Financial Convictions in the Five Uses of Money

New years are full of new convictions. Whether it is eating better, working out more or spending more time with God, most people think about doing things “better” than they did the year before. Money is an area in which we can all do better. Understanding the why behind any change is the key to success and longevity. Why do you want to eat better? Why do you want to spend more time with God? And why do you want to handle your money better?

If the answer is, “I know I should,” then your resolve will soon dry up. None of us do well in consistently living into the things we know we “should” do, but don’t want to do. So how do we make a change? First, it will take time to move from “I know I should” to “I want to.” But the first step in this process is knowing why you want to move from should to want. Simply put, you need to be certain in your conviction if you are going to change. It needs to be bigger than an abstract idea, it needs to be grounded in something deeper.

This year, as you think about changes you want to make with money, I want to challenge you to write down your convictions in five broad uses for money: giving, saving, paying taxes, repaying debt and living. These five uses cover all the ways you can spend money and the Bible has quite a bit to say on each of them. Knowing that the Bible talks a lot about these topics, I believe it is worthwhile for each of us to be able to state what the Bible says and how we will live that out in each area of spending.

I had a unique opportunity this past summer to get a head start on this exercise. I taught a seminary class called “Modeling and Teaching Personal Finance at Wesley Seminary.” As a part of the class, each student had to develop his or her convictions in each of the five uses of money. This exercise proved to be moving for me as an instructor as I could see how the whole witness of the Bible informed the students’ convictions. This is how each of us must develop convictions. Too often I see people develop convictions on uses of money based on single verses (Proverbs is particularly used this way) while ignoring the rest of Scripture that informs those verses. When developing convictions on money (like any other topic), the whole Bible must inform us.

To give you a head start in thinking about your convictions, I am going to lay out below a few of my personal convictions in each of the five areas. I don’t have space to lay out each of my convictions in these areas, but these will give you an idea of what I am talking about. We should all know how and why we want to be spending our money — this is the only way we will ever make lasting changes.

  1. Lifestyle Convictions. God is my provider. He has provided me with everything I need in Christ,[1] and has promised to provide me with all of my physical needs when I seek first his kingdom.[2] The lifestyle I have today is the lifestyle God has given me and with that, I will be extravagantly grateful[3] and content.[4] My lifestyle will be a reflection of what I love most and will lead me to love those things even more.[5] My lifestyle should be thought about in light of eternity and with care for those who have much less.[6] My lifestyle should bring glory to God and stand out as an example for other people to see.[7] My lifestyle desires and any wealth I attain will turn me away from God unless I am intentionally and radically generous.[8] Greed and covetousness (the desire for more) in my life should be avoided by any means necessary since they prevent me from coming to God,[9] lead me to hate God[10] and lead to my ruin and destruction.[11] Material wealth without extraordinary spiritual wealth will keep me from God[12] and prevent me from seeking the kingdom of heaven.[13]                                                                                                                                                  
  2. Giving Convictions. Everything we have is God’s and so giving is simply our faithful distribution of God’s resources according to his will.[14] Giving is an assumed practice of every godly person in the Bible but giving without other obedience is worthless – it is like ritual without repentance.[15] Giving should be the first thing we do out of any increase in our wealth and it should be done in proportion to our prosperity[16] beginning with the tithe (as the standard required of the poorest of Israelites).[17] My giving will be first to my local church, then to support Christians in persecution,[18] missionaries[19] and those in great need (poor, widows, orphans).[20] When I fail to give to support Christians in persecution and those in great need, I am demonstrating that I do not know God or understand his grace.[21] When the church gives as it should, the result is that there are no needy people in the body of Christ.[22]
  3. Saving Convictions. Saving for the future is wise,[23] but must be done carefully and intentionally. Saving should only be done for a specific purpose and with a limited period in mind.[24] My savings have the very real danger of turning my heart away from God as I will be tempted to put my trust in them instead of him, which leads me to hate God — saving too much will destroy my faith.[25] The best place (with the best return) to invest and save is in eternity.[26] All of our resources invested in anything other than God’s kingdom purposes will one day be lost to us.[27] God calls us to renounce all we have when we follow him, which for some includes giving everything away,[28] and so decisions between saving and giving should consider this.[29]
  4. Debt Convictions. Christians should owe no one anything[30] and must understand that when they borrow money, they are presuming on future income,[31] becoming a slave to the lender[32] and removing the opportunity to learn to rely on God as their provider.[33] Furthermore, God is the one who determines my lifestyle based on my current situation and not my ability to borrow from a lender.[34]
  5. Tax Convictions. Christians should pay taxes that the government requires. Paying taxes is the result of having income, so I should be grateful when I pay taxes that I can work.

