Over the course of four decades of counseling I have encountered Christians who have unbiblical ideas about what the Bible teaches about financial issues. Such misconceptions can lead to foolish decisions and judgmental attitudes towards others.
- Money is the root of all evil. Many have bought into the myth that material wealth is in some way corrupt. But it is the love of money which is the root of every kind of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Sadly, people have violated every commandment of God because of money love. Paul identifies greed as idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Money (and sex) are like fire which can be a powerful force for good when in its proper place, and can be exceedingly destructive when misused. Money can be very good as we use it to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), help those in need (Proverbs 19:17), and support faithful Christian ministry (Philippians 4:10). Elevating money to be your god will lead to ruin.
- Ministry is the highest calling for Christians. On a few occasions I have had wealthy friends tell me that they were considering quitting their high paying jobs in order to go into ministry. While that is a noble desire and may well be the right thing for them to do, I encourage them to consider the possibility that they may be able to do more for the kingdom of God by using their exceptional God-given ability to create wealth and thus support the ministries of others. Jesus was supported by wealthy women whose help was integral to His work (Luke 8:3). I dedicated my recent book, Money, Debt and Finances: Critical Questions and Answers, to the men and women whose generous giving has enabled me to labor full time in the ministry of God’s Word for over thirty years. The reformers recovered the truth that the gospel redeems every form of legitimate work by which every Christian can labor to the glory of God (Ephesians 6:6-8).
- The early church practiced communism. Many have misunderstood the experience of the early church in sharing their material possessions with those in need (Acts 2:44-45) as a form of communism. Their generosity, however, was not under compulsion as in communism (and socialism), but was voluntary. When Peter admonished Ananias for withholding proceeds from the sale of his land, he affirmed that Ananias had every right to keep the land and the money. Ananias’ great sin was lying. “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control… You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:4). Scripture through the eighth commandment (against stealing) affirms the right of private property (Exodus 20:15). God’s Word also affirms that there will be inequality for several reasons—including the fact that some will work harder or will be more skilled and should enjoy the fruits of their labors (Proverbs 10:4; 22:29). Those who have more will have the privilege of being good stewards of the wealth which God gives them (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
- The financial principles in the Bible were primarily suited for the pre-modern world. Some wrongfully assume that because Scripture was written thousands of years ago that it wouldn’t have much to say to a world with cryptocurrencies, complex worldwide banking systems, fiat money, sophisticated investment products, and much more. God’s Word speaks wisely and comprehensively to modern financial matters. The truth of Scripture is timeless (Isaiah 40:8) and equips us for every good work, including money matters (2 Timothy 3:17). The Bible helps us to understand how to wisely acquire money, spend money, avoid debt, and prepare for the future. Those who arrogantly ignore godly wisdom usually suffer the consequences (Galatians 6:7). Most importantly, God’s Word helps us to have a proper attitude toward our finances (Matthew 6:19-24).
- Those who trust God don’t need to worry about planning for their financial future. Some wrongly claim that Christian believers don’t need to save for the future or purchase insurance. Actually, God’s Word encourages us to plan for our future financial responsibilities (Proverbs 21:5).It is wise to be prepared for likely future expenses—which I believe would include retirement and major purchases. It also is wise to be prepared for possible catastrophic events—which I believe justifies the purchase of insurance (Proverbs 27:12). Building savings and purchasing insurance can be a way of showing love to others so that you will not be dependent upon them in your old age or in desperate need in case of major medical expenses.
Clearly, we must turn to God’s Word, and not our assumptions to find wisdom regarding our finances. As we consider what the Bible says about money we also are pointed to the gospel. Jesus made what many would regard as the worst financial mistake. Proverbs teaches that it is very foolish to make yourself liable for the debts of others (Proverbs 22:26-27). Yet that is exactly what Jesus did for us as He willingly became surety for the debt of our sin. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Praise God that He not only paid off our infinite debt, but also makes us rich with His perfect righteousness.