The Scripture lays out many clearly defined principles of financial stewardship that if followed will bring greater peace of mind and stability.
Good Work Ethic
Christians are to be an industrious and hardworking people, not slothful in temporal affairs (Romans 12:11). Proverbs 24:30-34 details the field of the lazy man who does not tend well to his field. Through carelessness and inattention, the field did not yield a good harvest so poverty came. Christian stewards are to have a good work ethic and should work hard,
be on time, and do things at a high standard. A welfare mentality is contrary to Scripture.
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 states, “If any would not work, neither should he eat.” Paul commanded these people who were not working due to laziness to “work and eat their own bread.” From the fall of Adam, man was given a charge to work and eat bread from the sweat of his brow and the labor of his own hands.
Give to God First
When crops are harvested, wages are paid, or money is made from other endeavors, remember that it is the Lord’s. A good steward does not hoard the Lord’s money but spends it as instructed. It is God’s will that His stewards give freely and liberally to support the gospel work and the poor. “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee” (Deuteronomy 16:17). While tithing is an Old Testament doctrine, giving is an important part of stewardship. Stewards are to give cheerfully and willingly
(2 Corinthians 9:6-7), for the Lord said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Giving should be of the first fruit of our earnings and should be done with consistency and discipline, regardless of other financial demands.
Provide for Your Own Family
1 Timothy 5:8 gives clear guidelines on the responsibility of the man of the family. “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” While God should always be first in spending, a man is to spend his money to provide for the necessities of his wife and children. A man professing Christ who is spending money for other things and not providing for his family is worse than someone who has denied God altogether.
Honesty & Integrity
There are various ways to earn money, but a good steward is to do everything personally and in business with honesty and integrity.
“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches” (Proverbs 21:1b). There are many people in our world who make money though shady transactions or by taking advantage of others. This is not the Bible way. “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches…shall surely come to want” (Proverbs 22:16). Deuteronomy 25:13-15 teaches that the weight used to measure should be perfect and just. In other words, there should be honesty in all business and no undercover method of trying to cheat or deceive. Deceitful business practices are some of the quickest ways for a Christian to mar his own reputation and the reputation of God’s people in a community.
Pay Bills and Laborers
It is further incumbent upon a faithful steward
to make all effort to pay wages and bills for services in full and on time. Jeremiah 22:13 and Leviticus 19:13 warn against defrauding thy neighbor by not paying the wages for the services and work he was hired to perform. It is robbery to hire someone to do a job or to use services (i.e. electric and water) and not pay the bill. “The hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered in the ears of the Lord” (James 5:4). Christian living and honesty dictate this basic principle of financial stewardship.
The top white-collar crime in some countries is cheating on paying the taxes the government requires. The Bible addresses this clearly and it is non-negotiable for the Christian steward. Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:21). He was speaking about the necessity of paying taxes to the secular government. Romans 13:7 further supports this by instructing the saints to pay “tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom.” A Christian is to pay that which the government demands within the legal parameters of the government itself.
Romans 13:8 says, “Owe no man anything, but to love one another.” Contextually, the Bible does not absolutely forbid borrowing but teaches that all financial debts must be paid when they are owed. The debt of love is one debt that can never fully be repaid. Multiple scriptures regulate but do not prohibit debt and borrowing. The scripture does clearly warn about the danger of borrowing. Debt can cause much stress to the debtor and will affect the joy and peace of the child of God. Therefore, debt and money do become spiritual issues. Proverbs 22:7 states, “The borrower is servant to the lender.” Many people are enslaved to debt and are bound up with money problems. It is God’s will for His children to be set free from such enslavement. Freedom from debt comes by making a concerted effort to do all possible and sacrifice in order to pay down the debt and remain free from its servitude. If a Christian owes money, they are to pay back the debt regardless of the time it takes. It is the wicked who borrow and do not pay back the loan (Psalms 37:21).
Debt is a trap of the enemy and many souls have been lost over poor financial decisions. Debt is often incurred by spending more than one possesses for items that are too extravagant or unnecessary. Pride, greed, and envy drive the consumerism in this generation and credit cards and debt are to be used with great caution if at all. Many young couples want to have the same possessions that Dad and Mom have without the long years of work and they go into debt to that end. It is a trap of the enemy and young people should be very careful of this financial quagmire. When people are in debt, not only is their joy and peace at stake, but they then do not have the resources to give as freely to the Lord’s work. God wants our spending habits to be disciplined and our lifestyle one of modesty and simplicity, even if we can afford the grander things of this life.
Plan & Budget
Jesus spoke about the importance of counting the cost before building lest there not be enough funds to finish (Luke 14:28-30). Herein is contained a very basic and fundamental lesson of financial stewardship. It is wise to have a financial plan and budget for spending, giving, and saving in accordance with income. It is helpful to write down income and expenses and physically take stock to better manage the finances. Many people are careless in their management and do not know their financial state or condition. “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds” (Proverbs 27:23). Knowledge and information equip for better decision making. Budgeting and planning are important for both the rich and the poor.
Save & Invest
Saving and investing have at times been spoken of as a lack of faith, but God’s Word clearly teaches the importance of saving for the future. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.…[She] provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). God’s instruction to Pharaoh in Egypt was to save during the times of plenty to prepare for the time of famine (Genesis 41:34-36). The wise save and invest knowing there will come a time when the aged cannot work and income will be at a minimum. Some years the harvest is plentiful and other years are lean, thus it takes planning and saving to prepare for that variance.
Jesus told the parable of the man who sold all he had to purchase a treasure in the field. Jesus was using the financial principle of investing to illustrate a spiritual point (Matthew 13:44-46). He again used a similar point in the parable of the talents when one man hid his talent in the ground and did not even invest it with the money changers to make interest. It is wise to save money and invest it long-term that through compound interest more money can be available for the lean years. The best time to save and invest is as young as possible. There will always be ways to spend money, but it is a wise person who with consistency lays aside a portion for the future.
While money is necessary and should be handled in a godly way, the Bible also gives many warnings concerning our attitude toward it. Riches do not satisfy (Ecclesiastes 5:10) and a Christian should not trust in “uncertain riches, but in the living God” (1 Timothy 6:17-18). While Christians should practice good financial stewardship, their hearts and love should not be after the riches of this life nor for the things of this world (1 John 2:15-17). “Beware of covetousness” (Luke 12:15) and know that riches can be deceitful and choke out the Word of God (Matthew 13:22). The true treasure is found in Christ Jesus and our primary purpose and goals should be centered around Him. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
Trust in God
Christians should put their trust not in the things of this world but in the living God. The heavenly Father knows what we have need of and will take care of His children (Matthew 6:19-33). While this does not negate sound financial principles, the Christian’s heart and mindset toward money is different than the people of the world. The Christian must recognize the proper role and function of money and possessions while still having a heart of trust and faith in God Himself. The child of God should learn to be content (Philippians 4:11-13) and rest in the knowledge that “God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
May the Lord bless each child of God to take to heart the lessons and wisdom of these biblical principles of financial stewardship. Some in pursuit of the world and some in pursuit of righteousness have neglected these principles and have suffered spiritually and financially. While poverty or riches is not an indication of spirituality, a person’s stewardship is reflective of their obedience to the Word of God. A blessing awaits to those who will follow wholeheartedly the Scripture on these issues. If we are not faithful with money and things of this world, how can God trust us with the true riches of the kingdom of God? (Luke 16:11)