallet that’s full of $100 bills like the one sitting on the counter does not immediately make you a ‘evil rich person’ nor does it immediately make you a good person but what you do with your money shows the world what’s in your heart. Now, there are rich people who are crooked with their lives & their money but there are just as many crooked poor people. And there are plenty of rich people who are givers & care about others and there are just as many good poor people out there too. And a little food for thought: 80% of America’s millionaires (net worth of over $1,000,000 NOT people who make $1,000,000+ yearly) are first-generation. This means they worked hard, saved, and lived within their means to become wealthy. They didn’t just inherit their money. (Source: The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley)
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” 1 Timothy 6:10 ESV
2. Debt is NOT a sin BUT there is NO such thing as “good debt”
– There is nowhere in the Bible that says that having debt is a sin so if you have it (and most of us do), there’s no need to worry about sinful behavior. However, there is NO instance in the Bible where God uses debt to bless anyone. In fact, EVERY TIME debt is mentioned, it is mentioned in a negative way. We live in a culture that worships at the alter of a FICO Credit Score and we’re taught from an early age that in order to succeed in this life, we must build up ‘good credit.’ Guess what? ‘Good credit’ is an oxymoron! There’s no such thing.
There are so many but here are a few of my favorites…
“The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Proverbs 22:7 ESV
“Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts. If you have nothing with which to pay, why should your bed be taken from under you?” Proverbs 22:26-27 ESV
“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 ESV
**Did you know you can get a mortgage on your home with NO CREDIT SCORE…what?!?! If you have a big enough down payment (usually 20% +) and your mortgage broker uses ‘manual underwriting’ you can get a mortgage without a credit score. And if you’re out of debt and winning with money, it will be easy to save up a big down payment. So you don’t need ‘good credit’ to win in this life. **
3. Our money isn’t ours, we are just stewards in this life
-If you are a believer, it’s vital that you fully understand what this means. You must first and foremost admit that God created the world we live in and everything in it. It all belongs to Him. He’s entrusted us to take care of it and we should do so in a manner that reflects our gratitude & love for Him. A big part of this is our tithe! God is very generous in that He has given us the Earth to care for and the least we should do is give some of our money back to Him. Remember, that we must only serve one master and our financial decision will reflect what master we are serving at that point in our lives. If we are serving God, our finances and tithes will reflect that. If you give to further the Kingdom of God, then your giving is a reflection of your beliefs & convictions.
Please understand that this is not any form of prosperity gospel preaching. I do not believe nor am I asking you to believe that if you give to your church, God will magically make $5 bills rain in your back yard. You must be wary of anyone who claims to know specifically how God will bless you (i.e. “Give to me tonight & God will give you $10,000 tomorrow or next week or next year). That is false. What is truth is that when you give to God first in order to further His kingdom, He WILL bless you. It might not be financially but he will bless your sense of security, he will bless you spiritually, and he will bless you relationships. He blesses everyone is different ways because He understands what each of us need individually so don’t compare your blessings to others.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” Colossians 3:23 ESV
“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” 1 Corinthians 4:1 ESV
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 ESV
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24 ESV
Here are some good resources to check out for yourself as you begin your own study of the Bible & money:
Dave Ramsey, The Bible & Money http://www.daveramsey.com/church/scriptures/
Dave Ramsey, God Owns It All http://www.daveramsey.com/article/free-sermon-outline-god-owns-it-all/lifeandmoney_church/
Yahoo Finance, 7 Millionaire Myths http://finance.yahoo.com/news/pf_article_110333.html
Christian Personal Finance, The Bible & Debt http://christianpf.com/the-bible-and-debt/
Christian Personal Finance, 250 Bible Verses about Money http://christianpf.com/money-in-the-bible/
Christian Personal Finance, Being a Good Steward http://christianpf.com/are-you-a-good-steward/