What you believe about money is as important as your theology. Here are a couple reasons why I make that statement.
- Financial literacy is equal to “theological literacy,” More people are taken out of the game due to financial illiteracy than the inability to read Greek. Over my 30-plus years in the ministry, I’ve watched fantastic Christians bursting with potential, then sidelined and under-utilized because they were poor at finances. These wonderful saints had high spiritual competency, true servants’ hearts, and faith that could move mountains. Some even had advanced degrees, but their inability to implement a simple budget eventually tanked them. The stress of debt swallowed them up. Some blamed the church, some lost their faith, some got divorced, most dropped out of ministry entirely. In the final accounting, it didn’t matter how skilled or what powerful preachers they were, what amazing worship experiences they could create or how precise their theology – it was a simple balance sheet that did them in. And in each case, the church watched it unfold, right down to the implosion. We could have said something. We could have promoted a finance course instead of the next Bible study. We could have created accountability for financial stability – but we didn’t. More meltdowns are likely.
- How we handle our money IS our theology. We can debate ad nauseam over what we believe about the Trinity, the sovereignty of God, or whether our end times perspective is “pre-trib,” “mid-trib,” “post-trib,” or “no-trib,” and then just go about our day. Dialogues on these matters are a fantastic mental exercise. But how I earn, spend, give, and save money – that’s a much clearer indication of my core beliefs. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt 6:21) How many of us claim the most accurate theology, and have a willingness to allow our own blood spilled for Jesus’ sake – but even a cursory review of our financial habits would reveal very little difference from the average American with no faith affiliation? It costs me nothing to debate you over the multiple soteriological viewpoints of salvation, but to emulate Jesus’ commitment to feeding the hungry and healing the sick is likely to affect my banking habits. Ouch.
Before I leave this topic, I must also say that out in Christian-land, there is a good deal of terribly destructive and unbiblical theology about money. This spiritually bankrupt teaching usually centers on the pursuit of money, either for the listener “God wants you rich” or almost always for the teacher, “God wants me rich.” When you hear it, run from it – even if you like everything else they say. Beware!
Don’t be a financial casualty. I invite your comments on these and other money matters.