We deal with money every day. It’s part-and-parcel of our life on earth. Many times, it seems we have a love-hate relationship with it. Rather than us handling our money, it often handles us, putting stress in our lives. In fact, finances are one of the greatest sources of conflict in marriage.
The Bible has a lot to say about our attitude towards and use of money. What follows are seven practical, biblical principles regarding money management.
1. Keep Money in its Proper Perspective!
If we’re not careful, money can become the main motivator and focus in our lives. It can consume and control our every thought, motive, and action. In Matt. 6:24 (ESV), Jesus says, “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.”
Paul states, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world . . . For the love of money is root of all kinds of evils” (1 Tim. 6:6-7, 10a, ESV). The Hebrews writer admonishes, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5, ESV).
2. Earn Your Keep!
Don’t be lazy and irresponsible by mooching off others. Be responsible for making your own income by working hard. The apostle Paul warns against idleness. He describes how he and his colleagues labored for their own bread to set a good example. He asserts, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10, ESV).
3. Invest Your Money Wisely!
In other words, be a good and prudent steward of God’s blessings. Jesus thought it was wise for people to invest their money and earn interest rather than foolishly burying it in the ground (Parable of the Talents in Matt. 25:14-30). Let your money work for you and your family. Have a regular schedule of investing a consistent percentage of your income over the long haul (i.e., “dollar cost averaging”).
We glean financial wisdom from King Solomon. He recommends the following: (a) Saving consistently—little by little—over time (Prov. 13:11); (b) Diversifying your investments to minimize risk (Eccl. 11:2); (c) Investing ethically in a way that pleases God (Eccl. 12:13); and (d) Seeking good counsel (Prov. 15:22).
4. Don’t Live Beyond Your Means!
Avoid debt at all costs. Don't allow yourself to get so strapped financially, that you are beholden to others (including financial institutions). Credit cards can be a dangerous trap that gets people into a terrible financial bind unless they pay off their debt each month. Accruing exorbitant interest on what they owe catches people in a vicious cycle of ever-growing debt.
If you are married, commit to base your lifestyle on only one of your incomes. You never know when one of you may be laid off, become physically unable to work, or need to stay home to take care of family members.
Don’t buy too much house. A good rule of thumb is to not exceed a mortgage that is more than two years of income (for one partner if you’re married). Avoid taking out a second mortgage (or “home equity loan”) as it will cause you to be stuck if ever you need to sell your home and lack alternative collateral. Also, avoid financing expensive vehicles. They aren’t an investment. Save up and pay cash for an affordable automobile. Learn to be content with what you have (1 Tim. 6:6; Philip. 4:11-12; Rom. 13:8).
5. Be Ethical With Your Money!
Be honest with your financial and business dealings. Don’t steal from others, including the government (Eph. 4:28). Pay your taxes. Jesus commanded it because it’s the right thing to do (Matt. 22:17-21), as did Paul in Rom. 13:5-8.
6. Be Generous with What You Have!
Share your financial blessings with the church and others. We need to be careful not to become greedy with our possessions (1 Tim. 6:17-19, 1 Cor. 6:10). When it comes to generosity, we will reap what we sow (2 Cor. 9:6-7).
7. Trust in the Lord to Provide!
Don’t try to handle your finances on your own. Put your faith in the Lord to provide as you do your part. Jesus instructed his disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). God will take care of us financially and give us what we need because he loves us (Matt. 6:25-34).