What Do You Know About Money?
What do you know about money? Who taught you about money? Did you learn the principles of earning, spending, giving, saving, and investing money in school? Did you learn how to properly handle money in college? Did your parents sit down and systematically teach you how to handle that which the Bible says is directly tied to your heart? Did the extent of your financial training, after thirteen years of school, involve knowing how to properly balance a checkbook? Or, are you like the majority of Americans who picked up a few financial habits by osmosis in the home, and accidentally stumbled across a few other principles relating to money in newspaper articles, books, or on television? Were you ever taught to have a biblical view of money?
Unfortunately, the answers to the above questions tell us that most adults received little to no training regarding money, let alone any biblical financial training. Sadly, the next generation is faring no better, and, if nothing changes, will suffer from this generational failure to train them regarding that which is a vital, integral, and powerful part of nearly every facet of their daily lives.
We put forth a great effort to teach the next generation about math, science, history, phonics, penmanship, and other traditional subjects, as we should. As Christians, we go a step further and teach our children about important doctrines of the Bible, familiar Bible stories, and various Bible characters. But we fail to teach them Scriptural principles relating to the one thing that is directly tied to the heart of man. It is the root of all evil and the key to the heart, yet it seems that many people, Christians included, shy away from educating themselves and the next generation about it.
Money is not right or wrong in and of itself. It is how we view, love, handle, and desire money that has a positive or negative effect on our lives. I believe that Christians often wrongly link someone’s financial status and spiritual condition. They automatically think that someone with a lot of money must be selfish and worldly, and someone who is poor must be godly. Christians typically see a person who is struggling financially and think, “That person must love God more and possess great faith.” If this were true, then a wonderful man like Abraham, who was extremely wealthy, would not have been called “a friend of God.” And, the wealthy Job would not have been singled out by God due to his stellar testimony and described by God as “a perfect and upright man.”
So, of all the wonderful pearls of wisdom found in Proverbs, why would I choose to begin by studying the pearl of wealth? Because of its direct link to our hearts. God’s Word makes it clear that our attitude towards money has a fundamental connection to our spirituality. Our Lord, who spoke more of money during his earthly ministry than almost any other subject, taught us that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). More than one third of Christ’s parables dealt with money. On average, one out of every seven verses in the first three gospels deals with money in some way. If we do not develop a proper mindset towards money, nothing else in our lives will ever truly be right. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness (I Timothy 6:6-11).
Be careful not to misunderstand what Paul is teaching here. He is not teaching that money is the root of all evil, or that someone who has a lot of money is wicked. He is teaching us that an improper mindset about and love for money will lead us down a path of destruction. A person struggling in poverty can be discontent and fall into the trap of desiring money just as easily as the millionaire can. Our bank account does not determine our spirituality. Our attitude towards the things of this world is what truly matters.
Solomon understood the great importance of money in our lives, and he taught his son some wonderful principles of financial wisdom in the book of Proverbs. I would like to focus on seven of these principles that we must understand and pass on to the next generation.
1. There is a right way to earn money.
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want (Proverbs 22:16).
Popular business culture tells us that it is a “dog-eat-dog world” and we must “win at all costs.” We are often encouraged to do whatever it takes to get ahead in business and in our finances, no matter who we hurt along the way. God’s Word teaches a different set of values altogether. Christians in business should be people of compassion, integrity, and ethics. There are some common business practices a Christian should avoid, even if it costs him large amounts of money or his job. God promises that we will not get ahead by earning money at someone else’s expense.
2. Money is a tool to honor God.
Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine (Proverbs 3:9, 10).
I recently saw this bumper sticker on a car: “He who dies with the most toys wins.” This is a common attitude in our culture. We are encouraged to purchase the largest house we can, drive the nicest car, buy the newest clothes, acquire the latest gadgets, and spend everything we can on ourselves. This attitude reminds me of the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12 who said, “Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” That is how many folks, including Christians, live. However, we would be wise to remember the words of our Lord in that parable, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou has provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
The primary purpose of money is not to bring pleasure to self. Our money should be used to bring honor to God. One of the ways that we can do this is to be faithful in our tithes and offerings to our local church. See Malachi 3:8-10.
These verses teach us that if we will honor God with our material possessions, He will abundantly care for our physical needs.
3. Money is a tool to bless others.
A good man leaveth an inheritence for his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just (Proverbs 13:22).
Not only is our money a tool to bless God, but it should also be used to be a blessing to others. Solomon teaches the importance of saving money so that it can be used to bless future generations. However, God’s Word does not teach that we should save every dime to keep it for our heirs or ourselves. Instead, we should find people that we can bless along the pathway of life. Some people’s motto seems to be, “Get all you can, can all you get, and sit on the can.” Like overgrown preschoolers, they seem to want to keep everything to themselves, not sharing any of their blessings with those around them. Proverbs 3:27 and 28 teaches us, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.”
