Money is a sensitive subject for many, even more so for Christians. However, all throughout the Bible, God gives the mandate that we should steward the gift of money in our lives wisely. Our writer breaks it down to four simple actions.
It’s not unusual that in the first quarter of the year, angpows and company bonuses start pouring in. While most people use these funds to refill their savings depleted by year-end travel expenses and Christmas gift-giving, others may use the funds to splurge on apparel, luxury items and gadgets or dine at fancy restaurants.
There may yet be others who don’t spend lavishly, but are clueless as to what to do with their money so they keep their fresh funds tucked away in the bank. Such behaviours occur among Christians and non-Christians alike, and it may seem reasonable for them to deal with the fruits of their labour in whatever manner they deem fit.
The topic of money is a sensitive one, particularly in church and among members of the congregation. In reality, the state of one’s finances reveals much more than meets the eye. It is not just about how much we earn or save, what we spend on or to whom we give. Your money tells the story of your life and the values and priorities you hold dear.
That is why Jesus talked so much about money. Interestingly, in the Bible, 16 out of 38 parables were about handling money and possessions. Howard Dayton, in his book Finances God’s Way, mentions that there are over 500 verses on prayer, and fewer than 500 on faith, but more than 2,350 verses that pertain to money and possessions.
Jesus dealt with money matters because money matters. Truth be told, it is linked to our spiritual life as Christians. How we handle our money paints a picture of the quality of our spiritual life.
Are our possessions drawing us closer to Christ or are they competing with the Lord?
Is God glorified in the way we use money (earning, spending, saving, investing, giving)?
Are people touched by God in the manner we steward God’s given resources?
So how do we manage money in ways that please God? To make it easy to remember, let’s use the most basic of mathematical symbols.
WHAT WE SHOULD SUBTRACT
Debts are some of the things we ought to reduce or totally get rid of. It’s also important to avoid getting into debt as much as possible. Yes, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free, but the Bible warns us of getting ourselves enslaved when we are deep in debts.
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. ~ Prov 22:7
Now there is such a term as “good debt”: that which you owe in exchange for something that increases in value over time, such as your home mortgage, business loan, student loan, etc. Nevertheless, good or bad, let us aim to achieve a debt-free life as we trust a debt-cancelling God. When extra cash comes, make it a point to reduce or fully pay outstanding debts significantly, especially the ones with the highest interest.
WHAT WE SHOULD ADD
Add to your savings. While bills have to be paid and expenses are constantly incurred, it is wise not to spend all of one’s income or profits. In the Old Testament, Joseph saved a fifth (20 percent) of the harvest of Egypt during seven years of abundance. When famine came, the result of all those savings astounded and rescued the rest of the world.
And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere. (Gen. 41:57)
Each time you add to your savings, you are increasing your purchasing power in the future. When needs arise, they remain at manageable levels. Plus, you can continue to be on the giving end and a blessing to others.
Saving doesn’t just take the form of keeping money in the bank. You can boost your savings without locking them long term through short duration bonds, treasury bills, fixed deposits or money markets. Capital is usually guaranteed but with a low interest (around 1 to 4 percent per annum).
WHAT WE SHOULD MULTIPLY
Multiply by investing. One saves to keep the money, but one invests to grow the money. How can you tell that you’re actually multiplying your money? When in the long term, the growth not only beats the inflation rate, but a lot more is gained on your capital.
A key element to this is compound interest, or simply put, an interest on interest. Depending on the type of investment, the rate of return can range from 3 to 9 percent per year. The higher the average, the faster your money grows.
Depending on our risk appetite and tolerance, how long an investment we can make, our financial capability and commitments, we can engage in various investment tools, whether moderately conservative, balanced or aggressive. The higher the return, the higher the risk one should be prepared for.
Main categories of investment products include stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs (exchange traded funds) and annuities. A property can be considered an investment when it is intended to generate income or be turned into profits when sold.
With so many avenues to grow one’s wealth, it is wise to seek professional advice from someone we trust, to customise investment solutions that are specifically suited to our needs. If you want to start small, spend some time studying the investment apps that let you invest even small amounts, such as StashAway, Syfe, Moomoo, Endowus etc.
WHAT WE SHOULD DIVIDE
What is the point of building wealth if not for it to last for generations? We may be transients here on earth and our eternal home is in heaven, but how we leave this life is reflective of how much of God we have in our being.
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. ~Prov 13:22
Rightfully distributing wealth and assets calls for intentionality and thoughtful planning. In financial terms, we call this estate planning and it involves determining how an individual’s wealth and assets ought to be preserved, managed and distributed while living and incapacitated or after death.
Not doing so can lead to many complications, including family disputes and unfulfilled dreams. The patriarchs of the Bible— Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—all made sure they did it, well knowing its lasting impact on their children and the generations that followed them.
This form of dividing may also mean allocating a portion of our income or assets to fund our children’s future education or ongoing financial support of loved ones. We also hear of individuals distributing their assets and insurance payouts to fund humanitarian and gospel work through various organisations.
SUBTRACT, ADD, MULTIPLY, DIVIDE
This may not be a comprehensive list but we hope it gives you an idea or inspires you to examine how we can better manage our money God’s way. (The principle of tithing was not touched on in this article because that is a command for us believers, and not a suggestion.)
The Parable of the Talents, along with other stories in the Bible, illustrate God’s ownership of our possessions and the importance of man’s stewardship of them. May our soon to come Master, Jesus, find a good and faithful servant in us.