This post is by Craig Ford on Christians and Personal Finance. Craig is a friend of mine and has a lot to offer in this area. Craig is a missionary in Alotau, Papua New Guinea. His years of ministry experience has provided valuable insight for helping Christians deal with their personal finances from a Biblical perspective. His blog www.moneyhelpforchristians.com provides daily personal finance advice from a Christian perspective.You can sign up for free daily articles via email.
Why Christians Need to Talk About Money More
I grew up believing that discussions about money carried a certain amount of ‘unholiness’. Those who are truly spiritual neglect such petty issues and instead focus on discussion of salvation, baptism, heaven, and hell. I assumed that the truly holy are those with minimal bank account balances. The man who squanders all his money on fast food, cars, and entertainment but has little in the bank is a man of God, while the man who saved, lived frugally, helped others, and has money in the bank is a heretic. I would be fine to accept my impressions if it were not the case that I know many others who carry the same thoughts about Christianity and money.
I recently taught a Bible class where I gave the class a set of words (each word on a piece of paper). I asked them to put the words into order of the frequency that those words appear in the Gospels. The words were Kingdom of God/Heaven, Love, Salvation, Baptism, Hell, Money, and Saved. You know the word that produced the most discussion (before I even introduced the class topic)? Money. “No, it goes near the top” one person said. “ No way, there isn’t much about money in the gospels,” another challenged. And then the discussion took off. Is it at the top or bottom? In reality, money was number three on the list behind Kingdom of God/Heaven and love.
My conclusion is: Christians need to talk about money more.
We need to know what the Bible does and does not say about money. We need a better understanding of the darker and lighter sides of money. We need to be challenged towards generosity. We need to be educated about earning, spending, giving, and managing money.
Here are eight reasons why Christians need to talk about money more often:
1. Jesus talked a lot about money. I believe Jesus talked about money because he knew money held inherent dangers for Christ followers. A way to combat those dangers was by teaching and reemphasizing a kingdom value regarding money.
2. When money is not addressed it will quietly and subtly consume us. Our natural selves are not good money managers. Biblical money management must be an intentional decision. We must ask ourselves: Am I handling my money in a way that honors God? Are my purchases reflective of my Christian values? Am I free from the love of money?
3. We are always learning about money management. Society is telling us how we should use our money, but is the church? Through osmosis we absorb teaching about money. If the church is silent, how will people learn to adopt a biblical view of money management? Paul exhorts us to be transformed instead of conforming (Rom. 12:2). Unfortunately, Ron Sider has shown that statistically Christians tend to conform in terms of how they handle money. See Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience,
4. Almost all of us have daily interactions with money. Christians have not withdrawn themselves from the interaction with money or use of money. Therefore, church ought to present biblical teachings and resources on how to appropriately earn, give, save, and spend money.
5. Money is a limited resource (at least on a personal level). Every dollar used to purchase one item is also a dollar that is not being used for another purpose. Money management requires spiritual discernment as we seek to determine how our funds ought and ought not to be spent.
6. It is not uncommon to hear that the single greatest sin in America is materialism. If that is the case, the church needs to be presenting a Godly view of money management and money ownership so that we can redirect Christians against the trend of materialism.
7. Compared to the world, God has different expectations of how Christians handle money. I outlined seven factors in a post entitled What is the difference between biblical finances and personal finances.
8. I believe money is a clear and present danger to Christianity. The more we openly discuss it, the more likely we are to avoid its dangers. Christians have the opportunity to use money in a way that is either spiritually destructive or a spiritual blessing for others to the glory of God.
In Ephesians 2:1-3 Paul characterizes an unregenerate life by the following characteristics: (1) Following the ways of this world. (2) Following the ruler of the kingdom of the air. (3) Gratifying the cravings of our own sinful self. How does the church combat these negative influences today? We preach about it, study about it, write about it, pray about it, and talk about it. But when it comes to finances, the church is often silent. When the church is silent I believe people naturally revert back to the influences outlined in Eph. 2:1-3. They follow the culture at large, the Devil, and satisfy themselves.