5 Biblical Financial Principles to Live By

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Have you ever seen those late night shows that promise success if you follow “five simple principles”? Or, how about the thousands of books that promise to change your life in five easy steps. Unfortunately the majority of these principles are not founded on Biblical principles and are doomed to fail.

With our economy in the tank, people borrowing from their retirement, and so many mortgage defaults – you’d think we as a nation have given up on fundamentally sound financial principles. But maybe not. Maybe, just maybe, we have strayed from Biblical principles that made this country great in the first place.

I want to share with you five core financial principles that I have built my personal finances around. All five principles come straight out of the Bible. I really believe that if you follow these, God will bless you. Let’s get started:

1. God is not a fan of debt

No one likes debt, not even God. Want to see amazing things happen in your spiritual life? Get out of debt and watch things happen. The Bible is clear on the topic of debt. Check out Proverbs 22:7, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” I don’t know about you, but this does not sound like a fun situation to be in. Don’t get into the habit of buying now and paying later. Not only will it get you into trouble but it’s flat out unbiblical.

2. Contentment is key

Contentment is huge for anyone’s personal financial life. The moment you start coveting, you get yourself into trouble. Take someone who purchase an older model BMW and can clearly afford it. They’re driving down the road one day and see a brand new model of their car. They covet, take out an even bigger loan and get the newer model. This is such an unhealthy way of living your life! I see this all too much in California. God was onto something when He said “You shall not covet your neighborís house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

3. Start saving, it makes God smile

God loves it when His children save their money instead of squandering it. I love how Proverbs 21:20 puts it, “There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.” Don’t get caught up in buying the latest gadgets or incessantly upgrading things unnecessarily. Start to think in terms of saving instead of spending. Above all, you need to start thinking about your money as God’s money. At the end of the day it’s all His anyway so spend wisely, and save often.

4. Create a budget and follow it

This seems like a simple concept, but the average person (myself included) can’t stand budgets. Once you get used to budgeting and setting limits on your spending, it becomes second nature and everything else takes of itself. Living life without a budget is stupid. It’s just not a wise use of the Lord’s resources. It sounds harsh, but I think God wants us to keep accurate records so we can see where we stand each month. Foolishly living without a budget is a lose-lose situation. If you are completely lost, check out Mint.com to help you get started.

5. Work hard, really hard

Believe it or not, work is a good and holy thing! It’s part of God’s amazing plan for our lives. Check out any work related verse in Proverbs and you’ll notice that people who work have bread on the table and those who choose to be lazy often live a life of poverty. It’s hard to keep this black and white during the current recession, but I’m a firm believer that if you are willing to work hard, there will always be a job for you. It just might not be your first pick! At the end of the day, working hard glorifies God.

Center your finances around these Biblical principles and you will save yourself from a world of hurt. Remember to give your best to God first, live within your means, and save your money. Part of this journey is trusting in God with everything, including your finances. Once you get a taste of the joy that is to come, you will never go back to your old ways.

Jon Elder paid his way through college and enjoys living a debt free life.  Read more about his passion for conquering finances, learning to live a frugal lifestyle, and glorifying God with financial decisions on his website Free Money Wisdom.

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1 Brad

You are right on, contentment is absolutely the key. Great stuff in this post!

2 Jon | Free Money Wisdom

Thanks Brad! It’s all about contentment. I think all too often we get American ideology mixed up with our Christian faith. Jesus looked nothing like the average American today! That says a lot.

3 Justin

#4 is clearly not a Biblical principle. Where does the Bible make mention of anyone keeping track of all their spending or living by a budget? What we need to do is listen to God about our expenditures as they come, not predetermine how He will want me to spend/use my resources each month.

The fact that you have no Scripture for this one makes it clear that it’s a cultural preference rather than a Biblical truth.

4 Candice

The error in your judgement on this subject is that omission does not equal non-existance. When you discount the entire argument because there is one scripture missing, you have “thrown the baby out with the bathwater,” so to speak.

The Bible does not specifically say the word “budget”, but then again, “budget” wasn’t used to connotate fiscal activities until the 18th century.

However, over and over the Bible talks about “trustworthy stewards” who know where their money and belongings are, and often references foolish managers who mismanaged their lord’s money (lord as in landowners, not Christ.) Here are some:

1 Corinthians 4:2: Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.

Proverbs 27:23: Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds,

I could go on, but I want to keep your attention.

Finally, Jesus tells an entire story about a dishonest manager who mismanaged his employer’s money in Luke 16. It ends with this:
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”

5 Matt Jabs

Justin, so you’re saying budgeting is not wise – interesting position. I’m interested to hear how our stewardship can be improved without keeping track of how we use the resources. I think if you elaborate a bit more on your position of “listening to God as it comes” will help people better understand your position. Thanks for helping and God bless.

6 Justin

@Candice. All of that is fine and I agree with those Scriptures, but it’s a stretch to take those Scriptures and try to build a case that it means we need to live by a budget. We do need to live within our means and not go into debt, but by saying that we need to pre-plan how we will spend our money is not leaning on God and listening to His voice IN THE PRESENT!

7 Candice

I don’t know many people who can live within their means without planning where their money will go ahead of time.

Perhaps this isn’t “Biblical” in the strictest its-clearly-defined-in-the-Scriptures, but it *is* common sense and I’d like to think God gave me a brain to figure out what is wise and unwise without Him having to spell it out.

Additionally, planning is not the same as doing, and using our money impulsively is not leaning on God nor having faith in Him. I find that when I plan where my money goes, I use it more wisely, spend less on stuff I don’t need, and I end up having more money to spend.

Our job to obey God is separate from this – obviously if God told me to take my planned out money and spend it elsewhere, it would be wisdom to obey!

8 Jon | Free Money Wisdom

I’m with Candice on this one. My view is clearly not a “cultural” one. it is derived out of the Bible. The verses she mentioned clearly back up my statement that we ought to be good stewards with out money and follow a budget. What’s another option, not following your budget and going into debt? That doesn’t sound Biblical to me.

Jesus followed a budget and lived within his means as a Carpenter. God gives us freedom to manage his resources. Simply “waiting” on God for him to speak to us is foolishness and will get you into tons of financial trouble.

Just my 2 cents!

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