What are your convictions? What changes will you make to your current way of spending money based on these convictions? Every spending decision we make has a spiritual component to it. All of our uses of money have the opportunity to bring God glory. Let’s be intentional about how we use our money!

[1] Hebrews 13:5, Philippians 4:11-13, 18-20, 1 Timothy 6:3-10, 17-19

[2] Luke 12:31, Matthew 6:33

[3] 1 Timothy 4:4, 6:17

[4] Hebrews 13:5, Philippians 4:11-13

[5] Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:32-34

[6] Isaiah 58:7, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

[7] 1 Timothy 6:17-19

[8] 1 Timothy 6:3-10, 17-19

[9] 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, Colossians 3:5, Ephesians 5:5, Jude 11, 1 John 2:15-17

[10] 1 John 2:15-17; Luke 16:13

[11] 1 Timothy 6:3-10; 1 John 2:15-17

[12] Mark 8:34-37, Revelation 3:15-20

[13] Luke 6:24-25, Luke 18:18-30, Matthew 19:23, 1 Timothy 6:17-19

[14] Psalm 24:1, Matthew 25:14-30

[15] 1 Samuel 15:22, Proverbs 21:3, Isaiah 1:11, Hosea 6:6, Acts 5:1-10, 1 Corinthians 13:3

[16] 1 Corinthians 16:2, 2 Corinthians 8:3

[17] Deuteronomy 14:23, Matthew 23:23

[18] Numbers 31:28-30, Deuteronomy 14:28-29, 2 Kings 12:4, Galatians 6:6, 1 Tim. 5:17-18, Acts 2:44-45, Romans 15:26-27, Heb. 13:16, Matthew 25:31-46

[19] Deuteronomy 14:22-27, Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 8:3, 3 John 1:5-8

[20] Leviticus 19:9-10, 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-21, Deuteronomy 14:28-29, Isaiah 58:6-10, Matthew 5:42, Galatians 2:10, Romans 12:20, James 1:27

[21] Jeremiah 7:4-7, Matthew 25:41-46, Luke 16:22-26, James 2:14-17

[22] Acts. 4:3, Galatians 6:1-10

[23] Proverbs 27:23-27

[24] Genesis 41:34-36, Proverbs 6:6-8, Proverbs 21:20, Luke 14:28-29

[25] Jeremiah 48:7, 49:4-5; Proverbs 11:28; Luke 12:13-21, 1 Timothy 6:10, Exodus 20:15, Isaiah 5:8, Luke 12:13-21, James 5:1-5

[26] Matthew 6:19-21, Luke 12:32-34, Matthew 19:16-26, Mark 10:17-27

[27] Matt 6:19-20

[28] Mark 6:8, Luke 9:1-3, 10:1,4-7, Luke 12:32-34, Matthew 19:16-26, Mark 10:17-27, Matthew 6:25-34, Luke 5:11

[29] Luke 5:11, 9:1-3, 10:1, 4-7, 12:22-31, 12:32-34

[30] Psalm 37:21, Romans 13:8, 1 Corinthians 7:23

[31] Micah 6:8, James 4:13-16

[32] Nehemiah 5:1-5, Proverbs 17:18, Romans 13:8

[33] Genesis 3:21, Psalm 34:10, Matthew 6:31-32, Luke 12:24

[34] 1 Timothy 6:8, Matthew 6:33, Philippians 4:11-13

Financial contributor: Michael Blue serves as the executive director and general counsel for The Ron Blue Institute for Financial Planning.

Executive editor: Russ Gunsalus

Curator of content: Dave Higle