Ten Principles of Biblical Wisdom About Money, Debt, and Finances
“Many financial problems, for individuals, corporations and nations, are caused by violating basic principles of biblical wisdom.” So writes Jim Newheiser, biblical counselor and former financial consultant, in his brand new book Money, Debt, and Finances: Critical Questions and Answers. In forty concise chapters, Jim presents financial wisdom that is grounded in faithful biblical exegesis and rooted in sound theology.
Ten biblical principles are developed throughout the book.
- Private property rights are affirmed. The Ten Commandments forbid not only stealing your neighbor’s property, but even coveting what doesn’t belong to you (Exod. 20:15, 17). The story of King Ahab trying to take Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21) illustrates the reality that even a ruler does not have the right to take away a man’s property.
- Vocational and financial success comes through hard work and skill (Prov. 10:4; 22:29; 6:6–11). God has designed the economics of the world in such a way that you will be rewarded according to your effort and your ability. The way to get ahead is to acquire valuable skills and to work hard in your vocation.
- Get-rich-quick schemes are foolish and lead to poverty (Prov. 13:11; 29:19–20, 22). In every age there are people who try to circumvent God’s way of financial success by promising prosperity without hard work and skill. Such unwise and greedy schemes will sooner or later fail, thus increasing one’s financial woes.
- Wages and prices are to be equitable (Prov. 22:29; James 5:1–7). The concern for fair wages for laborers is not merely a modern phenomenon. God’s Word opposes the unjust oppression of the weak by those who possess economic power and requires that we treat others with fairness which goes beyond mere impersonal forces of supply and demand.
- An extravagant lifestyle will make you poor (Prov. 21:17). People will always be attracted to pursue possessions and experiences which are beyond their economic means. The enjoyment of these luxuries may be pleasant in the short term, but they will lead to severe financial difficulties in the long run.
- Going into debt (or cosigning for the debt of others) is foolish and can be financially ruinous (Prov. 22:7, 26–27; 28:43–44; 15:6; 6:1–5). Debt can be tantalizing. It can temporarily enable you to enjoy a standard of living which is way beyond your income. Corporations anticipate that they can increase their profits by financing their expansion through debt rather than equity. Governments have realized that spending on various programs is popular but that taxation is not, so they create massive amounts of debt. Debt greatly increases risk of financial disaster for families, corporations and governments. Sooner or later the bills must be paid.
- Saving for the future is wise (Prov. 6:8; Gen. 41:33–36). Those who are wise know that times of prosperity (for nations, corporations and families) are often followed by financial downturns, thus they exercise self-control in spending so that they can have reserves to ride out economic storms. They also put money aside for anticipated future expenses such as major purchases (house or car), education and retirement.
- We should honor God from our wealth, which includes having compassion upon the poor (Prov. 3:9; 19:17; Luke 12:21). We are stewards of the resources God gives us. We are to give to the work of his kingdom by faith and in proportion to how he has blessed 13 us. We also are to be concerned for the deserving poor among us, especially our earthly and spiritual families.
- Taxation is a reality of life (Neh. 5:4; Rom. 13:6–7; Luke 20:22). As long as human government has been in existence there have been taxes. These are not always fair. Nor do governments always spend our money wisely and justly. But we pay them, ultimately for the Lord’s sake.
- Wisdom thinks long-term and is willing to postpone gratification (Matt. 6:19–21). This general principle of wisdom applies to many areas of life, including our finances. Living frugally and saving will produce blessing in this life. Foregoing earthly pleasures and possessions for the sake of God’s kingdom will result in great blessing in the life to come.
*Today’s post is one of three from Jim Newheiser’s new book, Money, Debt, and Finances.