We should constantly seek to find ways to use our finances to bless other people. We should strive to possess the character traits of generosity, compassion, selflessness, and love that were so evident in the life of our Lord.
There are several groups of people to whom you can perhaps be a blessing:
- God’s work
- God’s man – The book of Philippians gives us a great illustration of Christians meeting the needs of God’s man.
- Needy – i.e. fatherless, widows, blind, lame, and halt; those whom our Lord had a heart to help.
- Future generations
- Enemies – “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink” (Romans 12:20).
God wants His children to have giving hearts. We should learn to be content and frugal, seeking to use our money wisely. However, we should not allow frugality to cause us to become stingy and selfish. Giving is one of life’s greatest blessings.
In the second half of Proverbs 13:22, Solomon teaches his son that if he doesn’t handle his money correctly, and chooses to live contrary to God, there will be financial consequences. God allows us to use that which He has given in an appropriate manner, or He takes that which He has given us and gives it to someone who will use it correctly.
4. There is power in money, but it is deceitful.
Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour (Proverbs 19:4).
It is a fact of life that the more things you have, the more people you will have who want your things. A person of great wealth will find power in certain situations and relationships of life. That person will find countless people who want to be his friend, adviser, or business partner. Great influence and power that come with wealth; however, that influence and power is deceitful. Because, once the money is gone, many of the so-called “friends” will disappear as well. This is a very important truth to learn in order to protect ourselves from hurtful associations and future heartbreak.
5. People are tempted to wrongly put their trust in money.
The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty (Proverbs 10:15).
The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit. Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility (Proverbs 18:11, 12).
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven (Proverbs 23:5).
As the songwriter said, “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” We should not place our hope or trust in earthly things that can vanish in a moment. Proverbs tells us that the rich man views his wealth as his “strong city.” A strong city was a well-protected city that was safe from the attacks of the enemy. The strong city was a place of security, strength, and protection. We should not look to money for security, strength, or our protection against the enemy. We should place our trust in God for these things. The Apostle Paul strongly commanded people with riches not to “trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (I Timothy 6:17).
6. There is no such thing as a “get-rich-quick scheme” that lasts.
Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase (Proverbs 13:11).
Everyone is looking for an easy way to get rich. People spend thousands of dollars on seminars, conferences, books, classes, lottery tickets, gambling, schemes, and scams, all in an attempt to get rich without putting in hard work. God’s Word teaches that, even if you are one of the few who get rich in this manner, your wealth will not last. There is one way to find God’s financial blessing – work hard and be a good steward. There is no substitute for good, old-fashioned hard work. Solomon taught his son that lasting wealth comes from work.
7. Sin has financial consequences.
Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger (Proverbs 5:7-10).
In this passage, Solomon is warning his son of the dangers of a sinful relationship with a woman. One of the consequences that he warns him of is the loss of his money. When we choose to sin, it has many consequences. There are physical and spiritual consequences; however, there are also financial consequences.
About a year ago, I read a headline relating to the man who was my favorite basketball player when I was growing up, Michael Jordan. It said, “Michael Jordan Agrees on $168 Million Divorce Settlement.” God’s plan for every one of us is to find one mate and stay married for life. When Michael Jordan made a different choice, it cost him a great deal financially, not to mention the consequences that it had on him personally and on his wife and children.
Depending on your sin, you may lose money to lawyer fees, counseling programs, payment of tickets, medical bills, gambling losses, the cost of alcohol or drugs, lost wages for time spent in jail, and the list could go on. It is expensive to sin!
Obviously, these seven principles are not an exhaustive study of every financial principle found in Proverbs or in God’s Word. The Bible has much to say about our stewardship. These are just seven principles that Solomon taught his son. We would be wise to do the same. Have you taken the time to teach your children as Solomon did? Do we understand and practice the financial principles that the Bible teaches such as:
- Work hard & honestly
- Live within your means
- Give to God
- Give to others
- Money is temporal
- Seek to eliminate debt in your life
- View money as a tool, not a master
Are we teaching these principles to the next generation?
The world tells us that money brings happiness. God’s Word tells us that money is a necessary, useful tool which must not become our purpose for living or our master in life. “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom” (Proverbs 23:4).
What you make is not who you are. Money is a means to an end, not the purpose for your existence. Money can help enable you to fulfill God’s purpose for your life, but living for money is not His purpose for anyone’s life. Find God’s purpose for your life, then ask Him how you can use the material goods He has given you to fulfill that purpose.
Take the time to study God’s Word on this incredibly important subject and seek to please Him in the area of your finances. Then, seek to give your children the biblical financial education that you may have never received.