By Jacqueline J. Holness
I don’t know about you, but I would rather think about doing unto my neighbor as I would have my neighbor do unto me than think about how I spend my money. Money management seems to be a personal and highly charged issue.
But the truth is, the Bible contains many verses about money and our attitudes toward it. In some cases, what we do with our money may reflect our values more than what we do for our neighbors. Therefore, we have to line up our money management practices with the Word of God.
Here are just a few verses in case you haven’t noticed them before or have conveniently “forgotten” them.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5).
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28).
“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).
Debt: A Way of Life?
It might seem these verses are some of the least known in the Bible because many of us live paycheck to paycheck and debt has become the American way. According to the American Payroll Association’s 2012 “Getting Paid in America” survey, about 68 percent of Americans would find it difficult to meet their current financial obligations if their next paycheck was delayed for a week. Also, the average American household has $7,193 in credit card debt, according to the latest statistics released from NerdWallet.com.
It would seem many Americans don’t consult the Bible regarding responsible money management. In fact, certain clichés more aptly communicate how many Americans seem to feel about this issue. One popular saying is, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” According to American culture, whoever has the most possessions at death has lived the American dream. Another is, “Buy now. Pay later.” In America, paying for something today is passé.
And then there is, “Everyone has debt.” It has become commonplace for us to think having debt is simply a byproduct of living in 21st century America.
Living Within Our Means
With growing concerns about financial security brought on by unemployment, fluctuating gas prices, healthcare costs, college education costs, and other issues, it would be tempting to believe responsible money management is for the wealthy only. But Washington Post financial columnist and author Michelle Singletary has debunked that myth.
According to Singletary, her grandmother raised her and her four siblings on about $13,000 a year. Still, before she passed away, her grandmother “owned her own home, had paid off a car loan, and had a beautiful collection of Sunday-go-to-meeting church hats and a savings account that supplemented her Social Security check and small pension.”
In her book Spend Well, Live Rich, (Ballantine Books, 2004), Singletary advocates avoiding malls. “I realized that every time I set foot in a mall, I came away with things I didn’t need and had no intention of buying.” Avoiding shopping and the mall when you don’t need something is a great way to be content with what you have as noted in Hebrews 13:5.
In A Girl and Her Money (Thomas Nelson, 2003), financial counselor Sharon Durling offers wise counsel about personal money management. Durling challenges us to “save up until it’s not a financial pinch to buy.” When Durling did not make much money, she bought only one expensive item a year. For example, one year she bought a bed. Saving before buying an expensive item is putting Luke 14:28 into practice.
Financial adviser and author Dave Ramsey learned the hard way about debt. Although he was worth millions in his 20s as a real estate investor, he was also heavily indebted and ended up declaring bankruptcy. In fact, he is so opposed to credit his organization does not accept credit card payments for any of his products. His way of doing business reflects his belief in Proverbs 22:7.
How often do you read the sage and practical money management advice freely dispensed in the Bible? It may be time to take another look.
Jacqueline J. Holness, a member of Central Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, is a correspondent for Courthouse News Service,
an online, national news service for attorneys. Contact Jacqueline at afterthealtarcall.com.