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Magazine Ridicules Biblical Finance

Q. My friend gave me an article from Money Magazine (June 09) that seems to poke fun at Christians who depend upon God for their finances. I wonder how I should respond to it?


Christians Singled Out

We were curious so we looked up that article. It's called, "The Price of Faith: Three Families, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Grapple with the Financial Challenges of Staying True to their Beliefs." It does seem only the Christian family was slightly ridiculed for their beliefs.

Why are we not surprised by this? (It stands to reason that from fear the author might refrain from ridiculing Muslims and it isn't politically correct to attack the Jewish faith. So that leaves us - Christians - once again to be falsely maligned by a biblically illiterate author). Let's look at the reasons why this author is misguided:

Quotes from Article

Quoting from the second and third paragraphs of the article it says,

…"But both spouses felt a certain righteousness in their financial struggles, believing the Bible teaches that wealth can distract one from God. Kent, the son of a pastor, cites Jesus' parable of a rich man who wants to build bigger storehouses to hold his wealth, only to be called a fool by God, who says he will die that very night. 'I grew up thinking that wealth was to be avoided,' says Kent. 'My mistake.'"

…"After spending years avoiding wealth and trusting that God would somehow provide, they now suspect they've endangered their family's financial future by not working harder to avoid poverty."

The final paragraph concludes,

"'We used to feel that if we just did our jobs using the gifts God gave us, we would be taken care of financially,' says Kent. Now they know it's up to them to take care of themselves."

(Mannes 2009, 94-95)

Article's Solutions

The solution provided for the Christian family is to "set smart priorities" by beefing up their emergency fund, to begin a retirement account and to allow their kids to pay for 70% of their own college education. They should "stick tight to a budget" by cutting spending. Finally, they should lower their estimation of how much they can afford for a new home.

OK. That's the summary.

Our response to such an article is a plea to Christians to develop "tougher skins" and understand what the bible truly says about subjects relevant to our daily lives.

Bible Advises us to "Set Smart Priorities"

For example, it is astonishing that 2,000 to 3,000 years before this author was born the Bible said we should save for emergencies and "set smart priorities."

"Go to the ant,
O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be
which, having no chief,
officer or ruler,
prepares her food in the
and gathers her provision
in the harvest."

(Proverbs 6:6-8)

Biblical Admonition to "stick to a budget"

3,000 years ago we were advised not to devour everything we save and to "stick tight to a budget:"

"There is precious treasure
and oil in the dwelling
of the wise,
But a foolish man
swallows it up."

(Proverbs 21:20)

Biblical Advice to "Price the House Right"

2,000 years ago the Apostles Paul and John told us to "price the house right" by lowering our sights and to be more content with the basics:

"If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (1 Timothy 6:8).

"Do not love the world nor the things in the world" (1 John 2:15).

In other words, Christians do not live for "stuff." We live for God. Any "stuff" we have is owned by God anyway: "'The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,' declares the LORD of hosts" (Haggai 2:8).

Having Money isn't Wrong

Besides, the Bible never says that having money or being wealthy is wrong or evil. It does clearly distinguish between "having" riches and "loving" money. "The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10). What the Bible does say is that we are not to put our trust in our riches to make us happy or fulfill our destiny.

Blessed are the Poor?

Jesus' quote, "Blessed are the poor" found in Luke 6:20 is usually misinterpreted. The "poor" here does not refer to an economic class. Instead, the complete understanding comes from Matthew 5:3 which clarifies, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." It really means blessed are those who trust in God and do not rely on their own strength, because in the end their own strength will fail them.

Wealthy Christian families are told this instead: "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share…" (1 Timothy 6:17-18).

This quote presumes that there are wealthy Christians existing within the church. It is understood. They are not told to give up their wealth. Instead, they are advised to fix their hope and identity upon the Lord. They are to share with those who have need.

Low Paying Jobs

Finally, the Bible never commands Christians to work in low paying jobs as a kind of self imposed poverty. That is a misnomer. If a Christian decides to acquire teaching skills to work for a low paying Christian school it is his own personal choice.

If he has teaching skills he may also choose to work in a public school where he is paid a traditional salary with benefits. The pastor of a small church on a tight budget might need to repair cars or tutor as he can. After all, the Apostle Paul engaged in tent-making to supplement his evangelistic travels (Acts 18:3).

Slaves to Idols

The idea is not to work in a job to which you become a slave or it becomes an idol. A career is not that which defines a person. It is his or her position in Christ which gives us our real identity.

Funding College

Asking children to help fund their college education is a necessity in today's world. Besides, your children will be better off for it. Staying home for a few years while attending a community college is a far better option than being thrown into dormitory-living at a major university. (Ask those who have graduated what they think about their experiences).

But, there is a warning here, too… it is a well known statistic that up to 80% of young men and women who enter college deny or compromise their faith by the time they graduate.

Ouch…That is something to think about. Maybe we should consider arming our children with knowledge of their Bible and grounding in good apologetics before they face the campus!


Relying upon God

Relying upon God for our needs doesn't mean we should be dumb about it. Christians should become the best they can be and do everything as if the Lord is their employer. "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…" (Colossians 3:23).

Even the birds "work" for what they eat. God gives them instincts to forage for their food. But, they work hard overturning leaves, being little busy-bodies flitting about finding insects and providing for their young.

To rely upon God means that we train to be the best we can be, work hard at our jobs whether low paying or abundant, and concentrate our lives upon living for Him - not for the world. The author of this article had the misguided notion that working for a living means relying upon ourselves - not upon God for our needs.

He is sadly mistaken and has made a number of false assumptions. Our job is to correct his idolatry of relying upon "self." We need to reveal his error and find out what God really says about the matter.

So let's study our Bibles and learn what it really says about everyday living. Then we will be equipped to fight back with the "sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).



Alcorn, Randy. 2003. Money, possessions and eternity. Wheaton, ILL: Tyndale.

Blue, Ron. 2009. Surviving financial meltdown. Carol Stream, ILL: Tyndale.

MacArthur, John. 2000. Whose money is it anyway? Nashville: Word Publishing.

Mannes, George. 2009. The price of faith. Money. (June issue). pgs. 94-95.

Pegues, Deborah Smith. 2009. Financial survival in uncertain times. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.

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