What if God’s view of money is a little different than Dave Ramsey’s?*
Who would you follow?
I think most Christians don’t realize how counter-cultural Biblical teaching is.
One of these areas is money. It’s become passé or even inappropriate to talk about money in church over the last 20 years.
In comical contrast the Bible talks about wealth and what to do with it a lot!
So, I find myself at the first point of tension. Something addressed so frequently in the Bible is addressed very infrequently in the church… unless there is a building project. 😉
But what are we supposed to DO with our resources?
I am working towards teaching a stewardship series in the next few months and I want to do my best to figure out what the Bible actually says about money. I would love your help! So far here is what I am finding while comparing popular (Christian I might add) books about money with the Bible.
- Most don’t work to understand what the Bible actually says in full context, they work to find selected verses out of the Bible that support a pre-determined belief.
- We tend to think we own what we have control over. We far too often forget that we will have EVERYTHING material taken away from us and will be held accountable for how we managed it. Even our bodies.
- Those that do study the Bible don’t spend enough time on meta ideas. What does the larger narrative teach? This is why I won’t list specific scriptures until the end. In this article I will talk about the overarching ideas about money, generosity, work, and philanthropy.
C.S. Lewis seems like a decent voice to start a conversation about the overall Biblical concept of money. So, I will let him speak up first.
In the passage where the New Testament says that everyone must work, it gives as a reason “in order that he may have something to give to those in need.” Charity—giving to the poor—is an essential part of Christian morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats it seems to be the point on which everything turns. -C.S. Lewis
• Here is the actual Biblical meta instruction. All should work AND all should be giving to people in need.
• Moreover, generosity isn’t an optional subsect of Christianity, it is in the DNA of Christianity.
• Are you doing your best to work?
• Are you giving to those in need? (We will talk about the amount in a minute.)
Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce this kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality. -C.S. Lewis
• Is it wrong to establish a society that has a culturally wide means of helping those in need? No. That’s fine and does honor God.
• Does this excuse Christians from participating in directly giving to the poor? No.
• Moreover, after examining the scripture C.S. Lewis seems to believe a Christian that doesn’t live generously towards the poor isn’t really a Christian.
• Do you use state-based charity to excuse yourself from giving PERSONALLY to those in need?
I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. -C.S. Lewis
• One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is what am I willing to live on? Then ask God to bless you far beyond that in your work for the purpose of generosity. Contrary to popular Christian books, Lewis doesn’t think we are to keep up with our income peers.
• Do you live a lifestyle BELOW your income for the purpose of GIVING IT AWAY?
Most Christian financial advisors have two flawed presuppositions that I can see:
- “The goal is to save for retirement.” I know this will be unpopular, but I don’t see retirement supported Biblically. If retirement means self-indulgence or ”finally living for me.” Am I wrong? I don’t think we are to “coast” at all in this life. If retirement is financial freedom to serve in another capacity that may be different.
- “You deserve what you have.” Nope, it’s a gift from God. Even the talent to get what you have is a gift. You could have been born into poverty in India or been born with a severe mental disorder. Everything you have is a gift from God to be used to make Jesus famous and usher His ways into this world.
Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics) (p. 86). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
Here are a few verses that deal with generosity. Remember to read them in FULL context.
1 Timothy 6:17-19; Luke 12:33; Matthew 6:21; Malachi 3:10; Ecclesiastes 5:10; Romans 13:8; Psalm 37:16-17; Proverbs 13:11; Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 6:24; Exodus 22:25; 1 Timothy 6:10; Deuteronomy 23:19; Matthew 19:21; Proverbs 17:16
*I don’t necessary think Dave Ramsey is bad. We even teach it at our church. FPU is so much better than typical American financial management. I am just curious how FPU (and other financial methods) stack up against the Bible directly.