We’ve made it no secret on this blog that we are Christians who believe in God. We’ve also mentioned on occasion that our faith affects our view of money. But we’ve never actually shared how. So in this post today, I thought I’d share how my faith provides a framework through which I process my financial decisions. Perhaps you can resonate with some of these points, maybe you’ve got additional input that can help sharpen my thinking. I’d love to get your thoughts. I know whole books have been written on this subject, so I’ve distilled my thoughts into 10 brief points.
My Framework on Faith and Finance
- I believe God is the Creator of all things; therefore He is the Owner of all things.
- Consequently, everything that I “own” is actually given in trust from God, and I will ultimately be held accountable to Him for how I manage His assets. God owns the business, and He’s entrusted me as the manager.
- As a manager of God’s assets, my purpose ought to be aligned with His interests. My personal finances are not mine to spend only in gratifying myself. That would be embezzling God.
- The assets entrusted to my management during my tenure in this life are primarily for the accomplishment of God’s work on earth. That means the “overhead expenses” of operating my personal life should be kept at a reasonable level so as much of the means can be placed into God’s enterprises as possible.* (This is why we save the crumbs!)
- Tithes and offerings are like dividends that I’m obligated to return to the Owner. The 10% is my minimum obligation, because God owns 100% anyway. This is why we believe so much in giving generously. Not to mention, the giving also serves to remind me that I’m only a manager; stemming the tide of greed.
- Since it is God’s capital, my responsibility is to provide a healthy return on it for Him. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 illustrates what would happen if in the name of “capital preservation” I don’t provide Him any returns. (Hint: It doesn’t end well.)
- My obligation to God doesn’t increase or decrease with the amount of assets He’s given me to manage. 100% is still His, and I am still liable to provide Him a return no matter how small the sum. However, a greater amount of assets under management does involve a greater responsibility. As it’s written, to whom much is given, much is required. (Maybe that’s why God hasn’t seen it fit to give me $1 million!)
- Worse than not providing a return on God’s money is to operate my life irresponsibly resulting in a LOSS on the Owner’s capital. For example, overleveraging my life with debt, not saving for the future, living a high-risk lifestyle, not taking care of my health, etc. is not good!
- When my term of management is over (i.e. at the end of my life), I ought to return the assets back to the Owner and let Him decide what to do with it by giving it back to His work. It’s not about having the largest estate when I die!
- I believe in heaven and that God intends to bring me there when it’s all said and done. I also believe that my life down here is actually training for greater trusts He has in store for me up there. I can’t imagine any of the angels being lazy, unprofitable workers, so I want to develop my “A-game” now so I can fit in up there—whatever God ends up having me do!
This is the framework in which I operate when I consider the whole picture of my life and finances. I function as a manager of God’s capital so all of my life decisions, be they as seemingly insignificant as saving a few percentage points on gift cards or as massive as a career choice, are made within this context. It gives me reasons for why to save, it spurs me on to greater generosity, and most importantly it gives a clear sense of mission. Nevertheless, this framework still allows flexibility of application for different situations that may arise. I think everyone, regardless of their faith, would agree that true fulfillment in life always includes a positive worldview that involves self-control, self-discipline, and a genuine desire to accomplish good for others. I believe how we view and manage our personal finances is an excellent barometer of whether we are truly living that fulfilled life.
*It’s possible to follow this line of reasoning to an extreme where we relegate ourselves to living in a cardboard box because we need to give away all our money. The Biblical fact of the matter is that we should provide for the necessities of our household, and if we don’t, we are worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). The point is to lead a reasonable, moderate (frugal!) lifestyle that doesn’t deprive us or our dependents but yet still prioritizes the Owner.
What about you? How do your views on God affect your views on money? I’d love to hear that you think in the comments below.