As I go about my day, the topic of money inevitably comes up in a given conversation. Money is on everyone’s mind…and being a Christian is no exception. If you want to get a Christian’s quills up in a hurry just bring up the topic of money. Everyone has their own personal feelings about money and how it should be use, but Christians seem to be conflicted about what is “good” or “bad” in the eyes of the Lord.
From what I understand about money, it is neither good nor evil (it is an amoral object). Money is a tool that can be used to Glorify the Father or used to put your focus on selfish desires. The problem is we all have to use money…and because we have to use it, we should learn how and when to use the money we’ve been given and how to be good stewards that honor the Lord.
However, we are constantly tempted to put our trust elsewhere other than God. This is the work of Satan and he is fighting diligently to get us distracted from God. And trusting in anything besides God is idolatry. Everyone is very prone to piling up possessions and savings and investments (which are not bad pursuits), but we often do this so we can feel safe and secure without having to trust in God (which is an issue of the heart). I feel like as humans we want to just cling to that control and self-sufficiency. In the eyes of the Lord, He is always concerned more about your motives and where your heart is in any given circumstance. If savings, investments, college funding, pinching pennies or even serving yourself become an idol…then that is an issue…and the Lord is faithful to convict us of such sins (if our hearts are not seared with sin and rebellion against the Lord).
If you’re struggling with the topic of money, let me encourage you with the fact that you are not alone. You may find the following lists helpful (one is valid reasons for Christians to save and invest…the other includes some reasons not to invest).
Valid Reasons to Save and Invest
• To be good stewards. (It’s all on loan to us from God.)
• To learn to defer gratification.
• To provide for our family’s needs. (ie: college, a home, etc.)
• To become more effective long-term givers.
• To prepare for our own retirement needs. (This is a loving thing to do…so your kids, the church or society won’t have to provide for you and you won’t add an additional strain on their budget because you were not doing your part.)
Some Reasons Not To Invest
• To build a personal empire. (Remember, He who dies with the most toys—is still dead—and has a date with God to discuss how he used the blessings God loaned him.)
• To achieve “happiness.” (Money does not guarantee happiness. Surveys show that 80% of lottery winners are unhappier after they win than they ever were before they won.)
• Out of fear and a lack of trust in God’s ability to provide. (This has been my own personal stumbling block. Far too many of my money decisions over the years have been fear and worry based. Thankfully God is helping me understand that no amount of money can guarantee true security.)
I believe there is a proper and appropriate place for saving and investing some of your money. The Bible talks about it in Scripture…so you have to understand that He is concerned about this topic (or at least has thought about it way before you were born). “He who gathers in the summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in the harvest is a son who acts shamefully.” (Proverbs 10: 5) “Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline…” (Proverbs 13: 18) To help you determine your motive for money in a given situation, I found a “Greed-O-Meter” test. Maybe you will find this little three-point checklist helpful. Try asking yourself these three questions about the money you are saving and investing: Why do I want it? What’ll I do with it? What’ll I do to get it?
So, when does a healthy interest in investing become something less…something that is cancerous to the soul? I can’t tell you the answer to that questions because it’s a very personal decision and a matter of heart and prayer. At some point a healthy interest in investing can morph into a lust for more and more…and at some point a savings plan can become an excuse for not trusting in God’s ability to supply all our needs. I am reminded of the verses found in 1 Timothy 6:6-25 (emphasis mine)…which I absolutely love!!!
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses…Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.“
Lesson? For me, it means to pursue Jesus in all things. And in that, He will ask me to make a reasonable effort in being prudent and wise in my decisions (Proverbs 27:12 “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”), and He desires me to set aside some of today’s plenty for a time in life when things are less fruitful (see story of Joseph in Genesis 41:46-57). Also, God might call me to give all my money away to someone…yes, the money that I worked so hard for and was disciplined enough to save up and invest (because that will show me where my heart really lies in the end). However, while I am saving, it is wise to not obsessive over market movements or obsess over techniques to squeeze more income. If my sense of safety and security tracks the economy then maybe my trust is in my idols and not in my Lord.
So, there is not a black and white answer as to whether or not Christians should save, invest or work diligent to provide your children with college savings. The Bible is full of examples of balance…save for a raining day and yet don’t put your trust in that savings…your salvation is only through faith in Christ and yet you still need to serve others…work diligently for the Lord and yet drop everything you’re doing and follow Christ. When you look at the whole of Scripture, some verses seem to contradict each other…and in all reality they point us to a dependency on Christ.
There is no formula. There is no road map to follow for all decisions in life. This is just a reminder to constantly examine your heart (which you must understand is deceitful above all things) as to where your trust is and where your idols might be. You must constantly seek the Lord…because He is willing to guide you through any issue you are wresting with. He wants your heart…not your sacrifices, efforts or savings accounts. But there is great wisdom in Scripture that advise everyone to not have debt and to put money away in savings. Here are a collection of some of my favorite verses regarding the subject of money…hope they help.
“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.”
“And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.”
“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.”
“Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”
“…if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.”
“‘Woe to the rebellious children,’ says the Lord, ‘Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin.'”
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
1 Timothy 5:8
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
“The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.”
“Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
“Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”
“When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase…”
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.”